The weekend I spent in Nashville! yeee haw!
But for real Nashville is crazy. Left Richmond at 1:30 am Thursday and I got into the air bnb Friday night around 9. The plan was to spend the night in Nashville with Jay and Maria. They now live with Maria's parents somewhere out in the county, well outside of cab range. But, they had a windshield issue and I ended up beating them to Tennessee, so I had to fend for myself this weekend. I had a plan.
This really cool chick back in Richmond told me to go to The End, once I got to Nashville. Said it was live rock and roll club, heavy stuff. I wasted no time after getting in, took a whore bath changed my underwear and called a cab (my Chinese phone won't run the apps) to pick me up. I didn't even look up who was playing, I just went. I figured Friday night it's gotta be something good. Get there, hear what sounds like a sound check. Pay my ten dollars to get in aaaand it's a mother fucking dubstep show. I'm such and asshole, should have checked.
I gtfo. I took the 30 min walk to Broadway and 5th Ave. Not super scenic, besides seeing my first White Castle. But I got to walk down the hill into all the crazy that is Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee on a Friday night. Well, I heard it before I saw it. I imagine I felt similar to how the union must have felt walking into the rebel yell, confident while still being nervous and unsure of what lies ahead, probably certain death.
I was greeted by bright lights, overwhelming swarms of people and country music spewing from every opening. I stumbled down the road letting the flow of the crowd direct me. I found myself at a bar that had "Hillbilly Music" written on the side of the building. "Alright, this could work'" I thought also there was no line, unlike many of the bars on the strip. I walked inside this place, Layla's, and saw exactly what I was looking for. Tatted grown men playing "American Music".
I go up to the bar and ordered a shot of bourbon and a pbr. I love being home. I made my way down to the dance floor where the band, Hillbilly Casino, was playing Johnny B. Good. The band leader was wearing a Ramones shirt and I picked out one other rock-and-roller in the crowd. We started chanting "hey ho, lets go" and they played blitzkrieg bop. Which was tight. I thought I was going to be stuck with country renditions of "Love yourself" Journey covers and probably a lot of Skinnard. So hearing the Ramones was a huge relief. I got so into it, I didn't know that places like this were real. It was a caricature of everything I hoped Nashville would be. I could not stop laughing and dancing. I ended up talking to the rock-and-roller, Mookie, he invited to come with him and his buddies to another bar. Totes a safe decision ;)
Mookie wanted to go sing karaoke somewhere not on Broadway, still close by. I am always down for karaoke. On the walk I learned Mookie and his friends, were a band from old steel country Pennsylvania. They were in Nashville, from what I gathered, because Mookie wanted to live there at some point in the future. We also talked about traveling and music and nerdy stuff. We got the bar and his plan to get in without paying the five dollar cover backfired, I think he was trying to appeal to my bad kid sensibilities. We drank pbr, I sang Carrie Underwood, "Next Time He Cheats", and genuinly enjoyed myself. When we left he put the last one into my backpack, man after my own heart. We're supposed to hang when I get to Pittsburgh, looking forward to it.
And that was night one in Nashville.
Saturday morning, I woke up in my airbnb. I wasn't able to book it for another night, so I got bed in a hostel downtown, which I should have done from the beginning. I checked out at 11, and walked down to the bus stop with my hiking backpack, my regular backpack and my uke.
My bus doesn't come for another 40 minutes, so I got prepared to chill. I'm standing there for two minutes with this guy lumbers up with arms full of groceries. Drops them on the ground with much relief. He then asked if I would watch his stuff while he ran into the store. I agreed and he gave me a big bottle of cold water for my trouble. He sees my backpack and other things and asks, "you're train hoppin ain't cha?" I told him no, that I was just a regular traveler. Apparently Tazz, the man later explained who he was by showing me his tattoo of the looney toons character, hopped trains all over the country back in his day. Now that his kids were all grown and gone he was free to make some money. First by selling Denver pot for Tennessee prices, then turning his Colorado warehouse into a smoke shop/restaurant. I told him I'd look it up in a few years and despite my protests he gave me three dollars for a bus pass. Best of luck to you Tazz.
Made it to downtown Nashville, despite my protests Tazz gave me 3 bucks for a bus pass, with an hour to spare before check-in at the hostel. So I found a nice spot to play a little music. I put my bag down and ended up making 5 dollars and a poptart. I had a pretty nice time trying to match the right song to the people who were walking by. I got way more smiles than dollars but I'm ok with that, considering I was busking for play money not food money. Aw jeez it's hard coming to terms with your own privilege.
So using my debit card, I checked into my room at the hostel. Dropped my stuff off, I was on the top bunk, and went to find a place where I could plug my phone and also be on it, yeah I have a problem. I sat down at this table in the middle of the common room at the hostel, a few seats over from a guy on a laptop. Right after I plug my phone in one of the staff members made a grand loop of the room, weaving between couches, on one of those hover board things. Me and my table neighbor make eye contact and the same shrugy face. He, Nik, says, "I didn't think that was necessary, but ok". "I was thinking the same thing" I laughed. Turned out this guy was a journalist from South African writing some heavy article about race and all that. He seemed sweet, if not unnaturally tall. We shared some beers, or he gave me beer while he worked so he felt better about drinking by himself. We made plans to link up later that night.
I left the common room with a charged phone, got cleaned up and set to wondering the streets. Again music was everywhere. Not just coming from the bars, every few paces there was a different street performer.
The bouncers from the night before recognized me as I walked by Layla's, nope not again. I crossed the street and entered Nudie's, "The Longest Bar in Nashville". The bar was long if not largely unoccupied. Making up for it, the band playing there had the most beautiful front woman I had ever seen. Well, maybe not the most beautiful but in that moment, as she was singing Enter Sandman into her pink microphone, wearing her cowboy hat and boots and her American Flag bandanna, I fell in love, at least until I finished my beer.
Moving on, I met up with that guy from the common room. He was with a young guy who had interned with his network in SA or something. Super nice kid, made me feel old af. We wondered together looking for a place with the right vibe. As we walked, we saw so many mother fucking bachelorette parties, like at least 20. Apparently Nashville is like number two in the country as a bachlorette party destination. As the night wore on the kid had to take off and me and Nik make a plan to smoke and go check out Coyote Ugly.
For real, that place was everything I wanted it to be. It had the purest concentration of bachelorette parties as well a perverts, as to be expected. We could not stop laughing the entire time. There were bartenders were dumping water all over themselves and their body shot victims, dancing on the bar to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and a lot of awkward boners. Priceless.