Within 2 minutes of arriving downtown on Broadway we listened to about 6 live bands on the first block! They call Nashville "Music City" and while I knew music and musicians are synonymous in Nashville, the stereo speakers in local street lights (on every corner) playing country super stars was surprising to me. Nashville was creative in every aspect. You couldn't walk, skip or look anywhere without seeing a mural, museum, gallery or every music venue you could think of.
As we were making our way down Broadway (on block #2) a group of young girls handed me a sticker that read Alice and Thunderland. They asked us if we wanted to catch a free show at the top level of the world famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge. In my months of searching for RAW venues in Nashville I remember seeing Tooties on a yelp search- and I remembered it being world famous. Everyone and Willie Nelson's Mom has played tootsies! The venue had every major country star's head shot and autograph plastered on the walls, along with signatures and carvings of names and initials in their walls that had to be dated from the '60s or later.
Alice and Thunderland were charming. A group of kids- a girl lead vocal and four male counterparts rocked the stage with rock and roll covers. It almost brought a tear to my eye. I could tell this was their first big gig- and I was proud for them, as if I knew them for years, or they were my kids.
We snagged them for a documentary interview, they were nervous- it was so cute. Turns out they were from Birmingham, Alabama. They had made the 2.5 hour drive to Nashville for their first big show. Alice and two Thunderlands were cousins, Alice's boyfriend was in the band and then there was a friend. They were adorable, ages ranging from 15-19. Their interview was precious. They may even be RAW artists soon, when they're old enough to get into the venue.
We had a fantastic turn out at Mercy Lounge for the Meet & Greet. People were so interested in what we were doing and so excited to be involved. Their Southern accents got me everytime- no matter what anyone said, it was special to me. Nashville has sweet people and every word is like a sugar coated gum drop.
We also caught several street performers in Nashville. "Mandolin Mike" a Nashville native gave us the break down and history of country music so eloquently that I even had a new respect for it- and I grew up surrounded by country music and have enjoyed it at times.
Mandolin Mike- performing with some locals that randomly joined in
All in all Nashville was a city full of aspiration, passion and musicians. Singer/Songwriters laying out their guitar cases in the street not because they expect anything in return- but because they simply want to share what they love and be heard. While most of them strive for a performance at the Grand Ole Opry- I got the feeling that they were content just doing what brings them joy.