Friday, 14 February 2014


Welcome to 'Music City', U.S.A. This is Nashville and if you want to see more of this city than just the T.V. series of the same name then it's time to ride a steel horse with a six-string on your back because Bon Jovi or not this week in this city your a cowboy. Or at least an honorary one with the tip of the local Stetson to you. O.K. let's not get too corny but this is the capital of country music in not only in these United States but the world. It doesn't get much more distinctly American than this when it comes to the definitive wide range of diverse landscapes on this continent. Just a couple of albums drive from Memphis, Tennessee, you'll see a lot of the states son and rock and roll king Elvis Presley here, but when it all comes down to it and you drive from one soundscape city to another down that beautifully grand highway-as your radio tunes into a more country frequency-its all about the boots and spurs clicking music down here thank you very much. You can buy a decent pair, or two (or three with one locals buy two get the third free offer) and walk the walk while taking a tour down the main street of shopping and knee slapping, with some of the best places to spend your money that your wallet will ever find.

You've got classy clothes stores, inspired independent shops of the sort and a hell of a lot of super souvenir shops for your memories memorabilia. For the record, music shops aren't dying out here, with record stores a plenty where you can find it all under one long as it's got a good story. This is the city that Dolly Parton built and her and all her country friends keep this street running past 9 to 5. Even White Stripe, Raconteur and Dead Weather bandsman Jack White has a record store here, on his Third Imprint. It doesn't get much cooler that that. No wonder everyone from homegirl Taylor Swift to Tennessee kid by way of Memphis Justin Timberlake have homes here. Still its the legends that leave a legacy on the streets here all the way to the Country Music Hall Of Fame where you can see Willie Nelson and all the friends he's made music with. Still hello, what about the 'Man in Black' who's name is Johnny Cash? Well the 'Ring Of Fire' legend himself has his own museum and shop that will take you from Folsom Prison all the way to the 'American Recordings' with Rick Rubin that closed and defined the final years of his life. You can see all this for around the price of one of his albums. Like The Beatles museum in Liverpool this is a historical must for this city.

Still, if you'd rather see some of the local acts that aren't world famous yet the whole street is littered with great hallmark American bars playing country strong music by the songbook of their traditional American bands. The only thing that feels more alive then this place live after hours on Saturday night, is this place live after hours at night on New Years. Still, if you want to calm it down a bit and are sick of country music by now you could cross that grand, epic bridge to the sports stadiums and suburbs, where all the major sports and spots are found. Out of town you've got even more real nice, self-owned places to have a coffee or a hearty bite for your independent soul and it all looks so green and beautiful no matter the time of year. Sure it gets cold here, but one travelling day for research in January was like a perfect July one. There's a lot of great parks and recreational activities for your sunny days to and why not look up 'Him & Honey' if your on a couples retreat for the perfect photo album memory and tour of this city? Take the bridge and the massive main road in the opposite direction however and you'll pass plenty of pizza places and named chains for your fill, but before the hotel district and all your budget and brilliant places to stay there's a small strip of shops and a Barnes & Noble bookstore that doubles up as a University store and Starbucks. If reading dates and a spot of small, boutique shopping is your forte this is the quiet evening for you.

Further up the road the hotels offer a great, unforgettable view of the Vanderbilt University sports stadiums if you want to see just why college sports are considered even more fan fareing, passion proud, epic events then the majors...especially around March. The University campus is beautiful too and classic America if you're thinking of taking the studying route. After you've checked into your hotel, hostel or dorm you have to check out what's available to eat and trust me this place as got as many great spots as it has walls with murals (a picture perfect guided tour in itself). Our top pick however is 'Ted's Grill', what better thing to order in this part of America than BBQ? As well as a wood saloon, atmospheric decor that would have made Capone proud to eat here this traditional place doesn't have to change with the times when it not only has the best burgers in town, but the best-whether beef or speciality bison- in the world. Trust me, this is a guy whose eaten more burgers than Morgan Sperlock. Still this isn't quite your fill when it comes to Nashville, all the hotels surrounding this area are located next to the grand park that leads to the Parthenon, Nashville's perfect answer to Washington's Lincoln Memorial. Just don't watch 'Percy Jackson-Lightening Thief', before you go...because you might not want to. Still this is the iconic landmark of this town whose roots sing deeper than country music. This is a city that has everything you could want on one big and all encompassing road, you barely have to take a left to find what's right for you. With all this on the playlist this itinerary makes Nashville sound like the next place that needs to hear from you. Make the play. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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