Nashville is known for amazing talent, iconic bars and has been labeled “Nashvegas” for the swarms and crowds that flock there each year. Cre8tive reviews just had the pleasure of spending four days out there and we would like to think we experienced as much as we could in that limited time. We definitely want to plan a few more trips out that way to really take in the full experience.
Friday was a light day, because we didn’t land until the evening and then we needed to make a stop at Opry Mills for a few things plus dinner. We don’t know if we had been to a mall of this size in a long time. What a great selection of stores, including the outlet ones. We were able to find pretty much everything we needed there. Imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon a Claimjumper restaurant. Those are scattered throughout California and it was nice to see a familiar venue. We were somewhat disappointed though with the lack of root beer barrel candy and the food itself. Maybe this wasn’t the same restaurant we had out here. The pumpkin cheesecake was heavenly sinful though.
Saturday was packed with photoshoots, Tennessee style Mexican food, and then some shows at night. Our first stop of the evening was at Second Fiddle for a band called “Smoke N Guns.”
Smoke N Guns is typically a duo, made up of Alecia Arnall’s (blues/rock ‘n roll) and Lindsay Bowman’s pop/country voice their website boasts. Alecia Arnall (Osage Beach, MO) and Lindsay Bowman (Seaford, VA) formed Smoke ‘n Guns in 2011 after meeting in Nashville, TN.. They have had the privilege to open for many national acts, such as Dustin Lynch, The Oak Ridge Boys, Mark Wills, Blackberry Smoke, and Collin Raye. In June 2014, Smoke ‘n Guns released their EP, “Shoulda Known.” Imagine our disappointment, when we walked in to only one singer. We’re not sure why powerhouse Alecia wasn’t there, but Lindsay did a great job keeping the place packed on her own. She engaged the crowd, and sang quite a few fan favorites, including the ever popular “Shake it off” by Taylor Swift. You can view more about this band at their website.
After leaving the Second Fiddle, we had a hard time deciding where to go next. Walking down the strip with all of the neons can get a little confusing especially with so many bands.
We knew that places such as The Stage, Honkytonk Central, Whiskey Bent and Tootsies were calling our name but first we had to eat. After grabbing a quick hot dog at one of the local carts, we decided to head into The Stage. It was definitely crowded, and the decor was pretty awesome. The singer Jason James had a packed house, and sounded pretty great. Apparently, he’s another one of those über talented Georgia born singers that have made their way to Nashville. It was so crowded in there though, that after hanging out for a little bit we decided to move on. We definitely wanted to go back there Sunday night when it was less crowded.
After The Stage, we tried to go into Tootsies, but apparently on a Saturday night it’s best to stay away from the first floor and was really crowded. Rather than deal with the drama of a ton of drunk people, we wandered in to Whiskey Bent. This was a cool place, and we met a few new friends in there that were celebrating a bachelorette party. We didn’t see the Bachelorette once, but two of her girlfriends joined us at the table for about the whole hour we were in there. The band that was playing hosted a singer named Michael Scott. With his tan leather jacket, and backwards baseball cap he looked a little more “bro country” than some of the other performers we had seen so far. Although his vocals were decent, one word of advice we would have for him is to not yell some of the songs. Having just worked with Cole Swindell the week prior, and hearing him live with “You aint worth the whiskey” – Michael Scott just didn’t do the song any justice. But, the ladies in the bar seemed to love him, and because we were the only sober ones in the place I think our expectations were higher for the Saturday night talent.
We decided to get out of the craziness and go find a place that hosted some history along with talent. We ended up in Printer’s Alley, which by the way is probably the coolest section of downtown at Fiddle and Steel. Imagine our surprise to hear that this place where Rascal Flatts got their start would be closing down to make room for some development. It’s really disappointing. The bar itself was old, not overly crowded and we found our way to a great little booth in the back corner. The band onstage was a group of seasoned musicians who played to perfection in addition to keeping a beautiful tone. This was your traditional country music of years gone by, a great and much-needed break from songs about pickup trucks, dirt roads and bikini top wearing women. The lead singer was Colton Steele, Jack Hansel was on bass, Travis Mobley was on keyboard, Dennis Caulk on the drums and Ernie Fair on guitar. It was so great to see the regulars two stepping and having a great time. We stayed there for quite a while before turning in for the night. Before we left though, we had to try the doors of The Ryman at midnight. Of course, they didn’t open, but it wouldn’t stop us from trying again.
All in all, the night was a great one. The experience was different, although it wasn’t as impressive as we expected. It looked a lot like our downtown in San Diego, complete with Horse drawn carriages, pedicabs and homeless strewn here and there. There were a lot more trees, and quite a few more country bars – but overall, I think we expected something on a larger scale. Because of the multiple comparisons to Vegas, we were expecting that Vegas look and feel. Aside from the singers and shows, flocks of out of towners looking to party, and what happens here stays here attitude I would say those are the only comparisons that add up. The nostalgia coupled with amazing talent in such a small area was what we were most impressed by. We spoke with a lot of musicians who told us some of the seedy, underbelly stories of the town, which is to be expected in a cutthroat world of music. But, with a city large in size, it’s still small enough where everyone knows everyone and its like high school with the rumors and lies that get spread just to make it top. Even the female bartenders chase after the singers who are making a name for themselves, and most of them sing themselves. One of the singers we spoke with who is concentrating on his writing now even stated that he tries to stay out of that scene as much as possible and doesn’t date other musicians because he used to be one. You gotta hand it to these musicians who work hard day and night to stay there and try to make a name for themselves. The talent overall was much more impressive than anywhere we have been. The weather was perfect, although a little chilly at night for us California folk, and overall it was very clean. We definitely want to make another trip out as a few days just wasn’t long enough to see everything we wanted to see.
We hope you have enjoyed our first part of our Nashville recap. We found some of the best talent we had seen on Sunday and Monday with acts like Sara Avalos, Ben Mathis, Chris Weaver, and Grant Meredith of “Party Down South Fame.” Heck, even the musician at the airport Tootsies lounge as we were leaving was top-notch.