Nashville, TN - Music City

And it really is. The whole city is about music. I didn't think I would like Nashville the first time I went. I am not much of a country music fan. Besides, I have been playing guitar for 35 years, and the one thing I knew about Nashville is that I couldn't swing a cat without hitting 10 guys who could play better than me.

But it turns out to be one of my favority cities in America. And it's not all country. Just spend a Sunday afternoon on Broadway, starting at Tootsie's and working your way towards the river, hop into each club, grab a drink and listen. You will hear Country and Western, then Bluegrass, then Rock, then Blues, a little of everything. Most of the musicians are wannabe's, a few are usetabe's, but they are all good. When you are done on Broadway, go around the corner to the Ryman Theater, original home of the Grand Ole Opry. One of my favorite photos is of myself standing onstage at the Ryman, guitar in hand. I can say I played guitar on the same stage as the likes of B.B.King, and Eric Clapton. Granted, no one was listening, but still....

For a more formal night out, try Printer's Alley, which has several good clubs, the best of which is the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar. The house band there, Stacy Mitchart and the Blues U Can Use Band are awesome. I first heard them in 2000, and again on subsequent trips, and he just keeps getting better.

And even though I am not a huge Country Western fan, the Hall of Fame is a must see. It tells the history of Country music, as well as Bluegrass and Gospel and such that preceeded. Until I went there I had no idea that Henry Ford's second greatest contribution to America was popularizing Country Western - he heard the Carter Family and some others, and got their music played on radio stations all around America. And I had a little taste of home, listening to a video by Clint Black talking about staying in Apple Valley (where I used to be Mayor) and recording a duet with Roy Rogers. Nor did I know, until I took a bus tour of Nashville Stars Homes that Hank Williams, Jr and John Ritter were neighbors growing up.

Another must-see is the New Opry House, and the Opryland Outlet Mall. Among the cool stores there is the Gibson Guitar's mandolin and fiddle factory. You can walk around playing guitars and such selling for upwards of 10K, while watching the luthiers hand-crafting Gibsons high end mandolins and fiddles, then grab lunch and listen to some music - all without leaving the store.

I also, on one trip, crashed a party at the Gibson Custom factory. It was the 10th birthday party of the shop, and me and my partner just walked right on in, like we belonged. (I had stumbled upon them setting up while sending out a parcel at the UPS station next door). The food was great, obviously the music was better, and during the evening I got a chance to talk to Slash, and Ted Nugent - so that was cool....

There are also lot's of recreational opportunities in and around Nashville, with several large lakes and waterparks, some great historical sites like The Hermitage, Andrew Jacksons home and plantation, and a great Stadium if you want to take in a Tennessee Titans game. Again, not a huge fan of the Titans, but the locals love their team almost as much as Wisconsiners love their Packers, so it's a great place to see a game.

And, as always, if you are ready to take a trip to Music City, stop by http://www.daveholmantravel.com/ and we will help you with all the arrangements.

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