The Bluebird Cafe is a small acoustic music venue a few miles from Nashville’s downtown, and Scott had recommended we try to get in on Friday or Saturday night for a songwriters circle. He stressed the word “try”, because of the size and popularity of the venue. The venue hosts some of Nashville’s greatest songwriters, the ones that write songs for the famous names heard on the radio. If you haven’t made reservations in advance there are some seats for walk-ins but you have to show up more than an hour in advance to line-up. To make matters worse the venue has been featured on the series “Nashville”, a very popular show that we’ve never seen. We showed up an hour in advance, to find about twelve people in front of us in the line. What we found out a few minutes later was that they had already filled the walk-in seats and the people in line were waiting to see if any reservations wouldn’t show up. Needless to say we didn’t get into the Blue Bird, but we did listen to a couple songs while we hopefully waited in line. We did however meet a “Jewish Bluesman” (as he calls himself) in the line-up named Saul Kaye, we had a good chat with him, and he gave us the name of a bar he’d be playing at on Monday if we were still around.
Saturday was the big Grand Ole Opry Show we’ve been looking forward to for over a month, and we went down to the box office early to claim our tickets. While looking around their gift show we found a CD section of “Now Playing” and noticed that the Old Crow Medicine Show (one of our favorite bands) had a CD in there. Of course we assumed that we had just missed them play, and dismissed the idea that they may be playing at the show we were going to.
Our next stop was the Opryland Hotel, which we heard from Scott was at least worth a walk through. We however had no idea what we were walking into, certainly not expecting extravagant gardens surrounding various restaurant bars, multilevel walkways, riverboat rides, and giant glass dome ceilings. We spent about a half hour walking around and it was hard to imagine what it would be like to stay there.
The Grand Ole Opry began with the famous introduction by a Minnie Pearl lookalike: “Howdeeeeeee!” The red curtain rose and the live radio show began. The first act was Riders in the Sky, the group who had written the theme song for Woody in Toy Story. They were absolutely hilarious, decked out in chaps, flashy western shirts, cowboy boots and hats. From there on there was only magic… the Opry show was absolutely incredible. We loved how the whole show works: there are four sections, and one artist is the host for each one. Each artist or band gets to play three songs, and they often play together. There honestly wasn’t one bad act; everyone who performed was extremely talented, especially Ricky Skaggs… and OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW. It turns out they were a last minute addition to the show we were going to, and we couldn’t have been more excited. They played three songs of their own, and then Ricky Skaggs came up and played one with them. When the curtain rose after it was finished we could barely get out of our seats because we didn’t want to believe it was over.
We spent the next few days checking out downtown Nashville; the honky tonks, the boot stores, the record shops, and the very talented street buskers on each street corner. We popped into a few of the bars to enjoy some country music, and were pretty impressed that you can’t find a bad musician in Nashville. Everyone is a singer/songwriter/musician there, and the competition is steep. We also stopped in to Saul Kaye’s show on Monday, he was great, and the Jewish blues are a force to be reckoned with!
We were excited to take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium before we left. The Ryman is where the original Grand Ole Opry used to take place, and it’s where many famous artists today have performed, including some of our favorites like Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Levon Helm, and The Avett Brothers. While we were there, we stopped in the original box office to record a song! Check out our music page to hear our song “A Troubling Place.”
Check back soon to hear about our stay waaaay up in the Smoky Mountains, and our visit in Asheville!