Nashville was exciting in a few ways, it was the true beginning of our journey out of the familiar and it was one of the stops I was most looking forward to. Leaving McLean was driving into the unknown. We drove out of the suburbs and into the Virginia countryside, which stretched on forever…then bled into the Tennessee countryside. Along the way, Trev tried his first Sonic meal, which was something he had been talking about ever since they started airing the commercials in Massachusetts. All three Massachusetts locations were too far away, so we went all the way to Tennessee to have mediocre fast food.
My favorite dog moment also happened during this drive. Those of you who know our dogs know that they get along fine but mostly ignore each other. Hobbes bumps Buffy around and she puts up with it. Buffy had a rough first day in Virginia. Her hips locked up and she had trouble doing much walking at all. They both love a car ride, but I think at this point in the trip they were still a little unsure of what was going on; they were just taking comfort in being together. The result was some unprecedented dog snuggling.
We arrived in East Nashville at night, which is across the river from the main city area. I found a great little cabin on airbnb that had a huge fenced in backyard for the dogs. Trev thought it looked creepy from the outside (and he wasn’t completely wrong) but the inside was really nice and the backyard was amazing. It made the transition a little easier for the dogs, which I think they really needed.
The next morning we got up and went straight for breakfast. We were originally going to check out TSwift’s favorite breakfast spot, Fido, but non-fat half-caf super espresso and an organic steel-cut free-range acai berry oatmeal smoothie weren’t exactly what we were looking for. (Fun fact, when I googled ‘hipster coffee shop Nashville,’ Fido popped up). We went down the street to the Pancake Pantry and it did not disappoint. They have 23 varieties of pancakes and a constant line around the corner. Wait in it. You will not regret your decision. I got the sweet potato pancakes, which came with a special cinnamon sugar maple syrup. Those of you who know me know I’m not a big breakfast person but these pancakes, well, they could persuade me to join the breakfast devoted.
If you’re into reading like me, it’s worth checking out the bookstore across the street. It’s a cute little place called BookManBookWoman Books and it sells new and used books in just about every genre. I picked up a copy of Southern Cross the Dog, which I’d been meaning to read for a while. It seemed appropriate to finally purchase it in the south. One thing I really regret not getting to while we were in town is Parnassus Books, Ann Patchett’s book store.
After breakfast we checked off my number one Nashville must-do: Third Man Records. For anyone unfamiliar, Third Man is Jack White’s music label. The label was started in Detroit in 2001 as a way to release some White Stripes 45s, then grew like crazy and thrived. A Nashville storefront opened in 2009. (Fangirl warning!) I think Jack White is a modern-day musical genius in an age when there are barely any real, straight-up rock acts left. He is odd and insanely talented and 100 percent the real deal. If you’re a fan or at all interested in learning more about Jack White and Third Man, this article will give you a small window into his brain. If you want a walkthrough of the store, check out this video from the A.V. Club.
The Third Man storefront was very cool. If you didn’t know where it was, you’d never find it. It’s buried in an industrial neighborhood that we actually drove past once before we found the store. It’s a hodgepodge of the obvious – LPs and merch, and the less so – a photo booth and a recoding booth. We had some fun printing our own photo strip, playing with the Third Man viewfinder, and looking through all the records. I couldn’t leave without a little souvenir, so I got myself a super cool Third Man baseball tee.
After Third Man, we decided it was time to have the quintessential Music City experience, so we hit the honky-tonks on Broadway. We basically barhopped the rest of our time there, which worked out because we happened to be there on St. Patrick’s Day. I think the most fun part of the Nashville experience was live music in every bar. In Boston you can see a crappy cover band in a bar any weekend, but this was good, live, original music in every bar. On Broadway we went to Whiskey Bent Saloon, which had a great country duo playing. We went to the Back Alley Diner for dinner and saw some really talented musicians, in particular we liked Kennedy Blake. Remember, we saw her before she was famous! And then we stopped off at Puckett’s, where a very good semi-famous singer-songwriter was playing (I really wish I had taken notes on names).
I should point out that neither Trev or I are country music fans, so I’m sure some of the Nashville experience was lost on us. There were a whole bunch of things we just weren’t all that interested in seeing as a result, like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ol Opry. We still had a lot of fun though. Nashville is worth visiting for any music fan, but it’s Mecca for country music fans. For one day, I think we fit a good amount in and saw a lot. It would have been worth it for Third Man and the pancakes alone, the good music was just a bonus.