Country singer David Nail describes himself as "a vodka-soda with a lemon guy," but he'd rather drink in a dive than a cocktail lounge. That's the thing about Nail, a Grammy-nominated songwriter who is releasing his third album, "I'm A Fire," today, he's a small-town Missouri jock who prides himself on being able to "throw down in New York City." He's a cosmopolitan good ol' boy, the latest member – along with The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Jack White – of Music City's skinny tie fraternity. If he's country on stage (and he certainly is), he's rock 'n roll at home.
That's why modern Nashville suits him so well. "Whatever your personality is on a specific day, there's a part of town you can go to," he explains. As a man whose many moods have inspired hits like "Let It Rain," which tells the story of infidelity in quintessential country melodrama, to his newest hit "Whatever She's Got," which pairs sappy lyrics and a catchy tune, Nail is a fixture in both the boot-stomping bars on Broadway and the 12 South District's dark lounges, where no one bats an eye when a man orders vodka.
Here are the rising star's favorite Music City hangs.
Nail heads to M. Restaurant & Bar when he's looking for "traditional Southern dishes with a little flare to them." The fourth establishment from local restaurateurs, Jan and Bernie Strawn, M. has an off-kilter take on home cooking, offering chicken and waffle sandwiches with rosemary maple syrup and fried green tomatoes with jalapeño pimento cheese and Sriracha aioli.
This is Nail's current favorite place to go out to eat with his wife, Catherine. "They know us by name," says Nail. "Normally they know what we're in the mood to eat. I don't know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing." His dish of choice is the pork chop, but he suggests getting a bit wilder before settling down with a classic.
Credit: Steve Lowry