Monday, June 23, 2008

On Tour: Nashville

The year before last, my best friend Andrew got married and moved to Nashville after his wife got a fellowship at Vanderbilt. We used to spend quite a few weekends down there in college, as it offered both a nightlife and an abundance of musical venues, two things sorely lacking in Murray State’s surrounding retirement community in a dry county. (Certain districts of the town of Murray have since gone “moist,” a kind of creepy way of saying they allow beer to be served in establishments that derive at least 75% of their income from food.)

Anyway, I finally got to make a trip down to see him this past long weekend, and I’m now on the plane back. We’d planned on at least 2 days of fishing on Percy Priest Reservoir, but that was cut down to one after we busted the prop on our rental boat. We weren’t having much luck anyway, with our catch of the day a 1-pound largemouth bass not even legal to keep, and a bunch of undersized white bass.

I got some real keepers at the record stores, though – I forgot how great The Great Escape is, with Van Morrison’s and the Old 97s’ new releases weighing in at $8.99 each, Stereolab’s The Groop Played Space Age Batchelor Pad Music (sic) at a paltry $5.99, and a “Welcome to Nash Vegas” bumper sticker rounding out the purchase at a less-of-a-bargain $2. Drew, though, clued me into Grimey’s Records, a more out-of-the-way place with an even better used CD selection. I got 2 more Van Morrison CD’s – Common One and A Period of Transition – to almost complete my collection of his domestic releases, as well as The Cream of Clapton (I saw Crossroads listed as the 4th-ranked guitar song of all time in a Rolling Stone at the garage while Andrew was getting a hubcap, and had to hear it), Golden Smog’s latest, and Beth Orton’s Best Bit (say that as fast as you can 5 times) EP, all for under $35. (On a how-themighty-have-fallen note – Metallica played at Grimey’s tiny basement venue the night before, and I was intrigued how they’d spun their epic battle with Napster as a “vinyl vs. digital” thing rather than the much more plausible “corporate band defending its label’s profits” thing. I guess they had to make sure they sold all 200 tickets to the show.)

We had a good time out at some of Nashville’s eating and drinking establishments, though. I passed Friday afternoon while Drew was working, and then Friday night when he joined me, at the South Street Smokehouse drinking pint after pint of Sweetwater Pale at the bar with the local crowd, then w e woke up late Saturday morning and had country ham, biscuits, and grits at a tiny soda shop with a pleasantly ancient waitress. After spending the whole day on the water, we took it easy Saturday night and packed up for the beach Sunday, an entirely enjoyable day of chargrilled steak, Coronas, and manufactured sand. Sunday night we wound down with the Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Bosco’s Brewery. Monday morning it was Pancake Pantry, the place for breakfast in Nashville – at least that’s what Andrew says, until we find that his crazy neighbor who accosted him last weekend for letting his cats too close to her pit bull she has chained to her porch is in fact our waitress. But then she apologizes and gives him his breakfast for free, and it becomes the place to eat breakfast in Nashville again. That evening we did a final-evening whirlwind trip through Flying Saucers, home of more brews than I could drink in a year; Trivia Night at the Corner Bar (proper noun) with his wife and her friends; and 4 hours of karaoke at Lonnie’s, perhaps the seediest place I’ve had the pleasure of playing a fool at.

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