Sunday, December 28, 2014

Guantanamera Restaurant closes, taking with it "most memorable" paella and leaving only banquet and event business

The closure notice posted on the restaurant's Facebook page

The same week that Nashville Scene food critic Carrington Fox listed owner Alfonso Nieto's paella as one of "2014's most memorable mouthfuls," on December 26 Guantanamera Restaurant posted on Facebook that it has closed.

Starting with its April 2013 debut, the Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American menu had featured a variety of food and drink including fried plantains, tamales, empanadas, maduros, and mojitos.

The closure announcement cites location (near the intersection of Nolensville Road and Harding Place) as the economic culprit.

The announcement goes on to say that the banquet and events business will survive, and that a second chance for the restaurant - at a different site - might be in the cards.

Three days before it posted its closure notice, Guantanamera's paella was praised by the Nashville Scene as one of the top ten Nashville tastes of the year

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thursday at 3pm: World Cup viewing party at Guantanamera

At 3pm Nashville time on Thursday, June 12, the World Cup begins in Brazil. Middle Tennesseans can watch the opening match, Brazil-Croatia, at a viewing party at Guantanamera Restaurant, at 3744 Nolensville Pike, near the entrance to the Nashville Zoo. The party starts at 2:30pm and will be hosted by the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

A finger food buffet, live music, and mojitos await attendees. Admission is $35 ($30 for TLACC members) and includes unlimited access to the buffet and two drink tickets.
"The World Cup is the biggest and greatest sports event in the world celebrated every four years. When 32 countries come together in one location to celebrate one sport we must take notice. Every four years Latinos from all over the world gather around a TV set to see their team/country play in the World Cup, if our team didn't qualify we pick our next top choice and when or if that team is disqualified we cheer for our "mother-land", Spain. The tradition is handed down from generation to generation, the World Cup is a must watch event. This year we the, Latin American Chamber of Commerce will celebrate this tradition with passionate seasoned soccer lovers and spectators alike, we will cheer, yell, applaud and possibly cry. It was important for us to offer this viewing party in a location that reminds us of being home, Guantanamera Restaurant, offers that taste of home in South Nashville. We hope to continue to celebrate our culture and traditions in our new home city and we hope to convert spectators into fans." -Marcela Gomez, VP of the Board of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce.
Read a glowing review of Guantanamera in the Nashville Scene, here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music Row exec and two media personalities: stay tuned for these interviews from the archives

Photo by Marino González. Licensed via Creative Commons.

A confession: some of my interviews with Hispanic Nashvillians have never seen the light of day. Yes, I asked questions, and the interviewees answered, but some of those exchanges wither away in storage collecting dust.

One of the interviews is with a morning co-host at a local Christian radio broadcaster, who got her job in 2010 and who gave me an interview in 2011. I posted an excerpt at the time, but there was much more to it that what you saw.

Another interview collecting dust is with a Music Row executive.  Another is with a local TV news personality.  You haven't seen either of those.

Just so you know, I'm dusting off these interviews.  Coming soon...   

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Jackie Arredondo CMA performance and donation to follow Sabado Gigante gig

Jackie Arredondo. Submitted photo.
Latina country music performing artist Jackie Arredondo will autograph and donate a pair of her boots to the CMA Celebrity Auction, as part of the CMA Music Festival this June. Proceeds raised by the annual auction are to be donated to CMA’s Keep the Music Playing charity in support of public school music education. Jackie will be performing during CMA Fest on June 3, 2014, in an unplugged show at O Gallery, located at 1305 Clinton St., Suite 120, from 6pm-8pm. Tickets can be purchased on her website or in person by contacting Sheyla Paz.

Jackie was recently on a panel of experts for a singing competition on Sábado Gigante, Univision’s long-running, highly rated variety show. Arredondo was also in charge of the vocal coaching for the competition, called Viva la Diva. Arredondo has provided vocal coaching to singers working with producers like Emilio Estefan, Tommy Mottola and Sean (P Diddy) Combs.

Arredondo, a Cuban-American raised in Miami, Florida is a multi-talented artist who has already gained attention for her career as a country singer; her EP, “Just Call Me Jackie,” which was produced in Nashville by Brian G White.

Her last single “Like We Used To” was playing on radios in over 50 stations around the world including in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Scotland, Australia, Netherlands, England, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Northern Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand and France. More recently, she released her new single “Amar Como Antes”, the spanish version of her song "Like We Used To" to the Latino market.

She was recently in Nashville recording her upcoming single.

More info at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Call for Volunteers: Nashville Film Festival 2014

Nashville Film Festival 2014 needs you.  With ten days--April 17-April 26--and two locations--Regal Green Hills' lower level and the downtown Walk of Fame Park, NaFF needs more volunteers than ever.  

Areas of service:
Box Office
Set-up and tear-down
Press & Industry tent
Projection assistant/runner
Laminate/ID checkers

Main Guidelines for Volunteers:
You must be at least 18 years of age.
You must be willing and able to work with the public.
You must be ready to have fun!

To volunteer, go here.  For more information, go here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

School board approves MNPS pre-K at Casa Azafran

Ribbon cutting in October 2013 of United Neighborhood Health Services' Unity Clinic at Casa Azafran. Another ribbon-cutting appears to be on the way, this time with Metro Schools. Photo source: Casa Azafran

Thanks to the Nashville public school board, four-year-olds may soon be attending pre-kindergarten at Casa Azafran, the prominent new immigrant-welcoming community center on Nolensville Road.

In today's Tennessean, Joey Garrison reported on last night's school board meeting, where planning for the pre-K center at Casa Azafran was approved. The idea of Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register is to expand the reach of pre-K throughout the entire city, according to the article. Garrison previously reported on the Casa Azafran-Metro Schools partnership in more detail, here, indicating that this new pre-K would be up and running for 60-80 new students in the fall of 2014.  Garrison cited Register as saying that improved, early English language learning would be one of the center's primary benefits.

Casa Azafran's December 2012 opening was covered by the Nashville Scene in this article by Jim Ridley, and the center features prominently in the paper's story naming Renata Soto as Nashvillian of the Year in 2013.

Conexion Americas, the non-profit which anchors Casa Azafran, also announced the news of the school board decision on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

From Oscars to Nashville Film Fest: Year of Firsts

by Cindy McCain

Congratulations to Alfonso Cuarón who made history this week as the first Latino to win the Oscar for Best Director. And congratulations to Nashville Film Festival next month, April 17 – 26, 2014, for a record-breaking number of entries—3,133 films from 125 countries—and other Fest Firsts. International submissions grew to 1,404 compared with U.S. films at 1,729.

In addition to the Nashville Film Festival named as an Academy Award Qualifying Festival for short narratives, short documentaries that win at NaFF will now be given Oscar consideration as well.

“In five years we’ve doubled the call,” said Brian Owens, artistic director. “We can attribute it to NaFF’s reputation among filmmakers as one of the best festivals to get into in the world, and Nashville’s reputation as one of the world’s best cities to visit.”

Other firsts in 2014, NaFF’s 45th Anniversary year, include NaFF’s inaugural Screenwriting Competition, drawing 1,523 entries in feature, short and teleplay divisions.  Also, the festival will expand to 10 days and will take place in two locations.

The downtown location, is named the Nissan Multicultural Festival Village, at Walk of Fame Park, will offer free films for the public nightly in NaFF’s outdoor theater.  It will also feature live music events, a cash bar, and, on weekends, activities for families. For three days, April 18, 19, and 20, NaFF will screen free films at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Regal Cinemas Green Hills will be the site of more than 200 film events in six theaters, the VIP tent for filmmakers, celebrities and members, and the NaFF Red Carpet.

“2014 promises to be a ground-breaking year for the Nashville Film Festival,” states NaFF Executive Director Ted Crockett.  “From expanding our dates to presenting events in multiple venues throughout Music City, these changes will lift NaFF into the top tier of 1,500 U.S. film festivals with programs and attendance rivaling Sundance, Toronto, and Seattle Film Festivals.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, April 7th at 10 AM for the Nashville Film Festival here:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rest in peace, two young pedestrians: Lucas Avila Primero, and Elena Zamora

Lucas Avila Primero
Lucas was from the city of Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, in Guatemala. He had two brothers and two sisters. He worked with his hands, in construction, on the Vanderbilt University campus. His visitation was at Ellis Funeral Home on Nolensville Road. He died December 7, 2013, crossing West End Avenue, close to where he worked.

Lucas Avila Primero was 25; may he rest in peace.

Elena Zamora
Elena listed Lebanon, Pennsylvania as her hometown. She spent time in Villarrubia De Los Ojos, Castilla-La Mancha, in Spain, where she had family, and she was fluent in Spanish and English. She had two brothers and three sisters. She was a junior at Hume-Fogg, where she ran track and field. Her visitation was at St. Henry Catholic Church on Harding Road. She died December 19, 2013, crossing the intersection of Rosa Parks Blvd. and Church Street, close to her school.

Elena Zamora was 19; may she rest in peace.

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