While Nashville may be The Music City, Knoxville is making some noise. Our eyes (and ears) are on Knoxville rockers The Dirty Guv’nahs, reimagining and representing a soulful Southern sound by combining the nuances of modern folk (redolent of The Avett Brothers, sans the banjo) with equal parts roots and rasp.
Led by the visceral voice of James Trimble and linked by a love of music (and the Tennessee Volunteers), the energetic ensemble honed their craft, sold out shows, and have since shared the stage with everyone from Zac Brown Band to Wilco. Instrumental stylings include brothers Justin and Aaron Hoskins on the bass and drums (respectively), Chris Doody bringing bluesy piano notes, and Michael Jenkins and Cozmo Holloway with rousing guitar riffs.
Now promoting their most recent album, Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies, The Guvs are taking to the road. We caught up with the band during their drive through Dixie. They shared with us their Top 10 Southern Pit Stops, and after spending a third of the year on the road, these guys know a thing or two about pit stops.
1. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, TN: “We’ve been to Gus’s a couple times as a band and individually a ton. It’s the best chicken on planet earth; it has a wow factor,” James says. “It was my choice for a birthday dinner,” Aaron chimes in. James continues, “And don’t try to get cute with the menu, there’re only five things anyhow. Just get the fried chicken.” (901-527-4877; 310 South Front St.)
2. Chandler’s Deli in Knoxville, TN: “Chandler’s is a hometown favorite of ours,” James says. “Just know that the word deli is deceptive—this is soul food.” Justin adds, “Don’t go there and try to eat healthy. Go there to enjoy yourself. There’s too much grease and too much sugar, and you’ll just want a nap afterward.” (862-595-0212; 3101 Magnolia Ave.)
3. The Red Bar in Santa Rosa Beach, FL: “This place gets a lot of hype, but it’s well-deserved,” Justin says. “It has a great five-item menu with the best fresh seafood, and you always have live music while you eat.” (850-231-1008; 70 Hotz Ave.)
4. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville, TN: “We’re going back in the chicken direction,” James begins. “Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack has hot chicken that will make you weep.” Justin continues, “Don’t go there and try to be someone you’re not. If you go there and order the hot, you’re an idiot.” James chimes in, “If you go in there and order extra hot, the kitchen staff will come out and laugh at you. The chicken will win.” (615-226-9442; 123 Ewing Drive)
5. Five Star Day Café in Athens, GA: “They have a large statue of Elvis when you go inside,” Justin notes. “They have an Elvis sandwich—peanut butter, banana, mayonnaise, and bacon—made with love.” (706-543-8552; 229 East Broad St.)
6. Central BBQ in Memphis, TN: “We’re going back to Memphis,” James says. Justin begins, “I’d like to say on the record that I like all barbecue. I don’t think you should have to choose. They’re all good if they’re done well.” James adds, “And if you go to this place, you have to try the Honey Gold Hot Wings as a side.” (901-272-9377; 2249 Central Ave.)
7. Salsa’s in Asheville, NC: “Salsa’s is upscale Mexican,” James says. “They have the hottest margarita you’ve ever had,” says Justin. “If you’re feeling dangerous, try the Habanero Margarita. It’s like drinking gasoline, but it’s good.” (828-252-9805; 6 Patton Ave.)
8. Cafe on Main in Columbus, MS: “This one is very off the beaten path,” James begins. “We stumbled upon this place driving from Starkville, Mississippi, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because Columbus is the only place to stop. Their menu changes daily. They also won the award for best desserts in their town.” Justin continues, “Everyone of us tried one, and they’re excellent.” (662-241-0045; 101 5th St. South)
9. Old Tyme Burger Shoppe in Texarkana, AK: “It looks like it’s been there forever,” James says. “Old Tyme Burger Shoppe has a lot of history, and they have about a dozen different burger options.” (870-772-5775; 1205 Arkansas Blvd.)
10. Ernestine and Hazel’s in Memphis, TN: “You go here for two things: the soul burger and the jukebox,” James says. “And there’s a hidden bar upstairs that you have to be on a mission to find. The bartender’s name is Nate. He’s at least 70 years old and will give you a history lesson. There’s not an ounce of commercialism in that bar.” (901-523-9754; 531 South Main St.)
The Dirty Guv’nahs will continue touring in the South through Dec., 2012. Check out their tour dates here.