We refused to leave Nashville without attending a concert.
Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the live music screaming from scores of Broadway juke joints and honky tonks, combining to create a three chord din, and it’s all for free.
But getting past the burly bouncers requires mastery of a special skill set, namely: zigzagging through hordes of bridal parties and lady’s-night-outers;
sidestepping the street people and the homeless; and dodging the drunks and the soon-to-become-drunks who walk a crooked line.
Instead, Leah and I were in the mood for more of a formal venue. However, Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium–featuring The Charlie Daniel Band–had sold out weeks ago, including standing room.
Undeterred, we scoured the internet and stumbled across an offering that showcased the quieter side of Nashville.
I was definitely up for the concert, but Leah was hesitant.
“I think we should do it,” I stated. “Besides, there’s nothing else out there that compares to this.”
“I don’t know,” said Leah, unconvinced. “For starters, I don’t know anything about John Hiatt. And second of all, I don’t think I can spend two hours looking at Lyle Lovett. I mean, how in the world he was married to Julia Roberts has to be one of life’s great mysteries!”
“I don’t think she fell in love with his looks, and I’m certain he feels the same way after two years together with her… Look, why don’t we find out if tickets are even available?” I argued.
“Okay,” Leah relented.
Unfortunately, online shopping established that only single seats scattered through the orchestra and balconies still remained, and that was not an option. However, a direct call to the box office revealed that a cache of tiered seats directly behind the stage could be ours if we were willing to forgo direct eye contact.
“What about the sound quality?” Leah asked the agent.
“It’s a symphony hall! You’ll hear it the same as everybody else, and it’s amazing!” the agent proclaimed.
“That’s perfect!” I declared, openly displaying my enthusiasm. “We get to hear two time-honored performers with deep songbooks, and you don’t have to look at either one of them.”
“Okay,” Leah surrendered.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center was designed with neo-classical underpinnings,
which seems characteristically out of place,
given Nashville’s lowbrow sensibility, and glass tower affinity.
We stepped into a stripped-down, blue-lit stage–just guitars and voices, and an occasional harmonica–as Lovett and Hiatt traded songs and repartee,
providing 2½ hours of mutual admiration,
and audience participation.
An evening of watching the backs of Lovett and Hiatt, while listening to their tone poems and anthems about America sounded wonderful.
The following day, the hit parade continued with a pilgrimage to Country Music nirvana,
where a million fans come every year to pay tribute to Country Western legends who’ve turned an American music genre into an international juggernaut.
Currently, museum exhibits follow the careers of music royalty, honoring the Queen of Country,
and the King of Folk–
–with multi-media memories, and enough testimonial trivia to solidify their golden reputations.
This is our second time through Nashville during our year-long odyssey; we’ve passed this way over seven months ago (Rig or Mortis) traveling southbound, and it’s become our way station once again as we move to warmer weather for the winter season.
We’ll surely pass through Nashville after we’ve emerged from our Florida hibernation, but next time around, we’ll have reserved tickets to the Grand Ole Opry in our hands before we get there.