Woo Hoo! We are going to the “Music City” aka. Nashville. Wait, hold on where are all the bachelorette pedal bars and honky tonks!? I learned on The Good Road that the “Music City” isn’t on the overdone, over commercialized Broadway Avenue. It’s in North Nashville around places like Fisk University where the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured Europe to raise money for the University by performing for folks like the Queen of England. It was Queen Victoria who announced the performers as being from the “music city” when they sang for her back in the late-1800s.
A drive down Jefferson Street and visit to the Jefferson Street Sound Museum is required to truly understand the history of music in Nashville. But, do it soon because, like many cities in America, the neighborhood has been red-lined, is being re-developed and will soon look very different from the days of Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Nat King Cole.
While you are over in that neighborhood, drive over to Slim & Husky’s on Buchanan for the best flatbread made-to-order pizza in the country. You want salmon, jalapenos and artichokes on your socially-conscious slice like me? You got it! If you are more in the mood for Jamaican jerk pork, rice and plantains go to nearby Riddim n Spice. And, if you really, really want to get the famous Nashville Hot Chicken you can go to a bunch of different places but our Nashville-based crew took us over to Bolton’s. Having grown up in Thailand, the super hot chicken was almost too hot for Earl and me.
Sure, you can go to the famed honky-tonks in Nashville, no judgment. But, chances are if you are looking for some alternative perspective you aren’t reading this to find out where to listen to covers of Garth Brooks (who incidentally our sound recordist from Nashville says is a really great guy). Go to Jack White’s Blue Room at his iconic Nashville location of Third Man Records. The gift shop in the front of the facility is a treasure chest of cool ass vinyl, attire and chakis. In the blue room you can hear great hip-hop, rock, djs and other alternative Nashville tunes. If you are into punk and metal, there is also a cool dive on Dickerson Pike called DRKMTTR. Have a tasty Guerrilla Bizkit before the show.
While the Parthenon is a top visitor attraction, make sure you pay close attention to its rich history including outside the temple like the suffragette statue commemorating Nashville’s women’s movement. I will say, having seen many tall statues in Southeast Asia, the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon temple is breathtaking. Make sure you find out how to get a guide to point out all of the details of Athena. It is pretty damn cool.
If you are winding down and want to party somewhere other than the tourist bars, go grab a cocktail at CHOPPER in East Nashville. And/or go to Duke’s and order Italian pasta next door at Nicoletto’s. If you are freezing in the ice and cold of a Nashiville winter and you can’t get into the cool speakeasy Attaboy, you can go back and wait out the crowd at Duke’s nearby. Ask me how I know.
At some point on the trip, if you really must cruise Broadway, go with intention to the National Museum of African American Music. But, plan a couple of hours there because it is a semester’s worth of music education in one visit. Did you know the banjo comes from West Africa?