Justin Timberlake Returns To TN Roots with the Pilgrimage Music Festival

unnamed(1)Actor and Musician Justin Timberlake continues to expand his role in the music industry by signing on as a partner and producer of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. The two-day event transforms The Park At Harlinsdale Farm into an oasis of music, food, and culture set against the natural setting of this former walking horse farm located in Franklin, TN taking place September 24 and 25, 2016.

Born and raised in Memphis, Justin Timberlake will return to his Tennessee roots to not only come on board as a producer of the festival but to lay down roots literally.

“I couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of The Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival. Being a Tennessee native and now a member of the community in Franklin, I have been watching the development of the festival over the past two years. For me, this is an amazing opportunity to help build an exceptional event and contribute to my community,” says Justin Timberlake.

Timberlake’s creative director Trace Ayala who is also a Franklin resident, couldn’t agree more. “Being a resident of Leiper’s Fork and the Franklin community, I’m thrilled to have this event right here in my own backyard! As Justin’s creative director, I’m looking forward to putting our stamp on this thing! It’ll also serve as a great stage to showcase the artists we’ve signed to our artist development company, Villa 40.”

pilgramage festival 2016Original Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival producers (Kevin Griffin, Brandt Wood, Michael Whelan) will work closely with Justin Timberlake, although he will not be performing this year, and Trace Ayala on the creative direction of the upcoming festival taking place September 24 + 25 as well as years to come.

“It really is a perfect fit to have Justin on board as a partner not only for his knowledge and accomplishments in the music industry but also his love for the Tennessee area,” says co-founder Kevin Griffin. “We are looking forward to introducing new fans to Pilgrimage and to the music, food, and culture of the southern region.”

The two-day festival, which is going into its sophomore year, has been hailed by Rolling Stone as having “established itself as a festival to watch” and will return with another incredibly curated lineup. Heavy hitters such as Beck, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Jason Isbel, and Kacey Musgraves will #MakeThePilgrimage to Franklin along with indie favorites including Kaleo, The Strumbellas, Shakey Graves and more.In addition to artists performing their own sets, Pilgrimage will feature Pilgri-mashups where one-of-a-kind pairings of musicians collaborate with one another on stage as well as the Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor stage featuring local artists. The family friendly festival also features world renowned children’s musicians as well as interactive activities throughout the day. REMEMBER: Kids under 10 get in FREE when accompanied by an adult GA Ticket. Last but not least, the region’s best food and drink will be on display as well as numerous local artists and artisans creating an all-encompassing festival experience.

Not only will the festival drive tourism dollars to Williamson County but a portion of each ticket sale will benefit the City of Franklin and Franklin Parks. In addition, a portion of ticket sales will also benefit MusiCares®, a nonprofit organization that was established by The Recording Academy® to provide a wide range of emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery resources to members of the music community.


Coffee Shop Etiquette 101

There are some things you should never do in a coffee shop.  You may think your behavior is totally normal, but you might be royally pissing off your barista.  Who cares, you say?  Well, not only will your baristas secretly dread seeing you, you may actually be slowing down the pace of the cafe for other patrons.  So many people (most of them good people) are guilty of such bad etiquette that I thought I’d list some items here for all to see.

Pay Attention

working-in-retail-gets-me-every-time-65621This one should be obvious, right?  But in today’s world, NO ONE pays attention to anything but their phone!  You stare at your phone while waiting online.  You talk on it while placing your order, which is kind of rude, by the way!  Hell, ,you even pay for your coffee with your phone, but yet you never have your app ready at the register!  Worse yet, you don’t even have your order ready after waiting on line!  To top it all off, you complain about how long the line is and how we’re making you late for work… it could never be poor planning on your part, right?

However, lines can get pretty long during the morning and we try so hard to get you guys in and out quickly.  But sometimes, our customers don’t make it easy.  I’m not saying it’s your fault, but it’s everyone’s fault.  You don’t know what you want, so you stare at the menu board, trying to figure it out, even though, we both know you’re going to get a caramel macchiato, though you want to “try something new”.  You know what happened before you got to the register?  The person in front of you also couldn’t decide what they wanted.  And the person after you?  You guessed it, also decided to play on their phone instead of figuring out  what they were ordering.  In short, use your time on line wisely.

Don’t Stare!

When you’re at work, do you like it if someone is behind you, lurking over your shoulder while you type at your desk?  No?  Funny, us baristas hate lurkers too!  Staring at us over the espresso machine does not bring your drink out faster!  In fact, it totally creeps us out.  It also makes us nervous, thinking we’re not moving fast enough when in fact, you JUST placed your order and there are 10 drinks in front of yours.  And FYI, if you happened to have ordered food, hot tea or regular coffee, it is not the barista at the espresso bar’s responsibility to make those items, so don’t look at them wondering whether or not they’re making it.

Stop Explaining

Not to be rude, but we don’t need to hear reasons behind why you order a certain drink or why you don’t want to reload your gift card or how you spilled your drink.  We will gladly try our best to solve your problem and give you great service, no questions asked.  Yes, we love small talk.  Yes, we love building relationships with our customers, but just let us clean up your spilled drink instead of continuing to describe how it happened.  When placing your order, we don’t need to know why you want nonfat milk, but keep the whip cream.  We’ll make it anyway you want – no explanation needed!

No Touching!

Anything behind the counter or bar area is off limits to customers.  Just because you have long-ass arms that can reach a cup, straw or our water spout does not mean it is free to take!  In fact, if you touch a cup or lid, we are technically required by our quality assurance inspectors to toss those items out.  Just politely ask for something and we will be happy to get it for you!

Don’t Talk To Us Like Idiots

willywonkaThis one should go without saying, but nothing bugs me more than when people speak to me like my brain can’t comprehend much or they talk slow as sludge to me.  “I would like a… grande… mocha… extra shot… decaf… iced.”  And then they look at me as if waiting for me to ask them to repeat their order.  It actually makes it harder for me to take your order the more you slow it down.  As baristas, we were taught to call out beverages in a certain order.  We don’t expect customers to figure out our code, but telling us your order in a normal, audible speaking voice is best.  By the way, while we’re at it – if you specify the size and whether it is iced or hot first, that is a huge help to your barista.  We can’t mark anything on a cup until we know those 2 things.  Lastly, you repeating “decaf” five times is unnecessary.

Stop Spelling Your Name For Us

As a writer and awesomely intuitive name speller, this actually offends me.  If I ask your name, tell me what it is.  Don’t immediately start spelling.  Now you’ve thrown me off.  If someone asks my name, I don’t say, “Es. Ay…” I fully expect someone to think my name is “Essay” before I can finish spelling.

Also, if I ask you to repeat your name, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to spell it.  It simply means it is too damn loud between the blenders, the grinder and espresso machine to hear you.  Just repeat your name for us.  If I ask if your name is Sarah with an “H” or Zack with a “K”, don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.  I take my names very seriously and nothing pisses me off more than people spelling my name “Sandi” (as so many of my co-workers do).

Okay, wait.  Scratch this whole paragraph… maybe most baristas don’t care about spelling your name right at all.  Maybe some of them are snarky jerks.  But if you happen to come to my register, let me spell your damn name! ;-)  Apparently, I am just a weirdo with a name spelling fetish.

The Traveling Barista is meant to be in good fun.  Baristas genuinely love their customers, but we deal with the general public on a constant basis and therefore need to vent heavily.

Have a coffee shop story you want to share?  Comment below!

Funky Monkey Stuffed French Toast

I’m very much the unplanned cook.  I don’t purchase ingredients with recipes in mind, I create recipes from what I have on-hand.  This system can fail, but often, I enjoy the challenge and come up with some pretty creative ways to incorporate things from my pantry.

This stuffed French toast recipe was inspired by something I saw online, but I have changed quite a bit.  It’s easy, vegan and customizable!

funky monkey french toast 2FUNKY MONKEY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST


1/2 Banana, the riper, the better!
1/4 cup Nut Butter (I used Almond, but I bet PB would be fantastic!)
1 TBSP Cacao or Cocoa Powder
1 TBSP Cacao Nibs or Nondairy Chocolate Chips
2 TBSP Brewed Coffee

1 tsp Vanilla
1 TBSP Brewed Coffee
Dash Ground Cinnamon
Dash Ground Turmeric
1/2 cup Nondairy Milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Lemon Juice

6 Slices Whole Grain Bread (or any bread you want!)
2 TBSP Coconut Oil

Optional Toppings: Sliced Banana, Maple Syrup, Cacao Nibs, Powdered Sugar, Cinnamon, Walnuts, Chocolate Sauce, Honey or Agave

Step 1: Mix ingredients of batter with a fork and let sit for a minute.  This will allow time for the mixture to curdle to make a buttermilk consistency.

Step 2: While waiting for the batter to curdle, mix together the ingredients of the filling.  Mixture should be spreadable.  If it is too runny, add more banana or almond butter.

Step 3: Spread filling on 3 slices of bread.  Place the other 3 slices on top to make sandwiches.  Cut diagonally.

Step 4: Heat a pan on low to medium heat.  Add the coconut oil to the pan.

Step 5: Soak sandwich halves into batter, making sure the bread gets wet on all sides.  Don’t soak too long though – you don’t want the bread to fall apart!  Immediately, place in pan.*

Step 6: Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  Serve on a plate with maple syrup and banana slices or your toppings of choice.  Enjoy!

*Author’s Note: Some breads get soggier than others, so choose wisely.  The first time I made this, the bread I used barely got soggy, which upset me – I want my French Toast to be a little doughy.  I switched to Multigrain Sunflower Bread from Costco and it was the right choice – but I had to be very quick with the batter process or else it would have fallen apart.

Trying out this recipe?
Post your photos and tag @SandyLoMedia on Instagram! 🙂



The Girl and the Dreamcatcher: Dove Cameron & Ryan McCartan Talk EP, Descendants 2 + More

Although The Girl and the Dreamcatcher sounds like the name of my next novel, it’s actually a musical duo consisting of Dove Cameron (Disney’s Descendants, Liv and Maddie) and fiance Ryan McCartan (Liv and Maddie, Rocky Horror Picture Show).  And yes, their personal story also sounds like the plot of a romance series: girl meets boy, they dislike each other, but are forced to work together and eventually fall in love, making sweet music together.  However, for Dove and Ryan — this isn’t a role they’ve been cast in, it’s their reality!

Available on iTunes
Available on iTunes

Last week, TGATDC dropped their first EP, Negatives, with their musical and personal chemistry apparent in every song.  Already receiving high-praise from the media, Negatives is heating up the iTunes charts quickly and their music video for “Make You Stay” went to #3 on VEVO’s Top New Music list.

Negatives consists of 6 infectious pop hits, but not your typical bubblegum or hot club songs we’ve come to expect from Disney stars of the past.  While danceable and upbeat, Dove and Ryan’s music surpasses cliches with electro-pop beats and incorporating themes like,wolves, the moon and stars — tieing in the dreamcatcher name.

“You know how I get when the sun goes down,” sings Ryan on “Glowing In The Dark” while other tracks “Cry Wolf” and the powerful “Monster” could be songs on the soundtrack for “Twilight”, but are beautifully done and relatable.

It’s incredibly hard not to fall in love with Dove and Ryan’s voices and how well they complement one another.  Seriously.  Listen and repeat this EP!

I sent the engaged couple some questions earlier this week and am happy to share their answers with you!

Sandy Lo: First, I LOVE the name of your duo. How did you come up with it?

Photos by Paul Smith
Photos by Paul Smith

Dove Cameron & Ryan McCartan (The Girl and the Dreamcatcher): Thank you so much! It was a big team effort to find a name that fit us as well as this one does…we are both such imagery based artists, we wanted to find something evocative and painted a mood for the listeners! Plus, we both had recurring themes of dreamcatchers in our lives.

SL: Congratulations on your EP, Negatives. What was the journey to release it like?

TGATDC: Again, thank you! We couldn’t be more thrilled. Negatives was a 2 year journey filled with long writing intensives, lots of ground work and long days, but ultimately some of the most fun we’ve had in our lives! Having it be out in the world for other people to feel what they feel about it is surreal, and something that we could never have prepared for.

SL: What sounds and themes were your main influence making Negatives?

TGATDC: Negatives is filled with lots of air, but also walls of sounds, ultimately resulting in a building of tension for the listener that we both really respond to. We wanted to write about real life circumstances that may not be as pretty or as “pop relevant” but that everyone could feel in their core as a place that they’ve been. Music should make one understand oneself better. And that’s what we had hoped to do.

SL: Does being a couple make it more challenging to work together?

TGATDC: Being a couple makes it easier and definitely harder to work together. Easier, because you get to spend so much time with one another, you never have to miss the other, and there is no lack of communication. Harder, because you’re spending almost 100% of your time with one person! There is bound to be some friction. And sometimes, work can bleed into home, which can make you feel like there is no escape from work.

SL: Describe your first impression of each other and how that might have changed over time.

TGATDC: We did not like each other at first. One of those “attraction being mistaken for annoyance or upset” kind of situations. If you know anything about our story, that obviously changed very quickly.

SL: Dove, can you give us any teasers about “Descendants 2”?

Dove Cameron: I can’t tell you much about D2, but I can tell you it is very different from round one! Lots of different locations and images in this one…and lots more drama.

SL: Ryan, any more acting projects you can talk about coming up?

Ryan McCartan: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” comes out October 20th, and I have an indie drama called “The Standoff” coming out in September. Check ’em out!

SL: Can we catch you on tour in the near future?

TGATDC: We hope to tour in the future! Keep an eye on our socials…

SL: What song on the EP was the most personal one for you?

TGATDC: Honestly, they were all personal to us. They wouldn’t have made the EP if they weren’t! As artists, probably “Gladiator”, because it took the most time and effort, and we fought the most for it. As people, probably “My Way”, or “Cry Wolf”. Lots of personal stuff in there.

SL: What’s next for you guys personally and professionally?

TGATDC: Now that “Liv and Maddie” has ended, we’re playing a game of catch up, in a huge way, both professionally and personally. It’s definitely a time of transition, learning, building and growing! It’s like graduating high school or college. Just a whole lot of a lot. Lot’s to do with furthering the band while Dove is away at “Descendants 2” and Ryan does press for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The life of two actor/musician performers who are also engaged is a bit of a “play it by ear” life!

SL: Is there anything you want to say to all of your fans out there?

TGATDC: To our DreamCatchers: We love you more than we have words to say! Thank you for skyrocketing Negatives to #2 on the iTunes pop charts, and for your never ending support of everything that we do! We hope that we are making you all as proud as you make us every day! Keep catching dreams.

Follow The Girl and the Dreamcatcher:




Suicide Squad Makes You Want More; Plus An Ode To Jared Leto

Last night, I saw “Suicide Squad” in 3D, which honestly wasn’t worth the pricier ticket.  I will be blunt about my opinion of the film: I am no comic book junky and I have not watched every single DC movie made, so take my review with a grain of salt.

The Joker scenes were the most enigmatic ones to watch, as expected, but they felt much too little for such a huge hype.  It’s hard to believe Jared Leto went into full-blown method acting mode for such brief screen time.

I understand this was pretty much an introduction to the Suicide Squad, but the story felt rushed and thrown together.  We were introduced to characters incredibly quickly and I found myself wanting to know more.

What the hell was Killer Croc’s story?  I found him to be useless and I wasn’t particularly fond of Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) either.  The whole Enchantress thing was just bizarre.  If they had fleshed out the story a bit, maybe it wouldn’t have felt so out of place.

Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) were the only two who got decent screen time and back story, though still not enough for my taste.  They made an effort to sum up El Diablo’s (Jay Hernandez) story with one short scene after his silent brooding for most of the movie.

While I loved Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley, her on-again-off-again fake New York (Gotham?) accent mixed with her natural Aussie one shining through bothered me at times.

Overall, I found the movie entertaining for the colorful performances by Leto, Robbie and Smith’s natural ability to carry any movie.  I just wish the script was written better.


Everyone knows I’m a huge Jared Leto fan.  Like most women my age, I was introduced to Jared as the hot guy who “leans great” in My So-Called Life.  While yes, I thought Jordan Catalano was beautiful and misunderstood, it wasn’t until I became a 30 Seconds To Mars fan in the 2000s that I actually fell for Jared.

There was something amazing, vocally and lyrically about him that I hadn’t experienced with any other music artist.  His adventurous spirit, the fact that he was a self-admitted dreamer, and vegan-ish ways have pulled me in deeper.

And while many criticize him for his method acting or think he is some Hollywood jackass, I found the one thing he truly has in common with Catalano — he is misunderstood.

Or maybe I’m just smitten and have made him into my own fictional character.  Either way, the Jared Leto I choose to love is smart, pithy, gorgeous in even the least likely styles (who else could pull off puke pink pants and a green coat?), dedicated, and truly lives life to the fullest.  And probably the biggest turn on is, he doesn’t give a F about what anyone thinks.

Maybe you hate him, maybe you met him, but like most celebrities, all we have is an image we choose to believe about them combined with what the media would like us to believe.  To that, I say, fall in love with characters, and worry about the reality when it directly involves you or the world negatively.

Enjoy this slideshow of the many looks of Jared Leto!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


%d bloggers like this: