Normally I don’t start drinking beer at 11 o’clock in the morning. Really. But when in Rome….
Rome in this case was Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville. I went there to hear the music. Honestly, I did. By 11 am the music all up and down Nashville’s Broadway Street is in full (Texas) swing. I can’t testify to what it’s like at 11 pm. Not this trip, anyway.
In its day Tootsie’s was considered the Ryman Auditorium’s green room. The well-worn path between the Ryman’s stage door when it was home to the Grand Ole Opry and Tootsie’s back door was known as the most famous 38 steps in country music. I like to imagine the likes of Hank Williams and George Jones being yanked from their bar stools, hurried across the alley and shoved onto the Ryman stage. Tootsie’s walls are covered with layers of autographs–literally. If those walls could talk, by the way, they’d be wise to keep their mouths shut.
Next stop for me, a place called Western World (two doors down) where the house band is Ike Jonson and the Roadhouse Rangers. By now it’s nearly noon.
At one point one of the performers said something like “If we sound a little funny to you it’s because we’re a REAL country band.” Later I learn that in some circles the Rangers are considered “too country” — even for Nashville. Not for me.
As a change of pace I head across the street for Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop.