Nashville has never been exclusively country and western music. In the early days of Music Row, Nashville was often regarded as Music City U.S.A. Music Row had a tremendous impact on rock and roll. In the early 1950s, Elvis began recording some of his 200 plus recorded songs throughout his lifetime at RCA Studio B, which attributed to the legend of Studio B and to Nashville becoming an influential music-industry city.
From the mid-1950s through the 1990s, Music Row would undergo one transformation after another. In the mid-1950s, the Nashville Sound was created in which country music began producing higher quality recordings with slight rock and roll undertones now synonymous with Nashville. In the 1960s and 1970s, women began to fight for their presence on the stage, so to speak. Women were becoming Music Row singing sensations and as office heads. While the 1960s Music Row would produce country and western legend Dolly Parton, it was not until the late 1980s and 1990s when Music Row would produce and influence several hugely successful crossover musical acts such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Faith Hill, all of whom would go on to gain popularity in both country and pop music charts.
Today, Music Row is a melting pot of industry movers and shakers. You will still find recording studios and record labels; however, you will also find an assortment of other industry affiliations such as radio stations, corporate headquarters, and video production companies. These streets have been, and are, home to some of the greats of country and western, as well as to successful crossover talents. Many people currently fear the Nashville Sound is in danger of being lost due to the growing number pre-fabricated music by companies attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the genre rather than to produce the unique, inspiring, and quality sound historically associated with Nashville and country music.
Where to go
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located within walking distance of Nashville's famous Music Row district, and it offers country music fans an immersive and entertaining experience. The museum presents a comprehensive history of the musical genre, plus it features a number of amazing exhibits that show off some of the most notable artifacts in country music. The Hall of Fame highlights the people who have been instrumental in making country music a world-wide sensation.
No visit to Nashville's Music Row is complete without stopping at RCA's famous Studio B. This studio was built in 1956, and it has been the site of hundreds of famous recordings by some of country music's biggest stars. It gained fame during the 1960s for introducing the world to the so-called Nashville sound that defined popular country music, and the music recorded there became so influential that the city of Nashville emerged as a major center of music business and recording. The studio continues to be used to this day by recording artists and college students studying analog recording techniques. Daily tours are offered for those who want to learn about this storied studio.
While most attractions in Nashville, Tennessee, near Music Row are focused on music, the Adventure Science Center offers a completely unique experience for the whole family. It features over 150 interesting exhibits as well as a massive planetarium. Moreover, the Adventure Science Center offers a number of educational programs for children and adults.
The Music City Walk of Fame is a terrific attraction for those who want to stay active outdoors. It commemorates the contributions of people who have played a significant role in the city's musical history. Interested visitors can enjoy the Walk of Fame by starting at Walk of Fame Park on Demonbreun Street. Every year, the Walk of Fame hosts an induction ceremony, as well, that honors its newest members. This event usually takes place in the early summer, but the Walk itself is available for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.
Although Music Row is known for being the epicenter of much of the world's recorded music, very few live music venues exist in the area. Thankfully, The Tin Roof exists to provide some of the city's best live music performances on a daily basis. In addition to great live music from some of the most beloved American genres, The Tin Roof offers a full menu and a great selection of beverages. Visitors enjoy the establishment for its live music schedule, but they also love the relaxed and laid-back atmosphere of the venue.
The Music City Star is Nashville's regional rail line, and its Nashville stop is roughly a mile and a half from Music Row at Nashville Riverfront Station. This commuter rail service runs from downtown Nashville approximately 30 miles out to Lebanon, Tennessee. Several other lines are currently planned or under construction. From the Riverfront Station stop, a number of bus connections to other destinations around the downtown area are available.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority runs Nashville's bus system. Bus service is extensive throughout the city, and a number of buses run near Music Row. Nashville also has a well-developed park and ride system in which free parking is provided at a number of locations throughout the metropolitan area. Visitors can then leave their cars elsewhere and take the bus in to Music Row. Gray Line Nashville also runs several charter and regular tours that pass near the area.
The Music City Circuit is a free service than runs buses and vans on three different routes through downtown Nashville and Music Row. Because of its cost and convenience, this is one of the best ways to get around the downtown area. Another advantage of the Music City Circuit for visitors is that it stops at a number of landmark locations. All buses and vans are wheelchair accessible.
The Music City Trolley Hop is a hop-on hop-off trolley that runs through the downtown area and includes a guided tour. It goes near Music Row and other places of interest. The entire journey and tour takes about one hour and has seven stops along the way.
Taxis are plentiful throughout Nashville and can be hailed on the street near Music Row as well as booked in advance. Alternatives to taxis such as limousines and town cars are available as well.
The MTA encourages cycling throughout the Nashville area by permitting bicycles on buses. It's possible to travel partly by bus and partly by cycle in this way, and downtown Nashville and the Music Row area are all good areas for cyclists.
Private or rental cars are another option for transportation in the area. Because Music Row is a pleasant historic district and good for pedestrians, visitors may want to find a parking garage for the car and see the neighborhood on foot. Car rental agencies are located near the neighborhood as well.
A Thousand Faces
A favorite of celebrities like Kenny Chesney, A Thousand Faces in Hillsboro Village has trendy jewelry, playing cards and art originals. Conveniently located near restaurants and area universities, locals can drop in to this cheerful artisan shop when they go out to eat and visitors can stop by when they tour Music Row. With the changing stock, regular shoppers check in every few months to see the new merchandise.
Downtown Antique Mall
With decent prices and a huge selection, this antique mall has the best in vintage home wares and furniture. Certainly a hidden gem in the less attractive part of town, the mall is still worth a trip for those who love antiques and those who want to furnish their home inexpensively or purchase less expensive gifts. The vintage items found at this location are from different eras, especially from the mid-1900s to the 2000s.
Elders Book Store
A charming and traditional used bookstore at Elliston Place, visitors can browse the available collections. Many happy minutes and hours are spent pouring over remarkable books with fascinating stories, helpful information and entertaining material. The store has vintage and even rare books on a wide variety of topics like travel, history, and biographies. Any type of book of any genre is found at this location.
Katy K's Ranch Dressing
In this town that is known for its Country Music, Katy K's Ranch Dressing is an appropriate specialty store. Show stopping attire is often found by shoppers. Selling treasured country-style clothing from the past, this small store has well-made cowboy hats and boots as well as cowgirl dresses and skirts, chaps and wrangling attire.
Local Color Gallery
On Broadway, Local Color Gallery makes Tennessee art available to the public. 40 regional artists are well represented in this little shop. The works are done in various styles such as realistic and impressionistic. The mediums are mainly oils on canvas, but oils on wood, blown glass and other types of visual arts are also displayed.
Shoppers find jewelry and gifts as well as clothing in this boutique shop on 21st Avenue. The quality and lovely items found at Pangaea are sophisticated, but sales and good deals are offered. The sales clerks are friendly and helpful as well. The interesting home wares and small gift items are intriguing, and shoppers enjoy spending some time looking around in this little store.
Big Nashville Events
CMA Music Festival Fan Fair
Country music lovers rejoice in Nashville's four-day music festival held each June. Spotlighting some of country music's hottest stars and most beloved artists, the music festival includes more than 150 hours of concerts, autograph signings and an abundance of exhibits. In recent years, more than 400 musicians and artists participated in the festival that began in 1972 as a fan fair. About 250,000 fans attend the event over the four-day period. The festival is presented by the Country Music Association.
Nashville Film Festival
Lights, camera, action! One of the oldest film festivals in the United States, the Nashville Film Festival showcases film features in categories such as narrative, documentary, and music, and short films in categories including narrative, animated and experimental. More than 26,000 film buffs attend the festival each year, along with dozens of celebrities and actors. The film festival shows more than 200 films and includes film panels, parties and music events. The 40-year-old festival is held in April.
With a $150,000 purse at stake, the Iroqouis Steeplechase is a coveted win for thoroughbred owners. The horse race is held on the second Saturday each May and attracts more than 25,000 spectators to the Percy Warner Park track in Nashville. Races begin at 1 p.m. and conclude with the main Iroquois race at about 4:30 p.m. Proceeds from the event benefit Vanderbilt's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital. The race has occurred nearly unimpeded since 1941.
Country Music Marathon
Running into its second decade is the St. Jude's Country Music Marathon, part of the Rock 'N Roll Marathon family. The marathon is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon and features a variety of live music along the 26.2-mile course. A half marathon and a mini marathon for kids also are part of the event. The marathon starts in Nashville's Centennial Park and ends at the Tennessee Titan's home stadium, LP Field. About 30,000 athletes participate in the race.
Nashville's place as the country music capital of the world is reinforced each year as the home to the Country Music Association's annual awards ceremony. Televised live to millions, the CMA Awards show is held at the Bridgestone Arena and honors some of country's music's brightest stars. Nominees and winners of the awards are selected by CMA members. A limited number of show tickets are available to the public.
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