You’ve seen the film and the TV series; you’ve heard the music; you know the legend. A visit to the city synonymous with country music rewards the ears, the appetite and the soul.
TENNESSEE’S MUSIC CITY is a hotbed of rock, country, history and culture and an essential stop on any tour of the south. It’s a city of distinct neighbourhoods, so for eating and drinking head to Germantown; cruise around 12South for shopping adventures; hit East Nashville for a local’s experience; the Gulch is the place for records, guitars and gigs; and spend time Downtown for honky tonks, museums, bars and southern barbecue.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention
Center (Opryland for short) has to be seen to be believed. It’s like a theme park for adults, or maybe a cruise on land is a closer description of this jaw-droppingly huge resort. They have a river with boat cruises, an island village, waterfalls and shops, all inside the resort. During Christmas they host an ice festival with ice sculptures, shows, rides and lights that draw huge crowds. 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville TN. +1 615 889 1000. www. expedia.com.au/Nashville-Hotels-GaylordOpryland-Resort-Convention-Center-h21317. Hotel-information.
See and do
Give yourself a whole day to hit three Nashville essentials. At the Country Music
Hall of Fame immerse yourself in the history of country music as it developed from folk, religious and African influences in the New World to become the rhinestone-studded industry it is today. You can see Elvis’s gold cadillac; the actual Hall of Fame – a circular grotto where plaques of winners are installed around the walls; and costumes and memorabilia from Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton and the Carter Family. 222 Fifth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 416 2001. countrymusichalloffame.org. Daily 9am-5pm. US$24.95. Once you’ve finished in the Hall of Fame you’ll want to visit Hatch Show Prints, an original letterpress poster printing shop in the same building that to this day hand assembles gig posters for touring artists. 224 Fifth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 577 7710. hatchshowprint.com. Tours at 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm. Available in a package with Hall of Fame entry. US$18. The bus for the RCA Studio B tour leaves from outside the Hall of Fame and takes you to the studio where Dolly Parton recorded ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Elvis laid down ‘How Great Thou Art’. It’s a short tour but it’s a moving experience for anyone who loves music. 222 Fifth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 416 2001. studiob.org. Daily 10.30am-2.30pm. Only available in conjunction with a Hall of Fame entry. US$39.95.
Musician’s Hall of Fame
You can tour music museums for days on end if you’re so inclined (Johnny Cash and
Patsy Cline both have their own museums on 3rd Ave South for diehard fans) but this museum is worth a visit if you’re the sort of person who cares about how the music was made. There are exhibits on the great session bands of America, like the Swampers in Muscle Shoals and the Wrecking Crew in LA, and the great songwriters of our time like Roy Orbison and Bruce Springsteen. 401 Gay St, Nashville TN. +1 615 244 3263. www.musicianshalloffame.com. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. US$20-$24.
This famous auditorium was built in 1892 as a place of worship, then became a home for touring acts and musicians, as well as the home of the Grand Ole Opry radio and live TV show. It fell into disrepair in the latter part of the 20th century and was then restored to its former glory. The hall still evokes the kind of hushed reverence from tour groups that you’d expect in a cathedral. 116 Fifth Ave North, Nashville TN. +1 615 889 3060. www.ryman.com. US$15-$30.
If you’re planning on splashing some cash while you’re in the US, 12South is a very easy place to drain your wallet. Start at White’s Mercantile ( 2908 12th Ave S), a former petrol station that now sells handmade, authentic frontier goods like maple syrup in beautiful tins, thick woollen blankets, soft garments made with natural fibres and books on everything from log cabin building to pickling and folk music. From here, wander back up 12 Avenue South towards the city, stopping in at clothing boutiques, vintage shops and denim emporiums. 12th Ave
S, Nashville, TN. Any music nerd should pay a visit to Jack White’s record shop/ recording studio Third Man Records where you can buy new pressings of original Sun Record singles from Johnny Cash and Elvis, plus music recorded on White’s label from the Dead Weather, Wanda Jackson, Seasick Steve and Margo Price. 623 Seventh Ave South, Nashville TN 37203. + 1 615 891 4393. thirdmanrecords.com/about/nashville-storefront/.
Brunch is an American institution they take very seriously at Josephine. Order up a cheeseburger, steak and eggs or a peach tartine to start. Don’t leave without a serve of bite-sized cinnamon doughnuts, and bookend your meal with Bloody Marys. 2316 Twelfth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 292 7766. www.josephineon12th.
com/. If you’re going to eat fried chicken in the US, do it at Hattie B’s. The meat is tender and juicy, the shell is crunchy and their sauces range from mild to a hot sauce so powerful you’ll feel like you can see through time. 112 Nineteenth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 678 4794. hattieb.com. Spending a day in the top floor beer garden at Martin’s Bar-B-Cue
Joint should be on everyone’s hit list. They prime their pit barbecues in the wee small hours to cook whole hog barbecue that is juicy, tender and perfectly smoky. 410 Fourth Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 288 0880.www.martinsbbqjoint.com. Pinewood Social bust out some of the best mod-American dining in the city, and there’s a bowling alley there too. 33 Peabody St, Nashville TN. +1 615 751 8111. www. pinewoodsocial.com.
Drink and listen
There’s usually at least one free gig a week at
Mercy Lounge, tucked away in the industrial backstreets. Play your cards right and you might be able to say you saw the biggest names in music in this 500-person venue – Adele, Emmylou Harris and Alabama Shakes have all graced the stage here. 1 Cannery Row, Nashville TN. +1 615 251 3020. www.mercylounge.com. Yes, it’s busy, sticky and neon lit, but no visit to Nashville is complete without a night at Robert’s Western
World for some live covers, cheap beers and late-night dancing. Keep some small notes on hand to tip the band. 416B Broadway, Nashville TN. +1 615 244
9552. robertswesternworld.com. Since the release of Nashville, the TV show, the Bluebird Café can be hard to get into but the Listening Room Café is for people who love music but don’t like the crowds. They average two gigs a day and you can book tickets for as little as US$5. Entry ensures you get a seat with table service for dinner and drinks. 217 2nd Ave South, Nashville TN. +1 615 259 3600. www.listeningroomcafe.com.
Qantas ( www.qantas.com) flies to Nashville daily via Los Angeles or DallasFort Worth, with internal flights operated by American Airlines ( www.aa.com).
■ Time Out travelled as the guest of Brand USA and Expedia, and visited Nashville courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. www.visittheusa.com.au.
Pay a visit to Jack White’s record shop