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Milling About visits The Big Bungalow in Nashville, Tennessee. Located in historic Edgefield, it's a homey three bedroom B&B, owned and operated by Ellen Warshaw. A native New Yorker, Ellen tells host Robin Milling how she came to Music City with the dream of continuing her career as a singer/songwriter when 'the 80s and MTV killed my careeer'! As John Lennon says, 'life is what happens while you are busy making other plans;' Ellen made a go of it but found her style wasn't in harmony with everyone else's so she set her sights on something new. She says, 'It wasn't my heart. Rock 'n roll was my thing and here it's a different language. It wasn't fun anymore, so you have to move onto the next thing. I write feel songs and country music is story songs and that wasn't my story.'
That next chapter of her story was the hospitality business, specifically a B&B which came to her in a eureka moment one morning. Her philosophy was, 'if you build it they will come and that's what happened!' Her love of music is infused in The Big Bungalow with The Music City Room; covered with her own memorabilia and a country music decor. The other rooms are The Grandiose Suite and The Cozy Room. She also hosts house concerts in her living room where all the local musicians gather to jam.
The other kind of jam is served with the delicious breakfasts such as French Toast Casserole and Spinach and Feta Frittata with homemade fruit and nut bread. Ellen admits it was a learning curve to turn down the fancy. 'In the beginning I was making things like smoked oyster and proscuitto quiche with provolone cheese but nobody ate it!' Now her motto is simple but tasty.
Multi-talented performer Sam Harris joins host Robin Milling for a backstage chat about his one-man musical, 'Ham: A Musical Memoir,' now playing at Theater 511 at Ars Nova in New York City. Directed by Billy Porter, featuring pianist Todd Schroeder, the show is based on his autobiography, 'Ham: Slices of A Life.'
On stage Sam expertly tells stories, speaking about his life's journey from boyhood to the present; whether in song or candid monologues. He tells Robin he's embraced the term, 'ham,' recalling his earliest performance at three singing The Star Spangled Banner at a football game in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Sam says performing is everything to him. 'It was my coping mechanism being a little bit of a different kind of kid growing up in rural, Baptist South; the buckle of the bible belt! For a burgeoning gay showbusiness kid it was a little freaky especially being born in the early 60s.'
And for those not born in the 60s, Star Search was the American Idol of it's day, where Sam won the 1983 grand champion singer with his rousing rendition of 'Over The Rainbow.' He tells Robin he accepts the legacy, along with his other accomplishments as an actor, a writer, and a recording aritst.
Sam talks about the cathartic experience he feels exorcising his demons on stage, although some things were left in the book such as his alcoholism; celebrating 11 years sober. Even though the show is personal to his life experience, he tells Robin it's universal. 'I don't think there's anybody who doesn't feel outside. I don't think there's anybody who doesn't need to be told 'you're enough.''
For more about Sam visit http://www.samharris.com/
Milling About visits the Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. Our first stop is Cottonwood Canyon (www.cottonwoodcanyon.com) hosted by Randy. Known for their Pinot Noir, it's the first winery in Santa Barbara county to be put in caves; 6,000 square feet to keep the temperature and humidity constant for fine wines. They also have a European style 2001 Pinot with hints of earthy peat moss, mushroom truffle, caramel smoke and then the berries (in that order). Randy says their 'slap upside the head' perfect prime rib Syrah has red licorice and plum flavors. And their dessert Syrah comes with instructions to go perfectly with chocolate.
Our next stop is the Santa Barbara Winery (www.sbwinery.com) hosted by Shai. It's the oldest winery in the Funk Zone. Their white wine is produced on the premises and their reds are done at Lafond vineyards in the Santa Rita hills. Their Pinot Gris has aromatics of granny smith apple and green pear; Shai recommends it as a cocktail wine. Their Reislings have different levels of sweetness to the amount of alcohol; the less sugar goes well with spicy thai and the sweeter wine is described as a cheesecake dessert.
Our last stop is Riverbench Winery (www.riverbench.com) known for their sparkling wines; hosted by Cassie. Their Blanc de Blanc has notes of apple, kiwi and a toastiness that is attributed to an unfortunate fire but lends itself to a delicious smokey flavor. Check out their Valentine's Day mixer with a never before tasted Pinot and game night where you can taste wine and challenge yourself to Twister!
Milling About visits the Bath Street Inn in Santa Barbara, California. Host Robin Milling chats with co-owner Deborah about this lovely 1895 Victorian home which was gifted by Mr. Hales to his wife Abigail for their 50th wedding anniversary. In fact, Deborah tells Robin that The Abigail Room is the former master bedroom where guests have reported sightings of a white-haired woman sitting on the edge of their bed. This however was 15 years before their time with the inn so Deborah jokes that perhaps she's moved out!
The Bath Street Inn is a mixture of the old and the new with eight guest rooms. We stayed in The Rose Room, aptly named for the wallpaper which has a jacuzzi; perfect at the end of a long day walking downtown Santa Barbara. The newer Summer House with fireplaces and jacuzzis is adjacent to the wisteria covered courtyard where breakfast is also served. And breakfast is a healthier vegetarian alternative which Deborah says was put into place because the former owner wasn't exactly a morning person! Each morning homemade granola with seeds and nuts is served along with fresh fruit complimented by gourmet-style meatless dishes. You will never miss the meat or taste the difference as they are delicious as well as nutritious. During our stay we were served peach-topped croissant french toast, baked pear with ginger sauce, eggs florentine with raspberry muffins, and pain perdu with cherry berry stuffing...yum!
For more information visit www.bathstreetinn.com
To celebrate the holidays, Milling About joins the cast of Elf, now playing at The Papermill Playhouse. Based on the film, it's a musical about Buddy, an oprhan who was left on Santa's doorstep in the North Pole and raised by elves. All grown up, he returns to earth to discover his true identity; and in the process learns much more about love and family.
Host Robin Milling asks James Moye (Buddy), Heidi Blickenstaff (Emily Hobbs), Robert Cuccioli (Walter Hobbs), Jake Faragalli (Michael), Kate Fahrner (Jovie), Paul C. Vogt (Santa) and Matthew Sklar (Composer) about five things they couldn't live without if they traveled from earth to the North Pole and their fondest Christmas memories.
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