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Nashville – Day 3

Hank – We used the rental car today to visit The Grand Ole Opry, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and run some errands.

The Grand Ole Opry was a great visit. It’s the site of a country music show that started as a barn dance radio show back in 1925. There’s a lot of history in that building. The tour started off with an emotional video of what it means to become a member and includes several times when artists who just finished performing were invited to become a member. I was not aware how few memberships there are. Just over 200.

There’s a circle of oak floor on the stage that was taken from Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s first long term home, and placed here when the current building was constructed in 1973-74.

Roy Acuff, the King of Country Music, was a long time member of the Opry. After his wife passed away, he moved into a house next door to the Opry so he wouldn’t have to travel so far to continue performing. He stayed there until he passed in 1992 at 89 years old.

We had a 90-minute drive to Lynchburg, the home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery. If whiskey is an interest then this is a very informative tour. We got to see how it’s made and what makes it a Tennessee Whiskey, which is essentially the process used by Jack Daniel as apparently taught to him by Nathan Green.

During our tour they were just cooling down a new batch of charcoal used for filtering the whiskey. The filtering vats are 14 feet deep and contain 10 feet of packed sugar maple charcoal. The distilled moonshine is trickled in and takes five days to work its way out. Then it’s put in a barrel and stored in a barrel house for 4-7 years.

They make their charcoal on site but the white oak barrels are made in Louisville, KY. Barrels are used only once. Most of their barrels are shipped to Scotland where they’re used to make scotch.

Kathy – Another day of sightseeing in the Nashville, Tennessee area. The Grand Ole Opry was on my list of things to see and it did not disappoint. It was a very informative tour that we went on.

The tour took you on the path of a country music star as they walk into the building. The artists get checked in, practice their music, then go to the dressing rooms to get ready, they hang out in the “Family Room” (like a “Green Room” in show business) with other musicians while eating and drinking, and finally they walk out on the Grand Ole Opry stage and perform. Throughout the tour you see lots of pictures and memorabilia of performers over the years.

In May 2010 the Grand Ole Opry was under ten feet of water due to the flooding of the nearby Cumberland River. Much of the stage, pews and instruments were destroyed. The shows continued to go on though. They quickly found an alternative venue in Downtown Nashville, scraped up enough equipment and instruments to perform, and gave out hand printed tickets. People came together and made it work…which is what the Grand Ole Opry has done since 1925. It took four months and $20 million dollars for the renovations to be completed and they reopen their doors in September 2010.

As we walked on the Grand Ole Opry stage and saw the 4,400 seats, it made me think of the artists and how they must feel being up there performing in a place with such a rich history. Kinda cool. I was hoping we could see a performance, but the shows are sold out. Too bad, guess we will have to come back some time. 😊

The Jack Daniel’s Distillery was a must to visit since it is Hank’s alcoholic beverage of choice. It was pretty interesting to learn the history of Jack Daniel and how he started making whiskey at such an early age. He was the youngest of ten children. His mother died shortly after his birth due to pregnancy related complications. His dad remarried and he didn’t like his stepmother so Jack left home at age six. He befriended and worked for Reverend Dan Call who made whiskey during the week and preached on Sundays. A black man named Nearest Green also worked for Reverend Dan Call and taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

Eventually Reverend Dan Call’s congregation told him he needs to be either a preacher or a whiskey maker but he had to choose. He chose to preach and sold his distillery to Jack Daniel at age 13. Jack started making whiskey at age 16, and trademarked his beverage at 25 years of age.

Jack Daniel was known as a fine gentleman and he always took off his hat if women were present. He never married or had children. He died at 65 years old after kicking his safe (because he could not remember the combination) and injured his toe which lead to gangrene setting in and eventually causing his demise. Jack willed his company to his favorite nephew (who he taught the trade to) and he continued make the Tennessee Whiskey.

The tour was good and I learned more than enough about making whiskey. At the end of the tour it came time to taste the whiskey. Tasting is relatively new here. Lynchburg, Tennessee is a dry county meaning no liquor is sold in the county. However, a few years ago Jack Daniel’s Distillery somehow got an exception from the state legislature to allow tasting. So tasting it is! I am not a big fan of hard liquor. As you know by now, I mainly like wine. I decided to try to open my palette a bit and try this whiskey stuff. Well, the Gentleman Jack was not too bad (but I still prefer my wine). All the other whiskey tastings were gross! It was all so strong, tasted nasty, and burned my mouth and throat. I guess you can say the tour was good, but I still prefer wine over whiskey. 🥃 😬🍷😊

A couple of notes…

If you would like to view older blog entries please click on the months below:

  • May 2018
  • June 2018
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  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
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  • February 2019
  • March 2019
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  • If you would like to comment on a blog post, please click on the post title (or header), scroll to the bottom and you will then see the comments section where you can add your thoughts. We look forward to your comment and encouraging words. Thank you!
  • If you would like to see our current location click here: Current Location where you can see our daily travels.
  • To see all the photos related to a blog post, simply click on one of the photos and it will move over (either to the left or right) to the next photo.
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Nashville – Day 2

Hank – First up today was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I was very impressed with the place, so much so that I liked it better than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The museum has a lot of depth, covering musicians going back to the early 1900s. There are many who some may think deserve more display space due to their stardom but in doing so the museum would be forced to leave out lesser known musicians who still made significant contributions. So I would visit with an expectation of learning about musicians you may not be familiar with.

After taking an early afternoon break we went to the Johnny Cash Museum. Now there’s a comprehensive display of his entire life. Cash’s musical accomplishments top practically every star of every genre.

I was not aware he was born J.R. Cash. When he joined the Air Force in 1950 he was told he could not use his given initials as his first name. So he requested a new birth certificate with the first name of John on it. Years later he started using Johnny.

Back in 1982, when I was a Law Enforcement Security Policeman in the Air Force, I visited the AF Security Police Museum at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. I remember there was a photo of Johnny Cash on the wall. There was some text stating that “I Walk The Line” was inspired by his time as a security policeman guarding aircraft. It’s a perfectly believable but untrue story and I hope they’ve removed that. Cash wasn’t in the security police. He was in the security services as a radio operator intercepting and transcribing radio transmissions. And now I know.

After soaking in Cash we took a walk over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, a 3100+ foot bridge that crosses the Cumberland River next to downtown Nashville. The bridge was built in the 1920s. It was closed to vehicle traffic in 1998 and refurbished for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only.

We had heard about a fancy men’s bathroom at the Hermitage Hotel so we walked there to check it out. It’s such a tourist thing that they allow women to go in. It’s very unique and it’s awesome if you like lime green.

After dinner we walked to The Station Inn. It’s a small place that has live bluegrass music every night. Seating is limited so it’s first come first serve and they open at 7:00. We arrived around a quarter til. There was an older gentleman sitting on a bench outside. I asked if this was the line. He laughed. We struck up a conversation and I learned he was from Norway. He visits the U.S. every one or two years to explore music. This trip was a gift from his wife and sons, none whom like country music. He’s been driving around the South for five weeks now. He flies home on Wednesday. He said his name is Helge. Then he pulls his driver’s license out and says his last name is a little more difficult. I looked at the name and took a guess at how to pronounce Bleikvassfors and to his and my amazement I got it right. He told us this was a great place for music. He’s been here before.

Right before the doors opened we saw a sign that disappointed us. They open at 7:00 but the music doesn’t start until 9:00. Basically you drink beer until the show starts. We have an early start planned for tomorrow so we skipped it. Maybe tomorrow night.

We walked back downtown and grabbed a table at the Margaritaville bar where we had a couple of drinks and listened to Lexi Lew, who put on a good show. That young lady had a bank of effects pedals that she skillfully used to create loops and build each song. The sound was great especially since she was doing pop songs. I prefer the person and their instrument for a more personal feel but I still enjoyed her show.

Kathy – We got a ton of walking in today as began exploring Nashville, Tennessee. The Country Music Hall of Fame did a fantastic job of showing the entire continuum of country music artists up until now. I enjoyed learning lots of interesting facts about the different musicians. It was wonderful to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame but (unlike Hank) I still thought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio was better. Don’t get me wrong, both are really excellent museums and if you have a chance be sure to visit them.

The Johnny Cash Museum was outstanding. They displayed a beautiful tribute to this man. He grew up with little due to family poverty. Playing musical instruments and singing was a huge part of his early years. They discussed his young adult years as he rose to stardom and his many bouts with drug and alcohol abuse.

I didn’t realize Johnny Cash’s first marriage was to a gal he met in San Antonio, Texas while in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. They wrote many letters during his time in the military and they married just after Johnny was discharged from the Air Force. They had four girls and eventually divorced due to Johnny being on the road touring all the time and his addiction to drugs and alcohol. For some reason I thought June Carter was his only wife.

Johnny Cash and June Carter were both musicians who met at the Grand Ole Opry. They got together after his divorce. June was the one to help him with his many stents in rehab and to eventually recover from his drug and alcohol abuse. Johnny always felt she was his soul mate. After marrying they had one daughter together. They were married for 35 years until June passed away. Johnny felt he had nothing left to live for once June passed and he subsequently died four months later. There are lots of other interesting facts about Johnny Cash’s life at the museum. If you ever get a chance be sure to check this one out.

The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge was pretty cool. It sits up high over the water and you have great views of the city. We walked to the Hermitage Hotel because online they said there was one of the most famous and spectacular bathrooms in the world there. Well, don’t believe everything you read online. It was not that fancy. 😏

We got a couple more miles of walking in when we went to the Station Inn to listen to bluegrass music. Too bad they didn’t start to play till 9pm. We must be oldies now because that was too late for us today.

Another note, those electric scooters that you can rent are everywhere here. I have never seen so many in one place. People are constantly zooming in and out of traffic and on the sidewalks. Also, some of the folks on these scooters have been drinking (a lot) and others just are not good at steering them. I’m sure they have a fair number of scooter accidents in this town. We were constantly watching out for them as we walked our ten miles today. Happy we didn’t get hit by one.

Hank and I made a pact while in Canada seeing Niagara Falls last August. We went to the Margaritaville restaurant there and met Michael and Lee-Ann. We really had a good time with them and everyone else there, so we said anytime we see a Margaritaville restaurant we have to stop and visit it. Well Nashville has one here…and that’s were we ended up. I think this is our fourth one visiting since we were in Canada. We had a relaxing evening listening to a couple of wonderful musicians.

A couple of notes…

If you would like to view older blog entries please click on the months below:

  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019
  • If you would like to comment on a blog post, please click on the post title (or header), scroll to the bottom and you will then see the comments section where you can add your thoughts. We look forward to your comment and encouraging words. Thank you!
  • If you would like to see our current location click here: Current Location where you can see our daily travels.
  • To see all the photos related to a blog post, simply click on one of the photos and it will move over (either to the left or right) to the next photo.
  • If you would like to “follow” our blog, please click here: Home Page and look in the bottom right corner on your computer where you will see a “+Follow” link (If you are viewing our blog on your cell phone, the location may vary depending on cell phones. Please look around to find this area). Once you click on the “+Follow” link, just enter your email address there (only we can see it) and then go to your personal email to accept the ‘follow request email’ that you will receive. Once this is done, anytime we write a new blog post you will automatically get an email letting you know so you can read it at your leisure. Another option is to bookmark our site and view when you like: www.HankandKathyGreer.com