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Trip Report Two Musical Days in Nashville

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I don’t know that I’ve ever done a real trip report before, and this one will qualify as just a “mini” report anyway, but wanted to give it a shot.

As my screen name indicates, I love music and going to concerts, even if it occasionally means travelling to a really special one. Paul Simon’s tour stop in Nashville this past week qualified! I was lucky as another of my favorite artists was playing the night before, so I got two great shows in one trip.

Flew Southwest, my go-to airline for these little jaunts and picked up my rental car at the NV airport after a long wait in line. I had tried to get a good Priceline deal, but never had a successful bid. I finally did reserve a car thru them, but not a “name-your-own price.” My Priceline bid for my hotel had gone awry due to my carelessness so I ended up in Franklin, about 20 miles south of downtown. Got a great rate though, which helped and the hotel was beautiful and clean…a full-service Marriott; it just didn’t have any of the “sense of place” I like when I travel…it could have been in any suburb.

I met friends the first night for dinner at The Tin Roof near Music Row…fun and casual in a good location for shopping and wandering about. The concert that night was at The Mercy Lounge, a very cool small venue located near The Gulch. Its companion venue is The Cannery Ballroom. Great show, fun crowd and good company. Headed back to Franklin for the night; it’s a fairly easy drive on a good highway so it definitely could have been worse.

The next morning I headed out to explore Franklin a little bit and ended up at a cool shopping complex called The Factory at Franklin…an old manufacturing facility (they built stoves there for years) converted, very creatively, into shops. I then drove around Franklin a bit just sightseeing and then headed north to my destination for the day…Cheekwood.

Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and mansion/art museum that was just lovely. The gorgeous weather that day only added to my enjoyment—it was spectacular. I toured (i.e., walked through) many of the gardens and ended up at the mansion to view the exhibits of antique silver, artwork, antique china, and the most fabulous of all…a Faberge collection that was dazzlingly beautiful. I treated myself to lunch at the on-site Pineapple Room and ate outdoors amongst the 14-year cicadas which are out in force. I could have spent another hour or two, but didn’t want to rush my evening that much so headed back to the hotel to get ready. I must add that the neighborhoods in this part of the city are just beautiful…fabulous homes on picture-perfect lanes and roads.

I met a friend for a pre-concert dinner at Margaritaville on Lower Broadway. Yes, it’s a chain and all that, but we don’t have one at home, it was right across the street from the concert, and they let us sit and talk and eat (in the upstairs, more quiet dining room) for almost two hours. We then found our seats in the balcony…there is hardly a bad seat at The Ryman and ours were just fine. He took the stage just a little after 7:30 and received an immediate standing ovation. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen…repeated ovations, songs from every part of his long career, and probably the most versatile band I have ever witnessed…eight members and each of them played multiple instruments…the drummer also played guitar, the piano/organ player did some percussion, the marimba player also played flute, saxophone and clarinet, and the keyboardist also played accordion. Don Everly (!) joined him for a duet of “Bye Bye Love” and Jerry Douglas played dobro for “The Fighter.” After almost two hours, several encores, and countless ovations, it was over. Several of the band members were in the alley afterward and we were able to tell them how much we had enjoyed the show.

We found a bar for a quick drink and then it was time to head back to the hotel.

The next morning was a little warmer, but my plane didn’t leave until 3 and I wanted to get in some more vacationing. I stopped at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, but just visited the gift shop as I have toured the museum on previous trips.

My plan was to get in a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry House as that’s something I had never done before. I happened to be in Nashville last May the weekend the flooding started and wanted to see how that area had recovered, after watching the news footage so much from home. The tour was very interesting and fairly thorough…about 45 minutes long. The horrible flood damage is gone and it is better than ever (they made lots of improvements during the repairs—a process that was completed in only four months!) The most obvious sign of any damage is the chainlink fence that encircles the Opry Mills shopping center which has not reopened as yet. The grounds of the Opry House as well as the Opryland hotel look as if nothing ever happened there except for a few areas that are still fenced off. I was really impressed.

By then, the rental car deadline was looming so I headed back to the airport, about 48 hours since I landed. It was a fun and music-filled trip… memorable for multiple reasons. Nashville is a great city