The Country Music Capital! This place is jumping, it's exactly what we see and hear about. Every second place is a bar, saloon or eatery where up and coming songwriters, musicians and singers can show their talents and hope for that ever elusive offer to become something big!
We found some parking and walked down through Printers Alley (known for it's printing of many many bibles and other literature) on down Broadway, where it's bar after bar after cowboy boot and clothing shop. We did venture into some had a beer at Doc Hollidays ……and no I wasn't allowed more boots! There were some gorgeous and unusual ones that I had not seen before.
We got on the Trolley Tour down at the Riverfront which took us around all the main highlights and is a 'hop on, hop off' arrangement for 24hrs. Taking us up Broadway through the district the tour guide gave us information along the way. The Trolley Tour goes past Ryman Auditorium, The Arcade, Musicians Hall of Fame, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Nashville Farmers Market, Antique Archaeology, The Parthenon/Centennial Park, Spirit of Nashville, Music Row, Frist Centre for Visual Arts, Bridgestone Arena and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
We visited the Ryman Auditorium, known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” and in short was built by a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman Thomas G. Ryman. He had planned to heckle a preacher who gave the word out of a tent, instead Ryman was converted and decided to raise funds for a permanent place and in 1892 it was completed as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. It was renamed Ryman Auditorium after Captain Rymans death in 1904.
From then it served as a venue for events such as religious revivals, jazz, operas, ballets, political debates and boxing matches until 1943 came the Grand Ole Opry.
It then became the souths premier performance hall. Saturday nights were for a popular radio show that had outgrown other local venues. It rarely had an empty seat for the Saturday night Opry. Performers such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Bill Monroe helped shape country and bluegrass music from the Ryman stage.
In 2001, after major renovations, the Ryman was named a National Historic Landmark and today is open for tours and still attracts world-class artists.
The oak pews were salvaged during the restoration and it was said the instruction was remove the chewing gum from underneath and leave everything else in tact, like scratches, markings etc.
The recreated decorative detail on the front of the balcony, the stage backdrop, the reproduction stained glass windows and chandelier lamps give the feeling of grandeur and why it must be so exciting for so many who have performed here.
Of course one of the most celebrated continuing regular performances was the radio show and 'country cousin' Minnie Pearl and the famous opening line of How-dee! With her $1.98 price tag on her hat it was a signature part of her performance.
I think she may have fitted in with our Redneck Sista's and might be a long lost relative of Mary-Lou June's! She likes price tags or labels on her gear!
We also visited the Johnny Cash Museum which has the largest and most comprehensive collection of artefacts and memorabilia in the world.
He was a tall man standing around 6'2″ and took a large 13D boot! There are stage outfits of both his and June Carter's, original song scripts, some pieces of furniture from his estate, walls of records, movie pieces etc.
Thoroughly enjoyed it, was packed with people but it was great listening to the famous opener, “Hello, I'm Johnny Cash” and his songs as you wandered through.
Along the trolley tour we also stopped briefly at the Bicentennial Mall where there is a huge Tennessee state map and information of the history with a spectacular view up the hill to the State Capitol. We will go there again tomorrow.
For more information, opening hours, concessions visit the websites below. Some are a little pricey and I would recommend finding one of the visitor information centres first as you can get coupons for most places that will give you 1 or 2 bucks off.
Sunday July 20th