I had a lot of fun in the small handful of places I visited in Tennessee – Memphis, Bonnaroo festival, and Nashville. It’s a friendly place with both a rich music history and a talented music present. Nashville, Tennessee itself is fairly small, but is bursting at the seams with venue and bar options if that’s your thang. I’d definitely recommend a visit.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
LIVE MUSIC | is really everywhere in fabulous Nashville. I had a such a good time here, fuelled by a great crowd in the hostel I was staying at. You’ll find any kind of music you could possibly want to listen to, albeit the area is known for Blue Grass. Places like the Fiddle and Steel (sadly perhaps closed) on Printer’s Alley do regular open mic nights, where people come to try to get a break the non-X Factor way. Also check out: pool and karaoke next door.
BONNAROO | 13th June 2013, and we head in to this major American festival in Manchester, Tennessee, as a group of 6 – 1 Brit that’d be me, 1 American, and 4 Aussies. It’s certainly fun – one of your more mainstream options, but with a host of good music (Alt J, The XX, Pretty Lights, Bjork, R Kelly, Billy Idol, Empire of The Sun, Boyz Noize, The National, Macklemore). Paul McCartney headlined Friday and Tom Petty Sunday, who were both complete show stoppers: I guess that’s testament to being in the business for so long. The other festival-goers are fun and there’s a good post-music camp party atmosphere to boost.
EAST NASHVILLE | as I had a car we took it to this lovely suburb full of vintage shops, ice cream stores and a Farmers Market. Makes for a pleasant contrast to the glaring neon lights and cowboy energy of downtown, the latter which can be seen from East Nashville if you find a decent viewpoint.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
DOWNTOWN HOSTEL | this place on First Street is a great hostel, and I’d imagine one of the best central meeting points for the many talented, aspiring musicians that seem to flock in and out of the city. My roomie Mascha asked me what instrument I played. Hmm, nothing. Does that mean I have to leave?! It’s perfectly located for all the fun that Broadway offers. Also check out: bargain sushi from Sam’s (also apparently might be closed! Shame).
PUCKETT’S GROCERY | ate here for my 31st birthday in Nashville, and had a great Southern evening of dining on BBQ pork and drinking with good friends. This place was bustling and I’d recommend checking it out for a home cooking style treat.
ROBERT’S WESTERN WORLD | I really liked this place on Broadway – a cool bar, with a fun-loving slightly older and probably more local crowd, cowboy boots lining the walls, and live bands keeping the drinkers entertained.
3 THINGS TO STAY CLEAR:
CARPARKS | on our way to Bonnaroo and as my second visit to Nashville, we had a huge 6 man RV to park up in the centre of downtown. This was no mean feat, and also not fun having to creep out under cover of darkness for a wee.
MEMORY LOSS | Nashville isn’t debaucherous to the level of New Orleans, but it’s certainly a party town. I actually left feeling like I’d only really skimmed the surface, instead bumbling happily from one bar to the next. But hey – it’s hard not to have fun in a place where the bars have night of free beer. Yep, no catch. Just completely free.
BREWHOUSE | and other Sports Bars like this, that are just oh so popular in America, but for me lack any character and just host a room full of people staring at a choice of 20 big TV screens. In a place like Nashville in particular, there’s so many better choices.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
THE GRAND OLE OPRY | is the show that made country and western music famous. It started back in 1925 on radio station WSM as a one hour barn dance, and has launched many a career. Now it’s a weekly stage concert that is also still broadcast, attracting millions of radio and internet listeners.
AND KNOW THIS: In 1928 blind Vanderbilt University student Morris Frank decided to look into a rumour about using ‘seeing-eye dogs’ as guides. He brought the very first dog back to the U.S. and started The Seeing Eye Inc. in Nashville.
–> –> –> Next stop Palmetto and Tar Heel States | The Carolinas –> –> –> (post coming soon)