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Suddenly, Nashville is everywhere -on television with “Nashville Star”, the new FOX docudrama “Nashville”, the “Six Degrees of Martina McBride” reality show, and the CMA Music Awards coming soon. The Titans and The Predators have caught the country’s eye. Nashville-created country music can be heard on the radio, on movie soundtracks and TV show scores. Nashville-based country music artists can be found everywhere from “Good Morning America” to “David Letterman”. Country superstars, like Keith Urban, are now pestered by the same plague of paparazzi as the Hollywood stars are. These days it seems, everyone wants to “Go Country”!

Nashville has been long known as the “Third Coast of Entertainment” (after NY and LA, of course) even though technically it doesn’t have a coast (though it has a river-the Cumberland River-and that has a bank, which could be considered a coast by some!). But what it does have is an entertainment industry, and a big one, and the world is noticing. Because of country music, the Grand Ole Opry, (the longest running radio show in American history), and its laid-back Southern hospitality, Nashville is becoming a Southern metropolitan mecca of sorts – a place where hip, urban dwellers and artist types rub elbows with soccer moms from the ‘burbs and families seeking a slower, more relaxed lifestyle. And famous residents such as Kid Rock, Jack White from the White Stripes, and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban only add to the growing interest about the city and its obvious charms.

The additions of the Tennessee Titans NFL team and the Nashville Predators hockey team in recent years have also given the city a national PR boost, bringing in fans from all over the country eager to sample what Nashville has to offer for a day or a weekend. And convention goers and music festival attendees, who come to visit for a few days, are more and more often picking up and moving to “Music City, USA”.

So if you’re lucky enough to be heading this way any time soon, DISH thought it would be fun to offer up our own tour – doing Nashville the way the natives do. And whether your thing is sushi and opera or down home grown catfish and fries with homemade hushpuppies and bluegrass – we’ve got you covered. So whether it’s for a day or a week, come check it out. You’ll be very glad you did………… (Please note that all phone #s listed below are preceded by 615)

Downtown Delights:

Second Avenue is great place to start your tour of the action in downtown Nashville, but duck down any one of the streets nearby and you’re likely to hear authentic country music blaring from the doorway or smell something good cooking up on a stove. Gaylord’s Wildhorse Saloon (120 Second Avenue N., 902-8200) is an obvious choice for bootscooters wanting to see a major country artist and maybe do some line dancing before the night is through. The venue offers live music most nights of the week and is a fun option for those who have never been to the city before. Those with some howling to do will enjoy the girls at the famed Coyote Ugly Saloon (154 2nd Ave N., 254-8459), but be prepared to do some shots and possibly end up on the bar dancing if you are a female in the crowd.

Follow 2nd Avenue to the end and turn the corner onto Broadway, where the options are endless. Jack’s Barbeque (416 Broadway, 254-5715) offers up some good Southern eatin’ at a reasonable price if you’re in a carnivorous mood, and the nearby Wolfy’s Den (501 Broadway, 259-3299) also has plenty of smoked meat options and sides and a usually rowdy crowd with some fun, live music to eat by. Hillbilly Heaven awaits country music fans just across the street. An intriguing strip of juke joints line one side of Broadway, from the self-proclaimed World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (422 Broadway, 726-0463) to Robert’s Western Wear (416 Broadway, 256-7937), once a western clothing store with the goods still on display, and hear some authentic honky tonk music all at the same time. Layla’s Bluegrass Inn (418 Broadway,726-2799), and The Legends Corner (428 Broadway, 248-6334) are also a safe bet for some great country tunes, and they are all open pretty much 24 hours a day!! An array of gift shops up and down the street are available, where you can purchase some Elvis shades to help put you in the mood to get your groove on.

Visitors desiring a more upscale experience can head down 5th Avenue, across the street from the Sommeil Center Arena, to The Palm (140 5th Ave S., 742-7256) and nosh on steaks and breaded fried asparagus or linger over some drinks in the restaurant’s bar and then enjoy some classical music at a concert in the city’s brand new shining Schermerhorn Symphony Center (1 Symphony Pl., 687-6500). The neo-classical exterior of the new building is inspiring, and the recently purchased $2.5 million organ is a music lover’s fantasy. Or you can have a casual meal downstairs at the bar at Merchants (401 Broadway, 254-1892) – housed in the 1892-built former home of the River Merchants Club of years long gone. For an exquisite meal, head upstairs to the tastefully appointed 2nd floor dining room for an experience you’ll long remember. Around the corner, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 5th Ave S., 416-2001) boasts an extraordinary collection of costumes, guitars, and memorabilia once belonging to the biggest stars of country music through the years, as well as offering unique, in-depth exhibitions spotlighting the artists who helped put Nashville on the map.

No visit to Nashville would be complete without stepping inside the Ryman Auditorium (116 5th Ave N., 889-3060), the Grand Ole Opry’s (2804 Opryland Dr., 871-6779) original home and “Mother Church of Country Music”. You can practically hear the echoes of Hank Williams Sr. yodeling as you walk through the hallowed halls and look upon the stage where some of country’s most important history was made. The acoustics in the Ryman are legendary, and superstars of every genre of music love to play there. Just a few days before this writing, Bob Dylan played a two-night stint there, with his opening act, Elvis Costello. Be sure to go to the Ryman Box Office to find out who will be playing while you’re in town, or better yet, check it out before your arrival, as many shows there sell out quickly.

After your Ryman visit, proceed North on 5th Avenue to Nashville’s “Avenue of the Arts”, an upscale historic street which boasts newly renovated condos in grand old historic buildings, and many cool art galleries. Don’t miss The Arts Company (215 5th Ave N., 254-2040) and the very hip TAG Art Gallery (237 5th Ave N., 255-7816). If you happen to be in Nashville the first Saturday evening of each month, be sure to join the fun at the “art crawl”, when Nashville’s most beautiful and talented denizens of all ages check out the art in the many galleries that stay open late on the one night only- 6 pm til ???? Part of the fun of the evening is exploring the Arcade (65 Arcade Building, 248-6673), a 100-year-old pedestrian passageway that connects 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue in the middle of the block, where young artists and outsider galleries have recently begun to occupy the formerly vacant second floor-making it a great place to discover the Picasso’s and the Warhol’s of the future. Around the corner on 6th Avenue is the lovely and historic Hermitage Hotel (231 6th Ave N., 244-3121), a must-see and a great place for dinner or a nightcap in its cozy bar.

Art and architecture lovers alike will have a good time touring the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (919 Broadway, 244-3340), only a few blocks away, and an easy walk from downtown. Located in Nashville’s former downtown Post Office, the art deco building houses world class art exhibits from around the world, and is a great way to spend an afternoon. Close by and also worth a peek is the Union Station Hotel (1001 Broadway, 726-1001), which used to be connected to Nashville’s train depot back in the day. The hotel is grand and beautiful, and a drink in its bar alone is worth the trip, just to soak up the building’s atmosphere and history.

Don’t think they call Nashville “Music City” for no reason, as a plethora of musical clubs offer music in a wide variety of styles every night. Downtown there’s the aforementioned honky tonks, but near by are a wide variety of musical venues you should not miss. For intimate Americana-style music, the tiny The Basement (1604 8th Ave S., 254-8006) on 8th Avenue is a good choice. A few blobks from downtown, the Mercy Lounge and the neighboring Cannery Ballroom (1 Cannery Row # 100, 251-3020) are good choices for listening to more successful artists and bands whose names you might have heard of. (I’ve been lucky enough to see both Lisa Marie Presley and the rocking De Novo Dahl there recently!) Another thought is the legendary Exit/Inn (2208 Elliston Pl., 321-3340), one of Nashville’s first music clubs, a little bit out of the way, but well worth the drive or taxi drive it would take to get there. Another good choice would be The Bluebird Café (4104 Hillsboro Pike, 383-1461), the legendary watering hole of the world’s greatest songwriters.

And if all of this is still not enough and you’re ready for more, Nashville, like every cool town has its share of late night hot-spots. Check out Lot 7 (125 12th Ave N., 251-9519) to catch up with the beautiful people, or Bar twenty3 (503 12th Ave S., 963-9998) is another good choice.

Courtesy of Dish: Here’s one casual, and one sophisticated agenda for a lovely night out in Downtown Nashville:


6:00 -7:00: Drinks at Broadway Brewhouse (317 Broadway, 271-2838)

7:00 - 8:00: Down-home dinner at Jack’s Barbeque

8:00 -10:00: Dancing and a concert at the Wildhorse Saloon

10:00 - the Wee Hours: Honky-tonking on lower Broadway at Tootsies, the Legends, Robert’s, etc.

If a more upscale evening is what you had in mind, try this:

6:00 -7:00: Cocktails at Merchant’s Restaurant 7:00 - 10:00: Tickets to the Symphony (687-6400) or a play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (782-4000) or a Predators game, if they’re in town 10:00: A late dinner at the Palm 11:00: After dinner drinks and dessert at the Hermitage Hotel or partying at Lot 7

Interested in learning more about Nashville? Check back soon for more insider scoop on Nashville’s other most intriguing neighborhoods! / Issue 83 - September 9587
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