Country Music City
18.05.2010 - 19.05.2010 67 °F
Room 936, Doubletree, Nashville. 6:16pm. Thursday 20/5/10
(Yes, still in Nashville. We decided to stay on one more night following Bob's dental treatment, see below).
On Broadway, around 5 minutes from the hotel, are the famous "Honkytonks". From 11am until 7pm, all the music is free (after 7pm there is an entry charge). Hopeful stars perform just for the tips some customers may leave, plus the chance of being "discovered" on the way to fame and fortune. The quality is extremely high as there is so much competition.
For us, it was great to cruise a few of the bars and, for the price of a coke or a sweet tea (iced) plus a $1 tip for the band or singer, we heard some great music.
Here we have Pork McElhinny who was very talented and pretty unknown, thought his Mum and wife were in the audience along with, bizarrely, a group of 10 female and one male "reverends".
These poor guys and gals spend most of their time performing to all-but empty bars but do not seem to get discouraged.
Just across the road was quite an upmarket restaurant "Merchants" in an old Victorian Drugstore building. Some quite well-heeled people were eating there and we arrived just at the right moment to get the last table. People coming in after had quite a wait for a table.
Bob's Low Country Shrimp & Grits was great, he said. The grits were quite unlike the runny grits he'd had for breakfast. Grits, for you Yankees, is a sort of porridge made from ground maize.
John had the BLT with fried green tomatoes. As Matt might say, yummmmmy).
Next day, Wednesday, we started with a self-guided tour of the Ryman Theater, the godmother of country music.
We also bought tickets for a charity concert to be held that night.
Built originally as a Tabernacle, it became a home for variety shows in the 1920s. The Grand Ole Opry was broadcast from here until that moved out to a purpose built site in the 70s. Since that was flooded earlier this month, things have reverted to the Ryman.
We started to walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame when Bob said his broken tooth was causing problems. Now was the time to try and find a dentist. A nice young concierge in the hotel was very helpful. Bob phoned one who only did extractions and wanted $500 for the privilege. Eventually we hit on one out in a mall in a suburb. A leaflet in the waiting room talked about computer controlled, on the spot crown production. And this is the treatment he got. But it took 2 hours 50 minutes more than the 10 minutes stated in the leaflet. To be fair, Bob also had to have the filling ground away and 3 pins put in. It all cost an awful lot of dollars but that did buy peace of mind and a repaired tooth.
Next time, we are going to pack our gorgeous French dentist, Olivier, and bring him with us.
After the low point of the day, the hight point was the concert we went to in the evening which was this:-
The concert was a-ma-zing. Emmylous Harris, Patty Griffin, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, all top Country stars. The "backing" musicians we all stars in their own right including a wonderful drummer who must have been in his 60s and looked like Reg (from our old caravan site). He had to be the best drummer I've seen since Keith Moon!
The "star" was Dave Matthews, not really a Country singer, but apparently a top star judging by the audience's reaction. Bob says he has appeared at London Arena. He seemed to be a bit of a loony to John. Anyone else heard of him?
The house was full of the Nashville worthies and people who cared for the environment as the concert was in aid of a cause:-
Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining. In the Appalachians, coal companies have found a cheap way of producing coal. Just blasting away the tops of mountains. Destroying ancient mountain ranges, wildlife, and poisoning water in the process. Details here and here. Please join the cause if you feel so inclined. A lot of people here are working as hard as they can against this awful practice.
Images from the show:
Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris:
Kenny Malone ("Reg"):
and, of course, the biggest stars of all:-
Today we've been to the fabulous Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and later took the GMC out for a TomTom tour of some of the homes of the Stars. The houses are MAD. More tomorrow.
Good night and bless your pea-pickin' hearts..