It rained off and on from Asheville NC. The coloured trees were really pretty when we left because the sun was on them. It was a bit mountainous but nothing like the Rockies! There were tons of trucks on the roads. We arrived in Nashville about 2:30 at Nashville Country RV Park. It's a fairly decent park. We're close to the pool which is a bit cool to use right now and our site is level.
On the 21st we drove down to Franklin, an historic town 30 miles away. We saw Carter House, built in 1830, which was in the thick of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. We saw the Carnton Plantation where on November 30, 1864 in the fields surrounding the house was the site of the 5 hour Battle of Franklin. It led to some 9,500 soldiers being killed, wounded, or missing. Carnton served as the largest field hospital in the area. Wounded in the hundreds were brought to the house. The family later designated two acres of land as a final burial place for nearly 1500 Confederate soldiers. This is the largest private cemetery in the US. We came back to Nashville to explore a bit and ended up at Cadillac Ranch for lunch. We listened to Nick Smith and Savannah play for over an hour. There's live music everywhere. We also drove out to the Grand Ole Opry to scope out the parking for the show we're going to.
On the 22nd we mostly basked in the sun! Even though there had been frost in the night, it really warmed up during the day. We had decided not to drive into the Opry for the show so we booked a bus ride with Grayline. The little bus was full. When we arrived we realized that Opry Mills, the large mall right next door, was closed. Turns out they are still cleaning up and renovating from the flood in May 2010. The Opry itself was filled with four feet of water at the time. But the show went on - just in a different temporary venue (back to the Ryman Auditorium downtown). The Opry provides a very different show. It is the longest running live radio program in the world. It has been going strong since 1925, every week. It has been in a few locations including the Ryman Auditorium downtown it's original place before moving to this new very large site. Because it's live radio/TV there are ads every few minutes.
As in the rest of the world, the theme for October is "Pink" - highlighting women's cancers. You will notice the photos all have a pink tinge - made it hard to get good quality shots. The close up shots are from the HDTV screen to our right. Our seats were very high up. It was very hard for a lot of people to get up that high. The first hour was the radio program. Each half hour has a different host. The first was Little Jimmy Dickens. He's been a member of the Opry for 63 years and is 90 years old. He told us he hadn't been feeling well lately. His doctor had prescribed some pills that are regularly prescribed to men his age. Unfortunately, he didn't swallow them fast enough and came away with a very stiff neck (LOL). The first song he sang was from his latest album - released in 1963!
The second host was Whisperin' Bill Anderson. The show featured many stars including Martina McBride and Ronnie Milsap, who had his own piano wheeled out. Also appearing were Eden's Edge who is currently touring with Reba McEntire. Robin Roberts was also there - she's from Good Morning America and is a cancer survivor. The second hour was the live TV show. This also had ads or "TV breaks". This part also had Martina as well as Kellie Pickler (a former American Idol contestant, whom Simon didn't really like - she really showed him!) and Lauren Alaina (second place finisher this year on American Idol - she's going to go far - a very powerful voice and a great personality). We had a great time and took the bus back to the RV Park.
Earlier Larry had purchased a Groupon deal for brunch at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. So on the 23rd, we had brunch for two for $14 right in the lobby. After that we purchased a Platinum Pass which included the Museum, an audio tour and a tour of RCA's Studio B. The Studio tour is a bonus because unless you have booked time to record there or bought a ticket for the tour, you can't get in. They took us there in a small bus. The studio was opened in 1957 and closed for regular recording in 1977. The closure of RCA's Studio B was planned a year in advance for August 17, 1977 but coincidentally Elvis died on August 16, 1977. There were over 35,000 songs recorded at Studio B and 1,000 of the songs recorded there went on to become #1 hits. Elvis recorded 250 songs there. When they first began everything was analog and done tape to tape. The band members were sectioned off with baffles and the singer(s) usually had blankets hung behind them to enhance the sound. It was all done at once and live. Very interesting tour. The youngish guide had a lot of good stories to tell.
We then went back to the museum and checked out all three floors. They are going to add another 4 floors within the next two years. They have thousands of items in storage. They bring out different items every 4 months throughout the year so it doesn't get stale - for example the Williams Legacy exhibit - told the life story of Hank Williams and his son Jr. Country music has deep roots and is certainly popular today. Maureen was spotted making notes in a "little black book" just like a detective. Can't miss the details that go with the photos!
On the 24th we went to a concert by an Elvis tribute artist named John Beardsley. It was at the Troubadour Theater adjacent to Ernest Tubb's Record Shop #2. It was a fairly good concert highlighting songs throughout Elvis' career. John's voice is not as good as some tribute artists we've seen but he is certainly high energy. There was a "bus" inside the record shop that was one of six that Ernest Tubb had during his career - this particular one had 3 million miles on it! We have a little ways to go.
On the 25th we went up to Music Row, near where Studio B is, and checked out the studios where many hits are recorded. That was about all for that day! On the 26th we hung around the coach, enjoying the warm sunshine, because we heard it would be one of the last very warm days. Nice!
On the 27th we did much the same although it had clouded over. On the 28th we went into the city and did a self-guided tour of Ryman Auditorium - known as the Mother Church of Country Music. Indeed it was originally built by Thomas Ryman, a riverboat captain and businessman as a place for evangelist Sam Jones to preach. The acoustics are reputed to be second only to those in the Mormon Tabernacle. It seats 2362 and was the original location of the Grand Ole Opry. The WSM radio broadcasts ran here from 1943 to 1974, when they moved to the current Grand Ole Opry. The venue hosts alternative rock, bluegrass, blues, country, classical, folk, gospel, jazz, pop and rock concerts, as well as musical theater and stand-up comedy shows and has been known to host ballet and boxing matches.
After the Ryman, we walked up and down Broadway. Every tavern/lounge along the way has live music on Fridays starting early in the morning. some stages are quite large but in the case of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, which is very famous, has a stage that is about 6 feet by 20 feet. The drums are set up in the bay window at the front. It was full! The singer at The Stage had a beer holder attached to his mike and two empties on the floor beside him. One of the stories that Willie Nelson apparently told of Tootsie's was that they would exit out of the back door of the Ryman Theatre after a concert and it was only 13 steps to Tootsie's but it was 26 steps back. We then stopped at Cooter's Place, a free Dukes of Hazzard museum, which was full of displays of all the memorabilia produced during the era of the TV show. Then back to the coach to get packed up. It had rained a lot in the past couple of days. We're expecting the sun to come out again but the temperatures will be much lower.
Next stop - Camp Red Bay at the Tiffin factory!