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Nashville April 9-16, 2016 – Day 1

April 10, 2016

My wife and I have adult children (Patrick 26 and Allison 25) and last year we decided to reprise the spring breaks of their teenage years with a twist.  Instead of a cruise or an all-inclusive in the sun we decided to visit great American cities.  Last year it was Seattle and this year it is Nashville.

Day 1 – Saturday April 9, 2016

We arrived a little before noon and the first thing that struck me at the airport was the advertising – airport advertising is always revealing of the underlying industry of the town (ignore the stuff aimed a tourists).  We were in music city as indicated by an ad for BMI (a music royalty/copyright organization) and Gibson (the guitar  maker).

We are staying downtown and our hotel room was not ready so we checked our bags and went for a stroll – the intention was to go to a micro brewery, but we took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of Broadway (Nashville’s Beale Street/ Bourbon Street).   We were not ready for that, so we headed to the Nashville Visitor center to get our bearings.

My first impression of Nashville is that seems like a nice clean city.  It looks like the economy is booming – there is construction going on all over downtown – a bit of an inconvenience, but I love seeing a town growing.

We then headed for the “Gulch” which appears to be an industrial area that is becoming gentrified with restaurant  and retail.  First stop was Yazoo Brewing.  This is your typical brewery tap-room that could be found in pretty much any major city these days.  We had a flight of their beers and all were tasty.  My favorite brew was from their  “Embrace the Funk” series – it was a sour called Indomintis Dolium.  It had a nice fruity taste and was just sour enough to give a little bite.  It is aged in cognac barrels – but I did not find it having the boozy flavor you can sometimes get with barrel aged beers.

We then headed to Party Fowl for lunch.  Party Fowl is a self-described “chicken restaurant.”  We all had variation of fried chicken.  The fried chicken was perfect: not too greasy and crisp without drying out the meat.

We finished out our “Gultch” adventure at Third Man Records.  The house that Jack White built is less a record store, than a shrine to White and his kitschy genius.  There are some pretty cool souvenirs, but the music inventory is exclusively the Third Man catalog (not uncommon for a label store).  We picked up a few souvenirs and I picked up the 2004 White produced Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn and a Margo Price single (for the unreleased B-side).

We then walked back to our hotel for a nap. The Hampton Inn Nashville is a nice enough place: good downtown location, nice lobby, better than average hot breakfast, but the rooms are in need of updating – they are just a bit frayed.

After out nap we Ubered to the Grand Ole Opry.  This is pretty much a bucket list experience for a music fan.  The whole experience very touristy, but overall it is great. It has a nice authentic down home feel without the hipster irony of a Prairie Home Companion. I was not that familiar with the artists on the bill, but it did not matter – they were all fun.  I even got a kick out of the square dancers and the radio ads.

The headliner was Eric Church who was frankly breathtaking.  Rather than play with a band, he played solo – just him and his guitar.  Scheduled for 30 minute he thumbed his nose to that and played his hits for 6o-minutes.  He was a humble yet engaging. Slyly charismatic.  If you were a true fan this must have been an amazing experience to see him in this kind of intimate setting.  I am merely a casual fan and I was blown away. My wife, who as never heard a note of Eric Church in her life, was sold.  You can see why this guy is a star – it’s the songs. In the end that is all that really matters – great songs win – and Church has written some great songs.

We headed back downtown and crowned the night at Whiskey Kitchen.  We had some bourbon, yam fries (fantastic) and fried pickles (nothing special) as our appetizers and some nice speciality pizzas for our main course.  The ambience was a bit loud for my taste,  bad 90s music videos blaring,  but overall a pretty cool place.

I woke up this morning before the rest of the family to watch Margo Price’s performance on SNL – she was perfect – she had an elegant look, a polished performance and of course those amazing songs.  After Chris Statplton’s great year I am bullish about real country’s comeback.

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From → Nashville 2016, Trips

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