We drove into downtown on our first morning, around a 15 minute drive from our AirBnB house in East Nashville. It is clear straight away that this city, or the downtown area, is setup perfectly for interstate visitors. There is one main drag called Broadway where all the bars and restaurants are and you can listen to live music here around the clock, from when the bars open at 10am till 3am closing. After wandering around this area and checking out the walk of the stars (a poor imitation of the hollywood one and to be fair we only recognised around five ‘stars’), we set off for the Gulch, an up and coming area we were told. On the way there we checked out a printing shop and gallery – Hatch Press, that still make a lot of the music posters around town. The Gulch is obviously new with new apartment high rises, shops, restaurants and a few bars but it was pretty much dead at this time so we caught the free tourist shuttle bus back into downtown.
Once there we stepped into ‘Legends’ for some music and a beer. The music was good at least in our limited experience of country music. The band even played some Keith Urban, we know him and now we have heard one of his songs! Over the road is ‘Rippy’s’ in which we had some barbecue and listened to some more music. This place seems to occupy a whole city block with many bars and areas to eat in. Once full we walked down to the Tennessee State Museum for an exhibition on slavery from the Wyssyngton Plantation. It was a very interesting exhibition and we were keen to know about this subject, especially being in the South. This area had a lot of plantations around about due to the fertile land and so a lot of slavery and Wyssyngton was the biggest by some stretch with almost 300 slaves at it’s peak.
Having the use of a kitchen where we are staying we opted for dinner at home tonight. After eating we set off to explore the ‘Five Points’ area of East Nashville. On our drive we found a free open air music concert which we stopped off at. They have these almost every week here, in line with the ‘Music City’ moniker. It was great to see the locals having a good time and enjoying the music, put on by a local radio station – ‘Lightning 100′. We saw two acts – ‘Bree’ and ‘The Vibes’. Both good in different ways and certainly entertaining. We then checked out ‘3 Crows’, a bar in the Five Points area for one drink before bed.
We had plans to meet up with Derrick and Jamie whom we met at Salt Lake City airport today in the Gulch so after a lazy morning of washing clothes we drove up there for some drinks and lunch (at a British theme pub, called….. The Pub!). We were introduced to a Fireball there – cinnamon whiskey. We had a shepherd pie each, our first non-‘American’ meal really and I have to say it was good. We stayed up there a few hours, enough time for the whiskey to wear off before driving back to our AirBnB hosts who were flipping some turkey burgers on the barbecue so we contributed a salad, stayed in and had a few beers with Danielle, Adam and their friends.
We decided to get out of Nashville today and made our way South 30 minutes or so to a small historic town called Franklin. It is their 150 years anniversary since a civil war battle there, one of the worst for casualties in which over 3,000 men lost their lives and up to 10,000 were injured in just five hours of fighting amongst over 20,000 men. We visited a plantation home (Carnton) that on the day of the war was offered up as a field hospital by the family to the Confederate Army. The Federal army had taken over the town and with Tennessee part of the Confederate States, the Tennessee Army marched on to Franklin to attempt to win it back. It was fascinating taking a tour around this house and walking the grounds. You can see where surgeons stood performing amputations with footprints outlined with blood in the house and in the grounds there is a grave to many hundreds of Confederate dead. Not long after this battle the war was over and the South had surrendered.
Back in Nashville, with us moving on tomorrow, we decided to take in some more live music. As it turns out, today is also the official start of the CMA festival – Country Music Association. It is a week long festival of music culminating in an awards show for some back-slapping. There were outdoor stages erected in Broadway, the main drag in downtown with all the bars on it. We wandered around, listened so some country music on the outdoor stage, by a Brit, Kiwi, Aussie and a Swede. We then went back to ‘Legends’ bar for some cover band action and some fiddle being played on the bar – ‘The Devil went down to Georgia’, amongst others.