Music is at the heart of Nashville, Tenn., and it is on proud display for everyone to see. The things that Nashville cherishes, like live music, great barbecue and cold beer are something that Texans can definitely relate to. You would think there would be an edge to the city, with the numerous bars offering live music most every night, but Nashville is a city for families.
It seems like there are museums around every corner with highlights including the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. The Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum is one of the more recent additions and offers not only country stars, but music stars from all genres. They have a sprawling collection of the actual instruments use to record some of the biggest hits of the 20th century. Some of the more interesting include the bass used to record Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire,” as well as Hal Blaine’s drum kit that was used to record most of the Beach Boys albums. The museum is a self-paced walking tour that is multi-level but little kid and stroller friendly. They were also just finishing up a real recording studio inside the museum (with observation areas) so you can watch the whole process of how an album is actually recorded.
The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum has enough interesting and interactive exhibits to entertain you and your family for hours. Permanent exhibits include the Hall of Fame rotunda which has plaques for each of the stars inducted to the Hall of Fame. “Sing me back home” is the museum’s large multi-level permanent exhibit that provides informative videos, touchscreen interactive media and original instruments. The exhibit takes you on a chronological journey throughout the history of country music in America.
A little off the beaten path, but definitely worth mentioning, is the Lane Motor Museum. I’m kind of a gearhead, and the Lane offers you the opportunity to see all sorts of cars from Europe that there may only be one of in America. The unique thing about the Lane is that it is a mostly barrier-free environment. They ask that you don’t touch the cars, but if you want to stick your head in a window or take a look at how that rear independent suspension actually works, you can. They have more than 150 beautifully restored cars that are not typically seen in America, and admission is only $5 for an adult until December 31, 2008, when the admission goes to $7. They are open Thursday through Monday.
Nashville’s most famous attraction is the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry has live shows even today with such big names as Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Wynona, and Charlie Daniels performing now until the end of September. Front-stage and back-stage tours are available, and it’s recommended you call ahead of time to schedule one.
Did I mention that Nashville was big into music? With three-five concerts happening a night in the city, they even manage to squeeze in several music festivals a year. I was able to enjoy a few shows of the Tin Pan South festival which squeezed 70 shows into five nights with more than 250 performers. Most of the performers are not of the new generation, but are seasoned songwriters who write for some of the biggest names today in the music business. I expected the shows to be packed with students from the nearby Vanderbilt University, but the crowd was much more relaxed with an average age of 35-50. It was just a bunch of friendly people out to enjoy some live music. I felt incredibly comfortable in Nashville when I visited, probably because it felt a lot like Texas. Great history, great food, great music and great people. Nashville is a city that can provide you and your family not only a fun trip, but a relatively inexpensive and close trip that is packed with opportunities to learn about music that has been at the soul of America.