On our Friday night in Nashville Hubby Tony and I went honky tonkin'. I had a good time, but the rowdy "party" music the bands were playing wasn't what we came to the area to hear. We were looking for classic country the kind with steel guitars and mandolins. On Saturday we got our fix.
Saturday morning when we were sightseeing we asked the concierge at one of the hotels for music recommendations. She said there were a couple of places on Broadway we could go, but the music we wanted to hear tended to be played more during the day. In the evening we had two choices--the Grand Ole Opry or The Station Inn.
I'd already researched who was playing at the Opry, and wasn't interested in paying the (somewhat hefty) ticket price for that evening's program. When the heard that the cover charge at The Station Inn was about a quarter of the Opry's our plans were set! The concierge said we'd need to plan on being there when the doors opened (almost two hours before show time); admission was first come, first served, and sometimes there was a line to get in.
We thanked her for the information and continued on our way. After a fun-filled morning and early afternoon of sightseeing we went back to our condo for a nap, then headed out again.
Our first destination was Robert's Western World, which specializes in traditional country music. We grabbed seats at a table to the side of the stage and small dance floor. The room had a wonderful patina of age and a retro atmosphere. In the afternoon there's no age restrictions, and the crowd ranged from tweens to seniors. Many people were drinking, but the waitress didn't bat an eye when I asked her to bring me a cup of coffee. We ordered a basket of fries to share, but passed on the fried bologna sandwich and fried pickles.
This country music is what we came all the way to Nashville to see! Before most songs, the band leader would ask, "who wants to hear some [insert classic country music singer--Merle Haggard, George Jones, Buck Owens, Chet Atkins, Conway Twitty]". The crowd would whoop, and they'd start. I can't say I knew all the songs, but it was still great.
We left in time to walk to a church several blocks away for Mass, then hopped on the shuttle bus for a ride to the Gulch area several miles away. When we got off the bus we turned right instead of left and walked several blocks out of the way before we realized our mistake and turned around. There was no line in front of The Station Inn, so we went for a quick dinner and returned when the doors opened.
The Station Inn bills itself as "Bluegrass and Roots Music’s premiere listening room", and it's been around since the 1970's. The dive-y looking cement block building has no windows. Inside, the dark-painted walls and exposed ductwork on the ceiling made it feel like we were in someone's basement, and long rows of tables lined with mismatched chairs added to the atmosphere.
We took our seats as the musicians (the Keith Tew Band with Don Hill, Jon Martin, Randy Holland and Sam Jackson) were finishing their sound check. After they left the house music came on and Tony and I chatted while we waited for the show to start. We also struck up a conversation with a woman at next table. It was that kind of place.
The band came on stage right at 9:00. A traditional bluegrass band consists of guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and upright bass. The instruments weren't amplified, but there were microphones on the stage so the sound could carry across the room. The band played fast songs and slow songs, and there was plenty of time for each member to solo. The audience wasn't rowdy--you could tell they were there to listen, not party--but there was plenty of hand clapping and cheering when something caught their fancy.
Unfortunately we couldn't stay to the end of the show, because the last shuttle bus headed back to the downtown area at 11:00. A long walk would have been a sad ending to a great day.
Five years ago today: New Thing #210--TXT