Destination: Nashville

After the Nashville Flood: Grand Ole Opry House Reopens

USA Today has video from the restored venue, which opens its doors again tonight for the first time since Nashville’s disastrous spring flooding. The Grand Ole Opry itself stayed on the airwaves—as it has since 1925—broadcasting from other, undamaged locations around the city while its home received a $20 million renovation. Says longtime Opry member Marty Stuart: “It was time for a freshening up, so on the silver side of the flood, it’s like, ‘Thanks, God, for the flood and the insurance check.’”

World Hum columnist Tom Swick made it to one of those relocated Opry broadcasts, at the Ryman Auditorium, this summer. He wrote:

There was still the homey banter and the chummy words from sponsors, the easy mixing of newcomers and old-timers. A student at the New England Conservatory (playing fiddle and singing) followed Jack Greene (singing “Statue of a Fool”). As natural as this assemblage of young and old seemed—conscious preservation of the unbroken circle—it constituted something rarely seen in popular music today.

How High Was the Water, Mama?

After the flood, Nashville sings its way out of trouble

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Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just after I plucked my bag from the baggage carousel and walked out the airport doors to meet my ride, you wrapped me up in your humidity. Though that kind of welcome would, normally, put me off, I found it comforting. You were just making it clear that I was back in Nashville, that my two year for-no-good-reason exile from your borders had come to a close.

Before my visit, I told you I was nervous. One of my favorite cities, you had gone magical in my mind. When I thought about you, it was always fun fun fun, big food, history, music, blah blah blah. You were far removed from daily life. But from the minute that humidity grabbed me, I knew all would be OK. While my past visits have been anchored with purpose (reporting stories, the Tin Pan South festival, and so on), this trip was about, simply, hanging out and letting the week unfold as it might. I wanted to see what it was like just to be in Nashville, no run-around keep-yourself-busy necessary. My only requirements: eat at least one ice pop at Las Paletas and get a better understanding of the way your neighborhoods relate to each other.

You delivered.

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Nashville: An Affair Worth Remembering?

Nashville: An Affair Worth Remembering? Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Dear Nashville,

It’s been too long. For a while there, we had a thing going. I showed up every six months or so. You entertained me. It was an ongoing affair to remember. But then life got in the way. All my fault. I know. I apologize. But, really, my love for you has grown. I think about you constantly and, don’t tell my hometown (or anywhere else for that matter), but I’m secretly rooting for you in Travel + Leisure’s Favorite Cities survey.

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The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland

The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland Photo by Nicolas*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Alison Stein Wellner likes her food hot and spicy. To find out how hot and spicy, she searched the world for heat. Part five of five: From Nashville to Indianapolis.

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A ‘Twitcom’ from Southwest Airlines

This is priceless. Southwest Airlines’ blog, Nuts About Southwest, has posted what they call a “twitcom.” Here’s what they did: They created four characters, imagined a situation for them, and then, during an hour-long time window, Twitter followers submitted the lines the characters would speak. The incentive to participate came from the fact that Southwest picked one Twitterer in a raffle afterwards, and will send that person to the Nashville Film Festival.

The result is a 6-minute skit, acted out by Southwest employees on the airline’s emerging media team. Video below. As it says in the posting, “Please don’t laugh at our acting skills.” But isn’t that all part of the fun?


Morning Links: Bowie’s Clown Suit, Cute Penguin Overload and More


The Hutton Hotel: A Green Hotel Frenzy, Southern-Style!

Currently in a soft-opening phase—the property just opened its doors last week—downtown Nashville’s Hutton Hotel is one of the most eco-friendly properties in the Southeast. Unlike a lot of other ostensibly green hotels with a program where they don’t change your sheets very often and that’s all they do for the environment, the Hutton bristles with technology that makes it greener and more efficient for the hotel. (In other words, it saves them money so, presumably, there’s oopmh behind it).

Inside, the Hutton is awash in bamboo—a highly renewable wood—on the floors and on the walls. The hotel even has a program in place to reduce waste from tiny plastic bottles for bathroom amenities, as well as dual-flush toilets. There’s also sexier amenities like media hubs for your electronics, digital controls for the shower so you can set a specific temperature and television displays in the lobby that turn into mirrors when they’re switched off. The hotel’s worth checking out because it cleverly slots into the Nashville hotel market; less upmarket than the deluxe Hermitage, but without the swarms of conventioneers that overrun Opryland every weekend. I, for one, wouldn’t mind digital shower controls of my very own, though I’d settle for real water pressure in my apartment as a close second.

When Planning a Trip, Do Local Politics Matter?

No, you didn’t imagine that loud (and long-lasting) yay coming from Nashville on Jan. 22. It was the sound of the city’s English-only? seriously? contingent celebrating after the ridiculous measure was defeated in a (costly) special election.

While nothing could come between me and my Nashville (cause it’s a pretty damned fantastic city), it did get me wondering how much local politics play a role in other people’s travel choices. Have you ever put the kibosh on a trip because you didn’t like the politics of the place?

Morning Links: Buffalo-Wing Boycott, Nashville’s English-Only Measure and More

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State-by-State Home Improvement

bottles Photo by Jenna Schnuer.
At the Treasures & Trash Barn, Searsport, Maine. Photo by Jenna Schnuer.

Yeah, there are a few things here and there from places far, far away but, looking around my apartment, I realized that most of my art/knickknacks/stuff was hauled home in my carry-on, checked baggage or the trunk of a rental car from a trip to one of the 50. OK, I shipped the bear lamp home. This is some of it ...

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Nation Branding for your iPod? Canada Votes for a National Playlist.

Nation Branding for your iPod? Canada Votes for a National Playlist. Photo by FHKE via Flickr, (Creative Commons)
Photo by FHKE via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Call it change you can listen to: CBC Radio is hoping to get some made-in-Canada music onto incoming President Obama’s iPod.

The Canadian broadcaster is accepting nominations for a “definitive Canadian playlist”—dubbed “49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel”—to be unveiled on Obama’s inauguration day. “One of the best ways to know Canada is through the depth and breadth of our artistic expression,” said a CBC representative. “We’re excited about the new president, and we want him to be excited about us.”

So how do you go about compiling a definitive national playlist? CBC producers will whittle the suggestions from the public down to a manageable 100 most-nominated songs, and then online voting will cut the shortlist down to the final 49.

Sure, the project seems a tad goofy—realistically, Obama will have bigger things to worry about on Jan. 20 than whether he prefers Stompin’ Tom Connors or Gordon Lightfoot—but it got me thinking about music and national identity.

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