Before we get on with this Nashville post, I'd like to say two things:
- I had no idea what to expect in Nashville
- Most pictures are cellphone pictures*
After the debacle of the morning, we did what we could to make up. By the time we got to Nashville, everyone was hungry so we headed to Arnold's Meat & 3 (FB link!). It's working class food with a James Beard award! It's basically all in the title: you get in line (with politicians and secret service detail, if available... which it was!) pick out your meat and three sides. Then you shut up and eat that deliciousness. Amongst the four we ended up with chicken, meat loaf, roast beef and chicken & dumplings. Those were the meats, I forget all the sides. Man it was good!
Right after we headed for the center of Nashville (a tour at the Ryman Auditorium was the goal). So we park the car and start to walk...
Turning the corner onto Broadway, I would have to lie to say that I wasn't disappointed. It was clean, polished and the sidewalks were packed with tourists. In retrospect, I am not sure exactly what I expected but it just seemed like an overhyped dog and pony show.
Ryman Auditorium was closing early that day, so we couldn't get in for a tour. Luckily for us, Cheryl had a destination of her on in her back pocket, so off to Cheekwood Gardens we went.
Note from Whit: On the way there we had a debate about how a fancy estate could possibly be named Cheekwood. Sam went with the literal approach, that a person with the last name Cheek and a person with the last name Wood got married and built an estate. When we got to the gates we asked the guard and, as if it were a punchline from a German TV show (one where you say to yourself, "Really? This is it? Well okay, I'll laugh."), Sam was right. Simple pictures are best, as the saying goes.
Going to Cheekwood turned out to compliment our visit nicely. The weather was getting better as the afternoon wore on and though not all the flowers were out yet we spent two very nice hours inside (Art Museum) and out. There are two particularly noteworthy events that took place while we were wandering the gardens. One, Bob was unequivocally proven correct on his assertion that the magenta flowering bushes were called "redbud's" (wiki link).
You were right, we were wrong!
Two, the wonderful TRAINS! model train set. We only got to see Percy, but I'm pretty sure that aside from the tulips, this is where we cumulatively took the most pictures.
Ready for a rest after the hours spent on our feet, we returned to the hotel to catch some zzz's and freshen up, before heading over to Fido's for dinner. To be honest, that whole stretch of 21st Avenue looked to be pretty hopping and I really wouldn't have minded checking it out some more, but man time was tight! There I was, thinking that three months was just this endless amount of time to spend on the road, but here I am on day #6 and I can barely keep up!
After dinner came what I now recognize as the highlight of the trip. Bob as the musician amongst us had really wanted to take us out to Nashville and Memphis for it's live music. To get a taste of that, he took us to Bluebird Cafe. We went there with four people and one ticket, hoping that we would be able to snag three more tickets from no-shows.
Over an hour and a half before the show started we were only the 2nd, 3rd and 4th persons entering the "hope" line. As the start of the show time drew nearer the ticket line grew longer and longer letting our hearts sink. Finally the door opened, however, and in the end all of us got in!
Inside four singer/songwriters sat in a circle, each with a guitar. The audience was seated around tables around them. Throughout the show each of musicians would play one of their songs, while the others listened or joined in.
That's the technical description of what happened. On a more personal, perhaps emotional level I can't say that I can remember feeling more involved in a show. I can't remember who the musicians were or what songs they played. I can barely remember songs melodies, let alone song names, lyrics or artists names (Whitney can attest to this: we watched about ten Disney movies in preparation for the Disney Land because I had no idea what "Never Never Land" was). Yet, I felt so deeply touched hearing these songs in such a direct and unfiltered way. I was amazed by their ability to tell relatable stories I'd never heard. It was exhausting, but in the best of ways.
We slept well.
At the end of our visit we stopped by Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest poster print shops in America. They had a whole wall full of wood blocks and cases after cases of lead type. We couldn't actually go into the room where the printing was being done, but just seeing all the awesome printing presses and posters and flyers they were putting out made Whitney and I all nostalgic for print-making (see our Wedding Invites!). It was really inspiring.
Back out on the street we walked across the Shelby Pedestrian bridge to get some fresh air, before we poked our noses into the Ryman Auditorium for a self guided tour. The original home of the Grand Ole Opry is a gorgeous space that is perfectly suited for a good view and great sound. As we walked through, roadies were setting the stage for Weezer to perform that night and a women's college a cappella group stood on risers in front of the stage for a picture. After the photo the broke into a lovely rendition of the national anthem and I managed to record a few bars for my Nashville sound mash-up.
After the end of the day we ventured out on Broadway again. I was still weary from my first exposure to Nashville's main drag, but I brought my camera this time, for protection! We ended up at Robert's, a fabulously run down joint with some awesome country music.
Then everyone climbed into the Omimobile, hugged their knees to their chests and we set off for Memphis!
*In an effort to retain your interest we went through and enhanced every single last cellphone picture in this post. You read that right: We tilt shifted, sepiad, cross processed and bleach bypassed the hell out of these bad boys!