Nashville, the undisputed country music capital of the world, has a B-side too: And it’s called pop, rock, gospel, bluegrass, blues and soul. There’s also plenty of history and culture in the friendly and dynamic Music City. The city was founded as Fort Nashborough on the Cumberland River and became the state capital of Tennessee in 1843.
The best place to start the city tour is on the Lower Broadway club mile, which stretches all the way to the Cumberland River. Pubs with illustrious names like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or Robert’s Western World – boot shop and music bar in one – line the street. You never know who you’ll run into or who’s playing: a well-known star or maybe one of tomorrow. From midday until late at night people go from bar to bar, enjoying music, burgers and barbecues.
The heart of the fun, with Broadway as its main axis, is The District. Here you’ll find the Wildhorse Saloon, where you’ll be taught to line dance, just steps away from each other, the blues clubs of Printer’s Alley and Second Avenue. Among them is BB King’s Blues Club, the famous Ryman Auditorium, the longtime and often still home of the Grand Old Opry country show. Gruhn Guitars is also in the immediate vicinity, where the stars buy their new stringed instruments. The shop also sells outrageously expensive used instruments that have already made music history.
You can meet musicians and songwriters all over the city, such as at the Station Inn, where you can indulge in blue grass, at the rocking Exit/In or at the Bluebird Cafe, where the singer-songwriters perform themselves. The quintessential country hangout is the Grand Ole Opry House next to the Opryland Hotel – just outside of town. Since 1925, old hands and young stars can be heard on the live radio show of the same name every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The show is the oldest American radio music program still in existence.
According to travelationary, Nashville’s contribution to American culture is showcased at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum downtown. The main building – with windows arranged like a piano keyboard – tapers at one end like a Cadillac’s tail fin. There are more than a million exhibits that shed light on the cross-connections between country, blues, R&B and pop. In the actual ‘Hall of Fame’ plaques commemorate country greats such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley. In 2014, the museum was expanded from 13,000 to 32,500 square meters. The added new building towers over the older part and offers a magnificent view of the skyline of the booming southern metropolis through a glass front.
Another highlight of the city is the modern Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The home of the multiple Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony is one of the acoustically best concert halls in the world. In addition to more than 100 classical performances, you can also hear recitations, cabaret, jazz and world music concerts here.
Year-round, Nashville’s music program is as attractive as its mild climate. In April, hundreds of songwriters come together for a week at the Tin Pan South festival. In June, the world’s largest country festival – the CMA Music Festival – takes place. Musician’s Corner in Centennial Park presents free concerts every Saturday during the summer and through mid-October. And in the fall, many bands perform on the riverbank.
The Americana Music Association Festival & Conference presents more than 50 star and newcomer events in traditional and noncommercial country music in September and presents the Americana Awards. The fastest growing festival, Next BIG Nashville + Leadership Music Digital Summit was born as a gathering place for the emerging music and arts scene. More than 150 bands can be heard for five days from the end of September to the beginning of October, as well as lectures and discussions.
The six-day Fan Fest of the International Bluegrass Music Association usually runs at the same time. The Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, the ‘Oscars of Country’, are broadcast live to the UK by the BBC. And if you’re lucky, you might witness another star on the Music City Walk of Fame being immortalized with sidewalk plaques – like Elvis, Roy Orbison, Emmylou Harris, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix and Dolly Parton before them.
Nashville also boasts some pre-Civil War properties: Belle Meade once bred award-winning Thoroughbreds. The Hermitage was the home of President Andrew Jackson and Belmont Mansion shines in Victorian splendour. Also worth a visit is the beautifully restored State Capitol, where you can learn more about the state at the Tennessee State Museum.
Also known as the “Athens of the South” because of its neoclassical elegance and the many good universities, Nashville has a life-size replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park – together with the 13-meter-high statue of the goddess Athena, the original of which has long been lost. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, housed in a converted Art Deco post office, hosts art exhibitions that change every two months. At Fisk University, home of the internationally acclaimed gospel choir Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Carl van Vechten Gallery is showing Picasso, Renoir and Georgia O’Keeffe. Cheekwood is an art gallery surrounding 22 acres of beautiful gardens.
Location and Size
Nashville is the capital of the US state of Tennessee and is located on the Cumberland River in central north Tennessee. The city covers an area of 1,362 km².
Around 630,000 people live in Nashville today.
Nashville International Airport (BNA) is located eight miles southeast of Nashville.
Humidity is highest in Nashville during the summer months. It can snow in the winter months, but rarely more than a few inches. In the Middle Tennessee area, including Nashville, there are around a dozen tornadoes annually. The wettest season is spring and the wettest month is May. Temperature differences are moderate, ranging from -2°C in January to 32°C in July.
|Average temperatures in Nashville in °C|
In Nashville, you wear what you like, depending on the temperature. When visiting one of the city’s more elegant restaurants, however, a certain chic is definitely appropriate.
Eating and drinking
Restaurants serving delicacies from around the world have joined traditional addresses such as the chic Watermark and the steakhouse Jimmy Kelly’s. There are also brewery pubs, coffee and wine bars. Almost all establishments serve Tennessee Whiskey from Jack Daniel’s in nearby Lynchburg. Sports fans can catch the Tennessee Titans at the Coliseum Stadium or a pro hockey game with the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Area.
Attractions in Nashville
Built in 1892, Ryman Auditorium is a National Monument and was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974. The “Mother Church of Country Music” forms the center of Music City Nashville. Three different exhibitions tell the story of the Grand Ole Opry through the different decades. Original pieces include Dolly Parton’s dress from her induction into the Opry’s main cast and photos from The Johnny Cash Show with Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong. In the evenings there are still concerts in the Ryman. And the Grand Ole Opry often plays here as well.
Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum
Spread the gospel of country music: glittery costumes, vintage instruments, and tear-soaked lyric sheets are just part of the collection. Outstanding artists such as Patsy Kline, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams are honored here. In addition, the breathtaking architecture and the hospitality of the south make a day in the museum memorable. The non-profit Country Music Foundation documents and preserves the history of country music with the museum, RCA Studio and poster printing company Hatch Show Print.
Historic RCA Studio B
Nashville’s only studio tour, exploring the legendary RCA Studio B, takes you deep into the heart of music production. Among the many immortal recordings recorded here are ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ by Elvis Presley, ‘Only the Lonely’ by Roy Orbison and ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton.
Johnny Cash Museum
The small building on the first block of Third Avenue South – near the music bars of Broadway – houses the musician’s costumes, awards and instruments. Also on display are early letters and the handwritten manuscript of the last song Cash wrote a few days before his death. Audio documents can be heard at audio stations. Johnny Cash’s life before his music career is also discussed, including his service as a US Air Force soldier in Germany. The ardent fan Bill Miller, who has collected the exhibits over decades, fulfilled a lifelong dream with the opening of the museum.