Welcome to Music City: come early and stay late!
You’ll have plenty to do at CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference this year: seminars, workshops, one-on-one mentoring, jam rooms, showcases, open mics, and so much more.
But you’re also going to be in the heart of Music City in the summertime. You should totally take some time to experience what makes Nashville so vibrant and unique. It’s a town that — according to the the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp — “sizzles with American music, Southern hospitality, unbelievable cuisine,” and a pretty much boundless choice of activities.
First, get your tickets to the DIY Musician Conference, reserve your hotel, and get ready for a music-filled weekend (August 25-27) that will take your career to the next level. Then, if you have time on either side of the conference to explore, here’s some ideas from the Nashville tourism folks on how to spend it…
The top 10 things you can only do in Nashville:
1. Hit the Hall
Kick off your Nashville experience with a day at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The world’s largest popular music museum offers every-changing exhibits featuring the legends of country music past and today’s hottest stars.
Grab a bite to eat inside the museum at 2/22 Eatery, a full-service restaurant serving Southern favorites, or at Bajo Sexto, an authentic Mexican taqueria.
Then take some time to explore the museum’s two retail stores offering locally-made gifts, clothing, and a comprehensive selection of books and music.
2. Ride the Row
Take a tour of Music Row and visit historic RCA Studio B, the famous recording studio where Elvis recorded over 200 songs. Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, and many more recorded classic hits here.
Not surprisingly, the heartbeat of Music City is driven by music — from country to classical. Tours of RCA Studio B depart daily from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
3. Visit the Home of the Greek Gods
In Nashville’s Centennial Park, you’ll find the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon houses an art gallery and museum as well as Alan LeQuire’s Athena Parthenos. Standing at almost 42 feet in height, Athena is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world.
Just a mile from the Parthenon is the LeQuire Gallery, where you can visit Alan in his studio and witness one of the nation’s premiere sculptors.
4. Take in a Songwriters-in-the-Round Show
One of the most unique ways to hear music in Nashville is at a songwriters show. Typically called a “writers night,” songwriters are put somewhere they are not used to being — in the spotlight. Several singer-songwriters will play ‘in-the-round’ as they sit on stage accompanied only by a microphone, a guitar, and their immense talent.
These shows can be found in small, intimate clubs all over town, including the famous Bluebird Cafe in Green Hills and downtown’s The Listening Room Cafe.
5. Outdoor Concerts
Music steps outside in the summer. Events like Musicians Corner at Centennial Park, Full Moon Pickin’ Parties at Percy Warner Park Equestrian Center, Bluebird on the Mountain, Music in the Vines at Arrington Vineyard, and Live on the Green at public Square Park bring the high notes to the great outdoors. Head to Riverfront Park for a concert at the Ascend Amphitheater and take in the incredible views of downtown and the Cumberland River.
6. Nashville’s Newest Sounds
Honoring musicians from stars to studio players that represent all genres of music, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is housed in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
From Hank Williams, Sr. to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motown to Southern Rock — there is truly something of interest to everyone. Pay homage to the Man in Black at the Johnny Cash Museum located on 3rd Avenue. Featuring the most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, this is THE Cash venue to visit for all ages.
Then stroll up to the George Jones Museum on 2nd Avenue, which offers visitors a never-before-seen look into the life and career of the musical icon.
7. Take a Timeline Journey
The Ryman Auditorium, also called the “Mother Church of Country Music,” has had artists as diverse as Elvis Costello and Patsy Cline perform on its legendary stage since 1892. You can take a backstage tour and record your own song in the Ryman studio.
The stars of the Grand Ole Opry take the stage every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday night (at the Ryman Auditorium November-January; at the Grand Ole Opry House February-October) with guest appearances by the biggest names in music.
With 90 years of history, the Opry is the world’s longest-running broadcast and shows no signs of slowing down.
Three U.S. Presidents call Tennessee home: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. You can revisit the past at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Home of the People’s President. Polk is buried on the grounds of the historic State Capitol building in downtown Nashville.
9. Visit Honky Tonk Highway
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, The Second Fiddle, The Stage, Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, and Robert’s Western World are all experts at serving up cool longnecks and hot country music. You never know who you’ll see in these Lower Broadway clubs in the shadow of the Ryman. Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, and other stars began their careers on Lower Broadway.
10. Special Events
Summer in Nashville is a season full of festivals, sports, food, and, of course, live music. Check the summer calendars!
For a detailed map of downtown Nashville, and all the hot spots to hit, go HERE.
To get your tickets to the DIY Musician Conference, happening this August 25-27, go HERE.