Sunday, August 09, 2015

Holiday in Nashville

This year my hockey team decided to attend our annual travelling tournament in Nashville Tennessee. As I had never travelled to the "the South" before I was pretty excited for the trip and Chrissy was too. We decided to head down a week ahead of the tournament to experience some Southern hospitality and to explore some of the highlights of Tennessee including Nashville, Franklin and Memphis.

Nashville highlights include:

Timothy Demonbreun House

Finding a hotel within the general core of Nashville was proving near impossible before our trip so I started trolling through travel message boards and travel tips sites for Bed and Breakfasts. Repeatedly one property was singled out - Timothy Demonbreun House.

As we arrived in Nashville I was starting to get a bit giddy as our rental car got closer to our accommodations. Chrissy, who loves both old houses and hotels and was mostly unaware of our destination. Surely she was going to be excited with our home for the next couple of days. The first views did not disappoint.

We ended up in the Game Room located on the top floor. The room was outstanding! We had our own pool table, darts board, poker table and large screen TV.

Know when to fold them...

Our host, Richard, is a descendant of the "first citizen" of  Nashville and the namesake of the house was a fantastic host providing a friendly greeting at all times, tactful questions, a continual fill of coffee, travel suggestions, and even shuttle services into downtown. A true southern gentlemen.

Probably our favorite thing was our morning coffee's and evening beers on the front porch. Truly a treat for a couple of Canadians in mid April. 

Chrissy and I can't recommend the accommodations any higher. If you find yourself in Nashville, do yourself a favor and stay here.

NRA Convention

It turns out that we couldn't get a hotel in the core of Nashville because there was an NRA Conference going on at the same time. Over three days the conference drew 78,865 attendees. It was nuts.

Having both worked in Economic Development and with the Tourism industry Chrissy and I could only marvel at the breadth and impact of the conference. It truly took over the city with every bar and restaurant doing an awesome job of welcoming the delegates. 

The conference even arranged for the main drag, Lower Broadway to be closed down for a free Hank Williams Jr. concert.

Hank, aka - Bocephus, actually puts on quite an entertaining show. He possesses a strong voice and is quick to 'spin a yarn' of his 'pappy' and famous friends. My only issue was the complete pandering to the partisan crowd and the general ridiculousness of his songs. Actual lyrics include:

  • ...I really, really, really, really, really, really like girls. Yeah, I really, really, really, really, really, really like girls....I really, really, really, really, really, really like guns. Yeah, I really, really, really, really, really, really like guns....
  • I'll keep my freedom. I'll keep my guns...This country's sure as hell been goin down the drain. We know what we need. We know who to blame. United Socialist States of America how do ya like that name?
I kept giggling and Chrissy was worried that we would get beat up. But it was all cool. Everybody was in a good mood, and just maybe... I was packing heat. Our hypothetical belief was the threat of everyone carrying a gun kept everyone more civil.

Chrissy the pistol packing hottie

Chrissy and I grew up with guns in the house as our fathers and siblings would often fill the freezers with wild game and fowl. I've taken my hunters safety training and even popped a couple of deer in my day.  It's not that we are unaccustomed to guns, but seeing some of the displays of the vendors with the NRA Conference was mind boggling foreign to me.

At any time, why would this be necessary outside of an armed conflict?

Being in town at the same time as the NRA  was an eye opening experience.

BTW - Not everybody in Nashville was happy to be hosting the NRA.

Downtown Living Tour

While reading the paper one morning we discovered a unique opportunity put on by the Nashville Downtown Partnership: A self guided tour of 12 different residences in the downtown.

Not knowing exactly what to expect we bought a ticket and took the recommendation to visit a 'must-see' residence in Printer's Alley.

The home was amaziing. It gave me my first and only ever true instance of house envy. Our pictures do not do it justice.

The actual loft is now used primarily as a filming location rather than a residence. Check out some of their promotional pictures here.

A lot of the other homes were impressive in their own right but could hardly match the eclectic cool of the first loft we visited.

Belle Meade Plantation

Just outside of Nashville is Belle Mead Plantation a historic plantation mansion whose grounds now function as a museum.

The plantation was not used for farming, but rather service enterprises such as a blacksmith shop, cotton gin, a grist and saw mill, and eventually horse breeding which it gained much of its fame from. In the original Kentucky Derby 11 of the 17 horses that raced came from Belle Meade Plantation. The equestrian legacy carries on today in the bloodlines of every horse that competed in the 2015 Kentucky Derby including 2015's triple crown winner, American Pharaoh.

The house was built in the modest Federal style and then expanded into a Greek Revival Mansion. It was noted at the time for being considered somewhat humble compared to the vast Antebellum style mansions that were present at the time. I still considered it to be pretty damn impressive so I did my customary castle pose in front of it.

A newer exhibit on the site is the re-construction of the slave quarters on the farm. Once again, my mind is boggled. This time by the sheer thought of owning another human being. 

Johnny Cash Museum

There are a lot of country music museums, venues, and locations that are significant within Nashville but the one I most wanted to see was the Johnny Cash Museum. Christina, being the great wife that she is, was more than happy to accompany me but had low expectations going in. She soon learned that Johnny doesn't disappoint.

Just a fantastically laid out, informative and dynamic museum. Lots to see, read and listen to. Easily worth the price of admission.

Live Music

Everywhere we went it seemed like there was live music - and it was fantastic! Even the worst free of charge band you may hear is still miles above the best un-ticketed band that I have seen at any live music venue back home. Many multi-level bars would have a band playing specifically for that level of the bar. I was totally blown away.


Some of the best performers were hustling on the street.

Predators Playoff Hockey

It's long been my goal to see a home game of every NHL team. With the Predators entering into the playoffs when we were in town it was a no-brainer that we would attend. A couple of buddies on my hockey team had the same thought process and were working on tickets directly with the Predators box office. They ended up securing us an amazing deal for Game 1 of the Playoffs against the Blackhawks = $84 a ticket with all the beer and food you could eat. 

We arrived early for the game and grabbed a rooftop patio spot to watch the crowds come in and enjoy the pre-game activities. The Blackhawks car bash was our favorite.

Leading up to the game there was a lot of buzz in the local sports talk world about how the national anthem would be sung and how to maintain the home town atmosphere in the building. Apparently at past games a large contingent of Blackhawks fans have attended and usurped the national anthem by yell/singing along to the words like they do in their home rink. This was not appreciated in Nashville. So to combat this they made the majority of tickets for sale available only locally through grocers and made the decision to not have an anthem singer but instead ask the crowd to sing along. I found all the gamesmanship hilarious.

The Nashville hockey crowd were boisterous and humorous. It was hard sometimes to judge if they were really excited for playoff hockey or a little ignorant. Case in point: When a Predators player would dump the puck in on net the crowd would cheer like it was a big scoring chance. That and the southern accent encouraging their team on or beaking at the ref gave me many chuckles.

The game had it all. The eventual Stanley Cup winning goalie pulled right of the bat, the backup tender leading a Blackhawks comeback win in double overtime with the goal being scored by the eventual Conn Smythe winner. Sweet!

With the bar being open the whole game (take note Edmonton Oilers!) we definitely got our moneys worth.

Other Highlights

The men's bathroom at the Hermitage Hotel

Wandering around the Grand Ol' Opry

High water on the Cumberland River

Remnants of a crawfish boil

Old and new buildings


  • Nashville is a party town. At any given time along the main stretch of Broadway you will encounter probably a dozen bachelorette parties.
  • The Nashville b-cycles located in their downtown are a pretty sweet way to see the core area in a hurry. My only issue was that I was a hot sweaty mess afterwards.
  • We never got to see a show at the Grand Ol Opry but did wander around the huge complex attached to it where a national cheerleading championship for Jr. age girls was going on. Lots of hairspray, gum smacking and round-offs.
  • The fans at the Predators game have a great chant for opposition goalies who get scored on: "It's all your fault, it's all your fault".
  • We hung out a bit around Belmont University, which was quite picturesque. Although we are getting to be the old folks walking around we like visiting Colleges/University campuses for the generally nice manicured landscaping, cool buildings and often reasonably priced food and drinks.

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