Anthony Bourdain saw the old and the new in Nashville.
“You’re gonna have a fun time,” a Nashville chef tells Anthony Bourdain at the beginning of Sunday night’s episode of “Parts Unknown.”
“I have no doubt,” Bourdain replied.
Before long, he was getting a tattoo of a scorpion at a house party hosted by Alison Mosshart, singer with The Kills and The Dead Weather.
Nashville is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. It’s estimated that between 80 and 100 people move to the city every single day.
Each time Bourdain sat down with a group of people, he asked how many were originally from Nashville. Typically there was only one. The rest Bourdain affectionately deemed carpetbaggers—those who came from elsewhere, eager to make their mark on the city.
Bourdain spent much of the episode touring Nashville with a badass crew. There’s Alison Mosshart, the head-banging singer who told Bourdain that she came to Nashville because she needed a place to park her muscle car; Dean Fertita, integral member of both Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather and even Jack White, member of The White Stripes (and many other bands) who opened his own recording studio in Nashville.
But then Bourdain also hung out with Margo Price, a country traditionalist who sings lines like “pain has made me wise.” He met her at Third Man Records (owned by White), an eclectic recording studio which has been credited with turning Nashville’s music scene on its head. But with all the innovation, there’s an eye to the past. The studio is the only place in the world where audio engineers can record live-to-acetate records on an old school 1953 machine.
Of course, no Bourdain city exploration would be complete without food. Bourdain sat down at classic Southern food joints (think brisket, okra, grits) but also got dinner at Catbird Seat, an upscale nouveau American eatery.
Catbird Seat was opened by Josh Habiger, originally from Chicago. Since moving to Nashville, he has opened five new restaurants in the city—many with a focus on the craft cocktail scene.
Bourdain went to a house party at Disgraceland, the best-named house ever, owned by Mosshart. While Bourdain whips up some party grub in the kitchen, the living room becomes stage for performances by The Kills and The Dead Weather. And naturally, because it’s a badass house party, there is a pop-up tattoo parlor happening in another part of the building.
The next morning, Bourdain met the musicians for a hungover brunch, complete with bowling. As they sit around and imbibe hair of the dog, Mosshart recounted the bruises and tattoos on her arms from the night before.
“There’s a timeline here,” she said.
Yes, Bourdain eats grits and hot chicken and listens to old school country music, but he also has sunflower risotto at a Zagat-rated restaurant and goes hungover bowling with hard rock bands. Nashville is a mix of permanence and transience. Even though it’s changing rapidly now there’s an eye to the past. And there’s hungover brunch to help the city remember it all.