Welcome to the town known universally as “Music City.” A more apt alias was never bestowed on any place in America because simply stated, music is inescapable in Nashville. The music of Nashville floats through the streets and can be heard and enjoyed in every honky-tonk on Broadway, served up in full tilt, high octane country rock, or softly strummed and plucked in the nondescript little bluegrass taverns dotted here, there and everywhere along Nashville’s back streets.
Music is performed by the finest singer-songwriters of our time at the world famous Bluebird Cafe or offered up to the masses in the hallowed Ryman Auditorium or delivered by a who’s who of Country’s all-time greats at the magnificent Grand Ole Opry. But that’s not all there is to Music City… So come along, as we share it all with you…Welcome to…Nashville… in a day.
Historically Cool Since 1892
One reason Nashville gained so much notoriety as the “Music City” is because of Ryman Auditorium. Originally built by Thomas G. Ryman for the fiery evangelist Sam Jones in 1892, it quickly became the venue of choice in Nashville for music and entertainment. It wasn’t until 1943 that the Ryman would become sacred ground for musicians around the world when the Grand Ole Opry moved in and called the Ryman home for the next 30 years, solidifying its namesake as “The Mother Church of Country Music.”
Musical greats like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline were known to grace the stage at the Ryman frequently. But country music wasn’t the only sound originating from the stage of the Ryman, it’s also the birthplace of Bluegrass, officially recognized by the state of Tennessee as where the definitive sound of bluegrass originated.
116 Fifth Avenue north
Nashville, TN 37219
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Honor Thy Music
After visiting the “Mother Church of Country Music,” our next stop is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Located just blocks from the Ryman Auditorium and the honkytonks of lower Broadway, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a journey through time that illustrates the story of the visceral art form and cultural phenomenon that is country music.
Spanning three floors, this architectural marvel features spectacular exhibits and a mind boggling array of elements that illustrate the art and business of country music. Originated in 1967, the museum and hall of fame relocated to its $37 million home in May 2001, commanding the center of Nashville’s cultural and entertainment district with stunning architecture and and a replica of the famous WSM radio tower that can be seen from anywhere in town.
“This is entertainment with substance for any Nashvillian with an interest in the history and character of our hometown, for visiting music fans, for those seeking a deeper understanding of southern culture, or for the family planning a weekend adventure.” – Kyle Young, Museum Tour Director, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the museum is not unlike the Smithsonian Institution or the Library of Congress in its breadth and depth of the country music story with nearly 2,000,000 items in the collection. Each item is exhibited as part of a larger musical, social, political or historical pattern. Timelines on the wall near some of the displays cite significant national and world events that occurred during that musical period.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 5th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203
Home of 1,000’s of Hits What’s known as the “Nashville Sound”was perfected at the historic RCA Studio B. Known originally as RCA Studios, it is now part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This small recording space has recorded over 35,000 songs with over 1,000 American hits by the likes of Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Roy Orbison.
As Music City’s singular historic studio tour, RCA Studio B provides a glimpse into the heart of Nashville music-making during one of its most exciting periods when the little Studio saw the creation of numerous chartbusters, such as Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and Charley Pride’s “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.”
Tours depart daily from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and are available only in conjunction with museum admission. After your tour, stop by the Museum Store or shop online for a selection of classic RCA Studio B recordings and other unique merchandise including T-shirts, posters, and memorabilia.
RCA Studio B
222 5th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203
Tonic for the Digital Age
Though Nashville is known for the musical legends that perform on its various venues, many performers would not
have attracted their followings without the assistance of Hatch Show Print.
Started by brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch in 1879, Hatch Show Print is an institution in Nashville for established performers and up and coming acts with their unmistakable style of wood block prints. Every graphical element is hand carved from blocks and laid out in reverse then each print is passed through an antique letterpress by hand. As one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America, Hatch has turned out posters featuring country music performers ranging from Hank Williams and Johnny Cash to contemporary stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna Judd.
As a self-described “tonic for the digital age,” Hatch posters have artfully promoted vaudeville, circus and minstrel shows, and are why music lovers, collectors, and commercial artists have found inspiration in the timeless style that is signature to every Hatch Show Print. Hatch is an excellent source for Nashville souvenirs and ready to frame vintage posters.
‘‘Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms.”
Nashville, TN 37203
Mecca for Rock stars and Seasoned Collectors
Whether you are a professional musician, a casual player or simply a lover of music, the showroom at Gruhn Guitars is truly something special. From acoustic to electric guitars, basses, mandolins and banjos, Gruhn is a haven for finely crafted instruments.
Boasting the world’s premier collection of vintage and used fretted instruments, Gruhn Guitars offers such legendary brands as the classic Gibson, Fender, Martin, Epiphone, Gretsch, and Nationals. There’s also a wide selection of new instruments from Martin, Taylor, Collings, and many others. Although owner George Gruhn has been buying and selling used instruments since 1963, Gruhn Guitars was established in 1970 and was one of the first stores devoted to vintage and used instrument sales.
Today George Gruhn is recognized worldwide as a leading expert on vintage guitars, mandolins and banjos. In addition to the decades of experience of the Gruhn staff, George personally brings over 40 years of experience to instrument appraisal.
‘‘George Gruhn knows more about guitars than anyone on earth.” – Tom Wheeler, Former Editor, Guitar Player Magazine
That knowledge has made Gruhn Guitars the world’s most famous vintage instrument store and has brought George Gruhn global recognition as an author of definitive books on vintage guitars, an innovative instrument and string designer, and a primary source for insight into the guitar market – past, present and future.
When asked how it all started, George Gruhn said with a reminiscent grin, “When I was a graduate student in Knoxville in 1968, Hank Williams Jr. called me one day out of the blue inquiring about several of my Martin Guitars. Although typically a five to six-hour drive from Nashville to Knoxville at the time, Hank showed up four hours later with a guitar he wanted to trade. He left with three others and returned the next day with a larger car, filling it with yet more goodies.” George continues, “Hank mentioned when leaving that there was nobody in Nashville that had what I did, and suggested I consider relocating and setting up shop. He even set me up with an apartment to get me started. Hank has treated me well over the years and has bought many instruments from Gruhn Guitars ever since. We’re still friends to this day and for that, and his advice, I’m very grateful!”
After 43 years of doing business in the same general area, Gruhn Guitars has new digs as of late spring 2013. The new location will be: 2120 8th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37204, which is located in Nashville’s up-and-coming Eighth Avenue South corridor.
Nashville, TN 37203
The Athens of the South
Known as the Athens of the South, Nashville contains the world’s only full size replica of the Greek Parthenon. Located in Centennial Park, the site of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897, the full scale replica houses a world class art museum, archival photos, and an unbelievable, 41-foot tall reproduction of Athena; the largest piece of indoor sculpture in
the Western World.
2600 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Good to the Last Drop
Next stop, the “House that Coffee Built”: the spectacular Cheekwood, former residence of the Cheek family. The Cheek’s gained fame and fortune by making coffee famous for being “Good to the Last Drop.” After selling the coffee brand, the Cheeks bought 100 acres of pristine woods in southwest Nashville and commissioned the 30,000 square foot residence, completing construction in 1932.
Now, the estate welcomes visitors as a botanical garden and museum of art. Open year round, visitors can enjoy over 10 specialty display gardens, an extensive American art collection, and tour the enormous residence. With fun for all ages including kid’s summer programs and interactive exhibits, Cheekwood has something for everyone. Don’t miss it.
1200 Forrest Park drive
Nashville, TN 37205
Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm
The American Icon and Nashville,Tennessee’s Number One Attraction
Next stop on your day in Nashville is the backstage tour at The Opry. The tours allow visitors to walk in the footsteps of country music’s superstars and get an exclusive look behind the scenes of the show that made country music famous!
The American icon and Nashville’s number-one attraction, The Opry is the show that kicked Nashville into Musical stardom and is still going strong today. What began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925 has evolved into a live-entertainment phenomenon. Dedicated to honoring the past, present and future of Country Music, the Grand Ole Opry showcases country legends and contemporary chart-toppers in a magnificent state of the art music hall.
Dubbed the home of American music and country’s most famous stage, every year, hundreds of thousands of people make pilgrimages across town or around the world to the Opry Complex to see the show live. Millions more tune in to Opry broadcasts on television Great American Country, the radio (Nashville’s 650 AM WSM) and online at Opry.com.
The Opry’s member roster reads like a who’s who of country music and includes Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Little Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Trisha Yearwood, and countless other country luminaries.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken?
Many things about the Opry have changed over the years – its members, the sound of its music, even its home. But there’s always that oak-solid center to remind every singer or musician who steps inside that they take part in something much larger than themselves, that wherever they go they have a connection to the legends and the giants who came before them.
The six-foot circle of dark oak wood in the Opry House stage is shiny but clearly well worn. Cut from the stage of the Opry’s famous former home, Ryman Auditorium, this circle gives newcomers and veterans alike the opportunity to sing on the same spot that once supported Uncle Dave Macon, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, and many others.
“That circle is the most magical thing when you’re a performer,” says Brad Paisley, “to stand there and get to sing on those same boards that probably still contain dust from Hank Williams’ boots.”
As that wooden circle is the heart of the stage, the Opry’s heart is its music and its members – a broad scope of styles by a wide range of artists. During any given Opry show, audiences can expect the best in country, bluegrass, comedy, gospel, and more by Country Music Hall of Famers, cast members who helped establish the Opry as the home of country music, revered superstars, and young artists just starting to make names for themselves.
Come see why the Opry is the number one attraction in Nashville. The Opry offers three ways to tour: Daytime, post-show and VIP.
Grand Ole Opry
2804 Opryland drive
Nashville, TN 37214
If you are looking for a break from the neon and country rock of the honky-tonks, on Broadway, maybe it’s time to check out The Station Inn and some authentic bluegrass.
The Station Inn is a Nashville landmark and another reason to visit The Gulch, the once sleepy neighborhood that mixes sleek boutiques and restaurants with old school southern charm. Since 1974, the Station Inn remains a frequent venue for bluegrass and acoustic’s most talented performers and attracts Nashville’s most popular artists, who appreciate the small stage, picnic style seating, original Hatch posters and vintage neon. Seating is first come first served. So arrive early, stay late and be prepared to have a seriously great time.
The Station Inn
402 12th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203
Though Nashville is known for its performers and their grand performances, if it wasn’t for the talented songwriters behind the songs there needn’t be a stage in the city. Bluebird Cafe, made famous by the singer/ songwriters who have appeared in the round, playing their music nightly for fans, music execs and Nashville visitors, is a must to experience all this great city has to offer. It was in this simple café that the likes of Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift were discovered, and many influential song writers still come today to have their music heard.
On the playbill the night we were in attendance, we had the pleasure of listening to Danny Flowers “Living on Tulsa Time,” Marcus Hummon “Bless the Broken Road” made famous by Rascal Flats, Bill Loyd “Sure Thing” and Gordon Kennedy “Change the World” performed by Eric Clapton.
For almost 30 years, the Bluebird Cafe has opened its doors to songwriters around the world to wow those in attendance and with hopes of getting their big break they’ve been dreaming of their whole lives. Who knows, you could be next. Open mic at the café is every Monday night.
The Bluebird Cafe
4104 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215