Day 21 – Nashville TN

This morning we were lucky (or unlucky) to get a seat on the “Nash Trash” tour of Nashville.  I had read about this tour before, but was aware that it is normally booked out weeks in advance.  By chance (I’m guessing they must have had a late cancellation), their website showed 10 spare seats on this morning’s tour, so we chanced our arm and turned up without a reservation hoping to secure a spot.

The Nash Trash tour is run by two fifty-something sisters, Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay, who run an intentionally over-the-top tour on a converted school bus, which is painted hot pink.  It is more comedy act than informative tour, and it comes with warnings that it is not for the easily offended.

When we arrived at the pick-up point, the sisters were on the bus getting ready whilst everyone waited outside.  When one of the sisters opened the window slightly and announced “we’ll be letting you on the bus shortly, but I just farted, so we better just wait for a minute”, I groaned and thought “what the hell are we letting ourselves in for !!!”

When they finally got us on the bus, things did improve.  The tour took us around the main part of Nashville and was part comedy act, part song and dance routine, a little bit of commentary thrown in almost as an afterthought, and a heavy dose of innuendo.

For the first 20 minutes of the tour, the sisters went around the bus, person by person, asking everyone’s name and where they were from.  On hearing we were from Australia, lots of jokes about Bindi Irwin and what might happen “down under” ensued.

The tour was better than it sounds and certainly had everyone on the bus guffawing away.  At the end of the tour, as they were telling us to be careful as we got off the bus, the sisters broke into song with the ditty:

“Be sure the door don’t hit ya, Where God went and split ya”

Jane like that one and said “that has to go in the blog”, so it has …

After the tour and lunch at the Farmers Markets, we spent a couple of hours exploring the parks and streets of Nashville, walking up Capitol Hill and taking lots of photos of Nashville streetscapes.

Whilst there is plenty to see during the day, it is the evening when Nashville really comes alive and we headed out to soak up the nightlife.  After particularly average bar food (probably the biggest eating let down we had had so far on tour), we went bar hopping in search of live music.

Where Memphis has “juke joints”, Nashville has “Honky Tonks”, and the biggest concentration of them is on a couple of blocks on Broadway.  We tried the “Whiskey Bent Saloon” first, and eased into the night with a couple of drinks listening to a three piece band playing songs I didn’t know.

The Nash Trash girls had given us their tips about which bars the locals go to, so we decided to trust local knowledge and moved on to Layla’s Bluegrass Inn.  As we arrived, there was a five piece girl band playing that were a step up from the band in the last bar.

When they finished, we contemplated moving on but something about the next band that was setting up told us that they could be interesting and worth hanging around for.  After about twenty minutes of setting up, where the band did their own roadie work, they announced that the were “Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys”, and they would be playing their own brand of “Outlaw Country” right through to closing time.

What a motley collection of rednecks these boys were.  There were about 6 or 7 guys, all in their twenties, all dressed in flannelettes and blue jeans and most of them heavily tattooed.  The lead singer had a mohawk and a confederate flag tattooed on his chest (to match the confederate flag tied to his guitar).   The guy on the fiddle had the bushy beard of a bushranger and the swagger of the seriously committed drinker.  The guy playing the double bass was wearing denim overalls and had a thick beard down to the middle of his chest.

The longer then night went on, the more shots they drank on stage and the more drunk they all became, but boy, these guys could play.  They played mostly covers with a few originals thrown in.

One original was about the lead singer’s ex-girlfriend, which he introduced by saying “I found out what my ex-girlfriend had been up to and she’s damn lucky I didn’t have a ’44 with me.  But I did have a guitar and a bit of paper, so I wrote down this song”.  Let’s just say, I don’t know what the ex-girlfriend did, but I don’t think she would be very happy if she heard that song.

We ended up staying at that bar for most of the rest of the night.  Jane even got me on the dance floor for a song or two.  By the end of the night, Jane was so enamoured with the band that she was thinking of ways to get them to come down to Australia.  I told her their bar bill would send you broke, but she suggested that it would be just be a case of setting down some ground rules – no smoking, no drinking, no drugs and no swearing on stage …

From what I’d seen for the last couple of hours, I think we would have more chance convincing Lindsay Lohan to become a nun.

Nonetheless, even though in the cold hard light of day I knew neither of us would have become true converts to Outlaw Country, the boys made for a very entertaining night out, and we tottered back to the hotel room in the wee hours of the morning thinking this country music ain’t half bad … (if mixed with an appropriate number of drinks and an appreciative crowd … )

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