More4’s Nashville is all about an ageing country star (Rayna Jaymes – played by Connie Britton) and her rival – a countrified young bombshell called Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) – who go head to head in a show stopping, bitchy battle for glory. The show is absolutely laced with stunning scenes from the Deep South, and a killer soundtrack inspired by the area.
Dubbed ‘Music City’, Nashville is the same place Elvis, The Everly Brothers and Wille Nelson (among countless others) recorded tracks. There are more than 130 music venues in town and today the place is still filled with budding songwriters hoping to hit the big time.
It’s not all line-dancing, cowboy hats and Dolly Parton impersonators, either. Live music – whether it be pop, rock, jazz, classical, blues and soul – is on 365 days a year. Here’s what not to miss during a visit…
Music City’s Walk of Fame and Nashville Music Garden: Take a tour of the stars on Demonbreun Street, where you can see which celebrities have been honoured in the city. Plaques include Kid Rock, Roy Orbison and Keith Urban. There’s also a 2,700-square-foot public garden nearby, where roses have been named after songs and their singers.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: Pop in here for more than 3,000 stage costumes, Johnny Cash’s guitar, Bill Monroe’s walking cane and Elvis’ gold-leafed Cadillac. Visitors can also tour the RCA Studio B otherwise known as the ‘Home of 1,000 Hits.’ This place took off in the ‘60s, after Elvis recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight? Later Dolly Parton made I Will Always Love You within these walls.
Lower Broadway: Honkytonks line both sides of the street and pump out western, rockabilly and country music 24/7. At night, the place really comes alive with its dramatic neon lights. Most shows are free, but don’t forget to tip the musicians.
Bluebird Café: There’s only room for 100 people in this non-profit acoustic venue, but if you can get in, it’s well worth a visit. Scenes from the new Nashville TV show are filmed on this stage, and seriously big names in the music biz, like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and LeAnn Rimes, have been known to do showcases here.
Tennessee State Capitol museum: Learn more about the history of one of the oldest state capitals in the US, by filling your brain with info on the first people to live in Nashville and their predecessors, the mastodons (a species similar to elephant, which roamed here 10,000 years ago). There are also tons of facts on the Spanish conquistadors and expos with artefacts from the old west, such as a 200-year-old dugout canoe and a Conestoga wagon. Meanwhile, around town, tours of the old state capital take place on weekdays, and reveal the city’s legends and war tales through to World War II.
Flea market: Antique lovers should make a beeline forNashville Flea Market, which takes place on the 4th weekend of every month. People come from all over the city and the surrounding states to sell their kitsch country-style collectibles and crafts here. Among the 1,300 booths you’re bound to stumble across some random local items like Amish furniture or fresh Smokey Mountain honey.
Tennessee Agricultural Museum: Here there’s a jumbo steam engine, an old wagon and various wacky farm artefacts from the 19th century farms, along with log cabins and a traditional farmhouse with kitchen and herb garden. The centre throws fun themed events year-round too, like the Historic Rural Life Festival – packed full of craft and farm animal demonstrations.
The other side of Nashville
Open gallery: There’s a bubbling art scene worth getting stuck into if you’ve had your fill of music. On the first Saturday of the month, between 6-9pm, Nashville hosts a gallery crawl. Art venues open their doors so the public can peruse various contemporary pieces with a glass of wine in hand. Then a shuttle bus will pick them up and take them to the next gallery.
Fisk galleries: The University associated galleries often have African-American European and folk art expos. While permanent features at the Carl Van Vechten Gallery and Aaron Douglas Gallery include a decent selection of works from artists Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera and Henry O.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden: No, Nashville doesn’t have beaches, but the city sure knows how to do green spaces, which make for excellent places lap up the warm weather. The 55-acre Cheekwood estate has a Japanese garden, woodland sculpture trail and nature sanctuary worth seeing. On site there’s also a Georgian mansion, where the wealthy Cheek family once lived. The former residence has since been converted into the Museum of Art, and holds historic American, sculpture and prints, as well as an impressive modern mini collection, including pieces by Andy Warhol and Robert Ryman.
Consume like ‘the King’
Jack Daniel Distillery: An hour fromNashville, in Lynchburg, visitors can walk around the home the famous bourbon whisky and oldest registered distillery in the United States (founded in 1866). Here they reveal the secrets of how the brown stuff is made (something to do with the local water and sugar maple that’s used to make the charcoal). But don’t expect to try the tipple here, despite the fact they still make Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky, they won’t let you chug it due to the fact this is dry county. It’s not all bad though, you can purchase a bottle on the way out and crack it open back in Nashville.
Fire in the hole: You can’t leave the south without a belly full of rich, delicious fried goodness. A good place to try some spicy hot wings is the Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack on Ewing Drive. This hole in the wall serves them up to your requested temperature (medium, hot, or hellfire) with coleslaw, beans and a slice of homemade sugary, buttery chess pie to finish.
Watch Nashville at 10pm, Thursdays on More4
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