Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

Good novels are like good parties: You get the right mix of people together, and you never quite know what will happen.

In Ann Patchett's new novel Commonwealth, a christening party takes a turn when one guest arrives with a bottle of gin. The gin leads to a wonderfully sloppy afternoon with cocktail mixing, a dancing priest, and two adulterous kisses.

The kisses lead to divorces, and a new blended family, six kids bouncing back and forth between Southern California and Virginia.

Robert Ashworth / via Flickr

On Friday morning, a Murfreesboro radio station will stop playing jazz and start playing a musical genre with deep roots but a short history.

To older country fans, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn are the ultimate examples of superstars who stayed true to their humble roots. Tara Thompson, 28, happens to come from Parton's mountains and Lynn's bloodline. The younger singer, typical of her oversharing generation, translates their down-home pride into tell-all songs.

fife and drum Tennessee

About 30 years ago, Tennessee folklorists began making a concerted effort to find overlooked artists and musicians. Those recordings have recently been digitized, and they include Emmanuel Dupree, an expert basket weaver and keeper of a rare musical style.

Dorrance Dance, Jason Neulander, Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei

OZ Arts Nashville has announced a new season of art, music and dance, including a return of the live-action comic book show from its 2014 season and the culmination of a year-long partnership between two folk musicians from opposite sides of the globe.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

Nashville writer TJ Jarrett is, by many objective measures, a successful artist. She's won awards for her work and has published books of her poetry about history and race and family. 

But as she tells WPLN's Emily Siner in our live series and podcast Movers & Thinkers, it's not easy getting to the point where you feel like you're doing good work.

National Endowment for the Arts

In terms of federal funding for the arts, Nashville organizations have received far more than other Tennessee cities — including twice as much as Memphis — in the past three years.

That’s one of the insights from data provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which is celebrating its 50th year.

Emily Siner / WPLN

Editor's note: People often ask Nashville writer Steve Haruch where his name comes from, which turns out to be a complicated question. He explains the answer in this audio essay. You can read an extended version below.

honky tonks Nashville
Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

Nashville is known for its “honky tonks” — the popular country music bars on Lower Broadway in downtown. The origin of the term is disputed — but a recently digitized interview with a Tennessee folk musician shows the impact that early honky tonks had on traditional music.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

You probably won't find the work of Nashville artist Bryce McCloud in a museum.

He purposely puts it in places that are more mundane: coffee shops, a record store, even a baseball stadium. McCloud talked to WPLN's Emily Siner as part of our live series and podcast, Movers & Thinkers, about his desire to make art more accessible.