Smoky Mountains to the Music city

Trip Start Dec 01, 2012
Trip End Dec 16, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This is going to be a long entry.

The Great Smoky Mountains are a part of the Appalachian Mountains and lie along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. It was about an hour long very beautiful drive from Asheville and I can bet that in summers it would be a very popular road for bikers. There are a lot of interesting Log cabin resorts on the way. 

The temperature constantly kept dropping along the way and when I stopped at Newfound Gap, it was too cold to get out of the car. Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass through the Smoky Mountains and is a way to access the very famous Appalachian trail. 

The Appalachian trail is one of the longest footpaths in the world with a total length of about 2100 miles. After coming all the way to it, I had to get on it to see how it is.  
 I was the only one stupid enough to venture out on the trail in that cold. The trees were frozen and there was absolutely nobody else on the trail. 
The trails itself is not too difficult to walk on, although it gets very rocky in places and sometimes climbing over some boulders is required. Smoky mountains have a very dense forest and it is very difficult to find places where you can get a clear view of the mountains. 

Smoky Mountains aren't called that for nothing. There are clouds constantly hovering around the peaks. Hence, the name. 

I took some pictures and then headed to the Music City, Nashville.  

I did not know what to expect of Nashville. The only things I knew about it were that it is famous for its country music scene and is a hub of many record labels. I reached there are about 7:30 in the evening after gaining one hour because of the time zone change.

I stayed near what is known as 'Printer's Alley' that I knew was a famous location for live music. I got out of the hotel at around 9 PM and my first reaction walking the streets was... "Oh, how nice". Nashville is a very well planned, very open, clean and walkable city. And it felt really safe to walk here around night.

I walked into "The Fiddle and the Steel Guitar Bar". A guy called "C J Wilder" & his friends were playing. While the streets looked empty outside, the bar was really crowded and hopping. It had one of the most sophisticated stage set-ups that I have seen for Amateur bands. C J Wilder was the bass player and the lead vocalist and this was his Debut CD night. It was very original and my thought was that these guys take their music seriously,


It was lucky to walk into that bar on the tuesday night because it was a Jam night and I soon found out talking to people that a lot of people standing around me are musicians. I hung around the bar until about 2 AM chatting to people. Met Vera - the drummer. Another one who when sang just blew me away. All along this, I forgot to eat at all and had a bit too many drinks and little did I know that it was going to bite me in the rear the next day.

Next morning was terrible. I felt very sick and after few attempts to get out, I finally decided that it is not a good idea to drive today and stayed in the hotel room until evening. Finally, I felt better in the evening and decided to check out rest of 'The District'. The district comprises of the certain areas of downtown including the Printer's alley and it is very impressive.

Every single bar/pub/restaurant features live music. The music all around is very country but people are very talented and everybody here is trying to make it big. The competition is stiff but they seem to have fun while struggling through it all. There are lot of Honky Tonk bars.

Something very interesting happened as I was walking down the street. I came across 'Tootsie's Orchid Lounge' that is a honky tonk bar. Now I already knew about Tootsie's and that everybody who has been a somebody in country music has played at Tootsie's. I could hear a band playing in there. So, I took out my phone and took a photo. And suddenly the band stopped playing and next thing I see is that the band members are peering out of the door and shouting 'Praveen !!" and "Come over..."

What the heck! How did they know my name? Anyway, I walked in and then I saw that CJ, who I met last night, was playing with the band. Mystery solved. I hung around the bar for a while listening to the guys play. It was very lively.

After a while, said my byes to the band and came back.

Shilpa tells me that this vacation looks like a music vacation and I won't disagree. However, it is impossible for a trip to southern american cities to not get influenced by music. Music forms a huge part of the culture here.

I leave for Memphis tomorrow and that will be the last music city that I visit. I have high hopes.
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