Given the wealth of opposition, from Memphis and New Orleans particularly, you have to sit up and notice Nashville’s nickname of Music City.
Walk around and you’ll soon see that the city lives and breathes the title, and although country music is the main draw, you’ll find generations of musicians playing everything from jazz to R&B. It’s no surprise then, to find a music-lover’s treasure trove of a trail, with studios, record shops, museums and music venues peppered throughout the city. Take a day or two to explore the highlights, seeing the exhibits during the day and taking in the live music experience at night.
You’ll also find plenty of local experiences along the way, whether it’s shopping for your own pair of cowboy boots or chowing down on some hearty local fried chicken or barbecue. One thing’s for certain, the soundtrack to the trail will be like no other and this Nashville tour plan will hit all the high notes.
Elvis, Dolly, Waylon. The musical legends that recorded albums here don’t even need last names, such is their fame. This is truly a part of Nashville’s history, most active between the years of 1957 and 1977, when it was operated by RCA records. Jim Reeves, Chat Atkins and even modern day stars have all walked the corridors here and laid down some memorable recordings. The studios are open for tours and are an essential part of discovering how Nashville’s star ascended.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
Downtown is dominated by the huge Country Music Hall of Fame, which recently expanded to more than double its original size. It houses countless artifacts, costumes, recordings and photographs and anyone who’s anyone in country music is represented within its walls. As well as interactive exhibits of all the legendary performers, there’s an impressive archive of documentation. The recorded sound collection covers almost the entire history of music recording, and houses 98% of all pre-World War II recordings ever made.
Ernest Tubb Record Shop
The eponymous Mr Tubb was a local music hero who popularized the musical style of honky tonk. It was from this very building that he broadcast his legendary radio show, The Midnight Jamboree which went out weekly after the Opry. These days the shop at 417 Broadway is a living museum of recorded music and sells virtually every classical country and bluegrass recording ever made, and collectors and fans will come from miles around to browse the stacks of records and CDs.
Grand Ole Opry
Among the longest running broadcasts in radio history is this live stage show, which has been on the air since 1925. Known as “the show that made country music famous”, it’s a must-see showcase of old favorites and new talent, and now runs three or four shows a week. Backstage tours are available during the day and post-show, and there’s even a chance to see the artists’ entrance and step onto the stage itself. The tours also stop off in the in-house TV recording studio.
End a day of sightseeing with a bar and venue hop around the fashionable neighborhood of East Nashville, where you can find modern takes on traditional country sounds. Start the night with some live music and great bar food at Family Wash (2038 Greenwood Avenue), where the night starts off around 9pm. If you’re still feeling lively later, head to the 5 Spot (1006 Forrest Avenue) where a younger crowd stays up to dance the night away to country and rockabilly bands.
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