Country, country, country!
02.04.2015 - 04.04.2015
From the Jazz capital of the US, we headed to the Country capital of the world, Nashville, Tenessee. I'd always wanted to see some proper, deep south country bars, and above all I wanted to see people line dancing. After 3 weeks in the 'stang listening to country radio we felt prepared, and were really excited about this place. We arrived in the city and despite a lack of hats and cowboy boots, we did our best with jeans and checked shirts and headed on into town. First stop was a bbq joint, which was amazing. Pulled pork and hot wings with beef brisket and beans. Yum. Headed back out onto the strip and saw a bar called Tequila Cowboy. Looked promising. As we were at the bar Jamie spotted the dance floor at the back.
"Matt - are they line dancing back there?"
They sure were. Real people, in a real bar, doing actual line dancing. I felt as if a life ambition had been fulfilled. What really struck me thoguh was the intricacy of the dances - we had no hope of joining in. I was amazed that people could pick it up so quickly. Still, I had a solution - I'd found a bar that was doing line dancing lessons the next evening.
Arriving at the "Wildhorse Saloon" was impressive - the place was like a giant ballroom. Here we got a few drinks and learned our first line dance steps. Brilliant.
What was really interesting though was the way line dancing works. We got talking to some locals and whilst there are line dance crews, who do their own routines, for the most part every song has it's own routine - and it's the same everywhere in the country. Nobody seems to know exactly where they come from or who makes them up, but each song has it's own line dance. It's a bit like "Saturday Night" or "The Macarena". I can teach you "Copperhead Road" or "Save a horse, ride a cowbody" when I see you.
The rest of Nashville was like a country version of a New Orleans night. Every bar has live bands, all of them exellent. Many of them belting out the classics we'd learned in the car over the last few weeks - in short, another awesome night out. I only wish I knew somewhere in the UK that does live music and nights out like this! I don't really have any pics of Nashville, just a few videos of bands that I don't really remember taking. And a couple of ones of Jamie and Me singing, that aren't going online.
After Nashville we were looking for the next place to stay that was vaguely in our Eastern direction. I'd heard people in Nashville mention a town called Asheville a few hundred miles away, and thought I'd look it up. First quote found on Google - "Asheville - the beer capital of the USA!". Decision made.
As we headed over to North Carolina we went through another small town - Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood. I wish we had a bit more slack in the schedule as I'd have loved to look around that place more closely - it looked like Blackpool on steroids. Just ridiculous, tacky, touristy madness everywhere you looked. For about 5 miles we saw nothing but neon, rollercoasters, dogems, death slides, bars and crazy golf. Next time, I'm planning a weekend here.
Now, this trip has been a bit of a reveleation to me - and has upended another of my long held opinions. The truth is - America has really good beer! They have millions of craft beers here, and they love them. Asheville is famous for them, and the first bar we went in had 16 different ones on tap. All beers tried were delightful! I mean, they still don't have ales, and the majority of beer sold is bud or miller, but even at the baseball games they offer a few different craft beers as well. We could learn a bit from them here as well!