13 October 2014

We had planned to sightsee in Nashville on Sunday. The combination of being exhausted and rain turned it into a boat day with a short side trip to the local market to stock up on food for the next few days.

Monday didn’t start well with the notification that my favorite Aunt, Aunt Hazel had passed away. Her entire life she was full of adventure, she was up to try almost anything. So it that spirit we hopped into the car and headed south east into Tennessee to Nashville. As with most of the side trips we could have taken the boat, but it would be 4 days each way along with 200 gallons of fuel.

About 11 AM we rolled into downtown Nashville, first stop is the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall is a block sized three story building with artifacts from the first days of Country Music through 2014. We were both impressed over the number of people that were inducted to the Hall of Fame and how many of them we recognized. We were also impressed on how small and thin the early stars were. They had lots of decoration on their costumes, ornate piping, trim, sequins, etc. Most of them performed before the days of elaborate stage shows. It was also B/W TV for most of them, so costumes were key. Oh yea, lots of live radio and TV, lip synching hadn’t become mainstream.

The second floor is mostly about the move of Country Music to the West Coast. Lots of people had moved to the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas along with the areas in Kansas from the south east to start new lives and they brought country music with them. In the 30′s the droughts caused the land to turn to a “dust bowl” and people were forced to move west into California. They took the music with them; it had slightly changed during the years and had a newer fresher sound. It was amazing the hardships the families in the dust bowl went through.

From the Hall of Fame we went to lunch. The cool thing about Nashville is that there is a lot of live music. All of the places we looked at for lunch had small bands playing. It made lunch a little more special.

From lunch we walked to the Johnny Cash Museum. We are both fans, and wanted to see more about him. It is a very extensive collection, he and his estate have given lots of artifacts. I was impressed with the collection of albums and singles he put out across his career. It turns out the gift shop have most of them on CD. They do mailorder so I’ll be able to fill out my collection.

Next to the Cash Museum is a bridge that goes across the river and ends up at the stadium. It was converted to a pedestrian bridge so we walked ½ way to get pictures of the river and the town. I had heard stories how fans raft up across the river for the games. I could see how that would really work. We could also see boats tied up at the city docks, had we come by boat it would have been a great location.

From there it was a short walk to the Nashville Walk of Fame. Not as many artists as the Hall of Fame but lots of people that we knew. Some of the plaques are missing and have temporary ones that say “Out on tour”. Except for Dolly Parton’s that said “Out for Hair and Makeup”.

I wanted to see the “Grand Ole Opry”. I thought it was downtown, but it turns out it was 10 miles away. Short car ride and we are at the Opryland Mall, and next door is the Opry. I signed us up for the back stage tour.

It turned out that the Grand Ole Opry outgrew the facility downtown – Ryman Auditorium – and had a new theater that opened in 1974. It consists of two theaters, one that hosts the radio show and a TV studio that was home to shows like “Hee Haw”. Parts of the show “Nashville” were also filmed there.

In the center of the front edge of the stage is a 12′ circle made of the oak floor from the original theater that was home to the Opry. So performers today can stand and perform in the “same spot” as other country legends across the decades.

I also learned that there are many country music artists that are members of the Opry, it’s the highest award an artist can receive. Most of them will play12-20 shows a year at the Grand Ole Opry show. Most shows will have between 4-7 performers during the 2 hour show.

After the 90 minute tour we were pretty beat, the two hour ride in the car was long. We were so tired that we * gasp * got take out pizza * gasp * for dinner.