When Kroger featured decorative ceramic pumpkins outside this week, I was aghast.  Then offended!  Then resigned.  It’s not like I’ve never seen a decorative pumpkin in August before, but it’s always jarring.  Summer is still sizzling in Nashville and at Bacon!

This year’s Summer Reading Series continues with Brant and Joelle Phillips today and Governor and Mrs. Haslam next week.

The lovely Miss Rayna

The lovely Miss Rayna

Brant Phillips is cool as a cucumber in the courtroom and managing complex negotiations, but don’t let him fool you.  He’s a kind, gentle soul – just ask his three nieces, Miss Rayna, or anyone else who’s spent more than a few hours with him.  Brant keeps busy as chair of the 90-lawyer Litigation Group at Bass Berry & Sims, serving on the law firm’s Executive Committee as well as the Nashville Symphony’s Board of Directors.  It’s fair to say that his wife, Joelle, keeps him on his toes as well!  Joelle is President of AT&T Tennessee, as smart and savvy as they come.  She loves outings with the nieces, spoiling Miss Rayna, entertaining, riding in her convertible, and traveling with Brant.  Her civic commitments around town are legion, her warmth and intelligence appreciated by all.

From Brant and Joelle…

What’s your favorite thing about summer?

Brant:  Daylight until 8:30 pm.

Joelle:  Tomatoes and cucumbers.

True or False: Summer is Overrated. (Explain)

Brant:  False.  Summer – and all that comes with it, like cookouts, vacation and more time outdoors – is essential to human happiness.

Joelle:  False.  Summertime is when Dill came to visit Scout and Jem.  Summertime is the setting for Rear Window and Summer of 42 and Dazed and Confused.  “Summertime” is the tune that haunts from Porgy and Bess.  Summertime inspires.

What did you love about summer as a kid?

Brant:  Playing tennis all day long.

Joelle:  My family read books aloud during the summer months.  My sister and father both have June birthdays – angel food cake with fresh strawberries. Fireflies, meteor showers and homemade peach ice cream.

Loved camp / hated camp / didn’t go to camp?

Brant:  Did not really have the camp experience, except for two or three week-long stints at Camp Sumatanga, a United Methodist Church youth camp near Gallant, Alabama.  With apologies to John Wesley, I did not enjoy it.

Joelle:  My first camp experience was as a counselor the summer after my freshman year in college.  Tons of fun to spend that summer with my best pal Betsy Jones (now Hindman) comparing notes on our college experiences and lucky to have the world’s best junior counselor Trayte Gassenheimer (now Peters).  The entire enterprise was about helping kids have fun and feel confident – while avoiding snakes.

Most memorable summer vacation as a kid or adult?

IMG_3890Brant:  First trip to Williamsburg and Washington, D.C. in the Summer 1983.  Loved everything about it.

Joelle:  Scotland this summer – Highland Games in Luss.  Men flipping tree trunks for sport.  In skirts.  Fabulous.

Ice Cream or Sorbet? (Explain)

Brant:  Sorbet – most of the fun without any of the fat, and I need all the help I can get.

Joelle:  Ice cream – especially, root beer floats in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Favorite summer drink?

Brant:  Vodka tonic with lemon AND lime.

Joelle:  The “Screaming Flanigen” – a frozen concoction inspired by a colicky baby (who later turned into a perfect angel).  The exact recipe is a family secret, but it involves pink grapefruit, maraschino cherries, vodka, and fizzy soda.

South of France, South Beach, Southampton – or other favorite beach?

Brant:  Amelia Island, Florida.  I like Atlantic beaches, plus I grew up going there with my extended family.  So, in addition to being a very nice beach, it holds a lot of fond memories for me.

Joelle:  Brant has sold me on Amelia Island.  I particularly like the fact that, during the summer, there’s a local ballroom dance club whose members gather in the local hotel lobby every night to practice.  By the end of the evening, the floor is crowded with serious dancers, not so serious dancers, plus lots of children (with sunny-pink noses) wiggling with Granddads.

Best Amusement Park Ride or Game?

Brant:  A roller coaster called the “Mindbender” at Six Flags over Georgia, which included two or three 360 degree loops.  I spent an inordinate amount of my paper route money riding that thing in 1982.

Joelle:  I don’t understand roller coasters, but I love a convertible ride in the sunshine.

If you were going to get a tattoo, what would it be and where?

Brant:  Those who know me also know that I would NEVER get a tattoo.  If I did, however, I would get a small red welsh dragon — known as the Y Ddraig Goch – in honor of my family heritage.  As for where, I will simply say that a gentleman is entitled to his secrets.

welsh_flag_imageJoelle:  I’m stumped.

Best summertime restaurant in Nashville?

Brant:  Our screened porch.  Joelle is a fantastic cook, and she sets a beautiful table.  She makes flower arrangement that rival what you can get at any florist in town.  Barring that, I love Josephine regardless of the time of year.

Joelle:  I love summertime suppers with our giggling nieces – we’ve had lots of those at Ted’s Montana Grill.

What are you reading this summer?

Brant:  Too many legal briefs.  When I’m not doing that, I am trying (and failing) to keep pace with the weekly flow of New Yorker magazines that once again are coming to the house since I foolishly decided to renew my subscription earlier this year.  People keep telling me to switch to The Atlantic – which is a monthly – in order to give myself more breathing room between issues, and I may just have to do it.


Joelle:  Our recent visit to Edinburgh included an amazing visit to the Scottish National Library (similar in mission to our National Archives and Library of Congress combined), where we viewed several documents from their collection of Scottish author Muriel Sparks’ papers.  I listened to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on audible on the drive from Edinburgh to the Highlands, and now I’m working my way through a collection of her short stories.  Wicked wit and original perspective.













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Image of Y Ddraig Goch from

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