Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nashville

One of the things I loved most about Nashville was that music was everywhere!  And not just country music either, there was bluegrass, rock and roll, pop, blues, opera and jazz coming out of the speakers on the streets, filtering out the doors of the dozens of live music bars, restaurants and hotels, coming from the many street musicians and from the droves of struggling musicians playing in the yard of my hostel.  The Second Fiddle, The State, BB King’s Blues Bar and Cadillac Ranch are just a few of the places featuring live music at all hours of the day. It’s not uncommon to see cars from California, Iowa, Florida and all over packed full of all one’s possessions as they packed up and came to Nashville to try to get discovered as the next big country star.
No visit to Nashville is complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I had no idea that the shows at the Grand Ole Opry are broadcast on radio, 650 AM, and have been for 85 years!  Every Friday and Saturday night and some Tuesdays you can tune in, or log in to http://www.opry.com/'s live stream, and eavesdrop on what is going on in this fabulous venue!  I took a backstage tour and walked the path that the greats have walked to their dressing rooms, waiting room and right out onto the stage.  My tour group stood at the microphone at center stage, on the famous circle of the stage from the original Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium, and sang our little hearts out to an auditorium full of 4,400 empty seats.  We didn’t sound very good, and the song was “You Are My Sunshine” (not exactly a country classic), but it was a pretty awesome feeling to get a small glimpse into what it must feel like for the stars.  I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I had a tear in my eye while I stood there looking around, taking it all in and imagining what it would be like to be Carrie Underwood.  Could this be a sign that singing and performing is in my future?  In my dreams yes, but in reality no.  I can’t carry a tune to save my life!  That night I watched lots of country music legends (i.e. they were so old I had never heard of them) perform and John Michael Montgomery and Montgomery Gentry!


Next up was a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame where I spent 3 hours and was being ushered out of the place before I knew it because it was closing time.  The building alone is really neat, which even all you non-country fans could appreciate.  It’s designed so that when seen from above it looks like a giant treble clef, the windows are designed to look like piano keys, the four discs of varying sizes on top of the building represent a CD, a 45 record, a 78 record and a LP, and the angle of one of the corners of the building is designed to be the exact angle on a fin of a 1950s Cadillac as a homage to Elvis Presley.  The building is filled with memorabilia and exhibits about country music throughout the years, on radio, on TV and LIVE.  I loved it!
Honky Tonk Row in downtown Nashville is Nashville’s Vegas Strip.  It’s filled with music venues, bars, cowboy-wear stores, restaurants, neon lights, huge signs and tons of fun!  It extends right out to the Cumberland River which famously overflowed its banks and caused so much destruction in the city just one year ago.  The city has rebounded and is working hard to repair the damage that remains, like Opry Mills Mall which is still closed with no expected re-opening date.  Next door to that the amazing Opryland Resort is up and running again and more glorious than ever.  It’s a 4.5 acre resort filled with indoor gardens and waterfalls, grand atria, a river complete with a boat, restaurants, and elegant balconies off the most expensive rooms overlooking it all.  It really was quite spectacular.  On my last day in Nashville I went on the Nash Trash Tour, a hilarious and bizarre musical comedy tour through Nashville’s top sites.  The Jugg Sisters are so entertaining and quick witted.  It was the perfect way to end my Nashville jaunt.

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