Nashville City Lights: MCRT’s Guide To Nashville, TN
The first time I visited Nashville was New Year’s Eve of 2004. My friend, Matt, and I decided to spend some time exploring the city before heading to school in Texas for the spring semester. We saw great music, ate delicious food, and rang in the New Year surrounded by thousands of our new friends. Because we did not have a lot of time to fully explore the city, I knew my return to Nashville was imminent. Since then, I have been lucky enough to return once, but I cannot wait to see the Nashville city lights again.
Both of my visits went something like this: Music, food, drinking, and repeat. You choose the order, but because Nashville offers some of the best of these categories, I recommend doing all three in excess. Seeing live music when you visit is an absolute must. In addition to drawing major acts, Nashville’s status as a music industry mecca drives many up-and-coming artists to relocate to Nashville in order to increase their chances of making it big. Nashville is teeming with musical talent. Street performers rival on-stage concerts; you are sure to be amazed by this town’s overflowing aptitude.
Although country (can it really still be called country music?) and blues remain dominant in this town, Nashville seemed progressive and open enough to embrace all types of music. When I first visited, my friend and I stuck mainly to the touristic parts of Nashville, checking out the honky tonks and blues bars of Broadway. During my second visit, however, I was fortunate enough to have friends who lived in Nashville. Besides giving me a true tour of the city, they took me to the local favorite spots to see some great music. It was not country, nor rock, nor singer-songwriter; it was more of a melting pot combination of everything performed by very talented musicians. Hence, utilize your friends or your researching skills if you want to find the best music away from the normal hotspots.
Like seeing music, eating is always high on my list when exploring a city. One of the best ways to truly embrace an area is to eat its food; a city’s cuisine says a lot about its culture and history. Although Memphis is known for its barbeque, the barbeque I ate in Nashville rivaled any of the slow-cooked meat I had ever eaten. In the spirit of fairness, each area uses unique flavors and smoking techniques, making Texas’, Carolina’s, and Tennessee’s variety of barbeques all delicious in their own way. In Nashville, you can fulfill multiple touristic responsibilities in one swoop by exploring the Broadway area, and having a meal at your preferred barbeque joint. Be sure to sample a bit of everything including chicken, ribs, pulled pork, some sides, a piece of cornbread, and wash it all down with a gigantic sweet tea. People know how to eat in the South.
Music City Nights
When your guts finally settle, prepare for a fun night of revelry. In addition to helping me get to know the city better, my friends showed me several of Nashville’s party faces. A night out in the Honky Tonk district is very different from hanging out in the bars around Vanderbilt University, leading to two important questions: Is the Vanderbilt crowd, which varied from hipster to well dressed, the real face of Nashville? Or are the cowboy boots and tight jeans of the Honky Tonk district Nashville personified? Because my friends are not originally from Tennessee, they could not come up with a solid answer. Nonetheless, Nashville proved itself capable of supporting a number of different interests from a somewhat diverse variety of individuals.
Nashville is a great city full of stellar music, tasty food, and unique nightlife opportunities. In addition to being in the midst of Tennessee’s natural beauty, the “Music City” pulses with life and history, making it a great place to visit. I highly recommend taking a road trip to this vibrant city; perhaps we will cross paths under the Nashville city lights.
By: Gordon Alford