Welcome to music city USA
Welcome to music city USA
Tennessee is shaped like a sliding letterbox. It’s completely landlocked. It borders eight other states, and ties with Missouri for being the state that borders the most others. It is nicknamed the ‘Volunteer State’ as 30,000 men volunteered to fight in the Mexican war, largely in response to the death of folk hero and ‘King of the Wild Frontier,’ Davy Crockett. Memphis and Nashville are highlights of course. But there’s lots else to see and do. Tennessee has 54 state parks, which cover 130,000 acres.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the nation’s most visited national park. A section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Two of Tennessee’s major attractions are the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, which has 12,000 animals, and Dollywood, the amusement park partly owned by Dolly Parton, in Pigeon Forge. The state is a great destination for a family holiday with big outdoors and its barbecue voted number 1 by TripAdvisor in 2015. It’s also the home of Jack Daniels, the best known of Tennessee whiskies, but there are others to sample, to get you in the mood for ‘The Soundtrack of America’ – made in Tennessee. It sure is.
Nashville has earned itself the nickname of ‘Music City, U.S.A.’ thanks to its amazing contributions to the American music industry. Country music in particular is revered in Nashville, with Johnny Cash being an icon of the city; he is immortalised in the Johnny Cash Museum & Cafe, which contains a comprehensive collection artefacts and knickknacks spanning the legendary singer-songwriter’s illustrious career, including guitars, costumes and limited edition memorabilia. For a broader look at the Nashville country music scene, be sure to pay a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
There’s more to Nashville’s musical contributions than country. The city is also home to a thriving rock n’ roll scene, with everybody from old school guitarists like Jimi Hendrix to modern garage rockers The Black Keys having recorded albums here. The most famous homegrown rock n’ roll act to come out of Nashville, Tennessee in recent years is surely The Kings of Leon, who have gone on to become a huge international success, selling out stadiums and festivals across the globe. Their success is a testament to Music City’s ongoing commitment to fostering and nurturing emerging musical talents. You can see where many of the greats recorded their records on the RCA Studio B Combo Tour.
Arguably the most important day on the Nashville calendar is the Veterans’ Day Parade which has been held on the 11th of November every single year since 1951, starting at eleven minutes past eleven on Broadway. The parade proudly features the 101st Airborne Division and the Tennessee National Guard and pulls out all the stops to give America’s veterans, past and present, a fitting tribute, with thousands of marchers in attendance as well as military ambulance vehicles, tanks and plane fly-overs to be seen.
To discover more about Nashville’s, sometimes unpleasant, history, be sure to go on the Civil War and Plantation Tour. There you will learn all about the Battle of Franklin, which is widely considered to be one of the American Civil War’s bloodiest battles. Fought on the 30th of November, 1864, the battle only lasted five hours, but saw nearly 10,000 casualties. The tour takes you to all the key locations of the battle and its aftermath, including the Confederate field hospital, the Carnton Plantation and Lotz House.
No matter what time of year you decide to holiday in Nashville, there is bound to be an exciting festival on which will be well worth taking in. Oktoberfest, which celebrates all facets of German culture, is Nashville’s longest running annual festival, having started in 1981, and attracts over 140,000 visitors every year.
April sees the hosting of both the Nashville Film Festival, a showcase of hundreds of movies from around the world, and Nashville Fashion Week, which sets up the local fashionistas for the upcoming Autumn-Winter season. Both of these prestigious events present a veritable who’s who of famous faces. You’d never know who you might meet at them!
That’s not to mention the annual Tennessee State Fair, which is held at the State Fairgrounds during September. This nine-day-long celebration of southern American culture features everything you’d expect from a good ol’ fashioned carnival, from amusement park rides and exhibitions to rodeo shows and tractor pull competitions.
Among Nashville’s favourite foods are hot chicken and hot fish, a local delicacy which is prepared by marinating pieces of chicken or fish in a special blend of seasonings before being floured, fried and gently spiced with cayenne pepper. The chicken or fish is then served either on a stick like a kebab or in lightly toasted bread, usually garnished with gherkins and coleslaw.
Another popular form of Nashville dining is the ‘meat and three’ meal. Basically, this operates like a mini-buffet where diners get to choose one portion of meat and three sides (usually a combination of vegetables and pastas). A meat and three meal is traditionally served with cornbread and sweet iced tea.
In terms of drinks, Nashville has a well-rounded beer culture. Visitors can go on a pub crawl where they can learn about the city’s history as they enjoy a night out or learn all about the local breweries and brewmasters on the Nashville Brewery Tour.