In a car you are rolling’ into Nashville, on a horse you are riding’ into Nashville, on foot you are walking’ into Nashville.
Whatever way you choose to get there, you go, seeking the dreams of fame and fortune found on the streets of Nashville.
We stopped in Nashville. Not to seek the fame and fortune. We just wanted to feel Nashville again.
We had visited a few years ago during Tin Pan South. Tin Pan South is a festival of music at most of Nashville’s live music venues where the abundance of singer-songwriters have the opportunity to display their talents in a festival like setting.
We were guests of our dear friends, Terry and Michele. They showed us the heart of Nashville, taking us to many of the clubs to hear the music and feel the beat of the town. We even had the opportunity to get into the Bluebird Café, one of the more famous live music venues, because of Terry and Michele’s connections.
Through Terry and Michele, we were able to meet Travis Meadows. He is a real-life Nashville picker and grinner with a real-life Nashville story! You can check out his music at https://travismeadows.com.
We loved Nashville and we could not wait to get back.
Visitors approaching the Nashville skyline will quickly spot an unusual building. The downtown Nashville AT&T building looks just like Batman! This building is referred to as the Batman building. Seems an appropriate beginning to visiting a town with such a fairy tale persona.
Our staging area was the Gaylord Opry Land Hotel, a gargantuan hotel complex with restaurants and gift shops dotted around a massive indoor terrarium like park. Giant trees and rushing waterways complete with riverboat excursions around the grounds are available.
Immediately on our To Visit list was the Grand Ole Opry.
It is a long and storied history for the Opry. It started back in 1925 as a small-time radio show at an insurance company that just kept getting bigger and bigger. The Opry was moved to the Ryman Theater in 1943 where it lived until the present Opry was built in 1974.
We walked the backstage area where the dressing rooms and lounges await the stars of the next show. Some of the rooms are dressed for particular stars, some are dressed for special themes. Either way, you can sense the presence of the great names of country music preparing for a Saturday night show.
You may recall back in 2010, when the Cumberland River overflowed, and Nashville flooded. Many Country stars kept their prized guitars in a climate-controlled vault in the basement of the Opry. Hundreds of guitars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were washed out. That would have made a great country song, “The Night My Guitar Drowned!”
Because of Covid, some offerings were not available, leaving some of our plans unfulfilled.
When we visit different cities, we like to take the bus tours that show the sites of the town. Covid had the busses shut down, so we opted for the old-school way, we walked.
Walking Broadway in Nashville is the only way to do it. You can see, hear, feel, smell and taste the music in the air.
Each block is wall to wall bars and cafes, with occasional music stores and gift shops thrown in so the honky tonks don’t have to rub against each other. As you walk past a venue, you hear the guitars strummin’ and the drummers drummin’, it is the sounds of Nashville. It doesn’t matter the time of day.
We chose to stop at Paradise Park, a café/bar at 411 Broadway for a sandwich. Through the large open window onto the sidewalk, the band caught our eye. Drums, guitar, fiddle and upright bass. What was strange was the upright bass was constructed of an old rusty gas tank from a station wagon. It sounded good but looked weird. This was our introduction to The Hillbilly Wax Museum Band. We listened, had a sandwich, left our share in the tip jar for the band and continued our trek.
What we saw was more of the same, music being played, dreams being lived, hopes being pursued. Smiles on the players, smiles on the faces of tourists. Smiles all around.
On the sidewalks, guitar players carry their guitars in gig bags, heading to a gig or someplace where their dreams are pursued.
Down on the corner at Legends Corner, a large mural covers the bricks of the side of the bar. A painting, much like the dogs playing poker, shows the current crop of country superstars, Garth, George, Willie, Reba, Blake, Carrie, Dolly, Keith, Brad…. they are all there.
Groups of tourists stop to look. One points out someone, identifies who it is, and everyone nods. Then repeated, over and again. This is a mural of dreams fulfilled. And it brings smiles.
Oh, and don’t miss… the Hall of Fame