Now, I grew up near Basingstoke, a suburban English town famous for roundabouts and an impressive AA building. I was however, raised on country music. My Mum used to play it while ironing. My Dad used to play cassettes in our many and various Fords from a mk II Cortina to a Mk 3 Sierra Sapphire. I remember gruff cowboy voices singing about county cowards and angelic lady voices spelling out all the hurtful words and reprimanding saucepot boyfriend stealers like Jolene and Angie Baby.
And so, on a Friday in August when my family and I found ourselves on the 4-hour journey from Cincinnati to Nashville, (otherwise known as Music City) for the weekend, I was quite excited, albeit with no massive expectations of any magical experience. If I’m honest I was hoping to bump into Dolly Parton.
Nashville however, turned out to be the kind of place, which, should I have my time again, I would consider for the following circumstances:
- A hen party (when most of the gals you hang out with are of a fairly open mind)
- Any notable birthday party from 30 onwards (not sure a Millennial would get it)
- Any event where going a bit wild might be on the cards (Cowgirl/boy aspirations are key, but then admit it, who doesn’t actually have one)
Our first day there began with a search for a breakfast establishment. You know you are in a party town when there are live bands at this time. There we were, Mum, Dad and 2 kids under 7 on the corner of what we now know is the famous Broadway and 2nd Avenue at 10 am with music everywhere intermingled with a row of shops selling everything a budding cowgirl or boy might need.
Of course I needed some cowboy boots. On entering any one of these shops you would be hit by an overpowering smell of leather and a not insignificant hint of testosterone. The man who sold me my pair took great pleasure in telling us he loved Britain because he used to be a roadie for a band from Bir-ming-haaaam.
“What Black Sabbath?” we said. “No, Motörhead” he replied, “Do you know Lemmy?” RESPECT! We thought and parted happily with a not inexpensive pair of rather fabulous boots.
We then decided that cowboy hats were needed all round. We were then Nashville ready.
As the day progressed the empty roads began to fill with cycle powered booze buses full of aforementioned parties. The interesting thing was, with a country music soundtrack, this was all very chilled and soothing. At no point did we fear for our children’s innocence, mostly we vowed to come back with a babysitting so we could lose ours.
In what seemed like a twist of fate, but became evident was much more of a regular occurrence, it turned out there was a rather large free music festival in the town square. We got to see Sheryl Crow, who was incredibly awesome and it seemed was responsible for way more great tunes than I happened to remember.
So, Brit friends, if you were looking for a swinging party destination with a Honky Tonk, country music vibe, Nashville might very well be for you.
And if you’re not quite convinced – here are 5 more reasons:
- If you are serious about finding Dolly, you might find her very own theme park, which is only a couple of hours away. (www.dollywood.com)
- If you are serious about Whiskey, you can find the original Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchberg, only 3 hours away (www.jackdaniels.com)
- You can indulge your inner ring of fire at the Johnny Cash museum (www.johnnycashmuseum.com)
- You can put yourself amongst the largest collection of country music artefacts in the world in a building which, viewed from the air, is a bass clef at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum (countrymusichalloffame.org)
- Take breakfast or lunch at the famed Biscuit Love, home of the Bonut (yes it’s a cross between a biscuit (American meaning, which is more like a scone) and a donut), so that’s fried biscuit dough, lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. And if that’s not Honky Tonk I don’t know what is.