Posts tagged ‘music’

Roadtrip: Nashville, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia

By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Experience

Did you have that dream last night where Keith Urban and Elvis Presley announce their wedding? No? Just me?

Must have been something to do with yesterday’s musical road trip, and knowing that today would start with a Platinum tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame here in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wall of Gold Records at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Tennessee

Gold, Gold, Gold for Tennessee! Photo by Cliff 1066, CC License

Our driver Dan is beside himself with excitement. As a real country music fan, the celebrity audio guide… His tastes are more modern, but the rest of us with varying degrees of Country music appreciation still find plenty to enjoy – from the Patsy Cline exhibit to the RCA Studio guided tour where we are walked through the studio that birthed more than 1,000 top ten music hits (and around 150 recordings of the King himself).

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Tennessee

Classic exhibits inside the Hall of Fame. Photo by NOLA Agent, CC License

We’re on a road trip to Atlanta, which involves a whistle-stop lunch in Chattanooga, Tennessee – the halfway point of today’s drive. We follow the Tennessee River to 212 Market Restaurant, at the north end of a town made famous by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra singing “Chattanooga Choo Choo” in the 1940s.

After 21 years in business, these guys know how to make a sandwich – are you going to choose the Pecan chicken club or the Chattanooga cheesesteak wrap? Something to chew chew on while we head back to Interstate 24 overlooking the choo choo train tracks!

Atlanta is a city steeped in US history, from it’s importance during the US Civil War, to the Civil Rights movement a century later, and today’s corporate success as home to CNN, Coca-Cola and MailChimp (you may have heard of them?). It’s also the fourth Summer Olympic host city we’ve visited on our everydaydream holiday so far (Link to Destinations).

Centre for Puppetry Arts

Fun – and not just for children! Photo by Ayleen Gasper, CC License

Our first stop ignores all that – we’re here to have fun at the Centre for Puppetry Arts! Where was this place when I was planning my birthday party as a kid? We’re doing the Jim Henson: Life and Legacy tour, with all its background information on the man behind the Muppets and Fraggle Rock.

Jim Henson was there when Kermit the Frog cut the ribbon to open the centre in 1978. Since then they’ve been impressing adults and children alike – yes, in addition to children’s birthday parties they also host adults-only Puppetry Theatre! (No, not the adults only puppetry you’re thinking of!)

Which segment was The Muppet Show's best?

Pigs in Space – one of The Muppet Show’s funniest segments. Photo by Moria, CC License

From there it’s to the World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta’s most famous export (and, some say, the reason they were awarded the 1996 Olympic Games). Unless you’re a real Coke head, there’s a lot to learn here, and the immersive experience of the ‘Vault of the Secret Formula’ is part of the fun. The taste-testing, we concede, is not quite as impressive as the similar experience at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Inside the World of Coca-Cola

Inside the World of Coca-Cola. Photo by Bob B. Brown, CC License

We part ways with Dan just outside the Martin Luther King Jr historic site, on Auburn Avenue. Roadtrips can’t help but bring people together, and we’ll miss him … His taste in music, on the other hand? We’re kinda glad to see that go.

Besides, we’ve got movie tickets tonight. While we’d never heard of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (“Atlanta’s largest film festival”), when we heard they were showing Lore (Australia’s official entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar) with a Q&A afterwards we jumped at the chance to grab tickets.

Music, Movies, and Coca-Cola – there’s a lot to love in the American South.

Wish you were where?

Of course, you are here with everydaydream holiday. Photo by Quinn Anya, CC License

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Want us to feature your town, or want to feature yourself as a local expert at your favourite tourist destination? Head over to our ‘Local guides’ page and tell us where you take your visitors when they’re in town.
  • The Platinum package to the Country Music Hall of Fame is only $33, and includes the guided tour. But book in advance as places are limited.
  • Atlanta is the fourth Summer Olympic Host City we’ve visited. Can you name the other three?
  • The United States of America are currently memorialising the sesquicentennial of the US Civil War (that’s the 150 year anniversary). We’ll be returning later in the year when the Battle of Gettysburg anniversary events connect with the Fourth of July celebrations.

So what are your favourite roadtrip songs? Share them with the world in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

We’re Going to Graceland (Graceland)

By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Itinerary

How did we find ourselves in this car, listening to a country and western mix-tape?

NOLA Bridge

The Huey P. Long Bridge, named after the assassinated governor. Photo by Ken Lund, CC License

The final score of last night’s game is irrelevant – it was always about the Super Bowl experience, and amazingly New Orleans is planning on rolling that atmosphere straight into week two of the annual Mardi Gras. (Let’s hope there are no more black outs! And for the record, the Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31 … which travel website had a “Ravens Champions Cap” featured last week?)

We’ll be back for the Mardi Gras mid-week, but we needed a few days of quiet first. So when southern local Dan said he was planning a road trip to Atlanta, and had room to spare … well, we were in. What Dan failed to mention was that he is Country. Music. MAD.

Dan needs to be in Atlanta by tomorrow night but (maybe this was the first warning sign we should have seen) he’s planned a stopover for us in Nashville. So it was an early start … far too early (don’t you think?) for Kenny Chesney or Brooks and Dunn. (Though Dolly Parton did remind us that the everydaydream holiday beats working 9 to 5.)

Our first roadtrip stop is breakfast in Jackson, Mississippi. Dan exits just off the I55 and takes us to Broad Street Bakery. It’s the perfect first stop on a road trip north from New Orleans, and not just because they’re playing different music! These breakfast burritos are only $3.95 each. Plus tip, I’m still eating two of them and a coffee for ten bucks.

How very nice of Tennessee

The Volunteer State – who knew? Photo by jbcurio, CC License

So our breakfast conversation with Dan about music seems to have worked. After all – Nashville might be tonight’s destination, but it’s not our next stop. Oh no, our next stop is royalty. It’s rock and roll. It’s the jungle room.

We’re going to Graceland (Graceland), Memphis Tennessee.

Front entrance to the King's palace

We’re going to Graceland (Graceland) Memphis Tennessee. Photo by Maha, CC License

So Dan has acquiesced, and we’ve now got some classic Elvis Presley coming out of the stereo. Have you ever noticed how everybody knows the words to at least some Elvis songs?

And Graceland itself kind of feels like that too – inclusive, no boundaries. In parts, it’s a preserved relic of 1960s and 70s America – when you were the King of America in that era (and Elvis certainly was), then living like royalty meant a mansion full of kitsch and a pink Cadillac in the garage. But it’s also very much about Elvis the man – the audio-guide features commentaries by the King himself, and also daughter Lisa-Marie. In the Jungle Room and the Car Museum, it’s Elvis all the way. And in the Meditation Garden at the end of the tour, we see where Elvis was laid to rest after his unexpected death aged just 42.

The pool room inside Graceland

That’s going straight to the pool room. Photo by Kees Wielemaker, CC License

Down in the Jungle Room

Where’s the pretty little thing waiting for the King? Photo by SD Rebel, CC License

We put Paul Simon’s Graceland onto the iPod when we get back into the car. The tone of that classic feels more connected to the venue now that we’ve been there – Graceland, indeed Elvis’s legacy, is not just gyrating hips and bad Hawaiian movies. There was the upbringing in a two-room shack in Tulepo; the military service; and then the descent into the caricature of himself, overweight and addicted to pills as he struggled to cope with this famous life. Graceland was his refuge, as Neverland Ranch was for his similarly ill-fated son-in-law Michael Jackson.

Tiger print!

Part of Graceland’s display. Photo by Betsy Weber, CC License

What's inside?

Elvis was moved here (along with his mother) after thieves tried to loot their original resting places. Photo by Mark Gstohl, CC License

Paul Simon sings “We all will be received in Graceland”. Elvis would certainly hope so.

“That’s if he’s actually dead”, Dan points out.

And then he turns the radio over to Keith Urban. As we drive through Jackson, Tennessee, and then into Nashville we give in to the rhythm. Having found acceptance, there’s nothing more enticing than heading down to The Printers Alley – a collection of music venues in part of Nashville originally made famous by their printing prowess. We take in open mike night at Lonnie’s Western Room – who knows, maybe we just saw a future Grammy Award winner in action.

Nashville used to be famous for its successful printing businesses.

Nashville used to be famous for its successful printing businesses. Photo by Chris H Connelly, CC License

Lonnie's Western Room, Nashville Tennessee USA

All music is better live! Photo by Denise Mattox , CC License

As midnight approaches, Dan lets us in on a dirty little secret. He also like the Blues! It’s a long drive from New Orleans to Nashville to take in the Blues, but the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar is open until 3am – and we intend to make the most of it!

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Don’t have a friend who’s willing to drive you from New Orleans to Memphis? Catch the train and make a weekend of it!
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, is often abbreviated to NOLA. It’s never pronounced ‘NOLA’ – and it’s rarely pronounced “New” either – try to roll straight from the N into Orleans instead.
  • The biggest Elvis fans stay at the Heartbreak Hotel, next door to Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
  • The Country Music Awards are held in Nashville each November – and have been running for just one year less than the Super Bowl.
  • And you can stay up to date here with the latest Country Music hits.

So what are your favourite roadtrip songs? Share them with the world in the comments below or on our Facebook page.