Still working on describing my Tennessee trip, even though it has been more than a month since I’ve been back.
Tuesday morning we left for the almost 3-hour drive to Nashville. I had to say goodbye to Kacie kitty and resist stuffing her in my suitcase. I’d gotten used to her fuzzy warmth near me at night. We stopped along the way for lunch and got to Nashville early afternoon. That gave us time to explore the downtown area. Broadway is the “the” country-music street to visit with souvenir shops, restaurants, music stores, live music coming out of bars and cafes, and more.
I bought one souvenir, a guitar Christmas tree ornament. Jenn bought a few things in a record store (yes, they even had records). To me, the most interesting place, though, was Hatch Show Print, a letterpress printer since 1879. The shop is covered with old posters advertising everything from CW greats to David Byrne and even everyday products. As someone who has worked in the printing industry for more than two decades, I was totally fascinated. The shop is now owned by the Country Music Hall of Fame. Do check out their website and learn more about them.
Downtown Nashville is like many cities with an interesting mix of old and new buildings and styles. Of course, one of the highlights is the Ryman Auditorium, the old home of the Grand Ole Opry. It’s a fabulous old building with a lot of music history. The arched windows hint back to its origins as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, built in 1892. Today it’s part auditorium, part museum and a must-see in Nashville.
That evening we attended the Grand Ole Opry, which is now held at a newer Opry House just outside of Nashville. First we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Opry Mills, a large shopping mall which replaced the old theme park, Opryland. (Something I learned later.) Dinner was good and in an intriguing setting. I enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry much more than I expected to. I knew I would enjoy it, I just didn’t know I would that much. Of course, there’s always something about attending a live music show that you don’t get from recordings. Our seats were in about the 10th row and on the aisle, which made it easy for me to run down the aisle towards the front to snap photos. They not only let you do that, but encourage you to. Now, that’s my kind of place!
The Grand Ole Opry is still a radio show with announcer and commercials. There were eight different acts and each one was on stage about 15 minutes. The first on stage was Ed Brown, known for being one of The Browns family singing group. He’s aging, but I was impressed by his voice and stage presence. He’s still quite a performer.
Next came Restless Heart, a group that recorded the song, “You Can Depend On Me,” which is one we still do a clogging dance to. In fact, the step, Restless Vine, is named after them.
Mel McDaniel was up next. Gee, he’s getting older, as are so many of the artists I remember from years back when I used to listen to country music. He has a wonderfully expressive face.
The Del McCoury Band is a bluegrass staple and well-known.
They were followed by Jean Shepard, the longest running female member of the Opry. Boy! She was a kick. I liked her.
Rodney Atkins brought the most screams from the females in the audience. He also brought his little son on stage briefly. Too cute.
Little Jimmy Dickens has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry longer than anyone else. He is short, he’s also getting old, his voice isn’t what it used to be, but he’s still the consumate performer. We laughed at his jokes, no matter how corny or silly.
The show ended after Joe Diffie and his band performed. I enjoyed every single one of these acts and had so much fun. I’d go back in a heartbeat, and I’m not the one who’s the huge country music fan. (That would be Jennifer, of course.)
After the show we walked over to the Opryland Hotel by following a bunch of people on foot who seemed like they knew where they were headed. We’d wanted to see the inside of the hotel, but weren’t willing to pay the $8 parking fee. Yikes! Even at night the inside atrium (if you can call it that) was impressive. It was a pretty good ending to a fun day in Nashville.