Friday, April 26, 2013

The Hot Spots in Nashville

   It started back in the seventies when Ed Sconiers, the owner of the Tastee Freeze in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, discovered that I attended college in Nashville, Tennessee. You'd have thought he had won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, the man was so excited he could hardly stand it. Ed was just sure that it would not be long before Porter and I had made one another's acquaintance and that it would just be a matter of time before I was on a first-name basis with Dolly. It never happened. But what did happen was that all kinds of people started calling me for tips on what to do when they came to visit Ed Sconier's Music City. At first it was just friends of Ed's. And then friends of friends. It's still happening to this day. And it's been a long time.
   And since I was raised by my mother to be helpful whenever possible, I did develop a list of places that are must sees. It has changed and adapted itself over the years. So I reckon it's high time I shared it with you, but be forewarned that there is no way that I am going to be able to cover my Hot Spots in one post, so I'll just have to have a go at it and then we'll see where we end up.

So, without further ado (in no particular order)

The Ryman Auditorium. 
It's known as the Mother Church of Country Music. It was where the Grand Ole Opry started before it moved out to what used to be Opryland (we Nashvillians have still not gotten over that one). In my book, this remains one of the best places to visit whether you are a tourist or not. Most musicians will talk about playing the Ryman with reverence and awe. There really is something magical about it. It's small for a concert hall, old, and it just reeks of history. There are no individual seats here, just row upon row of wooden pews, because after all, this really once was a church. And the honeyed tones of the wood absorb and reflect the sound so that the sound comes out all warm and honeyed as well. If you think I'm lying just read about The Ryman here. Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Wynonna, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, BB King, Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, Black Keys, Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus and the list goes on and on and on. You name 'em. They've played the Ryman. Except that it's The Ryman. Kind of like the Holy Grail. It's sacred ground in Music City.
 So go ahead and pay the money and take the tour. You can even stand on the stage and strum the guitar and act like you are singing and they will take your picture and then you have the pleasure of paying for that, as well. But while you are up there squint your eyes and gaze up at those stained glass windows, breathe deeply and imagine. Dream a little. It's what The Ryman does to you. 
It makes you believe. And that's what I love the most about it. 

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
   When you visit this lovely lady, you will know without a doubt that Nashville is a city well-deserving of the title Music City. We have come of age. Reputedly ranked among the top ten symphony and performing halls in the world, the Schermerhorn is a stellar newcomer to the stages of Music City and she is all the more enchanting to us because we nearly lost her in the Flood of 2010. The lady Schermerhorn is elegant, refined, and gloriously classical, but with thoughtful contemporary touches here and there. She's a Tennessee girl, after all, and the pride of Tennessee is woven throughout her architecture. If the Ryman is the "Mother," then the Schermerhorn is the newly crowned "Queen," a title she earned all on her own.

The lobby beckons and soars. It gives you a foretaste of the magic within.
  There is truly not a bad seat in the house. I do not lie when I tell you that the acoustics are so refined that if a sheet of music falls to the ground, everyone in the hall is aware of it. Go online to see if a tour is offered. You won't be sorry. As you feast your eyes on the beauty, look around for the Captain's Wheel, the Maxwell House coffee beans, the irises and the lyres, all symbols that call our fair city to mind. The Schermerhorn may belong to Nashville, but the world is her rightful stage. Just ask YoYo Ma.

The NashTrash Tour.
   Do you want to laugh so hard that you wet your pants? Then don't waste a moment more; go online NOW and get your reservation to the The NashTrash Tour. My friends took me for my birthday a few years back. I have never laughed so hard in my life. Now I send everybody I know. It's a once in a lifetime experience. Think Saturday Night Live meets Duck Dynasty. Now you are gettin' my drift. You will find yourself climbing aboard a Pink Party Bus (really a school bus painted Pepto Bismal pink) over at the Nashville Farmer's Market and riding around town for 90 minutes with two sisters who have certainly made a name for themselves. 
Photos of NashTrash Tours, Nashville
This photo of NashTrash Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Oh, and don't forget to bring some adult beverages in a 6-pack size cooler. You won't need any food. The Jugg Sisters thoughtfully provide the Ritz Crackers and the Cheez Whiz in a can. This is one of those times you are just gonna have to go with it. Trust me. If Al Roker did it, you can too.

That's all for today, folks.

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