Nashville or the Music City celebrates Country in the Honky Tonk, few blocks on Broadway with bars next to each others, with live music. It is interesting to see the difference between the day and night. There are bands all day long and all night. I was there on a Saturday day and night, which was pretty crazy. A lot of drunk people, bachelorettes (wedding season definitely on), waiting on line to get inside one of these bars, or surrounding young artist playing in the street. What I like the most is that each bar has a speaker outside, so you can hear the band playing and choose where to go. Some have also a TV showing the stage. Others have different rooms or floors with different bands at the same time. It is definitely the place to have fun, listen to some good Country and eat some good southern food. I did a couple of bars but on Saturday night, I met up with a friend living there and we went to The Wild Horse. Probably one of the largest bar in honky tonk. When we arrived a band was playing their own song (mostly the other bars are cover bands) and people were Line Dancing. Unfortunately, we got there almost at the end and I couldn’t get the steps! Then we assisted at a hula-hoop, for a moment there it seemed we were somewhere else, in a place far deep in the country! So much fun!
I didn’t expect it but I walked into a store wanting to completely immerse myself into Country style and buy cowboy boots… I couldn’t imagine it will cost me as much as a pair of high fashion designer sandals!! I mean the boots started at $300 and up… No so affordable to be a cow girl!
The Country Music Hall of fame is definitely a must see for the fans or curious. The building itself is amazing and the architecture is all about music symbols. The shape view from the air, is a bass clef (𝄢). Looking at the front of the building, the right corner of the building is like the tail of a 1950s Cadillac (usually owned by famous singers). The windows reflect the piano’s keys. The left cylinder represents a drum. The round discs represent the different sizes of vinyl and CDs and the diamond shape antenna is the one from a radio station. The museum retraces the origins of Country (believe it or not it was Church Gospel) and how it has evolved through the years. Country music has more sub-genres than people can imagine: country soul, country rock, country pop, neocountry, etc… too many to list here. For all those who think they don’t like Country music, I think you’ll be surprise to discover one or more songs you might like in the large selections under Country genre. The Ryman Auditorium has a fabulous history and has been many things than just a concert room for country singers. It has been an auditorium for politicians, lectures of poems, seminars; a stage for theater, opera and dance performances. It has also been a church for a period of time. It has been completely restored inside and outside. Even the benches from the time has been restored and replaced. It is advised to bring a cushion to the performance though. All kind of artist or band have performed in that Auditorium. Many years ago, the director was asked to give a chance to a young man named Elvis who will covered another artist’s song. He was reticent to the idea, but finally accepted and it was a total disaster. Elvis was almost thrown out by the public and never returned perform at the Ryman again, not even once he was named the King of Rock.
I didn’t get a chance to see a performance at The Grand Ole Opry (which was once held at the Ryman) or the Ryman Auditorium, I guess will be for the next trip! 😉
Nashville is not just about the music though. The architecture downtown Nashville is beautiful. Buildings that have been built before the civil war, others added after, but they manage to look good all together. The different parks, the different areas, the many Universities and Colleges. There is a bit for everyone. Probably the most surprising fact is the number of Churches! Of course we are in the Bible Belt, but I had no idea Nashville was considered like the Protestant Vatican (Or the Buckle of the Bible Belt). There is over 700 churches in the city, plus all the different Christian organisms and companies. If you though Music was the principal income of the city, like I did, you were wrong. The first source of income is Health Care, then Publishing (Headquarters for most religious publishing companies) and in third position comes Music (yes you guessed, Christian Music Recording Labels on top of all the others non-religious related).
My favorite part was the Bicentennial Mall State Park down the Capitol Hill. It outlines the important dates of the history of Tennessee and was created to celebrate the 200 years of Tennessee’s admission in the Union (1796) as the 16th State. That park is so beautiful and reflects the pride that all states have on their history.
Along that park, there is a daily Farmer’s Market with the most beautiful fresh vegetables, fruits, dairies, flowers, plants and other fresh products. I would have bought everything if I wasn’t in a hotel and leaving the day after!
The Centennial park is beautiful too. The Parthenon is the only building in the park and was created as a replica of the original in Athens for the Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. It is now an Art Museum.
Nashville suffered an important flood over a year ago. Nowadays, only the Opry Mills, which is a large commercial center, is still working on the renovation. For the large majority, the city has quickly found its way back thanks to all the help received. Tennessee is known as the Volunteer state, historically for the volunteer Tennesseans who fought during wars, nowadays it has survived its reputation with different type of voluntarism.
There are two other main attractions outside of the city. The Belle Mead Plantation and the Hermitage, house of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the U.S. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures inside the houses which is really a good business to make people (I intend people like me) buy the book with the pictures.
Belle Meade: was built in 1853 and was the House of the Harding Family which was famous in the whole country for breeding champion Thoroughbred horses. The house is beautiful and still have most of the original furniture. It has been restored for most part except for the front columns that still has bullet’s holes from Civil War since those are impossible to restore.
The Hermitage: was originally built in 1819 and was the house of the 7th President of the USA, Andrew Jackson. Little after his wife death, he had the house remodeled in 1831 and after a destroying fire, he had the house redone with a Greek Revival style, which is what has stayed until today. The entry wall has an amazing original wall paper made in France that tells one of the Greek mythology. The paintings, the wall paper and some of the furniture are originals.
Those houses have many similarities. They both have high ceilings, which was to let the hot air circulate so it wouldn’t be too hot during summer. They have separate rooms to entertain guests (one for ladies another for gentlemen), play rooms for kids. They both had the kitchen separated from the house, to avoid the house to burn down from the fire in the kitchen as well as keep cooking odors away. They both have several wooden cabins for slaves in the lands surrounding the houses. Both families had some educated slaves, which was illegal and some of these slaves remained as “employees” of the house after the civil war. In both houses, the guides were wearing costumes of the time, which help picturing how it could have been at that time to leave in this kind of houses, large and luxurious. It is definitely very beautiful and very Southern and I can not wait to see more of the Antebellum houses.
Nashville has definitely brought me some surprises and I was really happy to finally discover it. As a fan of country music it was really nice to learn more about a genre that is so defined by the American culture. What I like the most about country music, is the smooth tone of voices of some artist, especially women and then the lyrics are usually so easy to related to because as they say so well, it always comes from the heart.
To see Nashville pictures click here
I also have selected (with great difficulties) 10 of the hundreds songs I like… hope you will enjoy too…
Crazy – Patsy Cline
I need you now – Lady Antebellum
Landslide – Dixie Chicks
Grandpa tell me bout the good old days – The Judds
Home – Blake Shelton
Always on my mind – Elvis Presley
On the road again – Willie Nelson
I hope you dance – Leann Womack
All I want to do – Sheryl Crow
This is country music – Brad Paisley
See you next in Asheville!