MUSIC JOURNALIST GOES TO MUSIC CITY

It had been almost nine years since my last vacation; that was with my family in 2013 at Myrtle Beach. I had also never been on a long vacation like that on my own as an adult. Vacation originally was not in the plans for this year as I figured we could save more money to go somewhere next year…but where to? Funnily enough, my friends in Kore Rozzik announced they were playing the first-ever Creatures Fest in Nashville at the end of May. My brain then went (word for word, f-bomb and all), “Fuck it. Let’s go to Nashville this year.”


THE DRIVE

Tennessee Welcome Center in Bristol, TN

The end of May came, and it was time to head out on this adventure with my partner of five years. I wish I could say the day leading up to our 12-hour drive was productive for packing and preparing to leave, but it was quite the opposite. I, to this day, have had a bunch of health problems pop up, so I ended up in the ER with some nausea lasting over 12 hours. (I wanted to make sure that my gallbladder was not infected or anything before I traveled so far away from home.) I got the clear from the ER doctor. We got home really late after midnight, so there was no sleep and only packing and eating dinner.

The drive itself was rough especially because I got zero sleep since Friday night into Saturday morning. (We left at 3 A.M. on Sunday.) Our drive was going straight through Pennsylvania, Virginia, and part of Tennessee. It was a pretty drive in some parts, from what I remember, but it was mostly monotonous when I was awake. We did stop to stretch sometimes, which did not quite help the exhaustion still. Our trip was a little longer because we needed to pull off to sleep; we got there eventually, though. (R.I.P. to my head, though, because I had some wicked vertigo after getting to the Airbnb.)


MUSEUMS ON BROADWAY

Most people in their twenties (including late twenties like myself) go to Broadway for the nightlife and music in the bars., which I did partake in a little bit. Our favorite part of going onto Broadway, however, was the plethora of museums within easy walking distance of each other and our parking garage we used the entire trip. It was a pretty touristy thing to do, but it was our first time in Nashville; I was okay with doing touristy things this time around because it was our very first time there, and we plan on going back to discover more about the city.

Our absolute favorite museum was the National Museum of African American Music on Fifth and Broadway. (It only opened in January of 2021, so this is a very new museum to the area.) There was so much information and visual stuff to read and observe that we spent at least a couple hours in there. The exhibits bring you through the beginning roots of ancient African music to gospel and blues all the way to modern music you hear on the radio today. To say being in there was humbling and educational is an understatement. I also thoroughly enjoyed the bracelet that they give you upon entry that you can use to save interactive music activities you can do on the touch screens at certain exhibits and also save music from artists you enjoyed and maybe never listened to before. (My time periods I saved were 1619-1720 for traditional African music, Jim Crow era 1878-1902, the Harlen Renaissance from 1920-1929, and postwar America from 1946-1960.)

Cord with the 45 wall at the Johnny Cash museum

Our second favorite museum stop was the Johnny Cash museum. Johnny Cash is one of Cord’s favorite musicians of all time, so he had an even better time in there than I did. It was a small museum in comparison to others, but you could tell it was made with a lot of love for the man. It had everything from letters and books from his time in the military to his awards, clothes, and even second home’s furniture. If you go to Nashville and are a fan of music in general (not even country), definitely take a stop here. We didn’t stop over because I could not eat anything there, but there is a cafe attached also to eat at when you are done walking through.

Our final museum stop in Nashville was the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. I am not going to lie to you at all; I do not care for country music much. I also do not know a ton about its history, which made me clueless about a lot of the names I saw going through exhibits. I found it to be pretty educational, nonetheless. When I did find things from people I knew, it was really neat. I probably would have enjoyed it a little more if we also got the recording studio tour, but there is always next time or other studios to tour.


CREATURES FEST

My friends’ merch table at Creatures Fest

Creatures Fest was a fun time and pretty surreal. I never thought I would see Peter Criss and Ace Frehley in the flesh since I never went to any other KISS-themed con, but there we were. I got to see those two and Bruce Kulick perform, watch John Corabi perform an acoustic set with story time bits, and I got to support my friends in the process. Ace’s performance disappointed me a bit, but his band played great nonetheless. It was still a great time.


EVENING AT THE OPRY

You read that right; even though I am not the biggest country music fan, I felt the need for us to experience a show at The Grand Ole Opry. I did not really know anyone on the lineup and was a bit upset that I missed The Beach Boys the night before because of Creatures Fest, but it was hard to not respect the significance of that night. I was able to witness not only a newcomer to the Opry performing for the very first time, but I was also able to witness two legendary country artists who have worked together perform also (Bill Anderson and Connie Smith).

If you go to Nashville and find a free night, the Opry is something you must check out at least once in your life.


COW HUGGING IN CHRISTIANA

This was bar-none my absolute favorite part of our trip. We made the $200.00 donation to The Gentle Barn in Christiana, TN to have an hour on their ranch petting their rescue cows. Quite a few of them were not ready for hugging, but we had fun with the few we could. (The huge guy with the blue fly mask is Captain, the girl with the yellow fly mask is Maybelle, and the guy with the green fly mask is Miles.)

Captain was sweet when he wanted to be. He took quite an interest in sniffing Cord because he always sniffs men wearing cowboy boots. (A little boy in his prior family always wore cowboy boots, so that would be why.) Maybelle and Miles were the absolute sweetest and most patient with us…well, me because I was way more fearless than my partner was. Maybelle and Miles are mother and son that were completely separated in different states for a year or so. Maybelle got so depressed that Gentle Barn pleaded with Miles’s owner to take him, and he was pulled out of line and saved from slaughter last-minute.

Cows are beautiful creatures. It was worth our generous donation, and I would love doing it again!



BROADWAY LIFE & SHENANIGANS

The first full evening of our trip, we went out on Broadway to explore a little bit. Cord really wanted to get himself some cowboy boots, so we hit up Boot Country for their Buy One, Get Two Free deal. He got himself two pairs of boots, and I actually managed to find a pretty snazzy pair of boots for myself. (I am such an old person at heart; who at my age uses the word “snazzy” unironically?) We also stopped off at Tin Roof to watch one of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games and one of the bands do rock covers.

The only other bar we stopped at for a few minutes during the day was Layla’s Honkey Tonk. (We tried Tootsie’s, but it was ridiculously packed.) Layla’s is a much smaller bar on the street, but we found it to be really cozy. The drinks were also a little bit cheaper, which is always nice. We really enjoyed Tin Roof, though, so I may or may not have gotten drunk on a Thursday night and hung out on Tin Roof’s roof until we had to go home so I could vomit and sleep…good times.


WAR HISTORY IN FRANKLIN

Visiting some of the more popular historical civil war spots in Franklin, TN was another one of our favorite parts of our trip. Our two stops we made were to the Carter House and Carnton. The Carter House was the site of the bloodiest melee battle of the Civil War with 18 innocent bystanders fearing for their lives in a basement for eight hours. (How scary that must have been since that basement felt very uncomfortable even for a couple minutes.) Carnton was a plantation mansion turned into a hospital when the Confederate troops were making their advance onto the Federal Army. It is also home to the largest Confederate soldier cemetery in the nation.

One of the eeriest yet coolest things about the house is how they kept as much of the house original as they could for preservation purposes. Some of the rooms had the original wood floors, which meant we were able to see the Civil War blood stains on them. It is sad that such bloody battles happened at all, but it is really neat being able to see the history. (I felt the same way about all of the slave living quarters we saw at both locations.)


Our trip to Nashville was a trip I will never forget, and I am excited to go back again someday to scour out some less touristy stuff to do.

Have you ever been to Nashville? Do you have a vacation of your own that was an amazing time that you want to share? Chat with me in the comments about your experiences!

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