I’m going to say its been about 20 years since I was last in Nashville – with my Mom and sister Sue. We flew in for a short visit and stayed at the Opryland Hotel. I don’t remember the hotel looking anything like this time! We went to the Grand Ole Opry and I don’t remember it looking anything like this time! I do remember the river cruise on the General Jackson Showboat, but, we didn’t do it this time. I remember my sister staying out all night – and we also didn’t do that! I remember we all slept in the morning of our flight from Toronto and Chuck driving like a ‘bat outa hell’ to get us to the airport. Whew, not this time! Nashville, I won’t forget you this time…
Just down the road from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, on Music Valley Drive, are 3 RV campgrounds – the KOA, Two Rivers Campground (where we stayed) and right next door Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. There was plenty of availability – except for at The Jellystone.
Why? Well, they turned half of their campground into the Dancing Lights of Christmas at Jellystone Park and charged $25/car to drive through hundreds of thousands of LED Christmas lights dancing to some rocking Christmas tunes coming through your car radio on The Big 98 WSIX. I’m sure they are making a heck of a lot more money doing this than renting to RV’ers just passing through. There was a continuous line of cars and even though it pretty much poured rain the entire time we were there it didn’t stop the line of cars going through – in the mud.
Our view of the light show from our windshield was enough –
Every city has its own list of ‘must see’ sights and Nashville is certainly no exception. We definitely did our fair share.
The last weekend of every month over 1800 dealers and vendors from 30 states offer their wares to the buying public at the Nashville Flea Market. There were certainly a lot of vendors but it looked like many of them had just emptied their garage or basement and rented a site. Woo hoo – junk! Lots of junk! And expensive! The most novel thing were those ‘mobile’ booths. Not a bad idea to just drive in – open your doors – and then drive off when done.
Sunday Spotlight at the famous Blue Bird Cafe was up next. Sunday night spotlights feature great bands and up and coming songwriters and our one-hour Sunday Spotlight show featured singer/songwriter Kent Eugene Goolsby. He might not yet be recognizable but we did see a great show.
Located in a small strip mall outside of downtown Nashville, this 90 seat venue is unassuming in appearance but some of the most significant song writers and artists have performed on this stage. Seating is first come, first served when doors open at 5:00 p.m. While there’s no cover charge there is a $7 food/drink minimum per person.
On October 10, 2012 The Bluebird Cafe made its prime time debut on my favourite ABC drama Nashville – which put it on my “go to list”.
Monday afternoon downtown Nashville – boots, bars and $5 beers at the World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway. This honky-tonk is open 7 days a week; from 10 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. and ‘all ages’ are welcome until 7 p.m. The appearance is rustic, dark, small, tacky and a little decrepit but, heh, it’s world famous and a ‘must see’ stop when in town.
Tuesday afternoon at the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, known as the “Mother Church of Country Music”, the Grand Ole Opry featured Kellie Pickler, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Phil Vassar (great piano player!), Hollie Williams (yup, Hank Williams’ grand-daughter), Riders in the Sky (the handsome country dude below), The Grascals (Bluegrass), Jeannie Seely and Mandy Barnett. We tried to get tickets for Tuesday evening which also featured Dierkes Bentley but it was completely sold out. In fact, the afternoon show was pretty much sold out and for good reason – there must have been 20 tour buses crowding the parking lots surrounding the Ole Opry!
Kellie Pickler was definitely the headliner of the day. Not only was she performing in both the afternoon and evening shows, she was displaying her line of unique frames, candles, pillows, dishes, canisters and Christmas decorations; she performed her new Christmas release Christmas in Caroline that she had written and she was excited about her new reality show I Love Kellie Pickler that premiered November 5th on CMT.
If you purchased anything from her Selma Drye product line (inspired by her great grandmother Selma) you were escorted upstairs to a private room for an autograph and photo opp. I bought a little Christmas tree ornament for the coach that she autographed – but I was most impressed with the tag –
When I excitedly commented on it she said, ‘well…y’all can’t get rid of me now’… I fell in love with this cutie patootie 10 years ago on American Idol and I still love her!
Now the Gaylord Opryland Resort is listed as one of the top 10 places to see in Nashville. And no better time for us to see it than in its spectacular Christmas glory. Like I said above I have no recollection of seeing any of this before! The gardens, fountains, waterfalls, room balconies and surrounding restaurants and cafes were beautiful.
At this time of year the Parade of Trees, a holiday fundraiser, are also on display. There were 14 Christmas trees decorated by country artists and celebrities. Each tree’s decorations and prizes go to the highest online bidder to benefit the donor’s favourite charities. I couldn’t find all the trees but the one that certainly caught my eye was Dolly Parton’s tree benefiting her Imagination Library. This tree is Dolly!
Well, we didn’t buy any cowboy boots or hats but we had our share of beer, BBQ and country music. I’m glad I’m doing this blog ‘cause the evidence is right here that I’ve been to America’s Music City. I won’t forget this time – but then, we’re very likely to be back!