Friday, August 05, 2005

Nashville - Play Day #4

My last real day in Nashville. Michaela and I hooked up with Tracey for lunch and she took us to Monell's. This was my first time trying soul food, and I was very excited. Monell's is set in a beautiful Victorian house, reminiscent of Stratford. We were led to one of several rooms that serve as dining rooms. But instead of small tables, you sit around a large dining room table. Our table was set for 14. We were the only people there, but when it's full, you sit with whoever is put at your table. The waitress told us to help ourselves to tea while she brought out the food. I was a little confused, because I had yet to see a menu. Well guess what - there is no menu. They just serve you food! Whatever they've made that day. So out come these ladies with huge bowls of food - fried chicken, creamed potatoes, biscuits, corn bread, peach preserves, green beans, spinach lasagna, and something green with marshmallows and pecans in it. The food kept coming til there was over 12 bowls of food on the table. All for the 3 of us. And then brownies for dessert. It was impressive. We just kept eating and eating til they asked us to leave {they're only open a few hours at a time}. It was like Christmas or Thanksgiving in my family. They just bring you food til you roll out the door.

Michaela flew home today, so after dropping her off at the airport, Tracey and I visited the Speer Building on Music Row. This is the part of town where all the music publishers and record companies are located. It doesn't look like a business district at all. Most of the companies are in gorgeous old homes. I got to say a few good-byes, meet Ben's dogs, and see a little behind the scenes stuff. I have already been assigned my voice teacher for next year's school.

Tonight was the Grand Ole Opry. This is the only thing I had planned before I came. It's no secret that I'm not a country music fan, but how could I come to Nashville and not see the Opry? And I'm sure everyone else knows this, but "Opry" is a bastardization of "Opera". This made me giggle. The Opry is still a live-to-air radio show, and runs as such. There is no curtain between acts. People are very casual on stage. Performers will stand on the side of the stage to watch the other acts, and their friends and family have special seats on the stage itself. There are 8 acts. Everyone does about 12 minutes, with 3 minutes of live commercials inbetween. The whole show is 2 hours exactly. Our show was a mix of old and new country. First there was hall-of-famer Porter Wagoner. He's exactly what I think of when I think Opry. A cowboy hat and a rhinestoned purple suit. But he was wonderful. His voice is old, but his spirit felt young. And you can tell he means every word he sings. Then there was a great singer, Rebecca Lynn Howard. Great vocals and fun songs. Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys provided great bluegrass music. Did you know bluegrass music started with the Irish and Scottish settlers? They brought the Celtic music up into the mountains, and it developed into bluegrass. That's my people! Billy Currington was a sexy hillbilly treat. He's got to be a rising star. Mandy Barnett has great smoky vocals, but she really needs a good stylist. Dress-shorts and heels are so 1985. John Conlee sang a song about the families of soldiers at war. Not as good a song as Hero at Home, from the Bluebird, but it had the crowd on its feet. Jim Ed Brown delivered touching old songs with warm harmonies. Really gentle and charming. Daryle Singletary finished the program with an accent so thick I couldn't understand a word he said. He's a real cowboy-hat-wearing country singer. A little too country for me.

The Opry ends at 9:00, so we visited the IMAX theatre to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and chocolate. What could be better?

We then went for a stroll through the Opryland Hotel. It's amazing. There are 3 arboretums inside the actual hotel. And one has a river, and in the day, you can take a boat ride though it. I really wanted to knock on someone's room so I could see inside, but I didn't think it would go over very well. I know the people here are friendly, but that may be pushing it.

I've had an amazing time in Nashville, but I'm also looking forward to going home tomorrow. Here's prayers for safe travel...

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