Adventures in Nashville: The Mother Church

‘Sometimes its tough traveling around/But who I wanna be still seems so far away/But I know I’m gonna get there someday…’-Dierks Bentley (this is my favorite Dierks song)

I love country music and have since I was quite small. Growing up high in the mountains near Los Angeles, in the early 90s, I remember getting two radio stations clearly-Oldies and Country. Occasionally, depending on how the wind blew, I would also pick up Adult Contemporary but that was not a regular occurrence thus my knowledge of current pop music was pretty limited until I moved to South Carolina. So I listened to country. Reba McEntire was my first cd. I have a vivid memory of my mom and dad getting me my first cd player and her early hits album. When my mom died, I listened to Trisha Yearwood on repeat. I wanted to be Faith Hill and marry Bryan White. Shania Twain inspired me through my darkest days. The Chicks’ ‘The Long Way Around’ is my personal anthem. I have been to countless concerts from small clubs to massive stadiums. Country music has been the one constant and Nashville is the Mother Church (the nickname given to the Ryman Auditorium).

With all of this deep love of country, I had never explored Nashville. I drove through once when I was headed to California in my early twenties and had dreams of returning. I was pondering using an airline credit I had to go but no concrete plans and I had until March to make final decisions. Fate had other ideas. A few months ago, my brother, B, started working at a small, independent music label. Their artists are primarily Americana. One of the artists he works with, Bobby and Teddi Cyrus, recorded a gospel song with Bobby’s cousin, Billy Ray. They were going to debut ‘Roll That Rock’ (the video of which my brother directed) at the Grand Ole Opry. B called and said, if he was able, would I want to go see them perform. I could not say yes fast enough!

The timing was not ideal as I was moving. I literally finished moving out of my apartment in Bend, spent 36 hours in Spokane, and then headed straight for the airport! B had other work to do in the area, so I would be solo the Saturday of my trip. I decided to cram as much in as humanly possible. I will have separate posts on the Grand Ole Opry, the museums of Nashville, and Bluebird Cafe so stay tuned!

Friday, B and I went to Franklin and had brunch at Biscuit Love. I highly recommend. Their fruit ice tea is the best tea I have ever had. I bought a ‘biscuits’ sweatshirt that is one of the most comfortable things I own. I wish I could eat there more. Franklin had a very cute downtown that we wandered around. Then I ditched B, ha! He wasn’t sure if he would be needed before the Cyrus’ Opry performance so I used that as an opportunity to hit the Music Row Happy Hour!

I love SiriusXM’s The Highway and Buzz Brainard and Ania Hammer are my favorite on air personalities (Storme Warren is close behind). Every Friday, they do happy hour at Margaritaville on Lower Broadway. It had been suspended the last 18 months due to Covid and, wouldn’t you know, it started back the week before my trip. So I made a beeline there before the Opry! The MRHH is upstairs, I simply told the hosts that I was there for it, they sent me to security, and upstairs I went. I couldn’t believe I was actually there! And, as Buzz walked by, I went to take a photo. He stopped and said hand me your phone, then snapped this picture! I was freaking out! I couldn’t stay the whole time but, if you’re in Nashville on a Friday afternoon, please stop by. So worth it!

Jumping ahead to Sunday, god bless my brother, because I drug him to places he would not ordinarily want to go. Dierks Bentley is my favorite country artist and he, like a lot of country artists, has a bar on Broadway, Whiskey Row. So I took B for brunch. It was a cool spot, although they didn’t have any merchandise as I wanted a t-shirt. Apparently there is always music playing because we were there at 10 am and the band was already there and at every other bar. This is probably where I should include that Broadway is not my favorite part of Nashville. It’s like Time Square, which I have described as the ninth circle of hell, but with drunk bachelorettes. It is a lot!

One of the cool things, though, was the Ernest Tubb Record shop, which has been open for decades and includes personal items from Ernest Tubbs, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline. Please stop in, very cool gem in the midst of the wooing. After, B and I headed out of downtown to Draper James, owned by Reese Witherspoon. She sometimes she stops in but not the day I was there, lol. It is a really cool shop in a hip neighborhood. We then went back to Franklin so B could buy some trainers he was eying and I could get some more Biscuit Love tea!

After our morning, B headed to another work gig and I was supposed to fly back. My flight was canceled, I assume due to weather in Dallas (notorious for wind conditions). Staying in Nashville would ordinarily be great but I no longer had a car (and you should definitely rent a car as Nashville is sprawling and nothing is near each other) or a hotel. So I found an inexpensive motel near the airport and took a very expensive taxi ride. For real, I went 1.5 miles and it cost $20-each way-it only cost me $40 to go from JFK to LaGuardia, which is a whole island of Manhattan apart! It also was pouring rain. So I just went to the Panera that was next to my motel and called it a day. My rescheduled flight left with no other issues. And I would do it all again!

Nashville was a dream and I’m ready to go back! I cannot wait to share it all with you, so stay tuned!

On a side note, if you have not watched Ken Burns’ Country Music, you should. It maybe his best documentary and made me love country music even more.

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