We had “use it or lose it” credit on American Airlines with very tight time constraints. We decided to go to Nashville! You know, spend money to save money. Our afternoon direct flight was uneventful and we were in our rental car by 5:30 pm.
We made it to our Airbnb, the Mint House at the Reserve. The site is a former Federal Reserve building that has been reconfigured into apartments and event space.
There is even an old vault!
Our lodgings in downtown Nashville were near the Tennessee State Capital. It is reportedly haunted! The initial architect, William Strickland, and a man hired to oversee the project, Samuel Morgan, did not get along and were often heard screaming at each other.
In 1854, Strickland passed away and his son took over as architect. He designed a way for his father to be buried in the northeast corner of the capital. Morgan decided he wanted to be there as well and was buried in the southeast corner when he died in 1880. Some believe the yelling continues!
After a quick dinner we walked to the Ryman Auditorium to see Smokey Robinson in concert.
Smokey, 82 years old, gave an outstanding show! His voice is still perfect and there were a number of standing ovations. His stories were entertaining and almost every song was familiar.
The Ryman Auditorium seats 2200 and ranks second in the world for acoustics. Only the Mormon Tabernacle is said to be better.
The Ryman Auditorium is named after Thomas Ryman, a steamboat captain and prominent businessman in the mid and late 1800s.
Ryman was part of the rough dock scene on the Cumberland River.
After hearing Reverend Sam Jones, a traveling revival pastor, Thomas Ryman became a believer. He built the Union Gospel Tabernacle so Jones would have a permanent place to preach when he was in Nashville.
Over time the building also hosted musical and civic events.
Over decades the music events became primary. The church was renamed the Ryman Auditorium after Ryman’s death in 1904. It is often referred to as the Mother Church of Country Music.
The Ryman Auditorium was the fifth home of the Grand Ole Opry as the radio show was staged there from 1943-1974.
Statues outside the auditorium include Loretta Lynn and Bill Monroe. We were told about Loretta Lynn’s controversial song in 1975, The Pill. It was about the freedom a woman has having access to birth control pills. Her recording company originally refused to produce the song which ultimately made the song more famous than it might have otherwise been.
In 1945 Bill Monroe brought a music style to Nashville that was ultimately called Bluegrass.
In 1954, nineteen year old Elvis Presley had a rough first performance at the Ryman Auditorium. He sang a rocked up version of Bill Monroe’s waltz “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” The audience didn’t like the changes but Monroe did. Monroe incorporated some of Elvis’ changes into his own later performances of the song.
Johnny Cash met June Carter for the first time at the Ryman. They were both married to other people at the time. Stories and personalities at the Ryman go on and on.
We enjoyed the first night of our unexpected holiday in Nashville!