June 7, 2019
There’s a reason number two is my favorite number…. Pop Pop and I woke up, ate a satisfying hotel breakfast and headed for Music City for day two of our road trip. I chose to got to Nashville because I am in a wedding and the bachelorette party is in Nashville. Unfortunately, I am missing the bachelorette because I will just have started a new job and am taking off for the wedding a few months later.
Pop Pop and I actually forgot we would be heading into a new time zone and would gain an hour, so we drove into Nashville with plenty of time to find the popular WhatLiftsYou mural in The Gulch. The artist, Kelsey Montague, and her paintings were thrust into the spotlight after Taylor Swift posed with one of her murals in New York in 2014. Swift recently commissioned Montague to paint wings in Nashville for her single “ME!” to officially launch her new era of music. While the mural debuted on April 26 in Nashville and I was visiting only two months later, it had unfortunately already been taken down for preservation.
The address found online for the WhatLiftsYou mural doesn’t bring you right to the spot, so I used photos from Google and my intuition to led us to it. It’s located right outside a parking garage on 11thAve South near Pine Street. Usually there is a line to get an insta-worthy photo with the mural, but it was raining in Nashville that morning, so we only had to wait for one family before we took some photos. The parking garage at the mural has free one-hour parking, so it’s convenient to park your car, take a snap and head on with your day.
The next stop on our list was the much anticipated General Jackson Showboat cruise. We did the Taste of Tennessee lunch tour, which took us on the Cumberland River as we listened to an energetic band play us songs that covered a wide range of country music, old and new.
The music isn’t the only thing we got to taste—the southern food buffet included pork shoulder, roasted chicken, mac and cheese, baked beans, vegetables, salad, rolls, fruit and cobbler. This is an ideal meal if you ask me. Being the great man he is, Pop Pop upgraded our tickets to the Captains Table, which meant we got an extra dessert, a complementary drink and souvenir mug, a complementary t-shirt and a tour of the captain’s pilot house.
After the show and food, we were lead to where the captain steers the boat and had a nice conversation with him. Luckily, the rain held off for our cruise and we were able to wander the boat freely for the remainder of the trip. Pop pop and I checked out the huge 36-foot paddlewheel that propels the boat forward, went to the gift shop and then sat on the upper desk while two of the band members played their songs and promoted their personal music.
Pop Pop had mentioned many times he would like to tour the Ryman Auditorium, which is the original house of the Grand Ole Opry. We lucked out because after our afternoon on General Jackson, we showed up to the Ryman five minutes before the next guided group tour and ended up on the tour all by ourselves. We were also lucky because The Ryman usually closes by four, but they kept it open because the CMA Festival was in Nashville for the weekend, which meant more tourists and more money flowing into the city. I won’t get into much detail about the content of the tour, because you can learn about it on the website. However, I will say being in the same rooms as people who really started bluegrass and country music as we know it and learning about the importance of the Ryman was very awe-striking. I particularly enjoyed how much excitement Pop Pop received from the stories we heard, because unlike me, he knows of the people who are so important to country music.
We had some time to fill before our final stop of the night, so Pop Pop and I headed to Broadway. The couple of blocks on Broadway we visited are notorious for bar-hopping and country music enthusiasts that take over the area. The streets are lined with bars that often have live music and sometimes celebrity guests. Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton all have successful bars there, and they pop in every now and again to give a performance. When we got there, it seems as if CMA Fest was on a break or let out, because the streets were swarmed with people in cowboy boots and hats. The energy on the street was nothing like I’ve seen before and it lifted my spirits. Pop Pop and I weaseled our way to the rooftop of Jason Aldean’s place because I was told to go there to get a drink from a friend’s sister who bartends, but it was so crowded I decided it was not worth it. I taught Pop Pop the Cotton-Eye Joe, though, so that made the crowds worth it.
We eventually found our way out of bustling Broadway, and quickly got dinner at a Cracker Barrel (where we had another extremely polite server) a few minutes from the last stop of this busy day: the one and only Grand Ole Opry. The Opry moved to its current location in 1974 from the Ryman, and I was much better able to appreciate the Opry’s importance after the Ryman tour earlier in the afternoon.
There were a series of hosts and performers who did short sets, so the audience got a taste of music from all types of country artists. The night ended with a performance by Charley Pride, one of the living legends of early country music. While I’ve never knowingly heard his music, I felt honored to have gotten to listen to someone with so much importance in the community.
And with that, the day full of country everything was sadly over. One more thing I want to mention, though, is that the Opry is the longest running radio broadcast in US history and you can listen to it lie from its website, right here. So if you’re not able to get to Nashville, Nashville can come to you.
Tune in for the rest of my Nashville adventure coming up on the blog this Thursday!
Whitmanythought 1: I can appreciate country music so much more after this day.
Whitmanythought 2: I would so come back to Nashville!