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Bourbon, Beale and Broadway: A J&J Guide to the Americana Music Triangle, Part 3

After leaving Memphis, we were two-thirds of the way through our musical journey and headed toward perhaps the most historied musical city in the country. In order to get there, we would travel a section of Interstate 40 known as “Music Highway”.

TN Music Highway

The number of attractions on this 210 mile stretch of Tennessee blacktop is endless! Follow the music notes to the home of blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes, Tina Turner’s birthplace, Loretta Lynn’s ranch and several other notable stops. Soon, you will reach the last major destination in the Americana Music Triangle: Nashville, Tennessee.

Nicknamed “Music City, USA”, Nashville is the home of country music and one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.  Downtown Nashville is the epicenter of activity and most of the best attractions are within walking distance. Music fan musts are The Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium (the original home of the Grand Ole Opry), PS-Posted-DSC_0060and the Johnny Cash Museum. We visited all three in an afternoon and received a crash course in 20th-century American music!

Historic Lower Broadway Street, also known as “Honky Tonk Row”, is where urban cowboys, pub crawlers, and tourists converge to enjoy live music in more than a dozen honky-tonks and bars.  If you’re in the mood for a little shopping, follow the life-size Elvis statue into Legends Gift Shop to browse tons of souvenirs, or head over to Ernest Tubb Record Shop, the original home of Midnight Jamboree, the second longest running radio show in history.

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Original RCA Studio B microphone

A little farther southwest is Music Row, the heart of the recording industry and home of legendary RCA Studio B. When Sam Phillips sold his contract in 1955, Elvis left Sun Studio for RCA Studio B, where he recorded roughly 260 songs. Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and numerous other artists also made their mark here and you would be remiss not to pay your respects to this hallowed musical shrine. If you plan on visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, you can purchase a ticket package for both attractions, which includes a shuttle to and from RCA Studio B.

As evening descends on this extraordinary city, the neon begins to sparkle like the rhinestone suits of yesteryear and hopeful street performers begin their nightly serenades. Perhaps one of them will be heard above the din to become the next bright star twinkling in the Nashville sky. In this city, anything is possible!

Our Americana Music Triangle had come to an end but we will definitely return to visit all the great places we missed. We hope you find this article helpful in planning your own journey and make sure to check out our original post about our Nashville experience. See you on the road!