At Third Man Records, You Can Purchase Actual Physical Music

I ended my Nashville trip on an appropriate note with a visit to a record store. Not just any record store — THE record store tailor made for audiophiles of any genre of music.

Jack White’s Third Man Records store in the SoBro neighborhood was founded to cater to vinyl hunters who care sound quality and obscure music. Since it’s founding in 2009, it’s transformed the former warehouse district (that was rampant with abandoned buildings) into vibrant arts, entertainment and restaurant area. I could tell because it took me three laps to find parking.

While it’s not a huge warehouse of music, movies and merchandise like Amoeba Music or Rough Trade, it’s a carefully curated space that sells vinyl LPs, EPs and singles recorded and pressed next door at the concert venue. You won’t find the latest releases, just the Third Man Records releases and a few hidden gems from White and his tastemakers.

It took some restraint not to get everything of interest, so I limited myself to $100 of vinyl and some Third Man merch. For the vinyl, I picked up live recordings from Beck, Parquet Courts, First Aid Kit, Conan O’Brien, Black Belles, Smoke Ferries and Man or Astroman. In the merch category, I highly recommend a few badges, buttons, a record bag and a turntable slipmat.

For White Stripes fans, there’s a small shrine to the duo, where you can see their Grammys and Legos from the “Fell in Love With a Girl” girl.

It’s a neat space for browsing leisurely, trying out the jukebox and checking out the memorabilia and record art on the walls. You might even find that under-appreciated old time artists that you can impress your fellow music fans.


The Hatch Show Print is a Must-Tour for Design Fans

If you like looking at vintage advertisements or just appreciate a well-put together poster, then Hatch Show Print should be in your itinerary for Nashville. It’s current location in the Country Music Hall of Fame building gives the 100+ year old print show a higher profile and easy add-on to your CMHF ticket.

Even if you never heard of Hatch Show Print you recognize the style — block letters, simple bold colors and a portrait image or graphic. Every country music star has commissioned a poster from the shop. More important, they do any genre of music, but they are not beholden to music. They do events, conventions, business ads and television adverts.

Here is where you should pre-book online if you 100% want to visit — and you should. The tour groups are small (around 20 per tour) and are run three times a day. The CMHF site will off combo tickets so you visit the hall and time it so you can mosey on over to the hall. The shop, the hall, the gift shop, clothing store and restaurants are connected in the building via a central hall.

What makes the print shop unique is they still use the same techniques as when they were founded. While they use computers to plan out the design and show clients, the printing is done the old fashion ways. During the tour, you’ll see the turn of the century machinery used to hand crank each poster and the wood blocks and metals used to make the type.

After you see the process, you’ll go in the backroom to get a bit of history, see some of their archives and roll out a print yourself. Me being a geek, I asked two questions — what paper stock is available and if  a client screwed up and misspelled their show — yup, so ask and they’ll point it out on the wall.

While the shop has printed 100,000 events, they don’t reprint or reuse designs. Keep that in mind at the gift shop where do sell excess concert prints. If you do buy that unique concert poster, frame it because they are not many like it. They do have generic posters that they mass produce or place on t-shirts that say “Nashville Rocks” or “Drink More Coffee”. Yup, I bought the “Drink More Coffee” poster. Anything you can put a design on they have —  stickers, stationary, postcards.



The One Thing To Do in Nashville — Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame

Nashville as Music City U.S.A. is not some tourist marketing slogan. The places lives and breathes it while being a focal point of its economy.

Music labels are moving resources from New York to Nashville (as well as Los Angeles) because of its wealth of musical talent, production know-how and industry expertise. It’s not just for country music, it’s for all genres who appreciate the city’s history.

Sure, you can hit up any number of dive bars to see the potential next big act or the tourist trap honky tonks on Broadway, but you should really get an all-encompassing experience at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Located in the heart of Nashville, it’s everything you wanted to know about country music and appreciation of the artists that made it an American tradition.

Do I like country music? Yes and no. I’m all over Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams and even some of the goofy acts you’d fine on 70s comedy show, Hee-Haw. The stuff that passes as country music — that’s just water-down country mass marketed to the general public.

Luckily, the Country Music Hall of Fame focuses mostly on the history and it’s most vital artists. Like an good museum, you start with a timeline of the origins, dating back to British and Irish musicians bring fiddles, banjos and guitars with them in the mid-1800s.

Many of the stereotypes we associated with country music — the big hats, big buckles, cowboy shirts and twangy accents — comes from early Hollywood talkies from Tom Mix and Roy Rogers.

One of the many thing I liked about the museum is that embraces the often goofy aspects of vintage country. Look for crazy outfits and a decked-out Rolls Royce fit for The King.

It also brought out a lot of forgotten artists that I remember my parents listening to like the Mandrel Sisters, Eddie Rabbit, Alabama, Kenny Rogers and Mac Davis. There’s plenty of recordings and videos through the hall.

The special exhibit during my visit was on an unlikely Nashville artist, Bob Dylan. Many of his best known albums were partially recorded in Nashville, even during his Greenwich Village days.  Blonde on Blonde was recorded in Nashville in 1966 to take advantage of local musicians.

Your visit will end with the rotunda with the bronze plaques of the hall members. It’s newest members in 2017 included Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed, and Don Schlitz.

Plan for about three hours to explore the museum. You can buy tickets online, but there no line when I visited. Tt is worth seeing if there are any online discounts.  I also did the Hatch Show Print shop tour, which will add about 90 minutes to your visit.


The Bar-B-Q Shop of Memphis is One of Many Legendary BBQ Joints

Memphis is a city where streams of BBQ sauce are flowing through the streets. It might even be on tap at bars.

Along with Kansas City, the city’s barbecue is a style all it’s own. You’ll see a Memphis BBQ sandwich on menus throughout the United States. By definition, it’s a paprika-based rub on baby back pork ribs or a wet sauce of ketchup, vinegar and a bit of mustard on pork shoulder. The meat is chopped into chunks, tossed on white bread or a kaiser roll and then topped with a creamy or vinegar-based cole slaw. Finally, the sauce and the pickles are served on the side.


In any event, with my side trip to Memphis. I had one chance to eat an authentic Memphis BBQ sammich. A quick search of “Best Memphis BBQ” turns up too many results, all from the great sources. I read one article that listed 30 “must visit” joints in the city. Yeah, I don’t have that much time or stomach space.

I was ready to throw a dart at a map to pick a place to go for lunch. There’s no overall, world-known place like a Katz’s Deli in New York, Pat’s Streaks in Philadelphia or Pequod’s of Chicago.

I went with The Bar-B-Q Shop because there’s only one location (it’s not a chain), they have sauce to go, it’s been around since the 80s and the decor is a bit old school and unchanged since then. I chose wisely.

You can hear the staff chopping the meat from the kitchen, and a peak in, you can see a pile pork four feet high. When you order their traditional BBQ sandwich, you can expect it pretty quickly. I started with a house salad and had my sandwich on Texas toast with potato salad. The picture you see above, that didn’t last long.

The way I tried it was I had a few bites with the sauce so I can taste the rub, then put a few squirts of the hot and original sauces. Wash out it down with local craft beer from Ghost River and you’re winning lunch. I had to say for a review is “Damn, son.”

The added bonus is the oh-so-choice decor with the wood bar and the countertop filled with old Memphis magazines from the 80s.

Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis is Where You Should Buy Cases of Everything

My day-trip to Memphis from Nashville concluded at a brewery … of course.

I actually hadn’t planned to do any breweries after Graceland, since it’s a 3 1/2 drive back and wanted to beat rush hour. When I was told by a few people in Nashville that I was driving to Memphis, more than a few said, “You really should go to Wiseacre.” Advice taken, and executed.

Wiseacrew Brewing is located 20 minutes from Graceland, it’s a straight shot up on Rt. 69 and eastbound on North Parkway. You’ll pass the zoo and Overton park, then find yourself in a little up and coming area filled with converted warehouses. You’ll park in the back of the brewery that overlooks a vacant lot, but there’s art all around so I’m sure in completely safe.

I got there just after opening and had the place to myself. While they don’t do flights, the nice boy gave me samples of everything. Because of his act of kindness, I bought 3 cases of beer, a few specialty bottles and random six-packs.

Yes, it was that good, the best I had in Tennessee. Their best known beer is the Ananda IPA, which is dry-hopped with Casade. It’s actually one of the most crushable IPAs I’ve had, and more sweet and smooth than you’re normal IPA.

The other beer I was blown away with is their Gotta Get Up To Get Down, a coffee milk stout brewed with oatmeal. It’s a low ABV beer that velvety and robust.

The last case was their Belgium IPA, Boomslang. A lot of banana, spicy clove and citrus notes and extremely clean drinking.

As for six-packs, I took home their Special IPA and Tiny Bomb Pilsner.

Here was drank full pints:

  • Lightning Rod British Bitter
  • Avast! Pirate Porter
  • The Beach Within Reach Sour Berliner Weisser
  • Azazel With Rangpur Lime Strong Golden Belgium Ale

It’d a neat space where you can walk around and check out can art from previous releases. If you’re feeling spendy, you can buy the framed art. I just stuck with stickers. Out back is large deck, which is obviously great on summer nights.

For the Best Donuts in Nashville, It’s Five Daughters and Nobody Else

While hot chicken and barbecue will be high on your foodie tour of Nashville, there will be a little bit of heaven you need to seek out. If you’re stomach can handle it, there 100-layer donuts from Five Daughters will change your life. Your waistline will definitely change.

Sort of a cross between your standard yeast donut and croissant, it earns comparison to the pastry that changed baking, Dominique Ansel’s Cronut. The difference is that Five Daughter’s version comes in different varieties and flavors.

Not to get into too much detail, the process to make the 100-layer donut takes three days  and involves “laminating” layers of dough with butter. The result is a dense, decadent creation. I had mine with chocolate with cardamon and maple, bacon and brown sugar. Don’t be jealous, just get down to their two Nashville locations and the original location 20 miles south in Franklin. It’s also available at Barista Parlor and a new location in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

The menu changes seasonally so there’s a good chance you’ll devouring a new creation. Want to make sure you get there and they have some super special available? Check their webcams for fresh donut action.

Beware Smelling the Hot Mash on the Jack Daniels Tour in Lynchburg, TN

The drive from Atlanta to Nashville is a leisurely, straight-forward three hour, 45 minute to four hour journey. Leave after breakfast and you get can be honky tonking by lunch.

Thus, a side journey to the world famous Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee can be easily pulled-off with a little planning.

Here’s the first piece of advice, the first parking lot you see — that’s not the one to use, it’s the larger one on the opposite side on the street just a bit further down. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.

While getting a tour reservation in advance is the best route, depending on the day, you can stroll up and hop on one right there. As for what tour to get, I went with the mid-level baller tour or The Angel’s Share, it’s where you get five tasting flight of the rare, single barrel whiskys. At $22, it not that much more than the low baller The Flight of Jack Daniels tour where you get a flight of their flagship whiskys that you an get anywhere. The low budget, no drinking Dry tour is for idiots who bring their kids on a whisky tour.

As they will say repeatedly on the tour and on the grounds, Lynchburg is the only place where they make Jack Daniels. So the Jack Daniels they drink in Japan is the same one you drink at the Appleby’s in the Orlando Airport.

As far as tours goes, it’s good that it keeps moving, so you’re not standing around listening to a tour guide going through their talk. The highlight of the tour before you start drinking, as people will tell you, is smelling the mash.

What does is smelling like? It’s not so much a smell but the sensation of putting lava hot bullets in your nostrils for half a second. You’ll loose consciousness for a brief second. Sounds fun, right?

Along with the temporary brain damage, you’ll learn some fun trivia about Mr. Daniels, like he died from kicking a safe when he forgot the combo. He broke his toe, then lost his leg and then seven years later, his life. It wasn’t a romantic death like drinking to death on his own product.

Like with any distillery, winery or brewery tour, you have to wait until the end to start drinking. They giving you notes on how to properly taste whisky, what to look for and the barrel process. For this single barrel tour, you taste the No. 27 Gold, Sinatra Select (their priciest), Single Barrel Select, Single Barrel Proof (their highest alcohol content) and Single Barrel Rye. Since I am a man of high taste, the $100 a bottle of the Sinatra was my favorite.

Now, I still don’t understand how Lynchburg is a dry town, but you can buy Jack Daniels in the gift shop in the main hall. It’s something like they sell you the bottle, and they but in the whisky for free. Whatever, just change the damn laws. Get with the 21st Century. In any event, there’ no exclusive whisky you can’t get anywhere else, but they have limited edition gift boxes and glass bottles that you can etch with your name. Not my thing.

Plan about 2-2.5 hours for this side trip. You can skip the trip into the block of the town of Lynchburg where the gift shop is if you’re short on time, Everything they sell you can get online, but I picked up whisky scented candles and a coaster made from barrel wood.