Roots and wings. Nashville has and is (for me) both. This progressive place with a legendary past is the 7th fastest growing city in the US. Friends told me of new restaurants and music venues, of more traffic in the year I was away, but I was still surprised by all the change.
Growing up in Kentucky, I romanticized Nashville and its icons. As a six-year-old in the ‘60s my “imaginary friend” was an imaginary husband—Elvis—and I still remember watching the Johnny Cash Show with my dad on Friday nights long before I’d go to concerts at The Ryman where it was taped. Walk the Line is one of my favorite movies—a love story of a Bad Boy reformed by a woman, her family, and faith. When asked for his definition of Paradise, Johnny said of June Carter Cash, “This morning, with her, having coffee.”
If you are fans of Elvis and Johnny, too, local artist Cindy David’s guitar pick earrings are my pick for cool souvenirs/ gifts. She sells them at festivals and gift shops (Nashville Airport, Frist Center, Omni Hotel, Nashville Symphony, and Cheekwood), or you can contact her at CindyDavid.com. I brought back a pair for Johnny.
When writing in Nashville for Examiner and Hispanic Nashville.com , I highlighted local events that defy Music City being put in a box—
performances at the Nashville Symphony, TPAC, Nashville Ballet, Vanderbilt Presents, and Nashville Film Fest. I also appreciate all that once defined Nashville–putting the town on the map–like live music on stages at the Ryman, the Bluebird, Grand Ole Opry, Bridgestone, BB King’s…in bars on Broadway, Demonbreun, and Nolensville Road…and at outdoor events from Ascend Amphitheater to Chukkers for Charity. Today Nashvegas, Buckle of the Bible Belt, a community as diverse as sweet tea and Jack Daniel whiskey, brims with tradition and progression; local, global, and local-gone-global happenings receiving Presidential recognition. Nashville is a place offering something for everyone explaining its popularity as a tourist destination and place to live.
Moviemaker Alberto Fuguet was also drawn to Music City. While Artist-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, he wrote and filmed Musica Campesina. The film explores the immigrant experience of Tazo, a Chilean who comes to Nashville seeking a career in country music. In a scene with the lead (played by Pablo Cerda) I’m a desperate housewife who offers him iced tea but serves Jack Daniel. Fuguet described Tazo as a “fish out of water” which I better understand now living in a different culture. Many days I feel like a mermaid in Marrakesh.
My month at home went too fast to see all the new places I wanted to explore and visit all my old haunts. Below Taylor, Cole, and I played tourist downtown on 2nd Avenue and Broadway. Acme Feed and Seed has live music, reasonably priced food and a rooftop for taking photos.
Also on Broad is the Frist Center. We celebrated a Big Birthday of my friend, Cheryl, there where The Long Players had people dancing in the grass under the light of a big, blue moon.
Below is the video Emily made celebrating Cheryl’s 60th Birthday and what a “Young American” looks and acts like. Also check out travel videos from Emily’s adventures on her Vimeo station, My Open Road.
Nashville is a dancing place. On my 40th birthday I was doing country line dance with my sister and friends at the Wildhorse Saloon. Since my 50th I salsa. It was so good to get back to Suzy Wong’s House of Yum to fuel up for lemon drops and Asian Wonton Nachos, then do “Free Dance Wednesday” where Tonya Miller still faithfully hosts Salsa Night weekly at Play.
Though there are so many places to go, things to do, food to eat, I have to wrap up because I’m getting homesick. For a fix of Italy I love Bella Napoli near Belmont or Coco’s Italian Market in West Nashville. Urban Grub on 12th South has oysters and great grits. And in my neck-of-the-woods, there’s the Hip Donelson Farmers Market for home-cooking-for real like the spread my sister and brother-in-law made for my farewell dinner.
I went to McNamara’s, named “One of the Best Irish Pubs in America,” with my friend, Theresa, then Cole while home for the corned beef and cabbage and band, Nosey Flynn. For lighter fare there’s Phat Bites‘ Chinese Chicken Salad, Broccoli Salad, and Greek Salad and Cinco de Mayo in Hermitage and Old Hickory for a reward after a long walk on the Greenway or just because.
Finally, events I miss most in Nashville are Fall Festivals. Hope you can make one or all!
A music mix that’s Nashville…