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San Clemente Journal

Adventure in Nashville ...

Dec 22, 2022 11:53AM ● By Don Kindred

The Honky Tonk Highway, Nashville, Tennessee.

story and photos by Don Kindred

Nashville, Tennessee has long been one of the consistent entrees on the American Bucket List. As a life-long country music fan, it was certainly on mine. I saw an opportunity to tag along with a seasoned crew of San Clemente pub crawlers and signed up. My initial observation? Nashville should come with a warning label.

Tony, Lisa, Mary, Janel, Don, Ryan, Korrie and Gerry at the Union Station.


 

This dynamic city is popularly known as the “Capitol of Country Music” and 
for good reason, but that title does little justice to the storied history of the Capitol of Tennessee. Standing stoically as a monument in the narrative of American history; it was originally named for Revolutionary War hero, Francis Nash, and founded in 1779; During the Civil War, its vital location on the Cumberland River made it an early target where it became the first Confederate Capitol to fall to Union Forces; It was the home of US President and War-of-1812 hero Andrew Jackson; It not only was the first southern city to develop a public school system but today can boast 24 post-secondary schools, and has long been dubbed the Athens of the South (Since 1887 it is also home to a full scale replica of the Parthenon from Athens, Greece). Along the way, the city has also become home to over 700 churches with an unrivaled religious community that has given way another nickname, the Buckle of the Bible Belt; sometimes even called the Protestant Vatican. Due to time and space considerations, I am going to write about three aspects of this unique and multi-dimensional travel destination; beginning with the most dangerous…

The Honky Tonk Highway
First of all, a honky tonk is basically a southern establishment that serves up strong whiskey and good country music. Nashville - and this is the part that needs a warning - doesn’t just have one, or a couple or even  few good honky tonks. We’re talking about blocks and blocks of three, four and five-stories filled to the sky with party-ready patrons, each level offering its own unique take on brown liquor, southern cooking and some talented new artist trying to make it in Nashville. This combination can evoke a feeling of abnormal euphoria in certain individuals so be warned. You should have had plenty of time for planning and a long enough flight from Orange County to devise a route of possible destinations. (Provided you don’t make that rookie mistake and start drinking at the John Wayne Airport and on the plane.) 

Steamboat Captain Thomas Ryman built the “Mother Church” of Country Music.


 

First you get to your Tennessee home, check in, clean up, group up and head out to explore that first taste of southern menu offerings. As you make your way south on the so-called Honky-Tonk Highway, take a sampling of those places that look like fun. Watch for historic venues like the Tootsie's Orchid Club or those named for your favorite artists, they all have monuments there. Blake Shelton’s Ole Red is still next to Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rose. On the high-end you can dine in the modern nostalgia of Justin Timberlake’s roof-top retro supper club - The Twelve Thirty - which also takes up a block of Upper Broadway and the rooftop of which offers an elevated, literally, world of food and entertainment. Farther south on the corner of 3rd and Broadway you can find Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse;  the place is as big as its name. With a rep as one of Nashville’s biggest and baddest establishments, it has five floors, four stages, and six bars. It can accommodate almost two thousand people. The first floor and mezzanine overlook the two-story main stage, where tomorrow’s stars perform daily. The sky-high 5th-story rooftop also has some great views of downtown Nashville. The kitchen is known for mouth-watering steaks, including the signature 36oz no period Tomahawk Ribeye.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to see it all in one night. Have fun, recover, and carry on.

You can take this tour by walking, but other creative choices include; scooters, custom vans, open air buses, group bicycles and an open-air wagon pulled by tractor.

Elvis Presley’s gold-plated Cadillac is in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 Country Music  
Harland Howard’s simple observation that a country song was only “Three chords and the truth” has stood the test of time. It is that simplicity that has always been country music’s attraction. If you are looking to record country music, play country music, learn about country music, or just listen to country music, Nashville is your heaven. 

There is a plethora, or dare I say, shitload, of museums in Music City; from Johnny Cash to Patsy Cline. There is also the Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Musicians Hall of Fame, but you definitely don’t want to miss the Country Music Hall of Fame; leave yourself some time for that one. Then, Of course you’ll have to make your pilgrimage to the Ryman Auditorium. If you can catch a show, schedule it, it’s a lifetime experience. Originally founded in the 1880s when a steamboat Captain named Thomas Ryman, was overcome by the tent sermon of an itinerant preacher, and set out to build him a permanent home. It was renamed and repurposed in his honor after the turn of the century and over the decades became an historic country music icon. Known as the Mother Church of Country Music, when you walk through those doors you know you are on hallowed ground. It is the place where Bluegrass was born, where Johnny Cash met June Carter, where country music found an audience bigger than the back porch. The Grand Ole Opry debuted in 1943 at the venue and introduced every star from Hank Williams to Elvis Presley and everyone who is anyone in the years since. 

 

On to Music Row. 
RCA Studio B was the famed recording studio built in 1956 by RCA. It became renowned in the 1960s for the development of the musical production style known as the ‘Nashville Sound’. In the two decades that the studio was in operation, the single studio, Studio B, produced over 60 percent of the hits on Billboard magazine’s country charts. The studio is now owned by the Country Music Hall of Fame, which offers scheduled tours of the facilities.

The Hermitage is the former home of our 7th President Andrew Jackson.

 American History 
First of all, I had the great fortune to choose The Union Station Nashville Yards as my four-day home. A handy location at the upper end of Broadway, the Union Station is also a beautifully restored and repurposed historic property which is now part of the Marriott Autograph Collection and a true Nashville treasure. The former train station, established in 1900, when it became the epicenter of American cross-country travel. The imposing Romanesque structure and original 65-foot barrel-vaulted stained glass ceiling - made the Union Station an architectural marvel in its day, a turn-of-the-century landmark that still offers a glimpse of the romance and grandeur of a bygone era. It’s even home to a ghost story.

The spectacular interior of the Union Station Nashville Yards.

 The Union Station has added all the modern amenities including a top quality restaurant onsite, and a beautiful bar that serves food and craft cocktails in the spectacular lobby.

When the sights the lights and sounds of downtown begin to rattle your peace of mind, I strongly recommend you journey to the outside of town and visit another true American treasure.

The Hermitage is the former home of our 7th President Andrew Jackson. Jackson purchased the 1,000-acrce cotton farm in 1804, for him and his beloved wife, Rachael. Hermitage means ‘retreat,’ and it is aptly named. The expanse of the lush green fields, tall trees and relative silence are a tranquil respite from the relentless volume of downtown. It is a mile and a half to stroll around the property and worth your time. The life and times and Andrew Jackson take us from the Revolutionary War, where he fought at age 13; through the Battle of New Orleans where he led the dramatic underdog victory in the War of 1812. It takes us through his years in Congress and ultimately as a US President affectionately remembered as Old Hickory. The grounds include the couples first log cabin as well as the Jackson Mansion which was built in 1921; other structures on the property include a slave quarters, a church, a garden and a graveyard where the couple are interred. Tours are given of the mansion itself, one of the oldest historic venues in the country. It has been a museum since 1893 when it was restored to the way it looked in 1837. Nashville is a great adventure, that offers American History credit, take an adventure yourself.

Union Station Nashville Yards 
www.theunionstationnashvilleyards.com




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