Well, it's been a while since I posted my last blog post! Sorry about that. I've been busy promoting my music still and gigging mainly, however there has been one big main event: My first trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
I've been back home over a month now, which allowed enough time for me to get over jet lag and get back into the swing of things (and yet I'm still so tired!). But it has also been enough time for me to have thought about what I want to write.
I want to tell you all about what I did on my trip and what is worth seeing/doing if you're planning your own trip to music city.
I flew to Nashville on Wednesday 14th March and flew back to England on Saturday 24th March. I flew from Manchester to London Heathrow, London Heathrow to Chicago and finally Chicago to Nashville. Let me tell you, I DEFINITELY don't want to do 4 airports in one day again anytime soon! But luckily I hear that there will be direct flights from London to Nashville starting next month, so if you are considering a trip there from the UK - definitely pay a bit extra and fly direct.
By the time I arrived on the Wednesday evening, it was around 8pm CDT (around 1/2AM GMT) so I was pretty tired and basically went right to bed - so nothing to report to you on day 1!
THE GRAND OLE OPRY
You can't go to Nashville without visiting its iconic The Grand Ole Opry House. What I love about this place, is that even if you don't know the act that's on or their music, it doesn't matter. You'll go and have a great time regardless and the buzz of the place is amazing. They really do have the best atmosphere and the most loyal fans. We were lucky enough to visit on the night of an Opry induction; a big honour to musicians/artists. We went on the night of Chris Janson's induction and Garth Brooks just casually came out to do the honours! An electric atmosphere and amazing to be sitting and watching it all happen. I also enjoyed watching Carly Pearce too! (Click their names to see! some videos of them)
THE LISTENING ROOM CAFE
I have been following The Listening Room Cafe on instagram for some time now and many of the songwriters who perform there. I knew it was one of the venues that I wanted to visit and watch live music, but I really hit the jackpot with the night I chose. I visited the night that Josh Kerr, Hannah Ellis, Nick Wayne and Maddie and Tae performed a writers round. These are songwriters I've followed and admired for a long time. Josh Kerr is a songwriter/producer, who has written songs such as "Human Diary" (Danielle Bradbery), "Love Me Like You Mean It" and "Dibs" (Kelsea Ballerini). I'm a fan of Kelsea Ballerini and love those songs, so to hear one of the writers performing Love Me Like You Mean It was great. I love Hannah Ellis' song "ILYSW" too, have a listen! Nick Wayne's songs were amazing. I am eagerly awaiting for the release of some of his, particularly "How Do I Get Close To You". Just wow 😍
I did try to get tickets for The Bluebird Cafe. I was so desperate to see Charles Esten who performed there on the last Friday I was in town but I couldn't get them! The place is legendary, so of course it's extremely hard to get tickets in time (and we didn't attempt to turn up and queue incase we were turned away.)
Everywhere you go, there is a buzz of music. We caught a lot of music on Broadway, in bars. Some bands, some acoustic. All a different variety of genres too (except I walked past a few that all seemed to echo Shania Twain "Man I Feel Like A Woman" at some point, because... well, it's Nashville).
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME 🎤
Awesome! A really really cool place to come and learn about the history of Nashville, the history of Country music and a variety of artists and songwriters. What I like about the exhibition is that there is a lot of old country and a lot of new country; which is so diverse and the genre has really flowed into new directions. It's also good that they often change the exhibitions that they have open, so that there is always something new to see, even if you've visited before.
I'd definitely recommend visiting to see the Shania Twain, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill and the American Currents exhibitions, before they close!
My first official day in Nashville I took pretty casually, because nobody wants to do too much feeling jet-lagged right? So we went down to Broadway to take a look around and really get to see why exactly they call it music city. Live music, everyday, from 11AM all over town. I'm talking full live band shows as you pass bars - such a buzz around the place even on a Thursday morning. There's so many bars, all with a different atmosphere and yet all buzzing with live music. A few souvenir shops too - but mainly bars! 🥃
I found an "Everything $10" store and got myself a new cap with "NASHVILLE" splashed across the front. You know, to fit in... I'm sure I didn't look like a tourist...😏
Some of the food places on Broadway are worth popping into in the midst of your bar/live music crawl. Here are some that I went to:
The Hardrock Cafe, Nashville
We went for food at The Hardrock Cafe (because why wouldn't you visit one in EVERY city?) and took a look at the framed artist souvenirs on the walls around our table such as a Teeshirt from C.C Deville (Poison), a leather jacket from Joey Allen (Warrant), Bobby Hall's guitar (Poison) and a guitar from Aerosmith. And naturally I enjoyed a burger and a cocktail... or two.
A great place for food (and we went a couple of times) was The Stillery. They have two locations; Midtown and Broadway. We actually went to both and the food is really good and so are the drinks! I had some hot chicken tenders... I opted for the Nashville hot and looked something like this:
Tip: The honeysuckle cocktail is really good!
On Broadway I did go to a few bars. I only remember the name of one however - Cerveza Jacks; Tacos, Tequila, Tunes. I enjoyed a margarita and some live music in there.
On my first official day, I only went to one bar after food. It was in Demonbreun; a bar called "South". The vibe was so casual and relaxed which was ideal for my first very jet lagged night. I met a lot of songwriters who had just been on a Judy Stake Retreat. A few of them performed and it was great to see the support they were giving each other after spending a week writing together. I started to feel rather 'out of it' from the jet lag and so we had an early night. Good drinks, good atmosphere; what more could I want?
I really liked The Gulch. It's a nice area, a few nice places to eat and shop too. I enjoyed a look around in a few stores such as Urban Outfitters and some independent stores too. Now... we did have breakfast in The Gulch, at Biscuit Love. This was our second and final attempt at going here, as the first time we went people were queuing down the street just to get in for breakfast. Now, I don't know about you, but never in England have I seen people queue for 30 minutes outside of a cafe, just for breakfast. We went on another day and managed to get in with a small queue. I must admit though, I'm not sure what the hype is. I personally didn't like "biscuits". 🤷♀️🤷♀️
On the day of our first attempt at going to Biscuit Love in The Gulch, we decided to go to 12 South for Breakfast instead because of the queue. We went to Frothy Monkey instead in 12 South (still a queue but we just grinned and beared it this time). I ordered "Bob 2 whole grain pancakes, syrup, choice of 2 sides $9" sides were sausage and bacon. The portions were huge... and I soon discovered that they are anywhere you go.
12 South is a cool, small place. I enjoyed looking around a music store there and also being a big tourist next to the famous Nashville Mural.
It's the place to go for the touristy picture opportunities, to visit Corner Music Store, Draper James and other stores.
Aside from watching live music, eating far too much and having drinks, we did do some other cool stuff in Nashville too. We visited the zoo (because why not?) which was cool. We visited The Opry Mills (next to The Grand Ole Opry). It's a big shopping centre that has lots of food places, a good moonshine place and not forgetting Madam Tussaudes. I was slightly disappointed with Madam Tussaudes though, I expected more from it but it hasn't been open very long. At least I managed to get a picture with Patsy... and Elvis... and Reba... and more.❤️
I got to go to the famous Cheesecake Factory (the most expensive place to go for cheesecake). I also had some cowrites while I was out there which were great and I enjoyed being on Music Row. Check out my new friend Kelli's website 😀
I really enjoyed my first trip to Nashville. I had fun, I got to be creative in music city, watch great music in action, sight see and be a total tourist.
If you want to learn more about Nashville, a lot of the names in my writing are hyperlinked to websites for you to browse. Here are some more links to help you plan your trip:
Nashville Music City website
And of course you can check out Trip Advisor and Expedia.
Thanks for reading music lovers!