The first thing we did once we arrived downtown was park in an expensive lot and walk down to the Ryman Auditorium. To be honest, I had never heard of it until we were standing in the lobby buying admission tickets for a backstage tour. I was kind of worried that all the history and excitement of the city would be lost on me since I don't know anything about country music, but touring the Ryman and learning a lot about the Grand Ole Opry helped a lot. If you're ever in Nashville, I'd highly recommend a visit and I'd definitely include the backstage tour. Our adorably over-rehearsed tour guide took us through Johnny Cash's regular dressing room, the spot where he met June Carter and the room dedicated to famous singers who frequented the Ryman, including Bob Dylan and Loretta Lynn! So although I was pretty out of the loop on all the country names she dropped, it was fun hearing about some of my favorite folk singers. The rest of the tour was self-guided, so we explored and speculated on all the displayed Elvis costumes and walls of signed albums.
This was my favorite shop that we found. There was some serious man style in there. We connected with the owner pretty quickly once he questioned why we lacked southern drawals and admitted he was from California as well. He's lived in the area for six years so he was still able to give us a pretty accurate scoop on the area. "East Nash is pretty up and coming. Lots of younger families, new restaurants with urban gardens and a ton of music connections, local artists." We thanked him for his time and walked out carrying our favorite find of the day, a vintage Alabama football hat!
Next on our agenda was to stop by Third Man Records, a recording studio and record store owned by Jack White, the lead singer from the White Stripes. We drove across town and parked in a very unassuming neighborhood and walked until we saw fresh paint on old bricks. An upbeat redhead sporting a black jumpsuit and bright lipstick buzzed us into the room-sized store. It was really funky and terribly yellow with only a small section of records for sale from artists that have stopped by the studio to record or new releases on old records. A couple girls behind the counter invested interest in our exploration of Nashville and offered up their best advice of each part of town. We left with a few records and a napkin with a sketch of the city.
After a couple hours of driving around and a bit more shopping, we took a break at a local coffee shop (the best way to size up a city, in my book) and scribbled down notes of everything we had explored so far. "East Nashville-really great, really hip. Three mustaches spotted. Berry Hill-too small. 12th South-too rich. South Nash- too close to the art school." Our favorite part of town by far was the east side. In general, Nashville really grabbed us. We don't know a soul in the city, but it's just a couple hours away from our family here and has the culture we're looking for.
We're probably more interested in settling down in a city where we actually know someone or have purpose for being there, but it was hard to ignore how much it excited us. We know we can't figure out a city in just one day, so we are heading back to Nashville this weekend. Matt spoke to our friends in Austin who pointed us towards a couple they know in Nashville, so we're going to get the chance to sit down and pester a few more locals. This time we're going to explore some areas with houses that have a bit more land since living outside the city is something we're interested in.
We'll see you this weekend, Nashville!