I’m less knowledgeable about local music than your average Scene staffer. Blame it on always having my nose in a book. So when I struck out to gather reads for our fifth edition of Book Club, I took the opportunity to dive into Nashville’s absurdly rich local music scene. Add these to your bedside stack.
Singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Tristen blends dreamy pop with psych rock in compositions that feel both soaring and intimate. You can snag a limited edition re-release of her 2012 EP Tristen Decks the Halls on the artist’s website. (Get slayed by her cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” here.) The Scene’s Brittney McKenna noted in 2017 that Tristen’s work “comes from a deep love for both art and its powers to elucidate the mysteries and miseries of modern life.” The artist fittingly recommends The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other by James Hollis.
Says Tristen: “Jungian analyst James Hollis weaves poetry, stories from analysands and beautifully translated Jungian psychology to give us an understanding of the conscious and unconscious motivations within us, as they unravel in our relationships with parents, lovers, community and the cosmos. We want the world to change, but what if revolution begins within us? Hollis gives us a way to tune up our self-awareness, understand our failed relationships and jobs, or find grounding in an existential crisis. Read this book to understand your soul from a psychological perspective.”
Folk-rock singer-songwriter Becca Mancari composes wistful and delicate tunes that swell with feeling. Her 2017 debut LP Good Woman is a richly textured pop-folk-indie fusion that’s full of surprises. You can catch Mancari this weekend, when she plays Sunday as part of Juanaroo and Mollapalooza at The Basement. The artist recommends James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations.
“It is such a personal look into one of my favorite writers,” says Mancari, “and he addresses some very pointed questions with such grace and eloquence. James Baldwin’s writings helped shape my life, and this special insight into his life is incredibly compelling! I hope you will read these interviews and be moved deeply as well.”
A veteran of the Nashville hip-hop community, Rashad tha Poet matches agile raps with soulful jazz. The rapper, actor, activist and spoken word artist, who just released a new EP called Jefferson Street Blues, has been crossing genres in Nashville for 15 years. He recommends Ta-Nehisi Coates’ debut novel The Water Dancer.
“It’s an incredible story about a man’s escape from bondage,” says Rashad. “The writing is rich and the storytelling is captivating. Coates takes the reader on an incredible journey through our past, which we have to face in order to effectively communicate our future. This is a really great novel.”
Peggy Snow sings vocals and plays the acoustic guitar, kalimba, spoons and kazoo in The Cherry Blossoms, Nashville standard-bearers for experimental folk. You might also know Snow as the painter who sets up her easel on the city’s sidewalks, painting buildings before they’re torn down. Snow says she was recently reawakened to D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the 1928 novel notorious for its steamy sex scenes.
“It’s really a social commentary on the coming of the Industrial Age,” says Snow. “In the middle of the novel are some visuals of beautiful places being torn down in the countryside in England. The general man is getting subjugated by industry and losing his humanity. Lawrence writes so wonderfully about relationships between men and women, and I came to appreciate how beautifully the book’s heroine is handled. … Her life is full of turmoil, but Lawrence just carries her through unscathed.”