In September, my wife and I went to Nashville to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. We chose Nashville because we wanted to go someplace that felt new but didn’t require a ridiculous amount of travel time or money. Also, everyone I’ve spoken with that’s been to Nashville has enjoyed their time there. In addition to eating an insane amount of fried food and meat, our trip was punctuated by several music-related excursions, which I detail below.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The only reason why we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is that we wanted to do a tour of Studio B and that can’t be done without getting a ticket for the museum first. Neither my wife nor I are country music fans but we’re familiar with many of the big names, such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and, of course, Taylor Swift. There was an interesting exhibit on the Judds, replete with numerous Grammy Awards and dresses. One of Elivs’ cars was on display, and Vince Gill, who I recently saw on tour with the Eagles, was highlighted in the museum too. What was most visually impressive was the hundreds, if not thousands, of gold and platinum records adorning the walls. It made one thing clear: whether it’s my preferred form of music or not, country music is an extremely successful genre of music.
The tour of Studio B was great. More than 35,000 songs were brought to life in this historic venue, including 200+ by The King himself, Elvis Presley. Stepping into that famous recording studio, knowing that so much profoundly important music was recorded there, was a highlight of our trip. What made it better was Fred Vail, who owns and operates Treasure Isle, a recording studio in Nashville, was there and he regaled us with stories about Johnny Cash, Elvis, and others. It made an already excellent tour even better.
Addiction Sound Studios
My friend, Jonathan Cain of Journey, was kind enough to facilitate a private tour for us of his studio in Nashville. His business partner, David Kalmusky, walked us around and told us about the design of the studio and the equipment contained within, as well as stories about Journey, Jon, Neal Schon, John Oates, and others that have used the space. At one point, he noticed I was looking at a keyboard and said, “That’s from the ‘Separate Ways’ music video. And below it is a portable piano that Jon and Steve Perry wrote ‘Faithfully’ on.” I couldn’t believe it! David also showed us a massive soundboard that was used by Journey, Heart, Huey Lewis & The News, and other major artists for classic recordings. Hanging on the walls were various awards and photos related to Jon and Journey. As a fan and a friend, it was an overwhelmingly awesome experience. I can’t thank Jon and David enough for their hospitality and generosity. They have a top-notch recording studio of which they should be proud. It’s beautiful!
The Bluebird Cafe
Ever since I first heard the John Waite song “Bluebird Cafe,” I’ve wanted to visit the music venue that inspired this beautiful song. I’m happy to report that it did not disappoint. Not only did the Bluebird live up to the hype, it surpassed it. It’s an unassuming listening room located in a strip mall outside of downtown Nashville. The show we attended was an in-the-round acoustic set featuring Victoria Banks, Phil Barton, Emily Shackleton, and Cassadee Pope. Three of the musicians were on acoustic guitars, while one was on keyboards. They went around the horn telling stories and singing songs we were hearing for the first time because of our unfamiliarity with country music. That said, all of the songs were either good or great and the chemistry between the musicians was palpable. It was an exceptional night of music for which I’m grateful. If you ever have the chance to visit the Bluebird, do it. You’ll love it.