So here we are, summer of 2009 and we decided to blow off the annual Austin trip for one based around visiting with our oldest in Indiana. We decided to make this huge loop that took us through some Southern outposts we had nice tastes of along with some we had none, a Midwest one with familial roots, Indiana, and then back to R.I. via the “Northern” route to do what all honeymooners do, see Niagara Falls (and our honeymoon days are 26 years prior, though, we like to think it has been one gigantic honeymoon. Talk about mush.). Anyway, that’s the intro.
DAY 1: Peace Dale to Nashville (6/27/09)
Because of snow days for the teacher wife of which two there was no snow, departure date slipped to Saturday, June 27. In retrospect, leaving on a Saturday was primo - no construction, less 18-wheelers, etc. First stop was Nashville to spend a couple of days and see the stuff. Based on our last road trip to Austin, TX, the Day 1 goal was making it to Knoxville, about 800 miles and 14 hours. In other words, marathon day of driving. Left Peace Dale at 5:15 AM and cruised (I-95 to 278 to 81 to 40). At about 5 PM, we realized we were making such good time we’d hit Knoxville by 6:30. Decision time. In the back of our mind is the usual going the extra mile (i.e., it’s only 2.5 hours more to Nashville and we get an hour back!). We decide to cancel the Knoxville res and b-line on I-40 all the way to Nashville. Heck, Those Darlins are doing a CD release party with opener Black Lips! Dog tired and gas leg stiff and sore, we dog it and hit the outskirts of Music City and our newly booked La Quinta by 8:30. Job well done. Hit the sack and get ready for a big day on Sunday. F*ck no! We hit Rotiers on Elliston for the legendary cheeseburger (Jimmy Buffet wrote the stupid song about it). The Shiners help make up for the no Texas tears. It lives up to the billing as does the potato casserole. Getting caught up in the waitress tip stealing issues ain’t good. To bed or Black Lips? Heck, we’ve been up since 3:30 CST and driven 1000+ miles. In other words Black Lips win. We hit The Mercy Lounge which for you former TNN fans, is Cannery Row where shows were shot. Love the records, but the Black Lips live thing was so beautifully sloppy in a coordinated way. Hot as hell and crowd surfing and spitting beer prevailed, though, we steered clear. Can’t believe how young these guys look, but they have a carefree approach. Garagey, psych-like, the spot was hit and could be a tough moment to top at such an early stage of the junket. Headliners were Murfeesboro girl trio Those Darlins. It was there CD release party. Difficulties getting set delayed things, but the girls hit the stage to enthusiastic response. I like the new CD, but grows old fast. On stage, I hate to say it but it was a bit of a trainwreck. The spirit was there, was the chops and all was a little lacking. Let’s chalk it up to jitters. Getting shaky and near comatose from the lengthy day, we made the trek back to the La Quint to gear up for what was supposed to be the real Day One in Nashville.
DAY 2: Nashville (6/28/09)
Rule: Don’t let wife take sleeping pill! The hope was to get some breakfast and hit the Country Music Hall of Fame. The darn pill had us out of aforementioned La Quinta at 11+ and not sure how long it would take us to consume the hall of fame, going right there. First off, Nashville on a Sunday is a real, real, real quiet town. Hot and muggy and at 90+ at 11, we hit the hall of fame (which was freakin’ freezin’). It’s a good museum and must-do goods with folks with our track record. The feature exhibit was Family Tradition about the Hank Williams clan. It was good, but seemed to stretch the mystique beyond what is really there. Hank III, Holly, and Hilary still have plenty to prove and are no way on the scale of granddad. Never realized how big a part Miss Audrey had, but this exhibit really made her out to be a big cog. The rest of the museum was a bunch of appetizer-sized bites of a bunch of country artists. Not enough on people whatsoever to sink the teeth into, just bite-size. The big tease is you see all this archival files and materials sitting behind glass and it has someone like myself just craving a look into what’s there. I guess it’s all fodder for future special exhibits.
Took us 3 hours to take it all in and we left and walked over to Broadway. Nashville’s honky tonk Bourbon Street, it was sparse but the vicinity of Tootsie’s and Robert’s all had live music on a Sunday afternoon. Saw a steel player gearing up at Robert’s and we hit it. Worth the visit as the band played tunes of ’63 vintage and earlier (but way too much warning everyone it was all they would play. Heck, I can’t stand Garth and all either, but just play the old stuff and shut up about how you are Mr. Vintage and classic country!). After a beer, walked downtown a bit and made tracks to the legendary Loveless Cafe. (Side note: When walking downtown, it caught our eye that somebody had graffitied “Patsy” on the Ryman roof! Big balls in Music City is what I say!). Anyway, the Loveless is a bit out of town and all about home cooking. Biscuits are big doings and these ones, while a tad rubbery, were firm in the right kind of way. Wife had the fried chicken and myself the pork chops. Fine country cooking, good service, and she dug the banana pudding. Definitely cured the crankiness of a long day on Saturday. (Still thinking about those Black Lips!)
Checked into our Best Western Music Room room. Huge, but a little toey. At $80 and walking distance from downtown, I can take a little toe. Needing to burn off the Loveless, took a walk over the Shelby Street Bridge on what was a beautiful summer night in Nashville. Once again, boy is this a quiet town. WIth a bit of exercise in us, we headed to the Station Inn for the Sunday bluegrass jam. The music was your basic “campfire” jam, but the vibe was great and the joint a no frills and free place to kick back, have a few beers, Shiners at that. For beer types, new Nashville homegrown beer is Yazoo. Had a few and they have a ways to go. Lights out.