I was in Tennessee recently, catching up with some old friends and revisiting some familiar sights. I have a 25–year history there, having lived in Knoxville for nearly 10 years and then middle Tennessee for 15 years.
|Shelby Street pedestrian bridge spans the Cumberland River near downtown Nashville|
In 1997 I left Nashville for good to relocate to the southern Utah desert but I do like to travel back to my old haunts every now and then. I also enjoy that for a few weeks my hair becomes really curly (frightfully, at times) and I rarely have to use any skin moisturizer. This is the blessing and curse of humidity usually in the high double digits.
One thing I liked about living in the state capital (besides curly hair and seriously hydrated skin) was the detailed architecture of the older buildings. I would often go downtown and just walk around for a few hours, absorbing what I could of its history. It might surprise some folks to learn that Nashville is a very historic city situated as it is along the Cumberland River. One of the facts I found most interesting was that it had been the furthest western outpost during Revolutionary War times.
Apparently, any renovation of old buildings in the downtown area must adhere to a strict historic code. If it’s old, it’s got to stay true to its oldness.
Since I stayed in the Nashville area for a good part of this recent trip I thought it might be fun to take in an easy downtown walkabout with my old friend LF. Although she lives there we both happily became the ultimate Music City tourists for an afternoon.
|Limestone wall along First Avenue|
|Date of building is 1882|
|Detail of building housing Silver Dollar Saloon|
There is a classic song by the Red Clay Ramblers, about the old Merchants Lunch on Lower Broadway on an album of the same name (you can find a great video on YouTube). Now an upscale restaurant in an original 1892 building, the Ramblers warbled that it was an “ocean of gloom – it looked like half past midnight in the afternoon.”
I had been to Merchants in the early 1980s when I was working on the Columbia Archaeological Project, and “an ocean of gloom” was definitely an apt description back then. Sadly, I never did happen to come across “Broadway Brenda and her derelict court.”
|Merchants Lunch building dated 1892|
It was revealed during this afternoon walkabout that LF has lived in Nashville since the 1970s but had never been to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge! It didn’t take much convincing for her to go inside with me and enjoy an afternoon adult beverage while listening to a three-man band play screechy country music. It’s what they do there.
|Outside Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway|
|Historic Downtown Presbyterian Church|
By this time the winter sun had started to drop behind the jagged horizon of the downtown buildings and the air took on a deeper chill. LF and I ambled back to our cars by way of the Shelby St. pedestrian bridge where we paused to watch the golden light of sunset reflect off the bridge.
|Shelby Street pedestrian bridge|
LF wanted to show me the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center as our final stop. We listened for a moment as a woman tuned the grand piano and I thought how divine it would be to listen to the Nashville Symphony in this concert hall. Maybe I’ll plan my next trip to Tennessee so that I can.
Where is the best venue you have ever listened to a symphony – indoor or out? Tell us about your experience in a comment!