About hollyfrees

A 30-something southern yankee, I was born and raised in a small beach town in Michigan, went to college in the cornfields of Indiana, and have since called the hills and music of Nashville my home. I travel wherever and whenever I get the chance; it just so happens most of those chances involve seeing my favorite band put on a show.

RGB Tour: Boston, Hampton Beach, and New York City

July 29 – July 31, 2022

If you were a Hanson fan in 1997, you probably know they released a documentary of their promo tour on VHS, called Tulsa, Tokyo, And The Middle of Nowhere. If you were anything like me, you probably watched it 100 times or more and even still, 25 years later, can quote most of it – especially when redwood trees are nearby. The documentary opens and closes with footage from a performance at The Beacon Theater in NYC, and most of their commentary was filmed in the lobby. So when the chance finally came for me to see them at that same venue 25 years later, you better believe I was determined to make it happen! And with the NYC show being on a Sunday, it only made sense to make a whole weekend of it and do Boston and Hampton Beach as well.

Boston

Getting to Boston was not the experience I anticipated it to be. I had booked an afternoon flight and was supposed to land around dinner time. Instead, a 3-hour weather delay left me subject to Southwest employees wandering around BNA in shark costumes while blasting “Baby Shark”. Once we finally took off, everything went smoothly and I made it to the hotel just in time to get a good night’s sleep. This was another balcony show, so we moved our original dinner plans to show day and I’m so glad I didn’t have to miss out. We went to this incredible New Orleans-inspired restaurant called Buttermilk and Bourbon. I tried a raw oyster for the first time (yum!), and we all shared some tapas. It was easily one of the best meals of my life.

Thanks to traveling with Hoogle herself (our affectionate name for Katie, the brains behind Hansonstage, a.k.a Hanson-Google, thus Hoogle), I knew that since my last leg of shows, Hanson had added “Dressed In Brown Eyes” to the set list, featuring John Calvin Abney on harmonica. This started suspiciously after I mentioned on Hanson.net that I was hoping to hear it, but I digress. Knowing these were JCA’s last shows with the band, I had hope that I’d get to hear it at least one of them. I lucked out, and got to hear it at all three. It’s one of my favorite songs of CBIB and was so fun to dance to live. Zac continued his streak of winning solos by playing yet another new-to-me-on-this-tour song, “The Ballad of Seymour Better Times”. Despite my argument with Isaac about “River” in Birmingham, (and the other Holly’s similar argument in Raleigh), he stuck to his guns and played it again that night. Of important note: he did change it up at all but one of the shows in between, including one night where he finally played a song off Green. Taylor stuck with “Save Me”, which didn’t surprise me as that seems to be on brand this tour.

What did surprise me though was when a friend grabbed a picture of the set list. I learned two things that night: First – “River” was on the set list, proving that Isaac’s voting system is a rigged election after all. Second – rather than “Save Me”, Taylor had “Truth” listed as his solo – followed by a full band cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Despite wishing they had made better (imo) set list decisions, I had a great time at this show. The energy was high and Hanson seemed to be having as much fun as the crowd. The balcony offered some fun views of people watching, which I love to do during songs like “Where’s The Love” and “MMMBop”.

Hampton Beach

After sleeping in for awhile in Boston, we made the quick trip up to New Hampshire. One of the few parking spaces available happened to be right in front of the Isaac/Zac bus. We ended up beating our friends by a few minutes, so we sat in the car waiting for them so we could all go grab lunch together. A few minutes before our friends showed up, we saw Taylor drive by in his bus. The natural response to this was to wait around and watch him attempt to park in the very tight, very full parking lot. We waited around mostly for entertainment, but also because there was a legitimate concern that we might need to move our car out of his way. About a half hour later, and with the help of some beach-going passersby, he succeeded with no damage to any vehicles. (Personally, I kept debating whether I should help or stay out of the way, and I opted for the latter.) He made a joke about there being a crowd even for the parking, to which my friend responded “well I wasn’t sure if you were going to be able to do it, but you did!” Taylor quickly quipped back, “well there’s only one way; you either do it or you do it.”

For this show, I was in the ADA section with my friend, which was set past where the stage ended on Isaac’s side. However, because of the angle they had it at, we still had a great view of all three guys, just from the side. I am often asked, “don’t they know you by now?” and honestly, I never quite know how to answer. I never want to assume anything, although Zac has made a few comments here and there that lead me to believe he does recognize me. Taylor I’m a little unsure of, and Isaac has done quite the opposite to the point where I’ve been tempted to tell him it’s my first show just to see if he believes me. But that suddenly changed this weekend and now I’m slightly convinced he’s out to spite me. Because of where we were in the venue, I don’t think any of them saw my friend and I… and this time Isaac played “Hand In Hand” for his solo, sans vote. But then, at the end of the show, he jumped down off the stage to give a kid his guitar pick, then as he attempted to head backstage he accidentally wound up stuck inside the ADA section. He finally figured out how to get out, but just before leaving he stopped, looked directly at my friend and I, said “thank you” and waved.

We waited out by the bus to get their autographs. All three eventually came out, and I managed to get them all to sign a journal I had made documenting all the set lists from my first 76 shows. I didn’t tell them what they were signing though, because there were a lot of people at the bus, so instead I used what little time I had to put in a song request with each of them. My theory about Isaac spiting me continues, because as he was signing my journal, I asked if there was any chance he could play “Greener Pastures” the following night. He responded “oooh!” in an excited tone, but then he looked me in the eye and immediately shifted his tone and said “not likely.” Zac was next, and I asked if he could play “World Goes Round”. Of the three of them, he had the most assuring response. Finally, I asked Taylor if he could play “Truth”. He hesitated and said “maybe”, but then my friend called him out and said we knew it was on the set list for Boston. He confirmed we were right, but I still left with the impression that we probably wouldn’t be hearing it.

New York City

Being a lifelong Hanson fan and seeing them as often as I do is such a weird and unique experience, it makes it so hard to describe. I’m just a few weeks older than Taylor, which means I’ve literally grown up with them over the past 25 years. Back in the height of their fame, they seemed so untouchable, and now they’re so approachable. There are moments where they feel like any other band that I’m going to see live. There are moments they feel like annoying siblings who seem to know exactly which buttons to push. Similarly, I can make fun of them all I want but all defenses are up once someone from the “outside” makes a joke at their expense. Sometimes they’re the weird para-social, almost-acquaintance who asks when they will be seeing you again, and then even still every once in awhile they’re that same untouchable idol you had at 14 years old. The New York show was somehow every single one of these experiences.

Come solo time, I was of course curious to see if any of them would play the songs I had requested the night before. Zac was first, and while he didn’t play “World Goes Round”, he did at least play a song off Blue, choosing “Wake Up” as his solo. And then there was Isaac. Remember how I said I think he’s out to spite me? He came out for his solo, then looked directly at me (I was front row center) and announced “I’m going to call an audible on this.” He then asked his guitar tech to get a capo ready (implying he knew what he was about to play), and did the vote again. But this time he threw “Lonely Again” into the mix right between “Deeper” and “River” – and he barely even gave it a full second before announcing “River” as the supposed winner. Later that night, guess which one we saw on the set list? Sure enough, “Lonely Again.”

As much as it might sound like I gripe about the set lists choices, I’d still rather hear a least-favorite or over-played single than hear nothing at all. But this night, hearing all the old school singles hit different; I was finally hearing them in the same venue I watched on that tiny TV screen so long ago. Even for being my first time stepping foot in the building, there was so much nostalgia, and I noticed Taylor having a few moments where I assume he was feeling the same. Every once in awhile after a song, he’d take a beat, close his eyes, and just stand still soaking it in.

When it was time for Taylor’s solo, he sat at the piano, so I fully expected another night of “Save Me”. After all, “Truth” is a guitar song. However, it turns out he’s converted “Truth” into a piano song and I’m so glad he did. It was absolutely gorgeous and so much better than I had expected, and even better than the album version. At the very end of the song, Isaac and Zac came back out and joined in on their instruments, adding some harmony. Then, they immediately went into the “With A Little Help From My Friends” cover. It was a natural flow and brought me back to my youth group days where we’d throw our arms around each other and sing this song (without the references to getting high). Rest assured, no amount of singing out of tune will make me walk out on Hanson, although they sounded pretty perfect to me. When it ended, I watch him have another one of those soaking it in moments. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, held it, and then I saw him whisper to himself, “okay” before letting it out.

I often get asked if I ever get tired of seeing the “same show” over and over. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that it’s not the same show over and over. Every night is different. There are big and small set list changes, the venue changes, the crowd changes. And with that, the energy and atmosphere change, making each one a unique experience. Sometimes you’ll catch Zac laughing at your bad dance moves. Sometimes you’ll roll your eyes as Isaac changes his solo to a song you don’t love. And sometimes you’ll notice Taylor having a moment. Naturally, some nights will be more memorable than others and this will definitely be one of those. After all, it was a New York dream on a New York night.

RGB Tour: Nashville, Atlanta, and Birmingham

July 13 – 20, 2022

Nashville

I live in Nashville, so it was almost literally home base for this trio of shows. My house is pretty small, I had several friends coming in for the shows, and I have roommates I didn’t want to annoy, so we ended up getting an AirBNB for the week. Friday afternoon, we made our way to downtown Nashville, which is something I never do unless I’m seeing a musical or Hanson is in town. My friend collects stuffed bears from Hard Rock Cafes, so I dropped her off there and circled the block, which we all agreed was more than enough time spent downtown apart from dinner and the Ryman. We had booked tickets to do a self guided tour of the Ryman, because it has such a rich history and most of my friends had never been there before. If you ever get the chance to do the tour, I highly recommend it. 

Just as we were about to leave to go to dinner, guess who walked out on stage? Hanson started filming something, we couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, but it looked like they were meeting with a Ryman representative and talking about the history of the venue. They ended with a little acapella of “This Time Around” which we were lucky enough to hear. Zac chatted with us for a little while, then they left to get ready for sound check just as the tour window time ended.

John Calvin Abney opened the show. I had never heard of him before, and to be quite frank I had reservations about him after learning he’s friends with Isaac. The last time we had a friend of Isaac open, it was way too country for my tastes. But I was pleasantly surprised. He was entertaining, and I was especially impressed when his guitar amp went out but he just rolled with it, holding his guitar up to the mic.

John Calvin Abney

This wasn’t the first time Hanson played the Ryman, but with the exception of a 3-song set during a Blood:Water Mission benefit and a surprise appearance at a St. Jude benefit, they hadn’t played there since before I lived in Nashville. When I found out they were playing the Ryman rather than the usual Wildhorse Saloon, I was beyond excited. The fan club presale was a nightmare, but we eventually pulled front row balcony which is exactly what I was hoping we’d end up with. The set list was similar to the RGB preview show during Hanson Day, but getting to hear the songs in a much better venue than Cain’s was so much fun. Highlights include “Only Love”, “Been There Before” (a song I have always associated with living in Nashville), Paul McDonald joining for “Write You A Song”, and ending the show with an acapella “Change In My Life”.

Atlanta

The day of the Atlanta show felt more like three days. Day one: the drive. Day two: not getting murdered. Day three: the show.

I’ve camped out for Hanson on the sidewalks of downtown Chicago and New Orleans (I do not recommend the latter), I’ve showered in truck stops, and I’ve slept in my car in shady parking garages. I would do any of those again before I would ever be willing to stay at the hotel we booked. If you know anything about the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, those were the vibes. My friend who booked the hotel is very thorough about reading reviews, which we later learned must be edited by the hotel because there is no way she would have booked this one had she known.

We got off the interstate and immediately saw rows and rows of tents and hundreds of unhoused people milling about. Again, I’ve slept in some questionable areas before, and I have empathy for those facing homelessness, but this was a whole different level. I’ve also traveled through areas before that look unsafe but then get better the more you drive; this did not get better. We eventually turned a corner and, where we were told there was an overnight parking garage, there were only closed stores with the gates pulled down and graffiti everywhere. The hotel (The Historic Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown Atlanta because I will name names as a warning to my readers) had paper in the windows, which was falling down. If you’re familiar with Atlanta, the Underground was right outside our hotel.

They did offer in-and-out valet parking – at $45 a night. For the record, the people working for the third-party valet company (LAZ) were the only polite people we encountered. When I told them as much, they thanked me and asked me to leave them a review, stating that the hotel typically throws them under the bus. I fully intend to review both the valet and the hotel. The valet then passed me a business card on which he had written the word “courage”, if that tells you anything.

The hotel staff on the other hand were the rudest customer service workers I’ve ever experienced. We showed up to the hotel at 3:30pm, my friend who booked the hotel was still stuck in traffic, but had put my name on the reservation knowing we’d get there first. I walked into the lobby – there was no air conditioning (and the outdoor temp was in the upper 90s). I said I was there to check in and I was curtly told “check in is not until 4:00”. Okay, fair, but I explained that with her platinum elite status, my friend had early check in. Again, I was told “no, we don’t have any rooms, check in is not until 4:00.” I further explained that the day prior my friend had checked in online ahead of time, and was rudely again told “we don’t do mobile check in, check in is at 4:00”. Finally, I asked if they could at least look up her name to see if it showed that she had already checked in, to which they simply replied “nope.” We eventually found a much better hotel in Midtown. It was another Marriott hotel, and after hearing our story, they only charged us to park one of our two cars, and they upgraded us to the largest hotel suite I think I’ve ever seen in person.

Way back in 2017, I attended the two Finally It’s Christmas shows in Chicago. During that weekend, I spent some time in the hotel room going through orientation to start a second Bachelor’s degree (Accounting). So it’s only fitting that fast forward to 2022 and my virtual commencement date was the same day of the Atlanta show. So I cheesed it up and donned my cap and gown for the show. Thanks to all the friends and strangers who wished me congratulations! Attending an online-only, self-paced school (WGU) felt very isolating in that I didn’t have classmates, so being able to celebrate my graduation amongst my people finally made all the effort feel real.

I expected the set list to be similar to the one in Nashville, and it was for the most part. I was hoping to hear “Rambling Heart” and thought it had a good chance since there’s a “hot-lanta” reference, but Taylor stuck with singing “Save Me” again instead. But the surprise of the night was when, after “You Never Know” (which was already unexpected), they started playing a cover of “Low Rider” which they mashed with “Ooh La La La”. It’s technically a public release since it is on Perennial, but I still never expected to hear any of those songs on this tour. (But I wouldn’t mind if “Nothing Like A Love Song” and “Young And Dumb” made a few appearances.)

After the show, we decided to wait out by the bus since we had a hotel and weren’t driving anywhere that night, I wanted pictures with Hanson in my cap and gown, and one of my friends hadn’t seen them since String Theory. Taylor didn’t come out since he had a long drive to St. Pete. (Is that man seriously driving that bus? Because this concerns me.) Isaac came out first, and when I said I graduated, he judgmentally asked, “recently?” I wasn’t sure if he was questioning the fact that most graduations are in May, or if it was a dig at my age, but I explained that yes, I graduated that day, and that it was my second Bachelor’s. He asked what both of my degrees were and then took a picture. When Zac came out, he was wearing one of those Hanson AF shirts so I said, “I’m graduated AF!” He laughed and also asked what my degrees were in, and when I said accounting, he replied, “smart!”

The next day, we visited the World of Coke museum. I have to admit I didn’t hate the Beverly, though I wouldn’t want a full glass of it. If you know, you know. A friend of ours lives in the suburbs, so on our way out of town we met up with her, her husband, and their kids for some ice cream at a food hall. I have to say, food halls are my new favorite trend; they’re perfect for traveling with people who have different tastes and appetites. Our last stop on the way back to Nashville was Buc-ee’s – none of us had ever been before. I somehow spent $60 on beaver nuggets, beef jerky, a brisket sandwich, and handful of other snacks.

Nashville, Again

Monday was a work from AirBNB day back in Nashville. One of my friends used to live in Nashville, and the one thing she wanted to do on her short visit here was go to Tailgate Brewery. I had never been before, but had been wanting to go for awhile, so I’m glad I finally got the chance. They have really good pizza (I’m a fan of the hot honey), and I got a flight of sours and ciders to try. The pineapple cider was my favorite of the bunch. They had trivia going, and we didn’t officially play but we all got most of the questions right, so maybe we should have. We eventually wound up at Target and Walmart for some last minute items for the Birmingham show – because tour isn’t really tour until you’ve been to Walmart late at night for something random.

Birmingham

We made a quick trip over to East Nashville in the morning to get a picture of a red, green, and blue Nashville mural, then headed back south. Two of my friends had never been to Alabama before, so we made sure to stop at the welcome center and take some pictures of the welcome sign and the rocket. Our first stop in Birmingham was for some good southern barbecue at Saw’s and I had my first taste of boiled peanuts – I’m a fan!

We drove around a little bit and saw Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball park in the U.S. It was built in 1910 and is still being used, though you can definitely see its age. We also stopped by a couple murals, including another one that was red, green, and blue. The show was on my friend’s birthday, so this was where she chose to have her BTTI make-up meet and greet, which meant we had to get to the venue a little early despite it being a seated show. She bought some party hats at Walmart for her photo, but the guys refused to wear them and instead just held them – first like normal, and then upside down like ice cream cones, per Taylor’s suggestion. Her photos turned out great as they were all feeling silly and had big smiles.

The set list surprises of the night were “And I Waited”, Taylor starting “Save Me” acapella standing front and center of the stage, and “Man From Milwaukee”. Unpopular opinion: while it was actually “Man From Milwaukee” and not “MMMBop” that convinced me to buy Middle of Nowhere in the first place, I think it’s time Hanson stop treating a bonus track like a single and start putting this one back into the vault for awhile. They also did two songs in the encore, ending with “In The City” which I was not at all expecting. It’s a great one to end on, and it made me extra happy to be up front in second row for this show, as opposed to the balconies we had been in for the previous two shows.

I don’t know what it is about Birmingham, but something in the water must bring out the crazy fans. My previous experience on the MOE tour was back before I started this blog, but I’ll let the other Holly’s words fill you in:

-Holly Snider

This year’s Birmingham bus experience wasn’t much different. While thankfully no one accidentally choked me, people were screaming ’97-style every time they saw a Hanson, and some girls were even crawling through shrubbery to get to Isaac. We didn’t stay out all night, but I think Isaac is the only one who came out. He had mentioned Zac probably wasn’t coming out, and we had assumed Taylor wasn’t either as they had a long drive again. A friend did manage to give Isaac a little gift she had bought them, and I briefly talked to him about how his voting system is flawed. He had been telling the crowd that we get to pick his single, and then asks people to cheer for either “Hand In Hand”, “Deeper”, or “River”, and “River has won each night.

Personally, I’d choose none of those songs as I’d much rather hear anything off the new album (particularly “Greener Pastures”, but any would do). We jokingly told him that he needs an electoral college with two representatives from each state. In seriousness, I asked him if he thinks the order of the songs affects the outcome, as people are likely to keep cheering louder with each song that’s mentioned. He firmly told me no, that people like to hear the older songs. I disagree and I think he just wants to be able to play his “I Only Wanna Be With You” cover, but he did end up skipping the vote and playing “Deeper” the next night in Raleigh, which I wasn’t there for.

While I was fortunate enough to attend most of the shows in Tulsa over the past couple years, as well as this year’s Back To The Island, I cannot express to you how good it felt to see shows on a regular tour again. That said, I don’t remember ever feeling this tired during tour in the past (and my Covid test was negative), and two of these shows were seated, I slept on zero sidewalks, and waited in line no longer than 2 hours before doors. Maybe it’s getting back into things in a post-pandemic world, maybe it’s because it was my first time traveling after having Covid in May, maybe it’s because we’re all 3 years older, or maybe I just need time to get my “road legs” back. But one thing still remains true: this easily overstimulated, highly sensitive introvert somehow can’t get enough.

Do Go B̶e̶ Eat: Nashville Edition

This picture is circa 2012; Nashville has changed a lot since then. It was taken from the pedestrian bridge one block south of Broadway, downtown.

This post will be a little different than my normal Hanson/travel post, because this time I’m not the one traveling. Hanson will be playing at The Ryman in Nashville, TN on July 15th, and I know a lot of people are traveling in for the show. Having spent 16 years in this city, I thought I’d weigh in on some of the things to do, go, be eat.

Downtown/Sobro

Downtown Nashville is a party city and there are no shortages of bars and bachelorettes. Pretty much the only time visit downtown is when Hanson is in town, so I don’t have a whole lot to offer on the specific bars. I can tell you that Robert’s Western World and Tootsies are the most historic. Hanson has frequently played The Wildhorse Saloon, but if you haven’t been there on a regular night, it’s a great place for some line dancing. Any of the bars downtown will have live music.

If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat before the show, I recommend 5th and Broadway. It’s a new development right across the street from The Ryman and has lots of great food options (and some shopping). There’s fast casual options on the first floor and a fancy rooftop wine bar on top. But most notably is Assembly Food Hall in the middle, essentially a giant food court full of local Nashville staples (including the OG of hot chicken, Prince’s). This is a great option if your friend group has different tastes as you can each grab whatever you want and still dine together. Pinewood Social is comparable to a hipster country club, where you can get food, coffee, and cocktails or rent out a bowling lane or a dipping pool. The coffee comes from Crema which is just up the road a bit, and is, in my opinion, the best roaster in town.

Nashville has a lot of great museums and tours. I’m not a fan of country, but I still enjoyed my visits to The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum. You can also do a self-tour of The Ryman. There’s so much history to the venue that will just add to your experience during the concert. If you’re into it, there’s Haunted Pub Crawl that is a lot of fun and is a unique way to learn about some of Nashville’s history. A few places I can’t vouch for first-hand, but have been wanting to get to: The Tennessee State Museum, The Frist Art Museum, and across from The Ryman is the new National Museum of African American Music.

The Gulch

Just south of Downtown is The Gulch. It’s mostly high-rises, but there a few gems tucked into it. If you’re a mural person, the famous WhatLiftsYou Wings can be found on 11th Ave S. If you’re a fan of Detroit-style pizza, Emmy Squared is delicious. If you’re wanting to stock up on your own liquid party supplies, Frugal MacDoogal is by far the best liquor store in the city – it’s about as large as a Costco. But the highlight of The Gulch is the tiny old venue Station Inn. They have shows every night, and if you’re sticking around for the weekend, on Sunday nights they have a “picking party” called The Bluegrass Jam. It’s free, and anyone who wants to show up with an instrument can join in. You’re guaranteed to hear more talent here than any of the bars on Broadway, even if bluegrass isn’t your thing.

Music Row/Midtown/West End/Hillsboro Village

Just southeast of Downtown is Midtown, Music Row, and West End, which all sort of blend together. Music Row is really just two one-way streets that run parallel to each other: 16th Ave S & 17th Ave S. It’s been developed a lot over the years, but there’s still so much music history in just a few blocks, as many recording labels and studios have and still do reside here. It’s worth a quick drive up and down. If you head over to Midtown, you can get one of the best cocktails in Nashville at my favorite bar, The Patterson House. It’s more a speakeasy, so the building is fairly nondescript though the name is on the door. The inside is small, dark, intimate, and the bartenders take their craft seriously. The drinks don’t come cheap (about $15 each), but they are well worth the price. If you’re really feeling spendy and adventurous, above The Patterson House is The Catbird Seat. Too rich for my blood at $185 per person, I’ve never been there. But it’s a 14-seat reservations-only tasting menu restaurant. I’ve only heard good things (but have known people who left still hungry and hit up Krystal on their way home).

A little further down is West End, home to one of our largest parks, Centennial Park. There’s a playground, a pond, a walking trail, and a replica of The Parthenon. Another nearby park, though much smaller, is Fannie Mae Dees Park. Locals refer to it as “Dragon Park” because of the mosaic dragon sculpture. It’d make for a fun stop if you have littles with you or just to take some unique photos for the ‘gram.

Not far from Vanderbilt Hospital is a little stretch of neighborhood called Hillsboro Village. I lived there from 2010-2014, but to be honest with you it’s changed so much since I moved, and I haven’t been back enough to speak to it throughly. I can tell you that the two most notable places to stop are The Belcourt if you’re an indie movie buff and The Pancake Pantry if you love morning carbs. A disclaimer on The Pancake Pantry: at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I don’t think it’s as good as it used to be. But if you want to go, go early as it tends to get a long line waiting for a table. Although, Hanson fans are used to long lines, and it was good enough for River’s 12th birthday.

12 South

Just east of West End is a little neighborhood called 12 South. There’s a small park on the south end of the strip, but it’s mostly comprised of boutique shops (like the Draper James flagship) and local restaurants. There are three coffee shops less than 500 feet apart: White Bison has a nice balcony, and if you’re staying at an AirBNB in the area it’s a great little spot to grab a quick snack or drink as it’s partially a convenience store. (It’s owned by TwiceDaily, a gas station convenience store.) It’s not the best coffee, it’ll do in a pinch, but Nashville has so much better to offer. Portland Brew is a few steps away and a local chain. I personally think they have the best coffee of these three options (still not the best in the city), but their atmosphere is lacking. Frothy Monkey is another local chain, and this is the OG location, but it can get pretty busy, especially on the weekends. Frothy also has a pretty solid food menu.

Some of my favorite restaurants are on this street: Burger Up, Edley’s BBQ, Urban Grub (southern-style smoked meats & seafood), Buttermilk Ranch (full brunch on the weekends with a grab-n-go bakery in the front), Five Daughters (cronuts), Mafiaoza’s (wood-fired pizza & pasta, also one of the few late-night options outside of downtown), 12 South Taproom (good beer, good bar food, great salads), and Taqueria Del Sol. (Not the most authentic tacos, it’s more Mexican with a southern twist. I eat here about once a week. Get the cheeseburger taco and an enchilada with lemon cream sauce.)

There are also a handful of murals up and down this street, most notably the I Believe In Nashville mural.

Green Hills

For the most part, Green Hills is your typical upscale neighborhood. There’s a mall with higher-end shopping if you’re looking for that (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s), a movie theater, and a handful of chain restaurants. But if you’re in town long enough to get the chance, Green Hills is also home to the famous Bluebird Cafe. It’s become more and more difficult to grab tickets, but they always have a waitlist line to fill no-show seats, so you could try that route. You never know who might show up to play a writer’s round, but they’re guaranteed to be talented.

Berry Hill/Melrose

Berry Hill is unique in that it’s its own tiny town (population < 600), with its own mayor, tucked into the middle of Nashville. It’s mostly residential, but there are a few home studios and restaurants tucked in. Baja Burrito is a local favorite (think Chipotle, but local and with a bigger menu. Try the pineapple salsa.) Calypso Cafe is a great place if you’re looking for something a little healthier, though their hours have been limited since the pandemic. The Yellow Porch has a more upscale menu without the upscale vibe, highly recommend.

If you head north a bit to the Melrose neighborhood, you can get my favorite “trash burger” (i.e. local fast food) from Fat Mo’s. They have more locations across town, so if you find one, don’t let the poor exterior fool you. It’s delicious, and it has never made me sick. There might be some locations with a small dining room, but this one is drive-thru only. Sinema is an upscale dining option, though in my experience the food isn’t worth it. However, I do recommend grabbing a happy hour cocktail from the upstairs lounge. There’s also one of many Hattie B’ locations. I’m a big fan, though most locals will tell you it’s “tourist hot chicken”. To be fair, it’s the only hot chicken I’ve had, but it never disappoints. Pro tip: order ahead of time online, get it to go, and eat it elsewhere to save time.

Wedgewood-Houston

Wedgewood-Houston is a developing neighborhood with some fun hidden gems. If you’re looking for karaoke, Santa’s Pub is a local hideaway and you will come home smelling like smoke. If you need a little treat, Dozen Bakery is divine. I haven’t been to either place personally, but I know both Diskin Cider and Jackalope Brewery are great places to grab a drink. There are two great coffee shops in the neighborhood: Humphreys Street which provides employment and mentoring for the underserved youth in Nashville, and Americano Lounge where you can also find coffee cocktails and live jazz on Friday nights. If you’re sticking around long enough, the weekend after the Hanson concert there’s a flea market at the fairgrounds. If you’re bringing kids (or honestly even if you aren’t), the Adventure Science Center is a lot of fun.

South Nashville

South Nashville is a large umbrella name for a handful of neighborhoods, and it’s by far the most diverse area of Nashville. Some of the schools represent over 30 nationalities. There are so many good hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants, especially up and down Nolensville Rd and Thompson Ln. Everything from Thai to Ethiopian to Uzbek just to name a few. If I had to pick a few favorites for this blog, I’d say Eastern Peak (though not the most authentic, it does offer a large variety of Asian foods and has a great happy hour deal), Deg Thai, Taj Indian, and La Hacienda. There are no less than 2 dozen taco trucks up and down Nolensville and they’re all legit, although the only one I’ve personally eaten from is a step up from a truck: Tacos Y Mariscos El Amigo.

Plaza Mariachi is a great place for all things latino. They have shops, a market, a food court, and live entertainment (mariachi, salsa dancing, aerobatics, all kinds of things). There’s also a yummy Mexican ice cream/popsicle shop just up the road. We also have a zoo, and if you’re looking for some air conditioned fun, you can make reservations at the Paddywax Candle Bar where you’ll be able to pour your own scented candle.

Donelson/Opryland

If you haven’t yet booked a hotel and are looking to stay somewhere cheaper than Downtown, Donelson is a great area to look, especially along Elm Hill Pike. It’s close to the airport which means there are lots of options, and it’s safer than some of the other cheaper areas. There are some good restaurants tucked in here too, particularly Uncle Bud’s fried chicken and catfish, McNamara’s Irish Pub, and Darfon’s steakhouse.

Nashville used to have a country-themed amusement park called Opryland, but it closed in 1997 and was eventually replaced by Opry Mills Mall. The mall has some outlet stores and the parking lot is always full. If that’s your jam, by all means go, but I’d recommend only going during daylight hours. A few years ago my mom and I were witnesses to a late-night gang shooting inside the mall, so there’s that. Opryland Hotel is worth walking through if you have the time. It’s massive and has indoor gardens, an indoor riverboat, restaurants, shops, and a new indoor water park. You do have to pay to park at the hotel, but if you’re willing to walk a distance you can park near the mall’s movie theater and cut through the back. But you didn’t hear that from me.

East Nashville/Inglewood

There are so many great coffee shops and restaurants in East Nashville. Some of my favorites include Ugly Mugs, Mas Tacos, Sky Blue, and Lockeland Table. While their food is not that great, Rosepepper has by far the best margaritas in town, and you’ve probably seen their witty marquee floating around social media. East Nashville is also home to my favorite Pizza in the city, Castrillo’s (take out only). There’s a lot of fun shops as well, such as Welcome Home (gift shop), Old Made Good (vintage and handmade prodcuts), and Grimey’s (new and used music). If you’re sticking around for a few days, The Basement East (aka BEAST) and The 5 Spot are great places to catch some live music.

Germantown

North of Downtown is a newer neighborhood, Germantown. Between the two is the Famer’s Market. It has gotten a facelift since I’ve been, and I’ve heard great things. There is a yummy Jamaican restaurant inside it if you want to pretend you’re going back to the island. Germantown restaurant highlights include Butchertown Hall, Henrietta Red, and Monell’s. I highly recommend the latter if you’re looking for a classic southern meat-and-three. But, be warned: it is not for the Covid-cautious as you’ll be sat at a table with strangers and the food is served family style, meaning you’ll be passing bowls and plates full of food around the table and serving yourself. There’s also a location in a beautiful old mansion out near the airport.

The Nations

The Nations is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in town. There are several bars, including 51 North Taproom and Fat Bottom Brewing. While the OG Frothy Monkey is in 12 South, the one in The Nations is a much better space, feeling less crowded. My favorite Italian in town is Coco’s Italian Market, and their bruschetta is especially divine. L&L Market is a boutique mall with shopping and fun eateries, including the Milkshake Bar and Culture and Co.’s charcuterie conveyor belt. Next to Frothy Monkey is Able, a fashion brand focused on empowering women world-wide.

The ‘burbs

Technically not a suburb, Bellevue is the far west side of Nashville. There’s a new shopping center I haven’t been to yet, but most notable is The Loveless Cafe. Famous for its biscuits, the wait can get hours long, especially on the weekends. I do think it’s worth going to, but try to go early or at an odd time between meals (but not brunch time). Their breakfast and their dinners are all so good, and they have some cute shops on the grounds as well. It’s a pretty drive out there, but it does take about 30 minutes.

South of Nashville is Franklin, and it’s a cute town with lots of history. The downtown square looks like something out of a Hallmark movie. McCreary’s Irish Pub and Puckett’s are popular restaurants, though you can also get the latter in downtown Nashville. You can visit Carnton Plantation or take a walking tour of the town. If you’re looking for more history, east of Nashville you can tour Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage.

The Rest

I cannot speak to any of these places first-hand, but I asked around for restaurant recommendations for those with special diets. For vegan diets Sunflower Cafe, Falcon Coffee, The Southern V, Avo, and The Wild Cow were all recommended. For gluten-free, I believe most restaurants in town will be accommodating if you let them know.

Nashville in July will be hot, and there’s always the potential for severe weather. While actual tornadoes are rare, we did have one in March of 2020. If there’s severe weather in the forecast, your best resource by far will be @NashSevereWx on Twitter. It’s way more reliable than any news station and certainly more than whatever weather app you have on your phone.

Navigating Nashville can be tricky, as it’s not built on a grid like many other cities. Streets change names on a whim, there’s more than one McGavok Pike, and you need to change lanes on the interstate more often than Taylor changes his hair. We do have a (very unreliable) bus system and one commuter rail, but you’ll need to rely on Uber/Lyft if you don’t have your own vehicle or rental.

If you’re flying in or out, BNA is a literal mess right now. The middle section is under construction, so you cannot get between the North Terminal (A & B) and the South Terminal (C & D), so make sure you know which one you need to be at before you get there. If you’re being picked up late at night, that’s when they do construction and they have the arrivals down to one lane. When I flew back from Hanson Day, it took my roommate over an hour to pick me up, and it typically only takes me 15 minutes. However, if you’re grabbing an Uber or Lyft or a rental car, that’s in a different area and shouldn’t be a problem. If you want coffee at the airport, skip Starbucks and opt for one of the local coffee shops. The Starbucks line is always long and slow, and the other options are better coffee anyway.

If you’re reading this as a local or someone who has visited before, what am I missing? Let me know in the comments!

Album Review: Red Green Blue

We may only a week in from the release date of Hanson’s newest album, Red Green Blue, but yet somehow I feel like I’ve been agonizing over how to write my review for months. I lost my bragging rights and finally caught Covid, which means I spent the whole release weekend in isolation; I had nothing better to do than pour over the lyrics of these songs ad nauseam. By mid-Saturday night I already had a whole theory going about half of the songs. I’m fully convinced that some songs are in response to other songs, (especially since I recall Taylor saying Red was recorded last) and because of that, nothing below will be in track list order.

I also need to throw in a disclaimer: there is a lot of speculation involved and I apologize in advance to Hanson (especially Zac) as I play armchair psychologist. I actually debated not saying the things I’m about to say because of this. But then I remembered that’s the point of music and art; the artist pours their heart and soul into something and then puts it out in the world for people to interpret for themselves. And that’s what I’m doing here. For all I know, none of these songs are biographical. After all, we already know Hanson can write great songs that have nothing to do with their real lives. (Exhibit A: “White Collar Crime”. I hope.)

Now let’s dive in.

Rambling Heart

Hands down, “Rambling Heart” is my favorite song on all of RGB. It’s no secret that I love to travel, and this song is an anthem for anyone with wanderlust. There are also a couple lines that I believe are nods to one of my favorite brands of travel, going from concert to concert. “And we’re all here, but nobody’s home” can be an easy reference to a venue full of people who literally do not live there and also likely traveled to get there, including the band. “The world is at our feet” to me both represents the travel itself and also the crowd standing at the feet of the performer.

Favorite Lyric: “Every note is my home sweet home”

Semi Hollow

“Semi Hollow” has a fun groove (one that is, shall we say, “slow and low”) that has been stuck in my head more than once already. The brass adds a great rhythm which has me wishing that Hanson would just add a permanent 6th band member at this point. I can’t pin point what it is about it, but this song feels to me like “Come Over” and “Man On Top” had a semi hollow baby.

Favorite Lyric: “You’re more than air but you sure ain’t solid

Greener Pastures

Green opens with a cover from Other Brother™ Mac (of Joshua and The Holy Rollers)’s song, “Greener Pastures”. I had previously listened to the JTHR version, but I do like Isaac’s better. This is such a great style for Isaac’s voice. I’m always excited to hear him branch out from his typical ballads.

Favorite Lyric: “It’s all the same, we’re all searching for the truth”

Write You A Song

“Write You A Song” was the first single for Green, and again I was excited to hear something more upbeat from Isaac. This is such a cute song written for his daughter, and it’s catchy enough that it is fact “something sweet that [I] can hum along to”. I was surprised to hear he had written this with Paul McDonald, because it sounds so much more like Stephen Kellogg to me. I know he did write with SK around the same time, and now I’m curious what will come from that, either for Hanson’s or Stephen’s catalogue (or even if we ever get to find out).

Favorite Lyric: “Dancin’ round, you were always cutting loose”

Cold As Ice

Just… wow. This is such a fun song! Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only other song we’ve ever heard from Hanson with quite this much funk (besides maybe some covers) is whatever jam session song they were playing during the credits on The Road To Albertane. (Also you’re welcome for that flashback.) It’s hard to believe this started as a ballad. The callbacks to Tay and David invoke some “Run Rudolph Run” feels (“Tay, kick one for Christmas, baby!”) At the Hanson Day show they used this song to introduce Andrew and Dimitrius and I hope they keep that up for tour. What a gem of a jam!

Favorite Lyric: “She pawns my watches to buy me time”

Wake Up

Zac loses about 500 points for naming a song the same as an already existing Hanson song. That aside, this version of “Wake Up” reminds me of “Reading Your Mind” from In Real Life. This song is Exhibit B in my disclaimer that we know Hanson is capable of writing songs that are not biographical. “Wake Up” seems to be a love song to someone the protagonist has not yet met (“Every night I’m waiting just to learn your name”). As a 39-year old single woman? Relatable. From a man who has been married for 16 years? I’m not so sure. That said, there is a part of me that wonders if this song is not actually about a hypothetical love interest, but I’ll get to that later.

Favorite Lyric: “Would it change a thing to learn that you’re not real?”

Don’t Let Me Down

The first single from Blue, “Don’t Let Me Down” is probably the closest to what we’re used to hearing from Hanson. Zac has said that he wrote this to himself as he faced the pressure of writing Blue without the support from his brothers that he’s used to. This might be a stretch, but I can’t help but think it ties together stories from two older Hanson songs: “Broken Angel” and “The Walk”. In “Broken Angel”, we hear Zac pining to be something that the world says he’s not ready for, he’s too small to be the high flyer. Fast forward to “The Walk” and despite the odds, he’s up in the sky ready to take his chances. Now here we are with the world watching, and “Don’t Let Me Down” is what he’s singing to himself as he walks out on the tightrope. Everything he has been through has led him to now.

Favorite Lyric: “It’s not a question of whether you’re ready, only of what you’ll allow”

Bad

“Bad” has grown on me significantly since my first listen. At the listening party, I really only noticed the chorus. But once I did a deep dive on the lyrics? Oh man… I had a hard time narrowing down a favorite so I’m just going to go through some of these one by one.

“Moth to the flame, march to the drum.” This makes me think of the keyboard warrior world we live in, and I have to admit that I sometimes fall victim as well. We see something political that lights a fire we feel we have to run to, ready to march. I do think there is good that can come from political debates, and it’s usually better than staying silent, but we do still need to be careful with the words we choose.

“What you believe is what you become.” I think we all tend to wrap our identity up in the things we believe about the world. This lyric is gold.

“We all retreat to our sides and give into our lies, ’cause it’s easier than seeing my reasons in what you believe.” What a powerful statement about conflict, especially when the conflict is based on the stories we write in our heads about others without knowing what they’re really thinking and feeling. 🙋🏻‍♀️ Guilty

“The tightrope is frayed and it’s wearing me thin.” Hey remember my reference to “The Walk” above?

Favorite Lyric: “No one can change the worth of a life”

Truth

If you’re involved in the Hanson fandom enough to be reading a fan’s blog, it’s probably no secret to you that there has been conflict within the band for at least a few years now. In fact, they even mentioned during the Hanson Day HTP Live. And I believe “Truth” is Taylor’s response to a lot of what has been happening. He even admits that he’s had one foot out the door. Where “Bad” talks about writing false narratives, Taylor is asking us to humble ourselves and realize that we don’t know the whole truth to the story. And if we can set our pride aside and have an actual conversation about our conflicts, it will expose the truth.

Favorite Lyric: “So don’t hold on to bitter, it’ll come home to roost”

No Matter The Reason

Much like I think “Truth” is Taylor’s response to the conflict in “Bad”, I think “No Matter The Reason” is Isaac’s response. The lyrics speak to both parties having said hurtful things, and we see Isaac wrestling with the pain he has caused as well as the pain he has felt. In the end, he recognizes that the love they share is strong enough to heal the pain, and so he declares that he won’t be leaving.

Favorite Lyric: “God has made no better good, than you for me”

World Goes Round

“World Goes Round” is another track that sounds like classic Hanson, and is the song that has gotten stuck in my head the most over the past week. I think this song can be seen as a response to “Truth” and “No Matter The Reason”. Where the other songs show signs of a potential break-up, “World Goes Round” is a song about putting the past aside and taking the risks of moving forward. They’re going to “take [they’re] chances together” and start again.

Favorite Lyric: “Does the end of the rope mean hell or hope”

Where I Belong

TW: Suicide, Depression

This is where my earlier disclaimer comes in. I may be way off base here, but I can’t not hear this song as suicide ideation. If I’m being honest, it seems Zac is no stranger to songs about depression (“In A Way”, “Use Me Up”, “Save Me From Myself”, “Siren Call”, “I Lift You Up”). In “Where I Belong”, we see him alone, in the dark, “hoping someone will hear [him] call”. He talks about wanting to be taken home, and I get the sense he means “home” in a more permanent sense. And remember earlier when I said I wondered if maybe “Wake Up” was about something other than a love interest? There is a part of me that wonders if the someone he’s longing to be with is death, or perhaps the afterlife. (“Would it change a thing to know you’re not real”?)

These lyrics are a heavy subject, no matter the interpretation. But the song itself sounds more like Digital Pants material. In fact, the “honey honey honey” and “loving loving loving” in the background immediately made me think of all the “yummy yummy yum yum”s from “Where You Want To Go” off Edible Digital Pants. The instrumentation sounds like it was pulled straight out of The Machine. If you read my review of White Rabbit, you might recall that I mentioned Zac’s Enneagram is a 5w6. When Fives are in stress, they go to Seven, which is where we often see the goofy stage version of Zac. I have a theory that “in stress”, Zac went to Seven and made the overall sound of this song a little silly to try to cover up the vulnerability of the lyrics. And unlike his sadder songs from the past, this time he didn’t have a supportive cowriting brother around to tell him no. It’d fall higher on my ranking if not for this.

Favorite Lyric: “I’ve been lost so long I can’t remember anymore”

The Gift Of Tears

“The Gift Of Tears” sounds to me like a response to “Where I Belong”. The song speaks to someone who is in a dark place, and is a reminder that even in that darkness, not all hope is gone. He even makes a specific reference to “get down on your knees, brother, and kiss the ground”. I know many people use the word brother in a nonliteral sense, but I can’t help but make all these connections with these songs. As someone who tends to bottle up her feelings, the line “the gift of tears will calm your fears” is very real to me. When I do finally cry over something, it’s centering and helps me see things clearly.

Favorite Lyric: “When all hope is dead and gone, pray on”

Child At Heart

I can’t help but think “Child At Heart” is at least partially in response to “Where I Belong”. Taylor has said that he was inspired by listening to his two-year old talk about what he had hoped to do that day. As Taylor put it in American Songwriter, “the message is ultimately about staying hopeful and pure, in spite of the challenges life can bring.” What greater challenge is there in life than our darkest moments when we feel we’ve lost all hope? He’s literally encouraging the listener to not be afraid to face another day. They’re hurting, but Taylor wants them to not let that stop them from opening their heart back up to the world.

Side note: how cute is the demo? Does anyone else think it sounds like Indy is saying “you don’t have to do that”? I’m laughing at the idea of Taylor being like “oh hey I gotta write this song” and his two-year old going “no you don’t.”

Favorite Lyric: “Breathe. You are no mistake.”

We Belong Together

I saved “We Belong Together” for last, because a) I think it too is a follow-up of all the previous songs I’ve mentioned and then some, b) it might be the song I end up having the most to say about, and c) it’s the first song that tipped me off that these might all be related (brother band pun unintended). I think like “Bad”, I’m just going to have to go line by (most) line through this song.

“I can see the empty in your eye” – the sign of someone’s depression

“The world has come to push you down again”/”Now you wonder why the world’s closing in”/”You’ve been holding up the world alone” – DLMD has the lines “you can’t let the world consume you” and “they can’t push you around”

“It’s hard to breath you count your beating heart” – in “Child At Heart”, Taylor is repeatedly reminding him to breath. In “Wake Up” there’s a reference to “your hand on my heart”

“Alone in darkness and you’re lost again” – WIB says “it feels so dark”

“Cause we belong together” and “If you call my name I’m never far away” both feel very much like a direct response to the cry of “hoping someone will hear me call from where I belong”

“The waves keep coming” – I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but Zac has a whole heck of a lot of song lyrics that reference water/drowning. “Save Me From Myself”, “Fire On The Mountain”, Siren Call”, “What Are We Fighting For”, “Compromise”, to name a few, and even says in WIB “let me float away”

“All of this living has been taking your life… but don’t forget we’re still alive tonight” sounds like a response to someone who has been thinking about death

“If you’re feeling lost because you fell off course” – there’s a line in “What Are We Fighting For” that says “with nobody watching no wonder we got off course”

“You don’t have to break to break alone” – a response to “somewhere that I won’t feel so broken” in WIB

“Your skin is aching and you’re wondering why” sounds like a response to “So many thins you can’t tell from just the scars on my skin” in “Bad”

At its core, this song is a clear message that he cares for the person he’s singing to and that no matter what, he won’t leave them. He’s there for them in the darkest of moments and they’re better together. One last note: at the listening party, the very first thing I noticed about this song was that the muted percussion sounds in the background reminded me of the breathing sounds in “I Lift You Up”.

Favorite Lyric: “On the mountain top you feel your brave heart drop”

In Summary

I don’t know, y’all. Either I’m on to something here or they’re all just that good at writing songs. Or both. There is a part of me that I hopes I’ve taken this too far, and again I want to clarify that this all just pure speculation on my part. But if there is any chance that I’m right here, I really hope there’s therapy involved. If you’re reading this and have resonated with any of these feelings, please reach out to someone.

At the listening party in Tulsa, I couldn’t hear the lyrics well enough to fully appreciate this album. I was too thrown off by how mellow it was compared to the Hanson we know and love. But after spending time digging deep into how well crafted these songs are, I can’t get enough. It’ll never quite reach the level of “I can’t wait to jump and dance to this at a Hanson concert” but it’s top shelf for sure. Five Stars. 15/10 Recommend.

I’m a spreadsheet girl


Hanson Day 2022

May 11 – 16, 2022

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d guess that if you are reading this, you remember clearly the day in April 2020 when that year’s Hanson Day celebration was “rescheduled to 2021”. (If not, you probably gave birth to me.) And if you’re reading this and not my mom, you probably also remember that Hanson Day 2021 wasn’t a normal Hanson Day with all the add-on events. So here we are, a full three years after the last real HDay, finally getting back to normal.

I flew in late Wednesday night, but with the extreme heat and loss of will power, my friends and I opted to skip waiting in the typically forever-long registration line this year. We all agreed that the only reason to register ASAP was to get into the store ASAP, and that there wasn’t anything we needed to buy that badly. I don’t regret this decision at all, although it does mean that in the end I missed out on that little green crossbody bag.

Instead, we spent Thursday sleeping in and grabbing brunch from Chimera. We finally made our way over to registration just in time to get signed up before the volunteers shut it down for a lunch break. Since the Hanson store line was still long, we spent the afternoon wandering around some of the local Tulsa shops. I bought a few books from Magic City Books and some stickers and a coffee mug from Ida Red. And then the real fun got started.

HTP Live

They added a new in-person event to this year’s lineup by offering a live version of the Hanson Time Podcast. When they announced this, we weren’t sure how exactly this would play out. But then about a week ahead of Hanson Day, my friend got an email saying she and one of her other friends had been chosen as tag-team reporters, and that their theme would be the new Fan Club EP White Rabbit. I might be biased, but I thought they both did an excellent job coming up with questions, especially considering we had only had the EP for two days by the time HTP Live rolled around.

If you’ve ever listened to Hanson talk then you’ll know they have a knack for getting off topic. One thing that was brought up, but not asked by the reporters, that I found very interesting was because you cannot evenly divide dollars by three people, Isaac earns an extra penny to every dollar the band makes. My accountant brain immediately started trying to add up how much extra he has earned over the past 30 years and while I obviously don’t know Hanson’s finances, I think they might want to consider switching that up soon.

They also opened up by talking a bit about how the past five years have been hard for them as a band. While I don’t think that’s any secret to anyone who has been paying attention, I found it refreshing to hear them acknowledge it. We now know they almost broke up back in 2012, and I think one of the main differences is that now they’ve stopped trying to pretend that everything is okay. At the risk of digging into pure speculations, I’ll probably talk about this a bit more when I write my review of Red Green Blue (because spoiler: have you read the lyrics?).

Karaoke

Night one of Hanson Day (really why aren’t we just calling it Hanson Week at this point?) typically is karaoke, and this year they added a ’90s theme, with some more current Hanson songs mixed in. While I have no interest in singing (and no one else wants that either, I promise), I always look forward to being a spectator, having a drink, and dancing around, especially because you never know when Isaac is going to start singing along with some fans. Highlights of the night included Isaac singing “Sweet Child of Mine” and “River of Dreams”, a fan singing the ’90s staple “My Heart Will Go On”, and a friend ending the night by absolutely killing “I Will Always Love You”.

Hanson Day Gallery

Friday morning was rainy, which meant we spent a good portion of the day lying around our hotel room. I did pop into the store real quick to buy way more shirts than the zero I told myself I would buy. But then once the skies cleared out, my friends and I popped into the gallery. This year, Zac opted for more drawings than paintings. It was fun to see a different take on things this year. There was only one painting: a red tree growing on green grass with a blue starry sky in the background. I absolutely loved it and would have bought a print of it if I actually had somewhere to hang it, but my walls are getting full.

For that same reason, I did not buy any of Taylor’s photos this year. They were all a play on Red Green Blue, with each brother playing around with colored lights in a dark room. They also had a stage set up with some of the props from the “Don’t Let Me Down” music video. It reminded me of the little museum they had in 2017, and I’d still love for them to do a bigger, more full museum with fewer video props and more awards, instruments, and things of that nature.

RGB Listening Party

Just a few weeks before Hanson Day started, they added another new event to the lineup: a listening party for RGB. My friends and I signed up for the last time slot, since one of our friends was flying in that day and wouldn’t be able to make the earlier times. As someone who tries to avoid spoilers, this meant I had to stay off social media for the first part of the day. My intention was to take notes on my phone during the listening party of my first impressions, much like I did for White Rabbit. However, I immediately realized that was going to be too much work to keep up with, so I simplified my notes down to a single hand gesture emoji for each of the non-single songs. I’ll leave you with these notes for now until I get to the review blog for RGB.

Storytellers

Normally we’re given a theme for the Storytellers show, but this year we were just told “we’d find out when we get there.” I prefer being surprised by set lists, so this was good news to me! Looking back though, I’m still not sure what the theme was supposed to be (and we were specifically told there was one that was “too hard to explain”). They pulled out songs from almost every album; Middle of Nowhere and Shout It Out being the only exceptions.

The absolute highlight of the show was when they started telling us the story of how “MMMBop” came to be. It wasn’t any new information as they explained this way back in 1997, but if you happen to be reading this and didn’t already know: a few years before they became famous, they were writing another song (“Boomerang”) and started singing “mmmbop ba duba dop ba du bop ba duba dop ba du bop…” as a background vocal. But they decided they liked the way that sounded too much for it to not be its own song, and thus “MMMBop” was born.

When they started telling this story, they actually sang the chorus of “Boomerang” in the process, which is something they had never done before. Then they stopped and continued on with the story, and I thought for sure that little tease was all we were getting. But, no! They actually sang the entire song! I never thought we would actually ever get to hear it, and I’m so glad I got to be there when we did. They also played “Watershed”, a very short song from the 2007 fan club EP, which had only ever been played at Back To The Island in 2014. The moral of the story is: you never know what you’re going to get at a Hanson show so you might as well do your best to never miss one.

Dance Party: Part One

After Storytellers, we had some time to go get changed for the Dance Party. They’ve added themes to the Dance Party at the last couple BTTIs, but I think this is the first time they had a theme for Hanson Day: dress as your favorite era. I honestly don’t have a favorite and at one point in time was considering just wearing my pajamas and joking that 2020 lockdown was my favorite era, as I’m not big on costumes. But I recently acquired my first jumpsuit, and I was talking to a friend here in Nashville and realized I could easily (and lazily) dress it up to be the ’70s by adding a gold chain belt and a scarf around my head. I think we got about five or so intermittent songs in to the dance party before Taylor announced he wanted to punch his computer in the face as something was clearly not working. He ended up calling it a night and said we could try again the next night. I usually look forward to the dance party and was way too tired to be into it, so I was honestly glad we were getting a do-over.

I Heart To Bowl

Bowling has been a consistent event at Hanson Day, but one that I had never signed up for before. I’ve never been great at bowling; my all time high score is 83, and the last time I went I won a trophy for most gutter balls. But one of my good friends loves to bowl and I figured it’s time I give it a go at HDay since I never had before. My one goal was to not be the worst on my team and sadly, I did not meet that goal; I scored a whopping 40 points. But we all had fun and that’s the most important part. I’d happily sign up again in the future, but if you’re wanting to be on my team, you’ve been warned.

After bowling, I had thought about scootering around Main street to see if Hanson was out and about talking to fans, but it was too hot outside and I was still feeling tired from the late nights (going to bed at 2am vs my usual 9pm), plus I had been doing a lot of extra exercise over the week. My roommates were all working their volunteer shifts, so I decided to take advantage of the quiet room to myself and took a long, much-needed nap to gear up for the concert and dance party do-over.

Hanson Day Concert

Typically, the Hanson Day concert is full of fan favorites, members’ only songs we don’t get to hear anywhere else, and that year’s fan club EP in full. However, a few weeks before Hanson Day, they announced in their newsletter that this year would be a preview of the RGB Tour. I’m sure they had been practicing hard for the tour and didn’t want to be sidetracked by rehearsing a bunch of unique songs for a one-off members’ show. While I’m disappointed that this means we didn’t get to hear White Rabbit (and I’m still waiting to hear 3/7 of CBIB), we still got a really good show and it certainly whet my appetite for my shows this summer. “Against The World” makes for a great show opener (possibly my favorite since “Great Divide”), and when “If Only” popped up only three songs in, I had no idea where the rest of the show was going (which again, I love). The show continued to be full of surprises when they went from solo to full band and back a few times. “Cold As Ice” was a great choice to introduce Dimitrius and Andrew during, and they managed to cover every studio album.

Dance Party: Part Two

After the show, we grabbed dinner then headed back into Cain’s for another attempt at the Dance Party. I was feeling rested and ready to go this time, but opted out of getting back into my costume (if you can even call it that) from the night before. Strange things tend to happen at Hanson events and this time that included a pirate in spandex and someone dressed as Pikachu all dancing to Taylor Hanson’s DJ set. And if you’re wondering, yes, Taylor did play the obligatory “Another One Bites The Dust”. It was a great way to wrap up the week.

The Rest

While I’ve missed a few events here and there, I’ve been going to Tulsa for Hanson events since 2009. In that time, I’ve gotten to experience so many fun local restaurants, breweries, shops, and museums. On this trip, I somehow ended up going to Nothings Left Brewery twice. The did not have a Hanson Brothers Beer this time around (pun absolutely intended), but they did have a collaboration with another brewery to have Red (strawberry), Green (kiwi), and Blue (blackberry) sours to celebrate the week. I typically prefer stouts to sours, but I liked all three of these, especially the blue. They also had their pineapple dole whip beer slush and I’m so mad I can’t get it in Nashville.

A new museum recently opened called Greenwood Rising, and I had time to pop in during my last day in Tulsa. Just blocks from the Art District where all the Hanson activities happen is a corner of tragic history in Tulsa and in our nation. In 1921, the Greenwood neighborhood was a thriving Black community in Tulsa. Racial tensions were high, a white woman falsely accused a black man of assault, and it all led to hundreds of murders, leaving over 10,000 Black residents homeless with 1,256 homes burned. Due to continued systemic issues, the neighborhood has still not been fully restored even 100 years later. If you ever make it to Tulsa, I highly recommend visiting the museum. It was very well done and quite powerful.

Tulsa is a great little city and it feels more and more like a second (or third) home each time I visit. I was lucky enough to attend most of the shows in Tulsa throughout the past couple years, so it’s weird to know that now I’ll be going back to only having annual trips. (As far as I know anyway.) I’m surprised every year by how many fans say it’s their first trip. If you’ve never been, I hope you get the chance!