Nashville, TN – Hello to the readers of Clarksville Online! My name is Sandee Gertz and I’m a writer, poet, and distracted observer of everything by the side of the road. And in my new Music City home in the middle of Downtown Nashville, I’ve found there is plenty to excite, inspire, shock, and plain old fascinate here in the most urban place I’ve ever lived.
The diversity of the music, culture, art (and street life) is endless.As a writer about to share my musings with you in a new blog, I feel fortunate to live smack dab in the historic “printing and publishing” district of Printers Alley. While most people know this famed alley for its cabaret-style nightlife and blues, the area was once also known as the publishing capital of the nation.
In fact, the restored (circa 1874) building I live in was once the Tennessee Banner newspaper. The history here conjures up chain-smoking newsmen banging out a story on real typewriter keys, then heading out to the alley for some fried fish and gin and tonics. Sometimes I think I still hear that tap tapping of the vintage Royals or Coronas in the middle of the night, and hope the ghosts are a friendly omen.
Just outside my loft window, I look out to the faded lettering of an adjacent building named “Blank Book Manufacturers.” When I moved here in April of this year, I felt it was another good sign – and a little more than metaphoric – as I have literally been “starting over” and manufacturing a new life here in Tennessee. Not to mention a long-term book project!
To elaborate, I never imagined I’d end up living the life of an urban homesteader in the south. I’m a northern girl at heart – born and raised in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh — and I’ll always bleed the Black and Gold.
In fact, my first book of poetry, The Pattern Maker’s Daughter, published by Bottom Dog Press under my full name Sandee Gertz Umbach, was deeply rooted in my steel city hometown of Johnstown, and referenced the work of my father in the mills as a pattern maker, making molds for steel.
But life takes strange twists, as I’m sure many of you can relate. Music, of course, calls many here, and the same is true for me – yet not my own! My son, Jordan Umbach, is a songwriter who made the decision to move where his heart was – to “live the dream” as they say here often in the city.
I came along with him in February to help him get established (I do his bookings/promotion, etc.) for what I thought would be a few weeks. Through a course of events that will likely be revealed here in these pages over time, I ended up being seduced by the city and its sounds of guitars strings, original lyrics, and the voices of this new generation of real songwriters and musicians.
Though dropped here unexpectedly, I fell head over heels into a one-year lease, a coveted parking spot for a car I rarely use (I love walking and the challenge of finding everything I need on foot in downtown…) and a desire to ride out this chapter of my life at full speed and with my eyes wide open.
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing with you what captures my eye in the urban landscape. It’s often the off-beat, the little-noticed, the small stuff that whispers and keeps us all spinning around as humans on this axis of something grand; real life.
I’m told I see things through a bit of a different lens, or “prism” if you will, and that’s what I’ll endeavor to bring to you. And if it makes you think, cry, laugh, or disagree, I hope you’ll talk back!
Sometimes I’ll be talking about poetry here (yes poetry!) – as one of my passions is exposing more people outside writing circles to the inspiring bits of language that can enhance life so much. I’m also passionate about people and what makes them tick. I’ll be profiling songwriters, entrepreneurs, and other music business professionals, often in “day-job/night-job” portraits.
These will be of emerging, budding artists, that music magazines haven’t discovered yet, and local Tennessee shops and businesses. I love discovering and sharing the work of talented people and hope you will enjoy getting to know some of the engaging souls I’ve come to know and love here in Nashville.
Just for the record, I’m a late-blooming runner, a gym and work-out nut (mostly because it makes me feel good and keeps me sane), a red-wine and gourmet cheese lover, and I’ll definitely be more than willing to share my favorite good-time (and often hidden haunts) of the city!
Now that we’re acquainted, I’ll look forward to checking in with you soon and regularly. Since I rarely meet a stranger, I’m hoping we’ll become good friends.