Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nashville: Honky Tonk and BBQ

Quite unexpectedly, I was invited by an old friend to come to Nashville, the country music capital of the world.  I have visited here in the past, but for the life of me I can't recall when that was, so it must have been a long time ago.  I don't follow country music, but I do enjoy live bands and love Southern cooking.  I was also getting very sick of the cold New York weather.  So apart from the business opportunity, I didn't need much encouragement to come on down for several days.

The weather was gorgeous (especially compared to north), and perfect for checking out the cityscape.  I found the downtown area to be fairly diverse, with a mixture of trendy office buildings, the strip filled with tourist joints, a so-so riverfront, and some of the expected urban blight.  The city seemed generally clean and safe, though, and deserving of its nickname as the "Athens of the South."

The city's main tourist attractions, apart from the live music venues, include the Country Music Hall of Fame (where the walk of fame was in slight disrepair), the Grand Ole Opry House, and various museums.  I didn't really have time to do the touristy things, other than walking by them such as the war monument.  

I didn't realize that Korean War vets supported Liverpool FC, but I guess the Premier League has fans everywhere.

The people roaming around were also fairly diverse.  Almost all of them, however, were happily enjoying the fair weather that most of us New Yorkers had only been dreaming about this cold winter.

The highlight of Nashville, of course, is the live music.  Just as New Orleans has jazz joints filled with outstanding musicians on every block, Nashville has many, many outstanding country and honky tonk bars.  In the course of several nights (and some days), we got to try a bunch of them, all uniformly playing good fun music.  I have to confess, however, that the dueling pianists jamming to Queen, Bon Jovi, and other classic rock were my favorite.


We had a morning free, and I recalled how much fun I had last year stumbling along on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  While Jack Daniels technically is not a "bourbon", it is the most popular whiskey in the world, and one I have enjoyed drinking since...well...before I was legally able.  A short drive from Nashville, the visit and tour were well worthwhile, complete with a fun and gruffy tour guide, a statue of Jack "on the Rocks", and of course the smooth sample tasting.  It was a great way to spend a couple of free hours.

The George Dickell distillery is on the way back to Nashville.  I have never tasted their whiskey, but the tour wasn't for more than an hour so we left unfulfilled as we needed to get back.  It's a pretty area, though.

Nashville is yet another reminder that our own country has a thousands of beautiful and interesting towns and places worth visiting and exploring.  It goes without saying that I filled myself with tons of mouth watering barbecue in Nashville.  I love all kinds of BBQ, whether ribs, brisket, beef, pork, or whatever.  I must have eaten it seven times during my stay, and still crave it now.  Talk about comfort food that's filled with love!

Speaking of which, the best fried chicken in the world might be here as well, at the ironically named Loveless Cafe.  That in itself may merit a trip to Music City.

Whether for the food, music, business, or to catch up with an old friend, Nashville is worth checking out.  I managed to do all of them on a single trip.  How lucky was I?

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