Inside The Honky Tonks & More Fun In Music City
I’m originally from Tennessee – Knoxville to be precise – but I had never really spent any time in our state’s capitol city.
So one time, on my way back home to visit my family from where I now live in Los Angeles, I decided to stop in Music City. American Airlines has direct flights there from LAX and after a couple of days there, my parents would simply make the three-hour drive to take me to K-town.
Plus, I had a good friend from L.A., who had recently moved there, and I would spend some time with her.
But first, I was by myself and that’s the way I wanted it. I wanted to get to know Nashville on my own and that meant to go visit those honky tonks on Broadway.
So here’s my report and impressions on my home state’s capitol city.
The thing that stood out to me the most was those honky tonks. I absolutely loved them.
For starters, there’s about a dozen of them. If you’re wondering exactly what a honky tonk is, by the way, it’s just an old Southern part country, part redneck term for a bar with a band. Technically, it’s an old and well-worn dive but the term pretty much describes the bars on Broadway and Second Ave.
My favorite place was the oldest of them all, Tootsie’s. It consistently had the best bands and a true you could really let out a “hollar and a swallar” in this place. The bar itself was a dive. But that’s okay, of course.
My second favorite place was the biggest and nicest bar, a palace compared to Tootsie’s. The Stage had a big stage and it was almost like being at a concert.
All the honky tonks have free admission, by the way. If you liked the band, you tipped the band. If you don’t tip the band won’t be around for long because at most places, that’s how they make their money. They are not paid by the bar.
You can read my complete guide to Nashville’s downtown and honkey tonks here.
But there’s more to Nashville than its bars and live music, so the next day I headed out on foot to check out downtown.
My first stop was the state capitol building. I presented myself to the security guard and told him – in very confident words – that I was a Tennessee native and by golly, I wanted to walk around my state’s capitol building.
“Sure, go ahead,” he said in a very friendly tone. I had kind of expected some type of resistance.
Turns out, I had the place all to myself. The politicians were on break (or perhaps at the honky tonks) so I just had a look about the place. I opened a few doors – well, why not, right – and one time wound up in the big room where they all meet to decided important issues. I felt like leaving some suggestions on a few desks, but did not have any spare paper with me, so the legislators were spared my comments on how to improve the state.
After that, I went to visit the Ryman Auditorium. This held a special place to me because as a kid, my dad would listen to the Grand ‘Ol Opry the way some Southerners listen to a preacher. We even went to it one time, tho I was too young to remember anything about it.
I did not take the tour ($12.50) but that’s okay because I visited the Ernest Tubb Museum and the Charlie Daniels Museum for free. I walked into the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame where I saw a wall filled with gold records, but balked at paying $19.95 for the tour.
I preferred to hear live bands and have a few beers later back in the honky tonks. Which I did, of course.
Overall, I spent two nights and a day in downtown Nashville. I throughly enjoyed my time there and as a native Tennessean can proudly say that we have a great – and fun – state capitol city.