28 May 2013

24-28 May 2013: Nashville, US

I am not sure why I wanted to visit Nashville, but the idea hit me and I couldn’t let it go (probably because of the programme 'Nashville').  In any case I decided it was time to visit and visiting during a long weekend seemed the best idea.  I did do some prep beforehand, such as booking a night at Bluebird Café (which sold out within 20mins of tickets going on sale), booking a night at the Grand Ole Opry, and just doing some research about what to see and do.

Nashville is the corner stone of country music in America - the long list of entertainers coming from here is immense.  The first day or so I spent walking around and just getting my bearings – I then joined up with a walking tour and then a hop on/off trolley bus.  Some of the things I recommend doing/seeing include:

Ryman Auditorium
One of the most famous concert halls in the history of country music, this auditorium still hosts live music events.

Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is known for creating one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences for audiences of all ages. It's where unforgettable moments happen every week...moments like the night Little Jimmy Dickens scaled a ladder to invite Trace Adkins to become an Opry member. With country music's new stars, superstars, and legends live on stage, you never know what'll happen next.

Bluebird Café
The Bluebird Café is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music.  Their reputation as a listening room is based on the acoustic music that is their signature style. 

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
This museum highlights the history of country music from its birthplace in the Music City to present-day.

Walkin' Nashville - Music City Legends Tourhighlights from this walking tour include
  • Printers Alley - small, gritty street lined with some of Nashville's best bars and restaurants
  • Hatch Show Print – one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America. Located in a historic building at 316 Broadway in the heart of downtown Nashville, Hatch Show Print has produced posters for performers ranging from B.B. King to Dolly Parton
Hop On/Off trolley bus highlights include:
  • Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park – the Bicentennial Mall stretches through downtown Nashville, on the north side of the State Capitol Grounds. It covers 19 acres and contains numerous exhibits of Tennessee history and geography.  There are also bells that ring on the hour every hour.
  • Centennial Park - the Parthenon stands as the centerpiece of Centennial Park.  Alan LeQuire's 1990 re-creation of the Athena statue is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building is a full-scale replica and the statue of Athena is cuirassed and helmeted, carries a shield on her left arm and a small (6ft) statue of Nike (Victory) in her right palm, and stands 42ft (13m) high, and gilt with more than eight pounds of gold leaf
Even though it was May, it was hot (85 degrees or so)….so I hate to think what the temps would be in the middle of summer!  I also ended up doing some shopping – who could leave Nashville without getting a pair of country and western boots – and of course ended up in a few of the many bars that upcoming and ‘wannabe’ country singers perform in (the most famous being ‘Tootsies’).

Downtown Nashville is more geared for the party animal and/or country music fan – there are lots of bars and a lot of drinking is done till the early hours of the morning. I would recommend coming and seeing this neck of the woods, but it is not really anything like the show ‘Nashville’ and I wouldn’t stay more than 2-3 days if you don’t have your own transport.  Many attractions are out of town and you either need a taxi or your own car.

But it is what it is, and you can just feel the fervor and love country music fans have for this place.