Nashed Potatoes, For the Hill of It

11 Jun

Nashville. The Music City with a twang and skyline that’s inspired countless musicians. The music is so prevalent there, even the bums are strapped with Fender Stratocasters. After years of hearing the delightful sounds, I finally was able to get to the source. My cousin lives in the more-hipster-than-holster East side of Nashville, and for the final leg of my journey, I went to stay with him. Since he has to work just about all day preparing a restaurant for evening service, I spent an afternoon flying solo. The downtown area is a hub of history and tourist traps, with a lot of overlap. After nerding out in the Nashville public library, I spent almost an hour in the cubicle-sized lobby of Hatch Show Print Shop. They make all sorts of concert announcements, and it was like catnip (or cat-pixels?) for a graphics geek.

All hand-printed and rolled

Hand-printed and rolled. Photo by Tommy Werner

For most of the downtown places, I found myself thinking: “I could spend all day here.” Such was the case for Broadway, the main strip of honky tonks. My eater friends housed in Nashville all say Broadway’s the kind of place you go at the end of the night.


Photo by Tommy Werner

Now, what in Ernest Tubb’s name am I doing here in broad daylight on Broadway? It’s gloriously touristy, with cowboy hats in every window and high socks everywhere. My cousin refused to take me closer than a block. After an afternoon there, I’m glad I made the trip. All of the bars open at 10 a.m., but people “go out” long before that. Besides the best excuse for day-drinking since Sunday brunch, there’s also live music at just about every honky-tonk on the street. There’s also no cover charge, so you could possibly see 7 or 8 bands throughout the course of the day. Touristy or not, I love live music, and I can’t turn down an economic opportunity like that.

I settled on a four-piece band at Robert’s Western World. As I walk in, there’s a pack of older ladies sitting in the front, all clearly and impressively drunk for it only being 3 p.m. I grab one of the only stools at the bar (finding a spot was a chore, since everyone seemed to be there). The fry cook slaps American cheese on the ham melts, with a black t-shirt with “Say No To Shark Fins” printed in Japanese. I feel really good about all of this.

I ask for a PBR, the lowest cover charge you could probably pay. The bartender, fully tattooed (seems to be a common thread), asks if Dr. Pepper will be all right. Bless her heart, she thinks I’ve asked for a Mr. Pibb. And while soda is tastier than PBR ever will be, I probably should act my age. The ladies in the front are a hoot during and in-between songs, and I find out the little one in the middle is celebrating her 7oth birthday at Robert’s Western World, with a Bud Light-on-ice planted in hand.

“We’re taking requests, but birthday girl here needs somebody to dance with,” the lead singer coos. “But you’ve got to buy her a drink first. She’s a lady who knows what she wants.” Rosie, the birthday girl, rattles her ice while everybody else claps their hands. The group blares a version of Gram Parsons’ “Las Vegas,” and the guitar player, a frazzled, silver-haired pole of a guy, rips a guitar solo like he’s playing Saturday night at the biggest place in town, but he’s sharing his talent with this thirsty crowd of folks on a sticky Thursday afternoon.

Rosie and her crew hop up shortly afterwards to move onto the next honky tonk. “Y’all better be right back her for her 71st,” giggles the lead singer before they leave.

I’ve long ago decided to have a jazz funeral, but I’ve got to celebrate my 70th on Broadway Avenue. I could happily pass on to whatever’s next, whether that’s to eternity or to the next honky tonk.


One Response to “Nashed Potatoes, For the Hill of It”


  1. Graceland | Table Scraps - July 1, 2013

    […] Nashville was a blast. An exciting, gaudy, blast. Broadway had the kind of kitsch tourist things that’d make Anthony Bourdain’s blood boil faster than microwaved tea. Cowboy boots and […]

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