Stardom on Display: Preserving the history of America’s country music

481by Tina Murray

How do you feel about country music? Have you ever been to Nashville, Tennessee? Nashville is home to America’s country music, as well as, generations of country-music celebrities.

If you aren’t familiar with the history of country-music, I know where you can learn about it. Read on. On the other hand, if you are a long-time country music fan, and you have a hankering to see Glen Campbell’s leather pants or Elvis Presley’s Army shirt, this same place will delight you.

Sequined jackets, flashy gowns, vintage guitars, framed gold records and authentic concert posters are but a few of the many treasures you will discover at The Country Music Hall of Fame (R) and Museum in Nashville. The impressive, newly expanded facility, which boasts The Taylor Swift Education Wing, houses a large, permanent, core exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music.”

The entire tour is fascinating. You can lose yourself easily as you wander in wonder. When, at last, you take a break from viewing, treat yourself to a Moon Pie or Goo-Goo Cluster. Either of these down-home pleasures will sweeten your adventure in country-music history.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum offers varying exhibits related to today’s popular country-music stars. Recent exhibits include “Brad Paisley: Diary of a Player.” This exhibit offered fans the opportunity to explore and appreciate Paisley’s rise to fame. Now a major recording artist, Paisley began his career as a child prodigy, one who learned his craft and developed his talent from an early age, to become an accomplished guitarist, singer, and songwriter. You can find such information and much more on the facility’s website.

Other recent exhibitions were “Homegrown: Zac Brown Band,” “Alabama: Song of the South” and “Charlie Daniels: Million Mile Reflections.” Such exhibits engage and enlighten fans and newbies alike. One popular exhibit, “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City,” was timely. While the exhibit was up, Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Be sure to check upcoming exhibits and plan your visit accordingly.

Nashville itself is growing both in population and sophistication. The museum facility is located near the city’s enormous new convention venue, Music City Center. What’s more, it is connected, by a corridor of shops, to the grand, new Omni Hotel. Luxury and fine dining are readily available.

But you can grab a quick bite at the Red Onion, on-site, or other nearby eateries. Want to duck outside for a spell? Relax with a drink? Listen to live music? Go ahead. Your Museum tickets will be good for the whole day. Head over to Broadway, a busy main street and tourist destination, lined with honky-tonks, bars, and restaurants. If the atmosphere is too hectic, take a stroll along the Cumberland River or across it, on the walking bridge (see photo). Refreshed, head back and continue viewing exhibits.

Be sure to visit RCA Studio B, an off-site tour the Hall of Fame/Museum offers at an additional price. This historic recording studio, located on famed Music Row, was used by many of the greatest popular recording artists of all time, including Elvis Presley. It is a must-see for anyone who grew up listening to the hits of the 20th century. Don’t be surprised if you have a spiritual or, at least, an emotional experience while there.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum offers more than memorabilia, interactive displays, and archival recordings. It offers music-related classes, workshops, songwriting events, school programs, and family-oriented activities. (Fiddle lessons, anyone?) If you’re staying in Nashville for a while, take advantage. Be sure to sign up for the online newsletter, too, to keep abreast of new offerings.

Today’s Nashville–a.k.a. Music City, USA– is the laid-back hub of professional musician and writers of all genres. Residents pride themselves on not making a big deal out of spotting stars, many of whom live in the area or visit often. However, the CountryMusic Hall of Fame and Museum proves how proud Nashvillians are of their musical heritage. They would love to share that heritage with you and yours, so come on down, y’all.

Website: countrymusichalloffame.org

Email: info@countrymusichalloffame.org

Phone: (615) 416-2001

Address: 222 Fifth Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37203 (Downtown)

The Museum’s entrance is located on Demonbreun Street (pronounced “De-MON-bree-uhn” by locals) between Fourth Avenue South and Fifth Avenue South. The price of admission for one adult is around $25. Discounts are offered for children, seniors, and members of the military. Tour packages are available, at various prices. Contact the museum for details or visit the website.

Hours: 9 a.m – 5 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas)

Parking: TCMHFM’s website suggests the link, ParkItDowntown.com.

Things change change over time, of course. You’ll need to verify this information and check for updates prior to your visit. Also, note that the area experiences four seasons. Plan your trip accordingly. Whenever you do decide to visit the hallowed halls of Music City, I hope you have a fine, old time.

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Six Years Later…

206Welcome back to Celebrity Roads Trips.  I’m saying that to myself, as well as to you. I have not posted on this site for six years. Believe me,  a lot has happened during my time away.  When I tried to return to this site last week, I had some trouble accessing it. Many thanks to Sudipto at WordPress for helping me regain access to my account. I want to change slightly the focus of this blog. My original purpose was to visit physical locations that related to movie-making. However, in the meantime, TCM has covered that issue pretty well! I still want to do some of that, but I am expanding the focus of this blog to include traveling to discover all things creative.  I’ll catch you up on my recent activities in coming blog posts, and I look forward to receiving your comments. Please visit my new Amazon page at amazon.com/author/tinamurray. My Facebook page, A Chance to Say Yes, is Facebook.com/tmurray author.  It focuses on my two published novels, A Chance to Say Yes and A Wild Dream of Love. My Twitter page is Twitter.com/tmurrayauthor. If you like and follow me anywhere, let me know, and I will return the favor. Thanks, and have a lovely new day.

 

Movie-History Day Trip No. 2: Franklin, TN, and the Cool Springs Mall

 

Whose own movie refers to her as “the most popular teenager in the world?” You’re right! It’s Hannah Montana, a.k.a. Miley Cyrus. A native of the Nashville, Tennessee, area, Miley chose to film on locations in the area when making her huge hit film, Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie. According to Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Montana_The_Movie), the historic town of Franklin, Tennessee, and the nearby Cool Springs Galleria were used for some of the location shooting.

We visited two locations used in Hannah Montana: The Movie. First is Franklin High School. This stately temple of American education is pictured here. All red brick and white columns, it’s a very photogenic place, located on Williamson Boulevard, a mile or two west of charming downtown Franklin.

 Second is the Belk Department Store, located in the Cool Springs Galleria. The shoe-fight scene between Miley Cyrus and Tyra Banks took place on the first floor of Belk’s in Ladies Shoes. A friendly salesperson assured me that I wouldn’t recognize the spot because it now looks different from the way it does in the film. She said her own daughter didn’t recognize it when she saw it. I took a photo of the spot anyway. It’s near the first-floor entrance to the mall and is pictured here.

As soon as I unearth more of the movie’s locations in Williamson County, I’ll post those, too.

 Where to eat: Franklin fairly overflows with delicious dining choices. On this trip, we lunched at Merridee’s Breadbasket (www.merridees.com), a favorite of my cousin, Gwen. Freshly baked breads and pastries, such as chocolate cake and gooey cookies are quite tempting and hard to resist. Those of you with willpower can stick to the superior sandwiches and salads with a refreshing glass of “Northern” tea (unsweet). Too funny!I confess I saw this on a sign on an urn at the Moe’s in Cool Springs, a local favorite for those who like quick Tex-Mex food. Cool Springs is loaded with tasty eating spots, too. Naturally, the Food Court at the Cool Springs Galleria is very convenient to Belk’s and offers something for everyone to enjoy.

If you go: Franklin is located at Exit 65 off the I-65 freeway. Cool Springs Galleria is just to the north. You can use Exits 68b or 67. The seasons do change in Tennessee, so plan your trip accordingly.

See more sights and sites: The recently renovated Franklin Theater (www.franklintheater.com)

Merridee's Breadbasket

has become a beloved area showcase for classic and contemporary films, as well as live acts and concerts. It’s located in downtown Franklin. Williamson County also is home to Civil War history, for those who want to include a visit to historic homes and battlefields in their trip itinerary. Williamson County is reportedly the wealthiest county in the state. Farms and ranches of rolling green hills surround its populated areas.

Movie-History Day Trip No. 1: Evansville, Indiana

 
Sonja Driving Kentucky Roads

Bosse Field, Side View

Gerst Restaurant

Frog Follies

Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Welcome! Are you a big movie fan? Me, too. Like you, I have loved movies all my life.

 I also love history. It’s filled with so many fascinating real-life characters and stories. As a novelist (www.tinamurrayauthor.com), I love stories, and when they’re true stories, all the better

So why not combine my love of movies with my love of history and blog about it? That’s the idea I had when I took a road trip recently to Evansville, Indiana. It’s how this new blog of mine came to be.

 What does Evansville have to do with movie-history, you ask? Well, that’s what I found out—and it’s what I’m going to share with you now.

As it turns out, Evansville is the home of Bosse Field, a vintage baseball stadium that was used for location scenes in the popular movie A League of Their Own. According to my friend Sonja—who was the driver on this car trip from Nashville and who’s an Evansville native–a number of lucky townspeople participated in the filming back in 1991. (No doubt they have stories of their own to share.)

In case you don’t recall the details of the movie, I’ll fill you in.

Set in the World War II era, A League of Their Own is comedy-drama about a women’s professional baseball team in the 1940’s. Directed by Penny Marshall, the film stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and Lori Petty. The cast includes Bill Pullman, Gerry Marshall, Tea Leoni, and Jon Lovitz, among talented others.

Because I’m a writer—and because I believe writers should be given more credit—I must mention that the screenplay was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Their work was based on a story by Kim Wilson and Kelly Candaele, The film itself was produced by Elliot Abbot and Robert Greenhut and released by Columbia Pictures.

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_League_of_Their_Own), the main baseball field used in the production of the film was actually League Stadium in Huntingburg, Indiana. Other scenes were shot at well-known Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. In the movie, the fictional team heroes/heroines were called the Rockford Peaches, and  League Stadium served as their home field. However, a rival team, the Racine Bells, called Evansville’s Bosse Field home.

 Two other local landmarks were used in the film: the Soaper-Essex House, an historic home in the adjacent town of Henderson, Kentucky; and the Hornville Tavern in Evansville. I hope to visit both in a future trip.

Visiting Bosse Field, which is located in Evansville’s historic Garvin Park, I found a dignified, circular structure of red-brick  a broad, one still very much in use. It occupies a place of prominence in the park, a peaceful expanse of land set aside for the enjoyment of local citizens. I’m including  pictures of the stadium and the park, as well as pictures of the restaurant in which we ate lunch. 

If you make the trip to Evansville, you might wish to dine at this local favorite, the Gerst House restaurant in Evansville. This long-standing establishment serves freshly prepared German-American food, such as sauerbraten and apple streudel, in an authentic atmosphere.

 If that’s not to your liking, I’m sure you can find a meal to your taste in one of Evansville’s many eateries or on the road. If you find a place you enjoy, please post it here so readers can benefit.

As it so happens, we visited Evansville on the weekend of the The Frog Follies, an annual gathering of cars buffs and their antique automobiles. These vehicles have been lovingly restored and are well-maintained. Painted in bright colors, such as scarlet-red and sunburst-yellow, they present a gleaming spectacle when assembled outdoors by the hundreds.

Of course, to movie-history lovers, they bring to mind everything early-20th century, from A League of Their Own to Bonnie and Clyde to Public Enemies. It’s easy to envision John Dillinger–machine gun blasting from beneath one arm–hopping onto the running board of one of these babies as it careens, tires screeching, around the corner of teeming, back-lot city streets.

But that’s just in my imagination. Back in the reality of the heartland, the atmosphere is tranquil, tame, and orderly. Driving home in late summer, we traversed bridges spanning the Green and Ohio Rivers.

Evidence of the industrial heartland, past and present, can be glimpsed. Crossed by the occasional train, the countryside of western Kentucky is mostly green and rolling fields dotted by tall, stately trees. Every now and then a white fence appeared in my passenger-side window. Cows and horses grazed idly. I pondered which movie-trivia site to visit next.

The pleasantness of the air-conditioned drive home lulled me into reverie. I thought of question for you:  If you could have coffee or tea with any movie celebrity in the world–living or dead–anywhere in the world, who and where would that be–and why?

Hello world!

Welcome to Celebrity Road Trips. My name is Tina Murray, Ph.D. I am a novelist and freelance writer. I am the author of the novel A Chance to Say Yes (www.tinyurl.com/ACTSYamazon.) I hope you’ll visit often.

I don’t have a photo of my own to post, so, in the meantime, I’m posting this photo I took of Miss Green Peeps. (I like the photo.)

Onward to Celebrity Road Trips!