It’s a pleasure and a privilege today to introduce y’all to the music of Jenn Thornton and her debut EP – Roll With It.
Miss Thornton’s sound has the pure, crisp feel of old time country but with a modern twist. A native of Oxford, Ga. (seriously it’s on the map), Jenn was raised on classic country and Southern gospel. Not only did she inherit her grandfather’s guitar but she also inherited his musical talents. After graduating from the University of Georgia, her first gig in the music business was singing in a bluegrass band that was touring out west. Although she enjoyed the tour, an irresistible opportunity was presented to move back to Nashville and pursue her solo career. Jenn jumped head first into the writing scene and began her growth as an artist in country music mecca.
Jenn quickly gained the attention of some of Nashville’s top producers who served as her mentors and helped develop her personal artistic style. With this fire under her seat, she hit the pavement even harder in Music City. Booking out writers rounds, writing sessions, working with stylists, and recording her first solo EP has all just been part of her progress. Her sincere and yet brutally honest approach to story telling only makes one fall more in love with her
Pretty Southern caught up with Jenn to discuss her first EP and what it’s going to take to make her dreams come true.
When did you discover your passion for singing?
I was born with the natural instinct to entertain. From the time I was able to walk and dance, I would jump around on the coffee table, holding the remote as a microphone, singing along to Elvis, Patsy Cline, and the Judds. The desire to sing came along very early too. I grew up in a family full of musical talent. I can’t remember life with out it. My grandfather would always get us together after big family dinners and he and my uncles would play guitars, as me and my family sang old gospel music and of course Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard, and other traditional country artists. I come from a family with 12 female cousins. It was practically a family choir! Singing has always been more than just a talent for me. It is a way to connect with myself and others, which is where the true passion lies.
What have you been up to since graduating from UGA?
After graduating with an Agricultural and Applied Economics degree (random I know), I have pretty much gone the complete opposite of my degree. I am very thankful for it and my time well spent at UGA – Go Dawgs! – but my creative side has since taken over. I moved to Jackson Hole, Wy., and worked on a dude ranch as a wrangler. That’s where the opportunity to preform and reconnect with singing began. I played in a popular, local bluegrass band for a while. I decided that I wanted to make singing, songwriting and sharing my music my career. So, I moved to Nashville.
What inspired you to pursue your passion for music?
My true inspiration for what I do comes from the undeniable capability that a song, lyrics, and instruments combined can change one person’s day, month, year, or even life.
The power of a song can reach the saddest and the happiest; when no one else can listen or understand, music can. That’s why I decided not only to sing, but also to write music. I love people and want to share the talents I’ve been given as much as I can.
What was the album creation and development process like?
Wow! It was incredible! I had never done any studio work prior to this EP. My producer, Nick Baumhardt, was so awesome. I was there for the development of everything. I got the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented musicians. The entire process was very educational for me. I learned a lot about how to listen for certain things and just how important sound levels and placements are in a track. Developing the guitar licks was probably my favorite part because it really made my songs come to life. It was such a rewarding time as a songwriter and a singer!
What’s distinctively Southern about your sound?
Honestly, keeping it country is important to me. I have huge influences in my music from traditional country, Southern rock, gospel, and even some blues. I intentionally wanted to have banjo, fiddle and pedal steel in my songs. All of those instruments are true testaments to country music and provide sound from the past and the present. Oh, and there’s the undeniable twang in my voice that keeps it Southern.
Where do you want to be a year from now?
My primary focus of this year is to tour and continue to grow my fan base. I will be writing and promoting myself as an artist and a songwriter. I hope to be writing for not only myself but for other radio artists in the near future. And I am always open to record labels and radio! This next year holds some exciting times. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Jenn’s first EP – Roll With It – is available to download on iTunes for only $5.94. Be sure to Like Jenn Thornton Music on Facebook and we’ll keep y’all posted on her upcoming tour dates.
The Atlanta Food Bloggers Society with Tex’s Tacos!
Earlier this year, Pretty Southern received an email from Katherine Kimbrell – one of the masterminds behind Atlanta’s tasty food truck, Tex’s Tacos. She asked if we would be willing to do a story about her business on Pretty Southern. The Tex’s Tacos team happily agreed to set up a tasting for The Atlanta Food Bloggers Society. We talked about locations to host this tasting, perhaps a brewery or other convenient spot; well, there was no more convenient a location than my own front yard!
Check out our Tastemade video showcasing our Tex’s Tacos Food Truck Home Block Party
From Tex’s Tacos website “Our food truck concept is quick-serve. All of our food is made fresh to order and fully customizable.”
The Tex’s Tacos Food Truck Menu
“Tex’s Tacos proudly boasts fine-dining quality food at affordable, fast-casual prices. Combining the simplicity of “Nueva Texicana” with a passion for Southern hospitality and grace, we guarantee three things at Tex’s Tacos: delicious food, fun times, & awesome service.”
Tex’s Tacos Food Truck Loaded Texicana Lime Fries
“We’re on a mission to infuse joy and happiness into the community around us. Therefore, we treat each and every interaction as an opportunity to share a smile or laugh.”
The lovely Katherine Kimbrell of Tex’s Tacos. Isn’t she Pretty Southern?!
For more information about Tex’s Tacos, check out their website and upcoming calendar, plus be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Chama Gaucha is now open in Atlanta
Buckhead has a new hotspot bringing the heat, meat, and sweet treats. Chama Gaucha is a much needed addition to Atlanta’s fine dining scene. No offense to other Brazilian steakhouses, but the whole experience at Chama Gaucha is 5 stars from start to finish.
“We are delighted to join Atlanta’s vibrant culinary market” said general manager Nelcir Muller. “The Chama Gaucha team is excited to introduce Atlantans to our unique offerings and an authentic Brazilian way of dining.”
Pretty Southern was privileged to attend a VIP tasting experience at Chama Gaucha. Check out our Tastemade video to see more!
The ambiance at Chama Gaucha is simply stunning. Drawing inspiration from the menu’s Brazilian flavor and style, local design, construction and consulting agency Restaurants Consulting Group transformed the restaurant into a chic, open atmosphere providing a posh environment for sipping caipirinhas, cocktails, or a glass of wine from a stellar list of options. The bar extends to a covered patio with a fire pit, perfect for the summer nights quickly approaching. There’s also a private dining room which I’m seriously considering for my birthday celebration.
Now let’s talk about the food. The “salad” bar is so much more than that. A superb selection of salads, fresh vegetables, charcuterie, cheeses, gazpacho, smoked fish, chicken salad, southern Brazilian-style potato salad, and fresh breads are prettily presented appetizers. As my husband said, the salad bar is impressive but at Chama Gaucha it’s really all about the meats.
Beef is the star of the show, with the house special showcasing a prime cut of sirloin. There’s not just one but two types of filet mignon plus rib eye, bottom sirloin, and beef rib…just to name a few. There’s also sausage, pork rib, bacon-wrapped chicken, lamb chops, and delicious grilled shrimp which I just couldn’t get enough of. Are you drooling yet? Dessert is also a must at Chama Gaucha. Since our dining experience was all about indulgence, we opted for the molten chocolate lava cake as well as the layered chocolate mousse cake.
All in, if you do cocktails, wine, dinner, and dessert, plus tax & tip you can expect to pay around $75 per person. I promise y’all, it’s worth every penny and I can’t wait to go back again soon.
Chama Gaucha is located at 3365 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 1350, Atlanta, GA 30305. For more information, check out their website and like Chama Gaucha Atlanta on Facebook.
Chefs, Shrooms and Champs on April 14 at STK Atlanta.
These are a few of my favorite things indeed! I’m so excited to fill y’all in on this incredible event coming up on Tuesday, April 14, at STK in Midtown. Chefs, Shrooms & Shamps is a one-of-a-king dining experience. Four chefs will prepare eight dishes inspired by a mushroom foraging expedition with an open bar including all the Veuve Clicquot you can drink.
Chefs Mark Alba of STK Atlanta, Nick Leahy of Saltyard, and Timothy Magee and Joseph Ramaglia of White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails are joining forces to host an unforgettable evening. Celebrating the art of cooking with mushrooms, guests are invited to mix and mingle with the chefs as they explore eight unique tastings at tasting stations. Here’s what’s on the menu
Executive Chef Mark Alba of STK Atlanta will serve a Pasture Raised Chicken and Wild Mushroom Terrine with Toasted Brioche and Apricot Conserva. Alba will also present a Grilled Hanger Steak, Wild Mushroom and English Pea Garganelli with Black Truffle Foam.
Executive Chef Nick Leahy of Saltyard is offering a Wild Mushroom and Spring Vegetable Soup, plus Pan Roasted Scallops with Brown Buttered Mushrooms and Cauliflower. After sampling his oyster trio at Taste of Atlanta we can’t wait to see what this man does with shrooms and scallops.
Executive Chef Timothy Magee of White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails is serving up a Fava Bean Panna Cotta, Morel Mushroom and Asparagus Salad. A master of meats, Magee is also plating up Pan Roasted Sweetbreads with Madeira Mushrooms and Green Garlic Purée.
Sous Chef Joe Ramaglia, also of White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, will bring his own magic to Cured Mountain Trout with Vidalia Soubise, Pickled Wild Mushrooms, Foraged Greens and local Georgia Olive Oil, and he’s making a Wild Mushroom and Duck Sausage, Farro, Charred Green Garlic, Sorrel Purée.
Chefs, Shrooms & Champs will take place on Tuesday, April 14 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at STK Atlanta. The cost per person is $100 which includes the tasting experience and open bar with Veuve Cliquot pairings. Guests must be 21 and up to attend. Reservations for Chefs, Shrooms and Champs are required and can be placed by calling 404-793-0144 or emailing TOGReservations@togrp.com. For more information please visit STK’s website.
Pretty Southern was recently invited to attend a tasting at Christophe’s To Go. The food was paired with craft beer from Second Self Brewery, and ended with sweet treats from Piece of Cake. Our blogger, Mandy Morgan, shares her thoughts on the tasting:
This was my first event with Pretty Southern and it’s going to be hard to beat. The trifecta of fine food, local craft beer, and delicious dessert was pretty perfect.
French-born Chef Christophe Le Metayer has been pursuing his passion for good food and elegant cuisine for nearly thirty years. As the owner and founder of Christophe’s To Go, his goal was to create an option for folks who worked all day then wanted a tasty meal. He decided that if his patrons needed help at home in the kitchen, it should be him. Christophe’s To Go has three convenient locations in Brookhaven, John’s Creek and Sandy Springs, plus provides catering for their bevy of options.
Second Self Brewery is less than a year old and already making a name for themselves in the craft brewery scene. Co-founders Jason Santamaria and Chris Doyle Name were inspired to name their brand as a “second life” of going all nights of the week and weekends. During our tasting at Christophe’s, Second Self served four of the five beers they currently had developed with the various courses.
Saving the best for last, Helen Cleveland from Piece of Cake was there to give us a taste of the sweet life. Piece of Cake is celebrating their 30th anniversary in business and has several locations in the Atlanta area. In addition to sampling the desserts, I got to participate in a cake decorating contest. Y’all can see my finished product below.
Here’s what was on the menu:
Our first course was Twisted Cheese Dip paired with Red Hop Rye. It was like a sophisticated kid’s cheese and cracker snack! This cheese stew was packed with tasty flavor from chorizo, saffron, chocolate, lime zest, chipotle, cilantro and tortilla crudite. It was good to warm the soul, and I wanted to steal the container to have more later.
Next up was a Clear Thai Chicken Soup. The chicken stock and coconut water of the soup is a soothing balm to settle the heat from the Thai chili. This was a dish to clear the sinuses in the best way, plus it came with a stuffed chicken wing that glistened with a caramelized glaze. Finishing the dish with the sharp but pleasant bitterness was Second Self’s Thai Wheat which helped to settle the burn and make way for the main course.
Salmon Amuse Bouche with Red Hop Beer ice cream and rye bread. Served with Second Self’s Saison. This was a creamy, delicious combination paired with “a most straight-forward beer” almost like a Sauvignon Blanc, dry and bubbly with hints of spice.
Cabbage wrapped braised pork cheeks with kale, apple and endive. This hearty yet slightly sweet combinations made me to want all my future appple pie fillings to be stewed with pork cheeks. The kale leaf absorbs the flavor of the hue perfectly.
For dessert, we sampled four flavors of ice cream including chocolate fetish, Georgia pecan, sea salt Carmel, and cinnamon spice. Paired with Second Self’s Bleeding Heart beer which was inspired by red velvet cake.
To end our amazing meal, Piece of Cake had a cake decorating competition! When Piece of Cake is busy, they can produce up to 8,000 cupcakes a day! During the holidays, they’re baking 24 hours a day. My cake turned out nice for “PS” but I’ll leave it up to the professionals in the future.
I had a blast covering this event. Thanks to The Atlanta Food Blogger Society, Christophe’s To Go, Second Self, and Piece of Cake for the terrific tasting!
Mandy Morgan is a contributing writer for Pretty Southern.com, a UGA “Double Dawg” (BA- ’10, M.Ed. ’12), higher education administrator, and lover of all things sweet, sassy, and southern. If it’s 75 and sunny, you can spot her running in Piedmont Park or reading on the outdoor porch at Octane Coffee.