I just got back today from Nashville, where I attended the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament.
I had never been to Nashville, even though I grew up in Louisville, KY, which is only about three hours north of Nashville.
Nashville probably wouldn’t have appealed to me in my Louisville days, anyway, because I didn’t develop a taste for country western music until the 1980s, long after I had moved to Kansas City.
The only country western music I like, however, is from the 80s and 90s — sometimes called the country legends — when the great artists like George Strait, George Jones, Alabama, the Bellamy Brothers, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea and others were in their primes.
You can find plenty of live music being played from that era — as well as the new stuff — in downtown Nashville. For at least two blocks of Broadway, narrow, dark and deep bars (for the most part) line both sides of the street. Western wear stores and other retail establishments are interspersed among the bars, but the bars are the main attraction.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is just off Broadway, but I couldn’t tear myself away from the live music long enough to get over there.
An interesting thing about the bands is that there’s a core group of musicians, all of whom seem to rotate from group to group, joint to joint. For example, I saw the same guitar player with three different groups, at three different places, on three separate days.
You don’t seen any signs bearing the names of bands and nobody asks. The only thing the bands have in common is that there’s always a tip jar near every stage…and the band leader reminds the patrons about that. (My advice: tip generously; this is good stuff!)
Another interesting thing is that most of the bands solicit requests, and if you ask for a song they haven’t played before, sometimes the players will put their heads together, strum a few notes, talk about how they’ll approach it, then resume their positions and…one, two, three, four, hit it! That’s how versatile and experienced these players are.
I’m definitely going back — and I intend to find that same skinny, ball-cap-wearing guitar player.
…Of course, Nashville isn’t just about music. Other attractions include good restaurants; the State Capitol; LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play; and Bridgestone Arena, where the Nashville Predators hockey team plays and, of course, where the Women’s Final Four was contested.
The semifinal games were played on Sunday and the championship game — won by UConn, of course — was played last night.
And now, for your viewing enjoyment, here are some photos…