On to Nashville Hot

Part way through the day at Dollywood, I told Ned I might be getting a cold.  By Monday, there was no “might” about it.  A quick stop at the gas and go provided me with Gatorade and DayQuil–Mother Nature’s remedy.  Well, someone’s remedy.
Then, there’s the apple a day keeping the doctor away.  South of the Mason-Dixon, this translates into complimentary apple fritters, apple muffins, apple butter, and apple juleps at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  Health food!
Dreaming of apples …

 This road trip, we alternated iTunes shuffle with Station Eleven until …

we hit good ol’ Southern white out rain.  I’d have taken a picture if I weren’t so busy pretending not to be freaking out.  Flashers on, we drove on the tail of the guy in front of us for about a third of our trip.  Don’t miss that at all.  Blargh.  But, steel-nerved Ned got us through safe and sound.
We knew one thing that would restore our vacation cool–some Nashville Hot!  Our first stop was the famous Hattie B’s, where we began a vacation trend: beating the line.  Somehow throughout this trip, we’d walk up to a hot spot, get a table within minutes, and then walk out to find a line out the door.  I have no idea how we managed to do this time and time again; it got eerie after a while.

While Ned and I were ordering, the kids “Shake Shacked” a table (i.e., lurking nearby finishing diners to claim their table).  Winner winner, chicken dinner–we had Nashville Hot and a place to eat it!

So, how was Hattie B’s?  Perfectly crispy and evenly hot crust over wonderfully moist chicken.  The white bread below sopped up all the hot sauce and chicken drippings and was sinfully delicious.  The greens were good but a bit salty.  The fries were standard.  The pickles crisp.  For our first foray into real Nashville Hot, we’d give it an A!

How to top this start?  Only one man could do it:

Ned loves the Man in Black–we even saw him and Mama June during their last years of touring.  So, we had to make a stop at this relatively new museum, which opened just three years ago.  Could one man sustain a full museum?  If this man is Johnny Cash, the answer is yes.

The man in black released a sizeable number of shiny black singles.

And worked with other incredible legends–and great instruments.  There was much guitar envy on display from the Davis men this trip.  Musicians .

Turns out that Penn once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.  Who knew?


Johnny, bringing generations together.  

One of the most moving aspects of the museum was that the now-legendary recording of “Hurt” runs as a soft undercurrent through two of the four rooms because the video is playing just on the other side of the wall.  The young, insolent, prideful, force of nature on display up to that point is gone.  (Penn didn’t even realize it was Johnny Cash in the video.)  But, the depth of his voice, the experience in his delivery was never more powerful.  You’re the man, Johnny!
Conveniently across the street from the Cash museum is the Goo Goo Shop.  Who doesn’t love a Goo-Goo?  Sugar, sugar, sugar, nuts, sugar, chocolate.  And, swag.  I bought a hat.

Ned and I made plans that night to go see the amazing Time Jumpers at their regular Monday night gig at 3rd and Lindsley.  After listening to a TJ album, the kids opted out, so we left them at the hotel with McDonalds.

We bought our tickets months ago, but in order to get actual seats at the show, we had to (in the words of the doorman) “make friends.”  That is, find another couple at a four top and ask to sit with them.  After sizing up the room, Ned approached a couple, Mike and Dotty from Colorado as it turns out, and we got some sweet seats.  We repaid their kindness by buying their drinks, and we chatted pleasantly about a surprising array of topics for the couple hours before the show started: country music, weather, politics, fracking, water rights, urban sprawl, Summerfest, high school math (Dotty was a HS teacher), and the value and cost of higher education.

The TJ’s are legendary Nashville session musicians led by guitarist extraordinaire Vince Gill.  They are fairly low key.  Vince was on stage setting up his own gear; another TJ was comparing Jerk Chicken recipes with some regulars at the table in front of us.  But, on stage, they have no equal.  They also clearly enjoy every moment. Most of the night was dedicated to Bob Wills songs, but they could really have played anything well and warmly.  The sound in the club–which was really just a hole in the wall at the end of an office strip mall–was impeccable.  An absolutely lovely evening.

Our first day in Nashville kept our Southern Summer rolling along smoother than Western swing, y’all!

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