This is a guest post from Katherine Seghers is a freelance audio engineer originally from south Louisiana, now living in Nashville TN. She graduated with high honors from SAE Institute – Nashville in 2011. In March Katherine will begin an internship at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the recorded sound archives. When she isn’t working as an engineer she is can be found taking pictures in and around town, or checking out live music or sporting events.
Welcome to Nashville! While it’s known for it’s country roots, Nashville really is Music City. It’s become a melting pot of genres and cultures. The city provides countless opportunities to see live music (some great and some not so great), along with numerous other cultural opportunities. Here is a list of a few suggestions for those new to town.
Places to Eat
Fido is a coffee shop/restaurant in Hillsboro village that serves breakfast all day, along with having lunch and dinner options. It’s a great brunch alternative to the always-busy Pancake Pantry.
Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
Suzy Wong’s House of Yum is an Asian fusion restaurant with a modern décor. Created by Chef Arnold Myint, a former Top Chef contestant, Suzy’s is a great place to go out with friends for sushi and drinks after work.
SATCO (San Antonio Taco Company)
SATCO (as local’s refer to it) is an inexpensive Mexican restaurant with two locations, one in downtown Nashville and another across the stress from Vanderbilt University. Not only is SATCO popular amongst college students but also with music industry professionals working on Music Row.
Like many cities, Nashville has numerous food trucks. Although there are designated locations for food trucks in general, twitter is the best way to find out exactly where they will be each day.
Nashville Originals Restaurant Week
Another national trend that Nashville takes part in is restaurant week. The restaurants that take part in restaurant week range from meet and three’s to trendy casual fine dining, and you can find almost any type of food on the list. Some participating restaurants offer restaurant week exclusive menu items, while others offer discounts or specials on their regular menu. It’s a wonderful way to try new restaurants in town.
Nashville Farmer’s Market
You can find great deals on fresh seasonal produce, often times cheaper than at the grocery store. There are also several restaurants inside the market house, ranging from gourmet sandwiches to Jamaican food.
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate
Who doesn’t love chocolate? The chocolate produced by the guys at Olive and Sinclair is hand crafted and stone ground in East Nashville. You can find their chocolate bars at a number of local shops (along with stores all over the country).
Apps and Sites
Nashville Scene’s Website
If you need a “go to” place to look for restaurants or to find out what is going on in town, start with the Nashville Scene. A weekly paper version can be picked up all over town.
Nashville Live Music Guide
A smart phone app created by the Nashville visitor’s bureau. Features include a list of 100 + music venues listed by area of town and maps to locate you and live music near your current location
Things to Do
The Bluebird Café
The Bluebird Café is a true listening room, so don’t be surprised if you get “shushed” for talking too much. Songwriters are featured and celebrated when they take the stage to sing their songs in the round in this intimate venue. It is also one of the featured music venues on ABC’s hit television show “Nashville”.
The Ryman. Photo by Katherine Seghers
The Ryman Auditorium
Also known as the “mother church of country music,” the Ryman Auditorium is acoustically the best music venue in town, arguably one of the best in the country. There isn’t a bad seat in this intimate venue which was home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 – 1974. It still hosts the Opry every winter, but fills the rest of the year with concerts from top musicians from any genre. Past concerts have included, Tori Amos, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, The Rev. Al Green, *NSYNC, Jeff Beck, Etta James, Carole King, Norah Jones, ZZ Top, The Black Keys, Adam Lambert, Mumford and Sons and Ringo Starr to name a few. Be sure to pick up a Hatch Show Print while you are at the show. The Ryman is also open for tours during the day.
Tin Pan South Music Festival
Nashville is known for it’s songwriters, and it’s only fitting that we have a music festival that celebrates them. Over the course of five days and 10 venues, this unique music festival features songwriters singing their songs in the round. Learn more here.
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum
Spread out over 55 acres, these gardens are a beautiful escape from the hustle of city life without having to leave the city. They also bring in world-class art exhibits. Admission is $5 with student ID.
Grimey’s New and Preloved Music
Support your local independent record store! Nashville offers several options when it comes to locally owned music stores. Grimey’s is considered one of the best in town. Not only is it an independent record store that is an active participant in Record Store Day every year, (with patrons lining up as early as 6 pm the night before) but they frequently have in-store performances and in-store listening parties that include free giveaways.
Become a Troubadour Society Member at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The troubadour society is a new membership level at the Country Music HoF designed for young professionals in the music industry. Benefits include unlimited admission to the museum for one year, and invitation to annual private networking events.
Whiskey Jam at Winners Bar
Every Monday night there is live music at Winners Bar with a long list of past performers including Tony Lucca, Marc Broussard, Chris Young and Steel Magnolia. Josh Hoge and Ward Guenther host the evening of music. Since it’s creation two years ago, the Whiskey Jam has become one of the go-to shows in town. You never know who will show up and decide to jump on stage. Get there early, because Winners fills up fast!
Attend an awards show or other television filming – One of the cool things about Nashville is that we host a couple of awards shows, and are home to the CMT headquarters, along with ABC’s hit drama “Nashville” being filmed locally. All of the previously mentioned facts provide those who live in music city with the unique opportunity to attend tapings. Each show seeks out volunteer participants in their own way. The CMT awards are always looking for seat fillers, and usually advertise the specifics on twitter. You can find more information about being an extra on “Nashville” here.
Housing and Travel
You will need a car in Nashville, or have access to one. Downtown Nashville is very pedestrian friendly, including the trendy Gulch area. Nashville’s public transit has bus routs that cover downtown and the surrounding areas, including the areas around the major universities.
This year a bicycle sharing program rolled out, allowing people to rent bicycles for up to 24 hours at a time. With rental stations se up all over the city, this is a great option if you don’t have the space to own a bicycle, or if you only want to use one for the day. Much like the bicycle sharing program, there are a few car sharing programs, Zipcar and WeCar, that allows you to rent cars for short terms, such as a few hours to do major grocery shopping.
Whether you are relocating to Nashville for a summer, or for the long term, you will certainly find yourself downtown seeing a show at the Ryman Auditorium or attending a hockey game at Bridgestone Arena, or checking out the bars and honky-tonks on lower Broadway. You are going to want to know where to park. There are several options, but the cheapest options are $3 in the Metro Courthouse Garage, or $4 in the Library Garage.
Need to Know
You will see celebrities at the most random locations. They are normal people just like you and me, so they too go to the grocery store, out to eat and out to bars to check out live music. The best way to fit in is to treat them like normal people, you can freak out over seeing someone famous once you get home.