Ernest Tubb Record Shop

This black and white image of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop was taken from Nashville’s busy Broadway Street. The store (and it’s fabulous sign) is a landmark and something I love to look for when I’m in town.

Founded by Grand Ole Opry star Ernest Tubb in 1947, it feels a bit like a country music time capsule.

They sell music, books and memorabilia. Plus, the service is good and they’re always happy to chat. Go support them if you’re in town.

Patsy Cline Museum

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Let’s go back to Nashville, shall we?

One of the best decisions I made during my last visit to Nashville was to check out the Patsy Cline Museum. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing to go there. My original plan to tour the Ryman was impeded by a matinee interfering with afternoon tours. There are  many museums in town but I couldn’t get out of my head the idea that I needed to see the Patsy Cline Museum.

It’s on the second floor of the Johnny Cash Museum. By the way, that one was a madhouse – noisy and with people standing everywhere. In comparison, the Patsy museum was a bastion of quiet, sophistication and the smooth sounds of Patsy’s voice.

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This isn’t a large museum but it’s extremely well done and there appears to be room for growth as they acquire more pieces for the collection. They have some stage costumes (made by her mother and beautifully done), furnishings from her her home and even a booth from the soda fountain where she worked as a young woman. Costume jewelry, the watch she was wearing when she died and lots of music can be found here.

A jukebox plays “Crazy” on a loop and a video tells her life story.

It’s all very well done and tells her story, which is quite old now, in a way that feels timeless – much like her music.

I was torn because the experience was so pleasant with only a handful of other visitors in the museum during my visit while other attractions like the Cash museum downstairs, had lines out the door. I hope their attendance picks up and that they’re able to survive. The thought of a Patsy Cline museum not surviving in Nasvhille is shameful.

Want to go? Get more details here.

 

 

Magic At RCA Studio B

Hall of fame and Studio B (110)

Here I am sitting at the famed Steinway Piano at RCA Studio B. For a music nerd like me, this was practically a religious experience.  If you’re not familiar with the sign, I made it for my trip to Utah last summer and I still pull it out on my trips.

Once in a while you have a vacation experience that is so special, so magical that it becomes the most important memory of the trip.

One priority for the weekend was to tour the famed RCA Studio B. Tours begin at the Country Music Hall of Fame where you hop on a bus with a small group and are transported to this nondescript little building on Music Row. Along the way, the tour guide talks about the construction and purpose of the studio.

It was here that the infamous Nashville Sound was created in the sixties. Groundbreaking work was done in this studio and it continues to produce popular music today.

The former reception area is the first stop on the tour. In this space you learn about some of the musicians and the songs recorded here – countless entertainers and songs you would recognize and a few you may not. I own a number of LPs that hang on the wall here.

Hall of fame and Studio B (105)Roy Orbison wasn’t an RCA musician but he recorded a good bit at Studio B. According to our tour guide, his iconic voice was drowned out by all the instruments so they used a coat rack to create a sort of isolation booth. The guide claims this was possibly the world’s first isolation booth. They have a rare photo of Roy – you can see the coat rack in the background, he’s singing and he’s holding his glasses. He was rarely seen not wearing the glasses.

They tell you stories like this and play music to supplement those stories. And that’s all great but the magic happens when you go into the actual recording studio. Inside, you get lots of stories about Elvis who recorded countless albums here.

Here you learn about the lighting the Studio installed because Elvis requested it. These multi-colored lights can be isolated to change the mood of the room. The guide uses those lights to change the mood in the room for each song.

Here the guide plays iconic songs that were recorded in this room. 

The piano pictured above is a Steinway that can be heard on songs like Elvis’  “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date.” In fact, during the early years of his career Floyd Cramer worked as a studio musician with RCA’s “A Team” which provided studio music for a lot of the songs recorded here.

I happen to love Floyd Cramer so it was kind of a thrill to sit at this piano.

I also happen to love Elvis and the tour guide gave a lot of attention to Elvis’ experiences and work in this studio. Elvis played that Steinway was well.

My favorite Nashville moment came here when our guide described how Elvis recorded “Are You Lonesome Tonight”  – in the dark. So the guide turned out the lights and turned up the song and we all sat in complete darkness and experienced this moment with this song in a way that felt sacred.

It gave me chills. 

In fact, I hope to carry this memory for the rest of my life and to always be transported back to that time and place whenever I hear this song.

The musical history of this place is fascinating but I won’t attempt to tell you more. Instead, you can learn more here.

It should go without saying that this tour was worth every penny and I would do it again if I had a chance.

PS: If you wonder what’s up with the sign I’m holding, read all about it here! 

 

My Brand Of Nashville Fun

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I told you yesterday that I took my mother to Nashville for the weekend to visit her twin brother and his wife. We drove down Friday morning and came home Sunday afternoon. All told, we had about two days to see the sights.

Almost everyone I know goes to Nashville for the bars and the partying. This is not my scene. In fact, I have a friend who never misses an opportunity to remind me that I’m a nerd. It’s not much of an insult since I wave that nerd flag proudly. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I spent more time in museums than in bars.

My first piece of advice is that if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of crowds and parties, don’t go on a weekend. I was there a few years ago and had an amazing experience mid to late week. This weekend was really busy.

On Saturday my mother went sightseeing with her family while I headed out for my own brand of nerd fun. I was wandering down Broadway just after 8 a.m. There were only a handful of cars on the street and even fewer pedestrians.

 

Downtown Nashville (7)

It was amazing. 

I passed the morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame and touring RCA Studio B. The Hall of Fame is a fun place to visit on a rainy day. Depending on your interest in country music, you can literally spend as much or as little time here as you like. I’ve been before so I didn’t feel compelled to dwell here too long but there are some interesting artifacts, pictures and stories to keep you occupied.

Right now there is a fascinating exhibition about Emmylou Harris that I thoroughly enjoyed. Her presence is felt all over this town and it was helpful to get an overview of her life and career before venturing through the city. One place you’ll learn a lot about her is the Ryman Auditorium which she is credited with saving from ruin. I’ll tell you that story another day.

I’ll leave you with a few Hall of Fame pictures.

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Interested? You can learn more at the Country Music Hall of Fame website.

 

 

Home From Adventure

I took my mother on an adventure this weekend! We visited her twin brother and his wife in Nashville. While it was just a long weekend away, we packed a lot into our weekend and had a nice time. I have a lot to say and will share more later!

Sleep In A Wigwam

Have you ever slept in a wigwam?

I have.

Years ago I went on a road trip through Tennessee with my then boyfriend. We spent half the week in Memphis where we stayed in an antebellum mansion turned b&b and then the other half of the week in Nashville where we stayed in an ultra modern hotel.

But first, we stopped at the National Corvette Museum at Bowling Green, Kentucky and then spent the night at the Wigwam Village motel in nearby Cave City.

This place is exactly as the name suggests- a motel that consists of a collection of wigwams.

Built in 1937, during the rise of the automobile, this motel represents a golden era of travel in America and true roadside kitsch.

At one time, there were seven of these wigwam villages all over the country. Today there remain only three – in Kentucky, Arizona and California.

The wigwam we stayed in, pictured above, felt a bit like a time capsule. Not many changes had been made over the decades. I loved the tile work and the unusual shape of the room. I felt like an adventurer here.

However, I feel it necessary to stop and say something.

This is a roadside motel with a fun hook that makes it an attraction. It wasn’t an especially nice place to stay.

I am so glad to say that I’ve stayed here but am not sure I would go back. Maybe if it was just for the night …..or maybe for some interior pictures which I evidently forgot to take the first time!

However, by no stretch of the imagination do I want you to read this as a no-strings-attached endorsement. If you like kitsch and if you’re in love with the idea of staying in a place so iconic, it may be a good fit for you.

If you’re looking for a nice hotel with a lot of modern amenities or a shower head that doesn’t resemble an outdoor spigot in a cramped, slanted shower, you may just drive by for pictures.

Speaking of pictures, isn’t this sign fabulous? I’m such a sucker for unique signage!

Intrigued? You can read the full history of the Wigwam Villages by clicking this link. You’ll also find rates and reservation info for the Kentucky wigwams where I stayed.

Let me know if you go! I would love to hear about your experience!