When the television show Nashville debuted in 2012 I imagine a lot of locals had the same feelings I did. A little excited that Nashville was getting some prime time attention, worried that the show would bring the masses to our local haunts, scared that our charming Southern accents would be very poorly represented on a big stage (ie. Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama- Come on Reese, you’re from Nashville!) Or worst of all, not give our beloved city the justice it was due.
I DVR-ed the first episode- waited the appropriate amount of time to not have to sit through any commercials- grabbed a nice glass of wine and hunkered down to watch the premier. I remember thinking after that first episode how amazing Nashville looked on TV. The sweeping skylines over the Cumberland River, neon lights on Broadway as Rayna and Deacon headed over to Tootsies, the grandeur of The Grand Ole Opry, and the intimacy of the Bluebird were all there in my living room.
I am of the mindset that the show has done great things for Nashville. There maybe more people to smile politely and say hello on Friday nights on Broadway now but if you want to buy a $5 beer, might as well buy it in my city. More than anything I love sharing a little bit of the city I love so much with the rest of the world. So for the rest of you that love Nashville the city or love Nashville the show, I’m going to give you a local’s insight (and tips) on some of the locations highlighted on the show.
Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge
Episode: Premier, Rayna and Deacon share a moment on the bridge before they head to Tootsies
Local View: The pedestrian bridge it not only a convenient way to get across the Cumberland to East Nashville but it has some amazing views. It is lit up every night, sometimes seasonally matching. There is a event every fall on the bridge called “Wine on River” that is a must do for every local. This year it is on September 10th-so mark your calendars now.
Episodes: Multiple, most notably the Edgehill 25th Anniversary Show
Local View: Originally the building served at a church but the Ryman we know and love was the birthplace of country music. All the legends played here- Johnny and June, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Willie…the list goes on. The Grand Ole Opry has moved out of town near the Gaylord Opryland Hotel but luckily for us, the Ryman was renovated and reopened in 1994. It’s one of the best places for acoustics in the world and it should be on your bucket list to see a show here. Any show. And don’t forget the Hatch Show print, they are one of a kind and I promise will be a conversation piece hanging in your home.
Lower Broadway (Tootsies, Tequila Cowboy, Rippys)
Episodes: Avery’s first “big gig” at Tequila Cowboy, Will’s downtown debut show at Rippy’s, Gunnar & Will crash open mic night at Tootsies
Local View: Lower Broadway is quintessential Nashville. With the Batman building standing out above the neon lights there are dozens of bars, all with live music-day and night- you can wander into. If you catch a show at the Ryman its a quick walk down the hill before you are right in the thick of it. Recently, rooftop bars have been becoming very prevalent giving you a perfect city view and people watching perspective. Acme Feed & Seed,George Jones Museum (bar), Tootsies, and Rock Bottom Brewery all have a great rooftop you should check out.
Episodes:All of them, Gunnar and Scarlett work here at the beginning of the series. Rayna, Deacon, Scarlett, Gunnar, Juliette, the whole casts plays here at one point or another.
Local View: The television show makes the Bluebird look more like a restaurant and less like the music venue it really is. The Bluebird is known as a writers’ haven that have also lead to industry breakthrough for some notable names, like Garth Brooks. Tickets go on sale through their website one week ahead of time. There are first come, first serve for pew seats but I suggest getting there early if you really want to go because there will be a line. The new Foo Fighters song “Congregation” was in part inspired by the Ryman but also inspired by the Round nights at the Bluebird. If there’s a round night at the Ryman try to get tickets. Writers gather together and take turns talking about their songs and playing them for the group. Another plus is you never really know who might show up and play.
Percy Warner Park-
Episode: Rayna and Deacon talk on the steps at Percy Warner park in Season 1
Local View: Percy & Edwin Warner parks offer a variety of hiking, jogging, equestrian trails, athletic fields, and a golf course. It also is one of the few parks that allow dogs to go on the trails with you. It’s the perfect way to spend a weekend when the weather is nice. Make sure you check the trail level before you start out so you don’t end up on an advanced trail when you just wanted a leisurely walk.