Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nashville: Music City

Strains of live music pour through the door of almost every bar or restaurant on the street as you pass by. Should you happen to duck into one, you'll find hoards of people sitting at the bar and surrounding tables, nursing beers while tapping their booted feet to the beat of the girl on the fiddle. Doesn't matter who's playing - whether it's a performer who has stopped by on their way to the Opry, or an up and coming guy with his guitar just trying to make a way for himself in Music City.

Unlike New York or Paris, or really any other city, you won't find the flagship shops of famous designers in downtown Nashville. What you will find are family owned stores for boots and guitars and records. I suppose you could, in theory, hop on a bus to Nashville and walk down Broadway, stopping shop by shop to pick up the clothes and instruments you need to become the next big country star. There's a reason people get discovered here; it's a city that lives and breathes only one thing - country music - and they love anyone who feels the same way.

Over the past few weeks, I've been asked numerous times what kind of music I like (sometimes in relation to talking about the trip to Nashville and the inherent assumption that I was going to see it because it is the mecca of country music), and never really knew what to answer. I blame my classical music career for my snobbery lack of direction when it comes to listening to bands and artists, and, as a result, all of my "favorite" artists feel like guilty pleasures. But while I was listening to a band in a bar, I came to the realization that my favorite kind of music is live music. I have very few stylistic prejudices in music, but no matter what kind, I would rather listen to music that is intentionally made by a human, in a moment of inspiration and love, over a record that produces an imitation of the real thing.

There was one stop in Nashville that I knew I had to make. Hatch Show Print is a legendary shop that has created posters for almost every event in Nashville, and even some beyond. They still print everything by hand letterpress, and you can watch the process while you stop in to buy a souvenir poster. AND THEY HAVE CATS. That hang out in the store. 

We stopped into Tootsie's, one of the famous bars on Broadway, and the girl playing the fiddle was amazing. The whole crowd started chanting her name - I think we were all in love with her. 

One of the quirky things about Nashville is its full-size replica of the Parthenon hanging out in Centennial park. It is as random as it sounds. We took a walk around that part of town (and the neighboring Hillsboro Village) and found a bunch of awesome food (including cupcakes) and adorable shops.

Oh yeah, and we met a puppy in the park. He wanted to take my sister home with him.

And I totally saved my favorite for last...

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