Explore Music City at EXPO 2020

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

One of the nation’s fastest growing cities, Nashville is booming. Settled along the Cumberland River, the capital of Tennessee has not only been increasing its population by an estimated 89 people per day, it has also won accolades as a “Hottest Travel Destination” and “Best Place to Travel.”

A progressive and sophisticated city, Nashville has long earned its reputation as “Music City.” Home of the Grand Ole Opry and known as “The Country Music Capital of the World,” Nashville also boasts a strong tradition of pop, rock and gospel music. Don’t be surprised if you see diverse musical superstars like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Jack White, John Mellencamp, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Vince Gill around town.

To learn more about Nashville’s musical roots, visit The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, which takes up a whole city block with an amazing collection of memorabilia. You can see a rhinestone-studded stage suit worn by Hank Williams, Elvis Presley’s 1960 gold Cadillac,a photo of a beardless AND short-haired Willie Nelson in a suit and tie, and much more.

Take a tour bus to RCA Studio B,known as the “Home of 1,000 hits.” Or visit the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium. In the late 1800s, riverboat captain Thomas Ryman decided to go downtown and heckle a preacher at a Nashville revival. Instead, Ryman got converted. Religious revivals rang through here, but it drew legions when it served as the longtime home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. Check the Ryman schedule and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a favorite. Upcoming Ryman concerts when this was written included Art Garfunkel, Ronnie Milsap, John Mellencamp, Hozier, Santana and Buddy Guy.

Honky Tonk Highway

You might not find it on a map but Honky Tonk Highway is one of the most popular destinations in Nashville. It’s the affectionate nickname for downtown Broadway’s row of iconic bars. Live music goes all day, from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.  There’s no cover charge.

Folks wander in and out as the spirit moves them.  Sitting on the corner of Fifth and Broadway at 428 Broadway, Legends Corner guards the entrance to Honky Tonk Highway. Next door to Legends is Nashville’s most famous honky tonk, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, known far and wide for its orchid-purple exterior. A little farther down the block at 416 Broadway is Robert’s Western World where you can buy a pair of cowboy boots while listening to blue grass and honky tonk music.

Step into The Second Fiddle between Tootsie’s and Layla’s and step back in time. Dozens of old radios and musical instruments line the walls of this large bar. Sandwiched between Second Fiddle and Robert’s is Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, a cozy club that offers traditional bluegrass and much more. The massive Honky Tonk Central features live music flowing from all three floors of the huge 9,400-square-foot building’s balconies.

Country music stars also are opening new places on Honky Tonk Highway: Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, John Rich’s Redneck Riviera, Luke’s (Bryan) 32 Bridge, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, FGL (Florida Georgia Line) House, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Nashville and A.J.’s (Alan Jackson) Good Time Bar.

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