Trip Summary Calendar - Where we went and when

June 09, 2004

Nashville update, our next stops

We're nearing the end of our Nashville stop, so I thought I'd post a few updates as to what we've done here... (There's a bit to read, so click the "Continue Reading" link below to see the whole thing.)

Saturday night we went to the Grand Ole Opry. We weren't sure what the Opry was before we went, other than it being somehow important. Well here's the scoop: The Grand Ole Opry is a long-running live radio show, performed in front of an audience, consisting of a huge variety of country-related acts. Our show was two and a half hours, split into 30 minute segments. Each segment had three performers. Between each segment they do commercials live from the stage (a few are pre-taped). While we're not huge fans of country music we really enjoyed the show. Radio shows are right up our alley, and the live nature of it all gave it a fun energy. We didn't recognize any of the performers but most of the audience sure did - they were going crazy. At least two were members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

One odd thing about the Opry is at it's current location (here about 30 years) it's essentially part of a large shopping mall ("Opry Mills"). It's an independent building, but shares the same entrance and parking lot. Pretty weird for what is perhaps the biggest icon of Nashville.

Earlier Saturday we walked through the massive, almost incomprehensible Opryland Hotel. While not a tall building (roughly floors of rooms) it is HUGE. The building consists of (from memory) four interconnected sections, each with a very, very large interior open space. All have waterfalls, small streams, and the largest has a (I'm not making this up) river and offers boat rides. Wait until you see the photos.

Sunday we visited The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson. It's a modest mansion (five or six bedrooms, comparible in size to some large homes built today), but very nicely decorated and preserved and on 1100 beautiful acres. While much smaller than the massive Biltmore we saw in Asheville, overall we liked The Hermitage even more.

Sunday night we met up with Natalie, a friend of Jessica's (see the New Jersey entry for details of our time with Jessica). Natalie was in Nashville for a convention of librarians, so we met up for dinner at the local Macaroni Grill.

Monday we toured the Frist Center for Visual Arts, a museum in the downtown area. While we didn't see anything I'd consider earth-shattering there was a nice variety of paintings, prints, and some sculpture. We had the most fun at the "make your own art" section where we sat down and painted a while.

Monday night we spent some time with the locals. While looking through the local events calendar we came upon an interesting item: "Kerry-oke". Yes, a karaoke party to benefit John Kerry. Turns out there's a big movement within the country music industry to dispel the notion they're all right-wing conservatives. So some music executives organized the "Music Row Democrats" and this was one of their events. Among the speakers was the former NEA chair, Bill Ivey. And for singers they had real singers. Again we didn't know them, but we recognized their music. Which begs the question - if a good singer sings karaoke, is it still cheesy? We chatted at length with one member of the industry, a songwriter, performer, and reviewer, who has been out of work over a year. He, seemingly like many others there, blame the downturn in the music industry on the monopolization of radio stations (and the Bush deregulation that allowed it). An interesting night.

Tuesday was a work and errand day. Only interesting tidbit was a visit to a local outdoor megastore, Bass Pro Outdoor World. It's like a Home Depot of outdoor/sporting products - boating (about a dozen boats IN the store), more fishing equipment than I've ever seen, camping, etc.

Today is Wednesday. We hope to spend some more time downtown later this afternoon. Tonight is another big country music experience - the taping of a Country Music Television special on the 100 greatest country music love songs. The top 12 songs will be performed by stars including Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Lee Ann Womack, Brad Paisley and others. We've actually heard of these folks! The special should air on CMT this Sunday night, June 13th. Someone please tape it for us!

Tomorrow we're headed for Manchester, TN for the massive Bonnaroo music festival. 80,000+ people are expected, and the traffic nightmares are legendary here. Apparently two years ago they had a 30-mile highway backup that took 24 hours to get through!

Monday we're heading to Montgomery, Alabama for three nights, followed by a week in New Orleans. I'm not sure if we'll have internet access (let alone electricity) while at Bonnaroo, but if we do we'll post an update then. We also have photos from Asheville to post (to prove we really went white-water kayaking). So stay tuned!

Posted by Mitch at June 9, 2004 12:53 PM

Howdy folks,

Can't wait till you get out my way. I could hook up with you when you get to CA and ride back up to SF.

Posted by: Herb at June 11, 2004 10:23 PM
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