Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Nashville

There was a Starbucks in our hotel who served better than normal coffee of that brand and really delicious blueberry muffins. So after breakfast there we headed into downtown Nashville for our Nashtrash Tour.
The Jugg sisters, Sherri Lynn and Brenda Kay, take you on a ninety minute tour of Nashville in a big pink bus giving you 'the dirt' on all the stars. Passengers (and people on the street) are not excluded from their irreverent banter either. Definitely adults only and they say in their advertising blurb "you'll laugh until your face hurts".
And we did!
You can take your own six pack (at 11am?) and they provide the snacks ie. crackers and cheese in a can.

Then it was on to the Country Music Hall of Fame after a nice sandwich lunch with a few beers at a local pub. I think you have to be a real country music fan to fully enjoy this venue. There are a mind boggling number of exhibitions to go through. I enjoyed the 'roots of country music' with some very old films of black American music (sometimes you can hear the rock and roll just trying to get out) as well as seeing Carl Perkins' original "blue suede shoes" and walls of gold records.
Elvis was represented to some extent with his gold Cadillac on display but obviously Memphis is his town.

That night we were off to the Grand Ole Opry. They were celebrating George Jones 80th birthday and he was sitting a few seats in front of us.
The show is a very relaxed format with quite a number guests performing one or two songs over the two hours. The show is broadcast live on radio so there is time given over to advertisements from the onstage announcer. People wander the aisles taking pictures and crews wander the stage setting up. The lighting and sound were fantastic. There was a great 'feel' in the house the night we were there. I imagined that was not unusual.
We saw among others Pam Tillis, Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Ann Womack and Alan Jackson.
I should also mention the 91 year old 4ft 11in Rhinestone covered Jimmy Dickens who couldn't hold a note but told the most outrageous jokes especially about himself......and his wife!
All performers including George Jones were on stage for a pretty special finale.
It was a great night with the show more than living up to its reputation.

Next morning our destination was Goodlettsville, north of Nashville.
I asked the same question but it was on the co driver's quilt shop list. It was a nothing sort of town but apparently the quilt shop turned out to be the best on tour. I sat in the designated 'husband chair' that most quilt shops have in the USA and tried the read the magazines with the latest being a 2008 National Geographic, eventually falling asleep.
Obviously from the packages I helped carry out this enabled extra time for additional purchases.
Next we drove across country to Hermitage and the home and plantation of President Andrew Jackson

The Hermitage began as a log cabin (later pulled down and rebuilt as slave quarters) on a 425 acre frontier farm in 1804 occupied by Jackson and his wife Rachel. By 1821 a mansion had been built on what was now a 1000 acre mixed farm but predominantly a cotton plantation. In 1829 Jackson was inaugurated as the 7th President of the USA and served two terms. His wife died a few weeks after he was first elected. He passed away in 1845.
A considerable part of current mansion was rebuilt in 1834 after a disastrous fire.
The house remained in the family for the following years until the state took it over. As a result 95% of the contents still in there belonged to the Jacksons.
The tour of the mansion's interior with its beautiful furniture, fittings, decoration and numerous shelves of books is excellent with a wealth of information given by the docents. They are not adverse to answering any questions either, no matter how controversial.
And he was quite a controversial character, a man of many contradictions.

The Jacksons were owners of around 45 slaves. One of the slave quarters remains and is known as Alfred's cabin. The ruins of the field quarters are to the north. We walked down there via the nature trail past the Springhouse to Muddy Spring and sat quietly in the sun among the foundations. Quite a different atmosphere now than then I would imagine.

Rachel and Andrew is also a great love story. Despite scandal surrounding their relationship with the inevitable political fallout, it never faltered. They are side by side in a Greek inspired tomb in the gardens of the Hermitage.
For our final night we looked for a better than normal restaurant. Rumours East seem to fit the bill. It's a wine bar that specializes in seafood. And they had quite an eclectic wine list. I ended up with a Vinho Verde from Portugal to go with my prawns and grits (nope, sorry, don't like the latter despite a number of attempts) and a Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain with my seared tuna. The co driver had fried green tomatoes as an appetizer and scallops as a main.
Good food, wine and pleasant surroundings was a good way to end the touring section of our trip.
Next stop would be Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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