Nashville, Tennessee is a great place to visit. You don’t need to be a country music fan to have a good time here.
Our first day we toured the Ryman Auditorium, where The Grand Ole Opry and the radio broadcast was held for many years. It was originally built as a church but turned to music soon after. Hence the nickname, “The Mother Church of Country Music”. On our last night in Nashville we took in a show at The Ryman. Wonderful!
We also took in a show at the new Grand Ole Opry House. “New” is a relative term as it was built in 1974. I also went to a performance (Joy passed) at The Bluebird Cafe (of the TV show “Nashville” fame). A very intimate setting to see singer/songwriters strut their stuff. This night there were two “The Voice” alumni playing.
Broadway Street. Where the action is. About 7 blocks of bars with live music, food, drinks and atmosphere. A good time to be certain.
There is also lots of history here too. Civil war battles, President Andrew Jackson’s home, the state capitol building, just to name a few other sights we took in. All in all, a good week. Now off to southern Indiana.
Our first full day in Nashville was cool and cloudy. First we headed over to the Grand Ole Opry and got some tickets for the Tuesday evening show. There is a pretty cool bus parked out front, a 1948 Flxible.
Then off to downtown and a tour of the Ryman Auditorium. Originally built in the late 1800's as a place for a preacher to do his sermons, it soon turned into a music venue. The pictures on the wall showing the artists that have played there are simply amazing. Everything from gospel to rock, classical to jazz, vaudeville to comedy to Broadway shows, the names are a who's who of stars for over 100 years. The Grand Ole Opry started there in the 1940's (moved out in the 1970's but still have shows there) and made country music famous. It is said the sound quality rivals Carnegie Hall in New York.
Next, Broadway Street. Blocks and blocks of bars/restaurants. Most have live music where the musicians play for tips. Spoiler alert....they are really, really good! Even on a cool, drizzly day, people were everywhere enjoying the wonderful atmosphere, the food, the music and a few drinks. I think I will be going back to experience this again before the week is out.
Franklin is a small town about 15 miles south of Nashville. The Battle of Nashville was the last battle in the west of the Civil War and was one of the defeats of the Confederate side that sealed the victory for the North.
Interestingly however, the while the final battle of the Confederate Army of Tennessee was at Nashville, the battle was really won by the Union at the Battle of Franklin about two weeks earlier, on November 30, 1864. The North's General Sherman had taken Atlanta and General Hood of the Confederate Army of Tennessee decided if he could take Nashville, he could then move on into Virginia and lend a hand to General Lee who was slowing losing ground to Ulysses S. Grant. Unfortunately for Hood and the Confederates, the Union sent about 25,000 troops to reinforce the 8,000 at Nashville. The bridge over the river on the road was out so they had to stop at Franklin while they re-built a bridge. There, Hood came across the Union troops, already well dug in by the Carter Farm. He attacked anyway and after four tries, had to retreat. The costs to his army were too high. The Union troops got the bridge built, went on to Nashville where Hood tried again, but had lost so much at Franklin that there was no hope.
All of this long winded story is a preamble to the pictures taken at the Carter House. The battle with about 60,000 combatants, raged all around the house with about 20 members of the family including the children, hiding in the basement. While we were not allowed to take pictures inside the house, one of the outbuilding is totally riddled with bullet holes.
Then on to Carnton Plantation. Again no pictures inside the house. This house was about a mile south of the battle and was the Confederate field hospital. The family that lived here were very wealthy and counted among their friends several Presidents who had visited the home in the past. Not on that day. The home has been preserved or restored but there are still many, large blood stains on the floor from the hundreds of amputations done that day in 1864. An eerie feeling to stand in those rooms and imagine the chaos. The Confederate Cemetery is only a few hundred yards outside the door.
There are also a couple shots of the Two Rivers Mansion, a few nice homes along the way and some around the town of Franklin including some of an old theatre in Franklin.
We have tried to see some of the state capitol buildings along the way, since Nashville is the capitol of Tennessee, we thought we should see it too. On the way we stopped at a magnificent old hotel, The Hermitage. Exquisite! Interestingly, they had a receipt displayed from 1944 showing the nightly rate at $10. So, I asked. The rate has risen a bit. $499 per night today.
Then on to the Capitol building where got some shots of a very lovely building. It was built in the mid 1800's so most of it has been restored or re-created.
The in the evening it was off to The Grand Ole Opry. While country music is not my first choice, I like most music and country is one of my favourites. They allow photography, but not my larger lenses so I couldn't really get close enough but I think they turned out not bad anyway.
What an interesting day! It started off pretty slowly. We just decided to go back to the Grand Ole Opry Shop and then walk around the Opry Mall. So, I took an odd shot of the "STOP" light on the back of the old bus in front of the Grand Old Opry House. Then, in the mall we found a restaurant with huge aquariums and lots of colourful fish. Then a lovely carousel.
In the evening I went to the Bluebird Cafe. I wasn't aware of the fact but apparently it is featured in the TV show "Nashville" (never seen it), and many stars have played there. Garth Brooks was "discovered" there.
The Bluebird Cafe is a VERY small place. There are four artist/songwriters in a small circle in the center with tables around that. I couldn't get a reservation so I stood in line for about an hour in the hopes of getting in. I was one of the last lucky few who did. In fact my chair was right behind one of the artist/songwriters, Barrett Baber. I literally couldn't move without bumping him. Barrett finished in 3rd place in the 2015 season of The Voice. I spoke with him after the show and he told me George Canyon is going to record one of his songs. I have put a shot of the lineup card with the pictures. Another one of the artists, Caeland Garner was also coached by Blake on The Voice.
The four artists take turns playing and singing one of their songs, and first telling the story of the song. They were all really, really good. And the stories often were both touching and funny.
Then I went back downtown to Broadway to get some night shots on the street and a few more of the artists playing in the bars. I managed to get a couple night shots of the Capitol building as well as some long exposure street shots with the cars and people going by. All in all, a great day.