Tag Archives: Marathon Village

A Tuesday Night in Nashville

15 Mar

I have written a couple of posts about Nashville and the great things it offers to those of us who live in its vicinity. For those who think it is a 21st Century version of Hee Haw, I feel the need to explain that Nashville is a cosmopolitan community that happens to be the home of country music. Last night, my girlfriend and I experienced a little of both – call it cosmo-country.

We started the evening by meeting some friends and going to Virago, one of my favorite restaurants.

It has fantastic sushi and is one of the go-to places in town for the famous and not-so-famous (which I am obviously part of). It is part of a collection of restaurants within a block, and each has a different feel. Across the street, sits Whiskey Kitchen, a laid back place where you can get good drinks and comfort food. Kayne Prime is also part of the collection, A high-end steak house, its bar has one of the best views of the Nashville skyline. There is also a secret locale known by only a few. Somewhere in the area is a speakeasy type club for members only. Luckily, I am a member. I would tell you all about it, but I would have to kill you.

After a dinner, we jumped a few blocks down and across the interstate to Marathon Village, home of several cool stores and Marathon Music Works, a new music hall that I had never been to before. I must admit that I entered with some trepidation. We were going to see a couple of performers that my girlfriend listens to all of the time, and we don’t have the same musical tastes. A few weeks ago, I took her to see Lady Antebellum on one night and Jason Aldean on another. I have been planning a post on those experiences, so I won’t go into detail now. I will just say that today’s country music is not my favorite, and some of them need to decide if they are going to be AC/DC or Hank Williams.

With that rant out-of-the-way, I will continue. We were there to see David Nail and Gavin DeGraw. I had no idea what either one of them sing, and I still don’t. However, that did not dampened the fun that I had. They are both great performers, and the crowd was buzzing as they sang. The music hall, which is located in an abandoned factory, is also cool with a huge layout and plenty of bars.

I firmly believe that there is no better place in the world to listen to live music than Nashville. I know that Austin, Texas claims to be the “Live Music Capital of the World”, and I have experienced that. There is definitely some great music played there. But, Nashville has numerous places where you can hear world-class music every night. I would venture to say that the vast majority of wait staff working at Virago or any other restaurant can play and sing as good as anyone you hear on the radio. People don’t go to Austin to get discovered, but they do come here. It is interesting to hear David Nail talk on stage about moving to Nashville three times before getting a gig playing in a local bar and feeling the appreciation he has for finally making it. It is cool to go to a dive and hear someone then see them some awards show years later. That is the musical experience in Nashville.

I am not a fan of today’s country music, but I am a fan of the city from which in emanates. It makes Nashville a special place in the eyes of the world. Those of us who live here know that it is special for other reasons as well.

A Sunday in Nashville

14 Feb

I must start out by bragging a little. Nashville is a great place to live. It has the feel of a small southern town combined with an eclectic culture. Sure, Nashville has country music, but there is much more – art galleries, dining, parks, interesting places to browse. The list goes on and on. I wrote earlier about some of Nashville’s coolness, and this past Sunday I immersed myself into some of it. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how interesting Nashville is.

Sunday was not warm by anyone’s standards, but it was nice day nonetheless. Having spent most of the weekend around the house, my girlfriend and I decided to make our way into the big city and see what was going on. After some discussion about where to begin, I made an executive decision to head toward Marathon Village. This is an abandoned car factory from the early 20th Century that is being redefined as one of Nashville’s hip locations.

Marathon Village

I went to Marathon Village for a couple of reasons. First, we are going to a concert there in a few weeks, and I felt that some reconnaissance was in order. Second, this is the location of Antique Archaeology, a store that opened not too long ago. If you have ever seen American Pickers, then you know that this store is filled with stuff found by Mike and Frank. The store was filled with people and, to our surprise, had live music. After some browsing and listening, we crossed the street to a really cool art gallery.

By this time, we both needed to eat and have a few drinks. There are a variety of good restaurants to choose from in Nashville, but we went with an old standby. J. Alexander’s. The chain is based in Nashville and has several locations, but our favorite is on West End. I must admit that the food wasn’t great, but we had good drinks, good conversation and a good view because many of the tables, including ours, overlook Centennial Park.

Yes, we have a Parthenon. There is even a statue of Athena inside.

Centennial Park was created for an exposition to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. At the time, it was covered with buildings and exhibitions from throughout the world. The Parthenon is the only remaining building. And, why does Nashville have a replica of the ancient Greek structure? Before being known as “Music City”, Nashville was known as the “Athens of the South” because of the numerous universities in the area.

Speaking of higher education, our next stop was the bookstore at Vanderbilt University. It used to be a Borders, and my favorite bookstore in Nashville, but, as most book lovers know, Borders was killed by Kindle users. Barnes and Noble took its place with a hybrid public/university bookstore. It is a great place to browse the shelves, but, as a University of Tennessee fan, the black and gold memorabilia gives me the creeps.

After buying a few books, we found ourselves not wanting to go home. Instead, we headed to Whiskey Kitchen, one of the happening places in Nashville. It is packed most nights, but Sunday afternoon gave it a laid back atmosphere with people wanting have a few drinks and some comfort food. We drank the drinks but skipped the food.

As the name entails, they serve whiskey.

After watching the red carpet part of the Grammy’s, which made me drink more, we left the Whiskey and hit Midtown. This is an area behind Vanderbilt (Honestly, we did not make a complete circle around the campus.) that has a collection of small bars and restaurants. This is one of my favorite places to hang out, and a good time is always had in the area. Well, almost always. Loser’s, one of the bars, was one of the last places Steve McNair was seen alive. If you don’t who he is, then I suggest you Google it. The story captured our city for a long time. We didn’t go bar-hopping to Loser’s or many of the other places. We hit the Blue Bar.

I have no idea why they call it blue when it's really red.

Our Blue Bar experience is what makes Nashville special and different from other cities. There are parks, restaurants and bars everywhere. However, only in Nashville can you hear people sing and think they may be famous one day. Obviously, Nashville is full of people wanting to be stars. But, it is hard to imagine how many. There are bartenders and waitresses all over town who have more talent than many superstars. They just haven’t caught the break that everyone looks for. Talented people sing in small bars and venues throughout the city just hoping they will be seen. I have heard a bunch that never made it but a few that did. I saw Jewel open a show once and didn’t think she had a chance. So, my eye for talent may not be very keen. But, we saw a band on Sunday that may have a shot. In fact, it’s the only unknown band I have heard that hit me in that way. They were called Peter Terry and the City Profits, and I urge you to Google them. They have an album on iTunes that I have already bought. If they make it, then my girlfriend and I can always say that we saw them at the Blue Bar along with 15 other people.

After all this drinking, I needed some more food before driving home. This time we skipped the quaint bistros and went straight for the king of all Mexican food chains, Chuy’s.

Not real Mexican food, but it's good anyway.

The food is great, and half of the stuff on the menu is an homage to Elvis. How can you beat a combination of Mexican food and Elvis? Here’s a hint – you can’t.

That was our Sunday on the Nashville scene. If you ever get a chance to visit, then be sure to make it happen. You’ll have a great time.