Country Bumpkin Land: All that and more…

Why hello.   I’m so glad you stopped by.  Y’all know what’s coming right?  My dreaded uplifting, “she’s-through-with-her-vacation, -uploaded-all-the-pictures,-and-now-she’s-going-to-bore excite-us-with-her-vacation-blow-by-blow-then-post-it-on-her- blog”  read.   Woo hoo – contain your excitement.   I shall recount the intinerary and blather on about stories that make no sense (unless you were actually there).  Yeppers it’s that blog.

Hell so much drunken shit fun and excitement happened, I may have two or three days worth of writing material to churn out for your reading pleasure.  (You might want to lean your head back a bit as your happiness tears might short out your lap top.)   And for those who need visuals, I’m adding pictures.  I know how much y’all yearn want to see my eldest and me, cool guitars, the grand ole opry, food and drink as well as nature pics…so get your cup of coffee and settle in.

I’m going to start with the day before we left (oh yes I am), only because I like what happened.  Sara and I went to the grocery store to get snacks for the flight, because yanno doesn’t everyone need in-flight snacks, when a sun shower started and a few moments later a beautiful double rainbow appeared.   It was so pretty and such a great omen!

The day before -- Double Rainbow - Good Omen

(Ooooooooh Ahhhhhhhhh)

Move the hours forward until you reach 4am (be glad I didn’t give you the blow-by-blow of the Masshole who tried to steal our parking spot at Stop-n-Shop—it was an ugly battle-but we won…Yay!) and you have a 21-year-old on hyper speed, and a forty-something-year-old pleading for more sleep and begging for a ginormous pot of coffee to be at her disposal.

Our flight out of Logan was uneventful and our brief stay in Chicago was loaded with insults and cheap taunts good.  People didn’t seem to like our Boston shirts – not sure why?  Perhaps it was that play-off thingie with the Bruins?  Hmmmmmmm??   We eventually landed in Nashville and the vacation officially started.

Nashville TN -- Airport tarmac condo shot

Nashville tarmac                                  Condo (middle)

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to like Nashville, especially since I had dreams running amuk in my head of vacationing in the United Kingdom and stalking Jimmy Page listening to accents that would send cheap thrills coursing throughout me, but nope it wasn’t meant to be…I remained on US soil.  My eldest daughter had just turned 21, and for her birthday (and last BIG trip from mom) got to pick where we went.  That my friends is why I travelled south to Tennessee, or as lil-chick (my youngest) dubbed it:  country-bumpkin land.  Not as exciting as a trip across the giant pond but I did get to hear accents or rather, southern drawls.   It’s all good – any place that has lightning bugs flickering every night has to be awesome.

As I was saying I didn’t think I was going to like Nashville because yanno I’m a rocker chick at heart and let’s face it, Nashville is the country music capital of the world.  I felt a little a lot like a Donny and Marie Osmond tv special when walking up and down Broadway, especially when I had my Led Zeppelin shirt on and could hear the fiddle playing from some honky tonk, strange but I liked it…liked it…yes I do. (sorry I digressed)

Ummm  yeah   I can find Zeppelin anywhere   DSCI1873

Inside Hard Rock Café                                                 Orpheum Theatre – Memphis, TN

My musical taste is very eclectic.  I enjoy many musical genres including country but I never considered myself a “country” fan.  When you arrive in Nashville it heralds country music – it’s everywhere – and I do mean everywhere.  You stand on a corner waiting for the light to change and music is blasting out of the large utility boxes.  (yep-they sure do)  Let me say this, the city was nothing like I expected.  It was all that and more.   An amazing city filled with a rich and great history and incredible people who care.  It’s all about love and family.  I heard that numerous times while I was down there and it was quite heartfelt.

The locals were eager to please, pleasant and quite talkative, especially Mr. Tommy from Tommy’s Tours.  He filled us in on the local gossip, brought us all around the towns to where the country stars homes were, and filled us in on native speak – bless your heart.   Honestly had no idea we were staying two streets over from were Taylor Swift and Hayden Pantierre lived.  (Yes, we lurked stalked casually strolled by the place on our way to get gourmet cupcakes at GiGi’s – yeah cupcakes that’s it…cupcakes.)  And he told us about the guitar shaped pool that was, of course fenced in, down on Music Row.  Now Sara and I walked by that fence and I said I thought there was something behind it but my eldest said, “Maaaaaaaa private property ohhhh geeee”.   I didn’t see the problem with looking but child was looking a tad mortified so I didn’t, but after what Tommy said well I wanted a picture of that and yanno we never got back over there to get it.  I think eldest child purposely kept me away from there.  Next trip…I’m breaking the law

We did see many interesting sights on one of many walks up, down,DSCI1660 and through Music Row one being the pink flamingoes.   When we first arrived at the condo we saw one lying on the ground in front of the condo, the metal prong had broken off so the poor thing couldn’t stand.   We didn’t give it much thought until we saw a couple more on another record company lawn then while we were on Tommy’s tour bus we saw more – a whole lot more.  There had to be 30 to 40 pink flamingoes smaDSCI1798shed onto the lawn of another record company with a sign:  “You’ve been Flocked”.   According to Tommy, a group of college kids carouse the streets at night and move the flamingoes to yet another home, leaving a flamingo behind as a memory.    I thought this was hysterical.   (LOL Yeah I’m easy to amuse.)

Americana

Another piece de resistance we saw on our numerous walks was the statue, Musica.  A large bronze statue created by Alan LeQuire as part of a 2003 urban renewal project.  It sits at the center of a roundabout at the end of Music Row, and was quite controversial when it was unveiled to a large crowd of diplomats and locals.  Mr. Tommy said no one knew what the artist was making as it was kept covered.  On the day of the unveiling it created quite a stir amongst the bible thumpers as it depicted nine nude dancers.   It was the gasp heard round the world.

Speaking of gasps, I did just that when Sara and I walked over to the Gulch (an up n coming area of Nashville) and found a store that sold vintage items.   The name:  Two Old Hippies, it had a peace symbol as the door handle; I was in 7th heaven.  Sara rolled her eyes.   I saw so many items from my youth – made me wish I kept them all.  On weekends they have bands that come in play right in the shop.   The store sells and repairs guitars and many a star has visited as witnessed by the autographed photos on the walls.  It’s a cool and very hip place to go.

Printer’s Alley is another place to visit.   It’s an alley up off Broadway; at one time (long ago) it was a thriving publishing district that had two large newspapers, ten print shops, and thirteen publishers but it ended up becoming an entertainment area.  Back in the days it was illegal to sell liquor in Tennessee. Restaurants and clubs in the alley served liquor anyway, often claiming it had been “brown bagged” (brought in by customers).  I always wondered (and know you did too) how that term came about now we all know.

printers alleyMusically interesting, there once was a famous Printer’s Alley club called Jimmy Hyde’s Carousel Club.   It was a jazz venue  (yes…Jazz…in country bumpkin land….wahoo).  It was frequented by many Nashville studio musicians who loved jazz even though they backed up country singers. These players would jam in the club after their sessions were done and the music played was jazz. Among the musicians were Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Bob Moore, Brenton Banks, Buddy Harman and Hank Garland.

Nashville has its share of ghosts too one being right there in Printer’s Alley at the Bourbon Street Blues club.  Owner David “Skull” Schulman was murdered by a robber shortly before the club was due to open – they say his ghost still haunts the club and Printers Alley today.  I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Had no idea I would see a replica of the Parthenon here in Nashville but we did.  Nashville - ParthenonPart of the movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  Lightning Thief was done there.   It was a quick walk through and we enjoyed the gardens and park as well.  If you have a couple of hours definitely go visit.

We stopped into many stores and ate at many great places, tried out some new drinks -still loving the lemon moonshine from Bootleggers Inn.  We did a pub crawl tour that was loads of fun – our tour guide was hysterical and gave us a lot of info about Nashville and all the pubs and/or honkey tonks.

Sara and I took the tour of RCA Victor Studio.  Highly recommend.  And, if you go to Memphis (we did) take the Sun Studio tour (learn more by reading Juli’s blog http://julipagemorgan.com/sun-studio-memphis/).  I will probably do a blog just on these two studios alone.  I saw numerous differences between them but what these studios put out for music in the early days was insane.  Personally, Sun Studios impressed me the most, but then ROCK-n-ROLL was born there.  Listen to Jackie Brenston’s, Rocket 88.

Sun Studio -- The Amp that started Rock n Roll -- distortion                           Sun Studio -- Picture of Rocket 88

The amp that started Rock-n-Roll and the record that proves it.

Since I mentioned Memphis and Juli Page Morgan, Sara and I took a 3 hour drive over – well Sara did the driving – so I could:  1. Meet Juli in person, 2. Go to Graceland, 3. Visit Sun Studios, 4. Beale Street, 5. Dip my toe into the Mississippi River (much to Juli’s horror), and 6. The Peabody Hotel Duck Walk (something I didn’t know I wanted to do but glad I did), 7. The stars at the Orpheum Theatre.

On our final weekend we took a beautiful drive down the Natchez Trail Parkway.  What a beautiful, scenic road.  It starts in Nashville, TN and ends in Tupelo, MS (cutting through Alabama).  We went as far as the state line of Tennessee and Alabama.   The beautiful falls and winding rivers were so serene – could’ve sat by them all day.  The history of Louis & Clark, Gordon House, the mines…all amazingly kept up for visitors.  I told Sara I want to go back and drive the whole length stopping at all the historic markers, then drive back.  If you are in Nashville for any length of time – go out to the Parkway and stop at the falls, take a walk down to the pools below = nirvana.

Places visited (in no particular order as my brain can’t remember two hours ago let alone 2-3 weeks ago).

Ryman Auditorium                                     Grand Ole Opry

Country Music Hall of Fame                      Music City Walk of Fame

Hatch Show Print                                        Two Old Hippies

The Parthenon                                             Visitor Center

Vanderbilt Medical Center                        Vanderbilt University

RCA Victor Studios                                     Music Row

Printers Alley                                               Natchez Trace Parkway

Dunkin Donuts (had to add)                    Multiple boot stores & shoppes

We did tours as well:  Pub Crawl Tour, RCA Victor Studio Tour, Grand Ole Opry Backstage Tour, and Tommy’s Bus Tour.

And that was just Nashville (and I didn’t mention the food places -sigh & yum.  We also went to Memphis and saw:  SUN Studios, Graceland and the Lisa Marie (Elvis’ airplane), Beale St.shops. & outside vendors, The Peabody Hotel and their infamous ducks, The Orpheum Theatre and its star walk, the Mississippi River, the I LOVE MEMPHIS sign, statue of Elvis, and Mid Town Central BBQ (to die for food)

Something I highly recommend purchasing if you go to Nashville is the  “Music City Total Access” pass.  You can get them on-line (cheaper) and pick them up at the Visitor Center (you can buy them there as well) which is right on Broadway-downtown.  They cost $50.00 but are well worth it.  You can pick 4 things from a list of about 20 things to do you then present a pass to the place you go to and voila that’s it – Entry.  You also get a free pass into the Parthenon and 25% off the trolley ride (which we didn’t bother with).   We used it for the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, RCA Victor Tour and the Pub Crawl Tour, then visited the Parthenon.   Many options to work with and you will save money.

If you plan to stay more than a few days I also recommend renting a condo.  We stayed at the Gaskins home on Music Row and it was amazing.   I used Flipkey.com and have never had a problem.  Recommend this for long stays.  We were there for 10 days and having the luxury of coming back to a home and spreading out, having a kitchen to make a late night snack or drinks was nice and it was actually cheaper than a hotel.   We only rented a car for the first day and the last weekend but the rest of the time it was a quick cab ride to downtown for $8.00, you could bike it (use one of the many rental stands) or walk.   Cabs charge a flat rate from the airport, Grand Ol Opry to downtown Nashville.  $30.

So that’s it (for now) – we did quite a bit.  My memory is trying to churn out everything and I know I’ve forgotten things.  Oh yeah, like the riverfront at the end of Broadway.  During the summer they have concerts down there on the weekends for free.  Union Street Station is architecturally amazing.  Every place you visit has interesting info:  the Music Hall of Fame’s design and shape.  The musician plaques inside the round room are not placed around the room haphazardly they were done that way purposely.   The blue lights at RCA records were bought and used by Elvis Presley for one particular reason.

Overall, Nashville’s a great place to visit:  clean, neat, hospitable and fun fun fun.  Really hoping Sara goes to school at Vanderbilt (huge hospital and beautiful university) just so I can go back and stay longer and visit more frequently.  I really enjoyed it – can’t wait to go back and take the youngest.  I think she’ll love country bumpkin land.

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One thought on “Country Bumpkin Land: All that and more…

  1. Pingback: Country Bumpkin Land: All that and more… | S. A. Hussey

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