February 7, 2018

Music City U.S.A.

by Steve W

Nashville, Baby!

Taking our time after leaving the Florida Keys, we spent a few days making our way to Nashville. As we drove north from Florida, it got progressively colder. Approaching Nashville, we saw water that had dripped from the hills around the highway and froze before it hit the ground, looking like waterfalls in a still picture.

A sign of (cold) things to come.

Before checking in, we saw the Parthenon in Centennial Park. This structure is a full size replica of the original in Athens, Greece, built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. It now functions as an art gallery.

After checking into our AirBnb apartment, we met Sarah Schumacher, a former student of mine, now with Disney Publishing, for dinner and a "writer in the round" concert at the Listening Room. For those who are not familiar with this concept, several songwriters (the ones behind the popular songs) perform their own compositions, usually accompanying themselves on guitar or piano. It's a very intimate experience to hear the writers and the stories behind the songs.

Having driven all day Saturday, we decided to take a day off Sunday and catch up on blogging and laundry, and do some grocery shopping for the next few days.

Monday was cold and rainy, so we took our time in the morning and drove around town a little, going up and down Music Row and seeing some of downtown. We had a delicious home cooked dinner with friends Gooding and Rakki at their house in the woods of Kingston Springs, and met their dogs, Silas, Olive, and George Jones. Jones, like his namesake, is a bit of a rascal, but basically a sweet boy. Gooding is a great songwriter, singer, guitarist, and a former client when he and Rakki lived in LA, and we miss them both.

The following day we took a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry House, home of (you know!). Started on radio in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry is the show that made country music famous. Steeped in tradition (no drums were allowed for years), everyone who is anyone has played on the Opry stage. This building was built in 1974 and survived the horrible floods of 2010. Some of the Opry shows are broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium, home of all the Opry performances from 1943 to 1974, but many are broadcast from this building.

Backstage, you get to see the various dressing rooms used by the performers, but the most special is the former dressing room of Roy Acuff, the King of Country Music. "Mr. Roy" was the first to enter and last to leave the building each day and welcomed all the performers to his dressing room. After his wife passed away, the Opry staff built him a home on the premises so that he could come and go much easier.

Just across the parking lot from the Grand Old Opry is the Opryland Mills shopping mall, your typical suburban mall, with one exception:

Nearby is the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, a huge complex combining a hotel, over 15 restaurants, rooms overlooking an indoor botanical garden with waterfalls under an enclosed atrium, and a "canal" where you can take a boat around the inside of the atrium. Still decorated for the holidays, this was an impressive place.

Dinner that night was in Franklin with Dennis Lord and his wife Laticia. Until recently, Dennis was Executive VP of SESAC, and he and I go back over 15 years in doing deals between my clients and SESAC. A good friend and a class act, I'm looking forward to the next chapter of Dennis's career.

The next day, we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Full of costumes, guitars and pictures, this building houses the history of country music. One of the current exhibits was "Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats", featuring the relationship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, which led to other non-country artists coming to Nashville to record. A fair amount of space was given to the session musicians for which Nashville is famous. Other special exhibits were for Shania Twain, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and southern rockers like The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Coming up later this year is "Outlaws and Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s", with Willie, Waylon and the boys.

On our last night, we decided to brave the cold weather and go downtown where all the action is. After dinner at Merchants, we walked up and down Broadway to the river and stopped for drinks and music at BB King's and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Broadway is full of bars with live music, restaurants and, strangely enough, boot shops. We enjoyed two of the three.

"They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway."

Hoping to avoid the cold weather, we headed for Memphis. Boy howdy, were we surprised!

Note: We were here in early January.

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1 comment >>

  1. Miss the old turf!! Glad to see the pics. Stay warm and continue having fun!!!!!!


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