family time in nashville
July 9, 2004 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Family-friendly things to do in Nashville? I'm headed there on Monday for training and my daughter (14) wants to go. I'll be stuck in class until 5pm and will only be able to take her places in the evening. Naturally one thinks of music when Nashville is mentioned, and both of us are willing to listen to country music (though we both prefer the rootsier Brother-Where-Art-Thou end of country to the Nashville end) but I assume most of the music will be taking place in bars and I don't want to take a teenager to bars. Are there other music places I should know about? We'll certainly try the Opry or the Ryman, but any other suggestions are welcome; also suggestions of non-music evening activities suitable for a 14-year-old, if you know of good ones. Thanks very much!
posted by jfuller to Travel & Transportation around Nashville, TN (9 answers total)
Here's the Nashville Scene listing of arts evens, including music.

I used to live in Nashville, but don't know if the places I visited are still open. There was a Blue *Something* Cafe that was nice and had interesting live music.

Check out Centennial Park. They often run free outdoor movies on summer evenings. And you can view the Parthenon, which really is worth a visit.

Skip the Country Music Hall of Fame and everything else around 16th Ave.
posted by yesster at 11:30 AM on July 9, 2004

The Station Inn has bluegrass. It's kind of a bar, yes, but that's not its whole focus.
posted by mookieproof at 11:30 AM on July 9, 2004

Actually, I enjoyed the Country Music Hall of Fame when I was there (about 8 or 9 years ago). It may have helped that my then-bf was pretty knowledgeable about the roots of country, and so had lots of cool stories to share as well, so YMMV.

The Loveless Cafe has great food, btw.
posted by scody at 1:30 PM on July 9, 2004

Yesster is thinking of the Bluebird Cafe, which is a songwriter's hangout, and which has a lot of live music. It could be an interesting place to go, and is more "authentic" or whatever than a lot of what you'll find downtown (Disney built their own country bar on 2nd Ave. and there's a Hard Rock Cafe as well--but there are a few cool places if you look hard enough).

If you have any time in the morning, you absolutely must go eat at the Pancake Pantry, which has--bar none--the best pancakes in the world. The French toast is also really good, and most of the waitresses have worked there for about 30 years and call you "honey" and "darlin'."

There are several nice little shops and restaurants near the Pantry, in the Hillsboro Village, but it's for locals and doesn't have any country music stuff.

They recently put up a new building for the Country Music Hall of Fame. It looks like a flying saucer crashed right in the middle of downtown Nashville. It appears to have a lot of better exhibits than the old one, but it's more expensive too, like $16 for adults.
posted by lackutrol at 1:58 PM on July 9, 2004

I second the Station Inn recommendation. It is a bar in the sense that alcohol is served, but it's really more about the (good bluegrass) music. There is no smoking allowed (which is *very* rare in Nashville), if that gives you any idea of the type of place it is. Don’t be scared away by the, um, scary appearance of the place.

You might also catch a movie at the Belcourt Cinema, which is a fun historic theater that often has some good movies (very limited selection, though – check the Nashville Scene link above for listings). I believe the Belcourt temporarily housed the Grand Ol’ Opry at some point, but I could be wrong about that.
posted by nixxon at 3:02 PM on July 9, 2004

Do they still have a Tex Ritter's Corn Fritters in Nashville ? And by all means, do visit the Parthenon while you are in Nashville.

the rootsier Brother-Where-Art-Thou end of country to the Nashville end

ironically, rootsier could easily be replaced by more yuppified mass market and the phrase could still be on the same continuum
posted by y2karl at 12:06 AM on July 10, 2004

Response by poster: The Brother music is slicked up, certainly, but it's a mass-market movie, y'know, not a documentary. You wouldn't look down your nose at someone who mentioned Billie Holliday in the same sentence with Lady Sings the Blues--or woodja?

Well I was just thirteen, you might say I was a musical proverbial knee-high, when I heard a couple new-sounding tunes on the tube and they blasted me sky-high. And the record man says "every one is a yellow Sun record from Nashville, and up north here ain't nobody buys 'em." And I said "but I will!"

Only in fuller's case you can substitute seven for thirteen.

Thanks again to everyone who has posted suggestions so far. It sounds as if we won't have any problem killing a week of evenings in Nashville.
posted by jfuller at 6:13 AM on July 10, 2004

I think the O Brother music is rootsier than Nashville's most famous product, too--it's just that there are so many ironies between all the changing musics falling under the country 'n western rubric and the changing demographics of the audiences for them. It was a comment on that and not a knock on your tastes at all. You asked a good question--I'd want to know where the same places were, too--and it looks like you got some fair to good answers. Have a nice trip and do check out the Parthenon.
posted by y2karl at 7:13 AM on July 10, 2004

Response by poster: This is AskMe, must...not...discuss...arrrgh! y2, I would take this to email but there's no address in your profile.

> it's just that there are so many ironies between all the changing musics
> falling under the country 'n western rubric and the changing demographics
> of the audiences for them.

Um. I don't think this has happened to country to nearly the degree it has to blues and jazz. I do my best not to dwell on irony because bodhidharma told me not to (what he actually said was "irony is worse than crack, kid, just say no") but if I did I would fetish the image of white blues fan Alan Wilson re-teaching Son House how to play his own songs because Son moved to New York and forgot.

No such re-teaching is needed (yet) by either the country audience or country performers. If country has picked up a few conflicted, gentrified yuppie fans hungrily searching for some--any--authentic culture, your NASCAR dad is still quite capable of listening (I mean listening naively, hat in hand, without having his mindfulness of the moment disturbed by six different crosscurrents of irony) when Ralph Stanley sings "O Death." So, I add, am I, and it's not something to be given up lightly. "Coat of Many Colors" leaves me wet down to my shoes.
posted by jfuller at 8:42 AM on July 10, 2004

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