Welcome to Smashville! Part One
Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
52Trip End Sep 05, 2010
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On the Road to Tennessee - The Volunteer State
Well the 3 ½ hour drive to Nashville was pretty smooth, all things considered. We saw a lot of signs warning of road closures and flash flooding, and while it was still raining for a good portion of the drive, we did not hit any problems fortunately.
We were curious to see what Nashville would bring – of course, there is plenty of hype surrounding Music City's famous tuneful history. We were bracing ourselves for a full assault of cowboy rowdiness and honky tonk mayhem. But as we read on the way down, Nashville is also home to the most churches per capita in the US and has a thriving Bible publishing industry. Would the combo be a musical match made, literally in Heaven? (that cheesy line is for you, English Department)
Turns out it was. We didn’t see any Bibles being thumped as we did in Louisville, but the city is an interesting blend of blazing neon bars alongside churches on every corner – some beautiful old ones as well as some more, er, modern ones such as the impressive Nashville First Baptist Church: an enormous multi-story brick building that looked more like a sprawling warehouse/office complex than anything else, with a super-sized parking lot to match.
However, the Holy/bar mix makes for an interesting city in look and in feel. As we strolled around Broadway on Sunday night, the streets were alive with the songs both rockin’ and wailin’ – many giving thanks to the Lord for all good things in life –the green, green grass, the sun above, and of course, them country women.
Viva Nash Vegas
We checked out Robert’s Western World and rocked out to the Travis Mann band. Their through-the-roof energy matched the electric neon vibe of the town, and we watched in awe as they played song after song after song, bouncing all over the stage, belting out each note, even creating precarious human-bass pyramids while still blasting tunes – check out the videos below, wild stuff. We liked them so much we bought their CD, Poverty Sucks with original tracks such as, "Date Your Daughter" and “Hell Yes! I Cheated”.
Later we rolled into Tootsies Orchid Lounge a few doors down to see what else was happening around town. More cowboys, more music and more mayhem! We caught the tail end of one band and then another one soon jumped up to keep the music, and drinking, going. The tradition at Tootsies is apparently the “Hawllah an’ Swallah”: The singer counts out 1-2-3 and everyone raises a glass and Haaaaawllahs! then you take that glass or bottle and swig down a nice big Swallah.
Amazingly, we ran into some recent friends we had met at the Derby – a group of guys from Mariland who had managed to sweet talk/sneak walk their way from the infield into Millionaires Row and ended up winning a thousand bucks on a long shot. They had mentioned they’d be in Nashville on Sunday, and we joked about meeting for a beer so it was funny to run into them. Strangely, it feels huge driving across these states, but tiny once you hit the cities.
The second group (no idea who they were) was led a by a charismatic singer who sure knew how to work the crowd. His well-received appeal was particularly impressive, as Matt pointed out the male-female ratio was about 10:1, yet this cowboy still managed to have just about every woman in the place make their way to the stage - or bar as you can see - to offer up their twenty dollar bills in exchange for a personal song request (and a dreamy smile).
So, after a an evening of Pub Crawling in Nashville, I have come up with the most important bar etiquette and enjoyment tips for anyone planning to spend a night, in the words of the Travis Mann Band, “getting drunk and making bad decisions” in Nashville:
The Super Seven Commandments of Nash Vegas
1. Keep your eyes open for specials. Nashville has plenty, and more often than not they involve PBR.
2. It is perfectly acceptable – and apparently recommended - to bring your own beer coolie/cozy to the bar. The locals looked at me in bewilderment when I asked to take a photo of their beer accessories, I had to explain I was from Canada and we don’t really have trouble keeping our beer cold.
3.Guns are a no-no....
4....But bringing your own booze is okay, as long as it is integrated into your fashion statement. Matt was pretty impressed with this accessory and took almost as many photos of the hottie cowboy’s tight jeans as the lady in the leopard-print tank top next to us.
5. A beer bottle will actually fit comfortably in your back pocket if you need your hands free to carry a round of shots. I don’t have photo evidence of this one, I was feeling like we were spending a bit too much time checking out people’s bums, but trust me.
6. You should never dance on the bar at Tootsies
7. Oh wait – yes you should.