Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nashville has earned the title "Country Music Capital of the World" and for good reason.  Downtown Nashville revolves around Country Music.  The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, the 2.1 million square foot Music City Center and the 20,000 seat Bridgestone arena are all here.  Even though this is a city that can accommodate large gatherings, it has a small town welcome.  The Country Music Hall of Fame is a must, and it's where I start my day.

This place is colossal!  With a mission "to identify and preserve the evolving history and traditions of country music" you need some serious space and they've got it.  I rent the self guided audio tour and get to work.

I start on the 3rd floor which documents the earliest kernels of country music and work my way down.  Records here go way back, and cover musicians I've never heard of.

Even if you're not a fan of country music, there is a little something for everyone here.

Honky-tonk singer Webb Pierce paid $20,000 to have this 1962 Pontiac Bonneville customized by Nudie Cohn, a tailor who outfitted singers of the day with elaborate outfits.

Johnny Cash's guitar
& signature black suit

Gold Record Wall

The gold record wall, recognizing musicians' achievements for selling at least 500,000 albums.

This place is so huge with rotating exhibits that it feels impossible to ever see it all. I have tickets to see the Opry at the Ryman theater so I head outside towards Broadway.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Lining both sides of Broadway are restaurants, bars, saloons, grills, diners, lounges and pubs all playing local live music.  Here, upcoming artists practice their craft to appreciative crowds. 

It's literally freezing outside, and with time to kill, I pop into the first place that has a heater, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

Tootsie's has a long history.
Originally named Mom's, "Tootsie" Bess bought the future Honky Tonk in 1960.  To her surprise a painter painted the outside purple and the name was changed to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.  Tootsie was known for slipping $5 and $10 bills into the pockets of inspiring, but down on their luck writers and musicians who couldn't pay their tabs and had resulting IOU's. It is said Opry performers would pay those IOU's each year so Tootsie wouldn't lose money.

Ah...The Grand Ole Opry.  I remember this from when I was a kid.  Little did I know then that this weekly country music stage concert had been broadcasting since 1925.  During this time of year, the Opry is held at the Ryman Theater and features aspiring and seasoned artists alike.   
The Willis Clan

No pretense here, as it's all about the music.


  1. Nice place looks like a lot of fun !


  2. Welcome back Be-jouled. I have missed your adventures. Over the holidays we took Samson, our Pearl S 85, from Mill Valley to Southern California. 1400 miles, getting energy from only the free superchargers was a delight. It's always fun to pull into a supercharger and meet new people and hear the adventures of these pioneers.

    1. Greetings... and to Samson as well. It's good to be back and on the road again. The bug has been making its rounds and it seems with 1,400 miles over the holidays, you've been bit. So much to see and do in this country. Our Pearls have developed the most beautiful wings, may they continue to fly!