What Where When-sday – Nash Trash Tours – 05/10/2023

On What Where When-sday this week, we’ve got recommendations for live music — as always — but also a special evergreen kind of option for belly laughs and musical education right here in Music City.

You might check out The Flaming Lips performing their fan favorite record Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots in full on Thursday at The Ryman, and/or early Nashville Artist of the Month Joy Oladokun‘s record release show at Brooklyn Bowl on Friday.

But don’t forget that Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12! Show the mother figure(s) in your life some extra love on this day, maybe with a singalong Beatles Brunch at City Winery. Or maybe you will opt for a future fun time with Mom on a ride with the Jugg Sisters when you book spots on on their acclaimed Nash Trash Tour.

For 26 years, Nash Trash has been owned, operated and wildly entertaining thanks to real-life sisters Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay. I finally took the tour, and brought Nashville native Emily Young along, and we had the best time. Hear some clips from that adventure, as first aired on the tourism episode of WPLN’s daily show “This is Nashville.” And for more LOLs, plus entrepreneur inspo, read my post-tour chat with the Jugg Sisters, transcribed below.

On The Record: A Q&A with The Jugg Sisters of Nash Trash Tours

Celia Gregory: I am delighted to, for the second day in a row, get to share some time with the Jugg sisters who run Nash Trash tours. They’re celebrating their 26th anniversary this year, which is insane because Nashville was so different then. I’d love for you all to introduce yourselves and then go right into why you started this business and how has it kept going for a quarter of a century.

Sheri Lynn: I am Sheri Lynn.

Brenda Kay: And I’m Brenda Kay. We’re the Jugg Sisters of Nash Trash Tours and international fame.

SL: I tell you what, we had such good timing with the whole thing. I was living in Los Angeles, I was kind of spinning my wheels as an actress and Brenda was here and she had pretty good success here in Nashville. She was actually in a musical when I thought of this idea.

BK: We’ve always been in theater, singers and actresses all our lives. We were born in Kalamazoo but we moved around a bit.

SL: We’re in the witness protection program, which, you know, is good and bad. But so then once we got out of WITSEC, I said, “Brenda, we should do something in Nashville together.” Because she’s my sister and I missed her and I love her.

BK: I said, “Well, should we go back to porn?”

SL: I said, “No, I don’t want to do that.” We were getting older. It’s dangerous, you know, so much stuff going around.

BK: Yeah, and things were saggin’.

SL: But when I was in L.A., I thought, “There must be something Brenda and I can do together, and I’ll come to Nashville and we’ll do something in show business.” And literally – this is the truth — I got drunk one night in Big Bear, California, and I was so depressed and I said, “Sheri, don’t do this anymore. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” And I put my thinking cap on in a drunken stupor, and I came up with the idea of Nash Trash.

BK: As most great businesses are started, yeah, they were drunk.

SL: So I wrote this all down on a little piece of paper in my purse: get a bus, paint it pink, call it Nash Trash Tours, do musical comedy about Nashville, call ourselves the Jugg Sisters, just because it’s a goofy name, you know? And when we’ll dig up the dirt on the country stars. When I woke up the next morning, I read the thing in my purse and it still sounded like a good idea. And so I called Brenda and she said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” And then one year later, I was moved to Nashville and we had a bus and it was pink and we were open for business.

BK: And the rest is musical comedy history.

CG: Well, inspiration strikes in all forms. And I’m just glad it struck you and that you were able to come back together. I didn’t realize you were living apart as sisters, so I also didn’t know that you were blood relatives. I thought Jugg Sisters was a shtick!

BK: Yeah, a lot of people do. You know, it took a little while to get our feet off the ground, but, boy, Nashville was quite kind to us when we first opened. I think a lot of it was the fact that we were the only weird tour.

CG:So there wasn’t as much competition for the novelty of it.

SL: There were star tours and that’s it, you know, and that’s all fine and good. But when we started doing the weird stuff, you know, our own little thing and we realized we had a little nice little corner that we sort of marketed and it took us maybe two and a half years and people just started to come and get on the bus. And then we were sold out every tour and we have pretty much been sold out every tour for 25 years.

CG: An amazing business model, especially in a city growing like ours. There were women on the bus when I attended and this was their fourth Nash Trash tour and they said they keep coming because it’s different every time. How have you evolved the act to keep it fresh for you and for potential repeat customers?

BK: Well, you know, we kind of go with the sign of the times and, you know, what’s happening in our city. And we also love to meet everybody at the beginning of the tour. That’s a big part of our show. And I understand we don’t go anywhere at that point. But, you know, we’re sit there for about 15 minutes at the beginning where we meet everybody and we use that material later in the show. So every tour is different

SL: We have so many weird references in the back of our little brains that we pull out all the time. And we’ve become pretty good improvisational comedians. I knew Brenda was funny. I knew I was funny. I knew we could be funny –

BK: We look funny!

SL: But things would just really come to us and we would we just say them and they were kind of brilliant.

BK: Some things are kind of shocking. It’s a little naughty. But you know what? It’s an adult themed tour and we don’t allow anybody under 15.

SL: As we get older, we just say what’s on our mind.

BK: And it’s OK! People love to laugh. It is naughty, but you’d be surprised how many church groups we get on board.

CG: And you’re like, “Y’all read the fine print on the website, right? There are no apologies!”

SL: I mean, we’re so irreverent and bawdy, but that’s who we are. We don’t care.

CG: What else you are, though, is really culturally relevant and timely to the whole of Nashville. I myself expected, you know, the talking trash on country artists. But you all go deep on the overall music and cultural history of Nashville, including parts of Nashville, that a lot of visitors and tourists would never think about or to go to. Why is that important to you to include that sort of history, like the Jefferson Street Black music district, the Fisk Jubilee Singers?

BK: It’s important because people that come to our city don’t know it. And so we feel like it’s kind of important to enlighten them, to educate them. I’m 60, Sheri is 65, and I’ve lived in the city since the late eighties. There is a lot of wonderful history.

SL: It’s much more than country music. When you talk about all the Black influences in our music scene, it’s profound. Starting with the Fisk Jubilee Singers — people don’t realize that’s why Nashville is called Music City. It’s because of them. And I think that’s a big part of why we got the National Museum of African American Music. It’s not like it’s our duty and “Oh, look how great we are. Look how inclusive.” No, we just got we just got kind of pissed that people didn’t know about it. We’re so proud of it and we love it. We love showing off our neighborhood, we go through Germantown at the beginning. We like to support local food establishments and the Farmer’s Market [where the tour begins and ends] is awesome. We’ve seen this market change in the 25 years we’ve been here.

It’s fun when we have locals like you and Emily come on our bus. Even our locals go, “Oh my God, I learned so much. I didn’t know this, I didn’t know that”. And it is true. We are proud. We are proud of this town. And we love meeting people. We get people from all over the world on our tour, so it’s awesome.

BK: Today we had a father and son from England. We had a two girls from Ireland today. We had a couple from Canada.

CG: You know, on my tour we had a huge Northeastern contingent, New England folks. And boy, did you have fun with that. Bless their hearts, you know.

BK: Yeah, we do. We love to make fun of their sports teams.

CG: Well you talked about how you begin the act and tour through the city. But at the end, of course, you are you are slinging your own merch. You got to, this is a business. But I noticed what you did before that was asked for support of community initiatives, including the Nashville Cares Dine Out for Life. That’s coming up soon. You also discussed support for the Arts, with the Metro Arts Commission that you’re involved with, Sheri. How have you been able to weave business in with what you just said was a musical education, basically business and also community impact?

SL: I think it just comes natural to us. We both feel very civic-minded and since the very beginning, you know, people reached out to us, especially the LGBTQ community and you know, can you help with the AIDS walk? Can you emcee this? Can you do that? And we just love doing that kind of stuff. I firmly believe this deep in the core of my being, and I know my sister feels the same way, you have to be civic-minded. You have to put your money where your mouth is, right? We always feel like we can do even more. But thank you for noticing that.

CG: Yeah, we’re an independent radio station. We’re all in this together, like community organizations and socially conscious businesses, making Nashville richer in spirit as it grows. And not just all the brouhaha, fight?

SL: Yeah, that was very nicely put. And unfortunately, you know, we have to be champions of those issues when our local government is not. But we rise above it and we give a voice to those that maybe don’t have a voice.

CG: And you make it really fun, too.

SL: That’s right. Make them laugh and then make them put their pocketbook into the into arts and community projects.

CG: OK, last question. I admit, though I’ve lived here for so long, I was first introduced to you two through comedian Ben Oddo’s recent documentary about bachelorette culture. And you were two pivotal characters in this real life documentary because you actually forbid bachelorette groups on Nash Trash Tours. Can you clear this up for the people?

BK: There are so many tour busses now out there, and I don’t want to say that all bachelorette parties are bad, because they’re not. And we know that some have snuck on our bus and that’s great. But we just want to say, “If you want to party, girls, it’s great that you’re spending your tourism dollars here and there are lots of party busses that you can just spend them on somewhere else.” Because we do a show, we’re not a party bus. For a while we had so many bachelorettes booking our weekend tours and the smaller groups could not even get around because it was just loaded with rowdy, drunken bachelorettes.

SL: And finally, I had just had it. One day I came home and I said, “That’s it, Take them off. They’re banned, they’re done. We’re done with them.” And you know, that was the best thing we ever did. And we were the one of the first kind of tour companies to do that. And we knew it was we were taking a chance. But boy, everybody kind of fell in line after us.

BK: And yes, the Nashville Bachelorette documentary that was done by Ben Oddo, who does a show on our bus — he’s very talented — showed the good and the bad of The Bachelorette. He showed mostly the good, he followed a great little bachelorette group around, and they were sweet. Then we came in the documentary and we told it like it is.

CG: Which is one of the virtues of Nash Trash tours. And you know what? I love that you’ve been able to remain independent minded with your decision making about this business. You did allude to growing the business. So there are more tours available, not just because you can’t clone yourselves and do 15 a day, as most people would demand, but because are you nearing the end of this thing as performers in addition to running the business?

BK: Yeah, we’ll still have it open and we’ll still support local comedians and actresses and singers on our bus. But we are taking a step back probably in about three years.

SL: We may step back in two years and maybe do only like one or two shows a week. But we will always support local talent, local musicians, comedians, come to the Farmer’s Market. Get in touch. Contact us because we are always looking for fresh talent.

CG: Don’t tempt me with a good time. I could do a side hustle, too. Now, I know you made me part of the show on the bus and pretended as though my side hustle was as one of the last remaining exotic dancers and printer’s alley.

SL: But you have such good muscle control, Celia.

CG:I’ll just live that dream in my brain and on your bus. Jugg Sisters of Nash Trash Tours, it is a delight. I do recommend folks check out your site and book a tour. Enjoy as a local, embed yourself with the tourists. You’re going to have a blast.

BK: Thank you. You were a joy to meet and we can’t wait to go out and have a drink with you.

SL: Signing off now, love you, bye!