Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally have been melding genres their entire careers—bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, swing, alt-roots, folkabilly, you name it—but when it came time to put together Western Sun, their third album as the Nell & Jim Band, Robinson and Nunally wed their passion for songwriting and storytelling, using their vocabulary of way-back influences; a story told from the roots of roots music. Available everywhere May 29, Western Sun features Robinson and Nunally as well as their stellar band—bass fiddle player Jim Kerwin (Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Yo-Yo Ma), drummer/percussionist Alex Aspinall (Chris O’Connell & the Smart Alecks, Silvestre Martinez), and accordionist/keyboard player Rob Reich (Gaucho, Circus Bella) writing and creating with a particular point of view in mind. “The original songwriting on Western Sun is tied together with a thread, our visceral response to the backlash about immigrants in this country,” says Robinson. “It’s profoundly disturbing to us. Our families are immigrants, and particularly being West Coast people with roots in the South, we believe so strongly in the beauty of diversity and culture.”
Robinson and Nunally are based in San Francisco, California, and both practice vegan lifestyles—yes, even on the road when touring. They’ve shared their favorite vegan spots in and around the Bay Area with Famadillo.
1) Judy’s Place in Crockett, CA (Vegan Friendly)
Great vegan burritos. Jim has a house in Crockett and has been an active part of the community for many years. We love Judy and she is a GREAT cook. The place is vegan-friendly. In fact, it was her vegan burritos that got us started on a vegan diet, they are so good! We made friends with her daughter and son-in-law, who are also chefs and vegan, and they turned us onto recipes and dishes for a vegan lifestyle. No website, but you can find her on Yelp. They are closed most Saturdays and Sundays and have limited hours.
We discovered this place on the app Happy Cow when we were wandering around North Beach in San Francisco, on our way to a Mother Jones magazine political briefing! We were delighted to find it and love the atmosphere. They usually have live music and sometimes dancing.
Another place we found wandering around Oakland! We used the Happy Cow app and there it was. A small place with total charm and outdoor seating. Love the Pozole and Huarache!
4) Millennium in Oakland, CA (All Vegan)
This is an upscale vegan place with beautiful courtyard seating. It’s wonderful for special occasions. We love the Black Rice Risotto cake with roasted pumpkin, turnip & bok choy, star anise-fermented black bean glaze, and pumpkin chana coconut curry.
This may be our favorite vegan place in the Bay Area, though it is hard to choose. Our friend and former drummer Jon Arkin told us about this place. I really love their cold Buckwheat Tea. The food at Cha-Ya is so fresh and beautiful and simply presented. Love the Cha Ya Delight and Hana Gomoku and Oma-Gai.