A travel journal
to Nashville by thedrifter
Quote: An insider's look at the Music City. While country music draws a steady stream of visitors to this city, there are many sights that usually don't make it into the tourist brochures. I intend to shed a little light on some of these.
Hotel | "Union Station Hotel"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 10, 2004
Union Station - A Wyndham Historic Hotel
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
Restaurant | "R & R Bar - B - Q"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 17, 2002
R & R Bar - B - Q
900 Dickerson Pike
Restaurant | "Brown's Diner"
Brown's Diner is housed in what appears to be a trailer of some sort, though it's been added on to at some point. There is a small bar located in the front end of the establishment, but most of the space is dedicated to the diner, which is entered from the rear parking lot.
There is a small variety of sandwiches and other items on the menu, but frankly, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what they are. Most people go to Brown's for one thing. The hamburgers. There has been a long-standing dispute in Nashville as to who has the best burgers in town. Brown's Diner has its own staunch camp of followers and I would easily put them in the top three without any effort. They're the good old-fashioned fried burgers that many restaurants no longer make. They're greasy, they're delicious and they're as cheap (or cheaper) than a fast food joint's inferior sandwiches.
The decor at Brown's Diner is largely of the fake wood panel and neon beer light variety. A couple of TV's mounted on the walls offer music videos or sports, depending on time of the day. There is not a nonsmoking section, so if that bothers you, I recommend you go elsewhere. This is just a regular Joe's kind of place and neither the staff nor the patrons put on a lot of airs. Everyone is friendly and the service is good, but no one is likely to cater to the overly sensitive.
Brown's Diner is a good place to go if you have to buy someone else their lunch, incidentally. Two people can eat for just over ten dollars, so you'll get off easy. Your companion won't resent you for being a cheapskate, though, because they'll be too preoccupied enjoying their burger.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 10, 2004
Brown's Diner Tavern
2102 Blair Blvd
Nashville, Tennessee 37212
Attraction | "Bobby's Idle Hour"
You can get cold beer for a couple bucks a pop inside, some free peanuts off the bar and, well, that's about all the fare they offer.
The Idle Hour is frequented by an interesting array of characters, as well as those dropping in to satisfy their curiosity. Radio personalities, journalists, low tier music industry personnel, successful songwriters, blue collar workers and college kids are all folks I have seen in this low rent little establishment.
If you drop in for a refreshing beverage, you are almost certain to overhear or engage in some animated and/or bizarre conversation. If you visit a few times, you will almost certainly get to witness the patrons passing around the house guitar to pick some tunes. This sometimes turns into some true quality entertainment, for as I said, there are real-deal country songwriters than drop in from time to time.
During the warm months, you might enjoy pitching horseshoes out back. To my knowledge, this is the only bar in town that has a horse shoe pit and I've pitched a few there myself. Around the major summer holidays, there is usually a picnic and informal music jamboree, as well. At times like this, it may be a little more difficult to get a spot at the horseshoe pit, though. Bobby's isn't a very large place, so it doesn't take a lot of people to constitute a crowd.
Bobby's Idle Hour is more or less a hold over from bygone days when the local dive bar was a more common sight. When I refer to it as a dive, however, there's no need to feel uncomfortable about going in. The folks are friendly and welcoming to strangers, even though it's mostly regulars hanging out on any given night. It's a cheap and interesting place to hang out for a bit before moving on to other nightlife. On some nights, though, when things get cranking, you may find it hard to pull yourself away.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 4, 2004
Idle Hour Tavern
1010 16th Ave South
Nashville, Tennessee 37212
+1 615 726 0446
Attraction | "The Exit / In"
As for the types of acts you might see at the Exit/In, well, pretty much anything goes. Traditionally, it has been known as a rock club, but the establishment has always booked a rather diverse range of artists. From local favorites to national headliners, you really never know who will show up on the schedule.
This mid-sized venue has a giant reputation and it's sometimes hard to separate the myth from the reality. Of course, when you come to watch a band, this has little practical influence on your evening, but there is an aura that hangs inside this bare bones, square listening hall. Thirty years of sweat, beer and cigarette smoke have seeped into the woodwork to mingle with the ghosts of countless nights with a virtual who's who of American music culture. Somehow this vibe is present, no matter what band you might be seeing on a given night.
When this club opened in 1971, one of the first relative unknowns to land a gig was Jimmy Buffett. He was a regular in those days, as was a younger John Hiatt. The comedian, Steve Martin, was a frequent face on the Exit/In stage during the seventies. His shows on this venerable Nashville stage have become the stuff of legend and his own autobiography cites the Exit/In as being the place where he truly honed his skills.
These days you can catch an interesting array of acts. Billy Block's Western Beat Revival is a weekly feature, on Tuesday nights. Western Beat showcases some top notch acts in the arena of alternative country and Americana style twang music. This show gives you a look at multiple artists each night, from up and comers to established names.
The weekends typically bring in the larger name national acts, catering generally to the younger crowds. Even if you don't recognize a name on the marquee right off the bat, it may be worth investigating. You'd be surprised at the quality of the some of the regional acts that often garner quite a cult following. Basically, if they're a cool band, they'll eventually play the Exit/In.
If you are a music aficionado, you may want to visit the club's website. It makes for some good rock history reading and you can impress the local music crowd with your knowledge when you are in town. Trust me, there's not a musician or music listener in Nashville that isn't familiar with the Exit/In and they all have a story. It's just one of those places.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 8, 2004
2208 Elliston Pl
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
+1 615 321 4400
The story of Elder’s Bookstore begins during the Great Depression. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Charles Elder launched into a risky venture, given the current economic climate. He started his little shop in downtown Nashville with really only two things going for him; a love of history and a love of books. Nearly 75 years later, Elder’s is in a different location, but it still sticks to those original founding factors. This quaint little bookshop is crammed full of books; on shelves, on tables, in every available nook and cranny. The general emphasis of Elder’s is history, but more so, Tennessee history. In addition, you will find a distinguished offering of Southern literature, as well as a wide array of nonfiction pertaining to the broader history and culture of the South. Indeed, Elder’s Bookstore has become quite well known for its specialties.
If you have no particular interest in the aforementioned subjects, don’t be dismayed. Like I said, there are over 50 thousand books in stock, so they’ve got something for everyone. Elder’s is where you go when you’ve given up looking for that out of print book you’ve just got to get your hands on. If they don’t have it, they also specialize in tracking down and ordering hard to find books. In the arena of early Tennessee and Nashville history, they have actually become the foremost re-publishers of books on those topics. That’s how seriously they take their business.
Elder’s Bookstore is one of a dying breed, though it seems to still be going strong. I must end this with a word of caution, however. People have been known to wander into this old-line establishment and not be heard from again for hours on end. I have fallen prey to this mysterious phenomenon on more than one occasion, dropping by for a quick purchase, and then later having to explain my extended disappearance. The place just sucks you in and it’s hard to escape.
2115 Elliston Place
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
+1 615 327 1867