Nashville for Nix
by Noah Patton
Next time you’re stopping by Tennessee’s Nashville and are wondering what you can do for free – here’s FIVE nice things we like to call: Nashville for Nix…
Nashville is a city renowned for its music – the Bluebird Café embodies this creative spirit, hosting free performances at 6pm almost everyday of the week (except for some occasional performances requiring tickets to raise money for charity).
The unassuming café is home to aspiring, up-and-coming artists looking for a platform to share their own creations or twists on mainstream classics. The audience is under a “Shhh policy”, ensuring that both the audience and the performers can completely focus on the performance. Often the performers will tell stories of how the songs came to be – in such a quiet, intimate venue the effect is enrapturing.
The format for most nights is either “In the Round” or “In the Row”, where three to four artists are seated in the centre of the room or on the stage. Each takes their turn to share a few songs, sharing the stories behind them and what it means to them. Monday nights are exclusively an open mic, where anyone can sign up to participate and share their own talents.
If you’re in the Bluebird Café during these performances it is expected to at the very least buy a drink or meal, but there is no cover charge for the performance.
Broadway Historic District (Honky Tonk Highway)
The Broadway Historic District is similar in spirit to the Bluebird Café, but is an entire stretch of bars. Legends Corner, on the edge of Fifth and Broadway has walls lined with thousands of vintage albums. This corner guards the entrance to the street, informally dubbed the Honky Tonk Highway. Every night on the Honky Tonk Highway bars will have different performers in with no cover fee, on the way out you can place money into a tip jar with the proceeds going towards the performer. This is known as Honky Tonking. Performances start early in the afternoon, going until the night is over. The early times are the best to appreciate the performances, owing to the quieter and purer atmosphere. Later in the night the performances get rowdier, but that has its own charm too.
Most bars specialise in different genres, for example Robert’s Western World has a country aesthetic, while Layla’s Bluegrass Inn specialises in traditional bluegrass. For a night out in Nashville, the Music City, the Honky Tonk Highway is as authentic as it gets.
Hatch Show Print
Hatch Show Print is a letterpress print shop that has been operating since 1879. Letterpress printing is the process of creating hand-carved images and letters out of wood and metal, then pressing paper onto it between a thin layer of ink. This used to be the most efficient process of printing, but eventually offset printing became more profitable. Still, people consider letterpress printing to be superior in terms of aesthetic.
Hatch Show Print has kept the art of letterpress printing alive through the last century, they have been responsible for most of the country, jazz and rock posters for shows and concerts in Tennessee. In the store you can see original posters created for Elvis Presley, Bon Iver, Hank Williams and more. Even modern bands and stars, like The Black Keys and Ed Sheeran have made use of their incredible design talent.
Visitors are welcome to come into the front of the printing store to view the process in person, they also offer paid tours where you get a more hands-on experience with the equipment. They also have a store with merchandise and original prints.
Nashville Flea Market
The Nashville Flea Market has been rated one of the best in all of America. Open on the fourth weekend of every month, the Flea Market is home to antiques, junk, tie dyes – if you can sell it, you’ll find it here. Thousands of booths and stalls create a maze filled with eager shoppers looking to find the next hidden treasure. It can take the whole weekend to explore every store, each one offering something different to the other.
Truthfully, it’s impossible to predict what you will find here, but whatever you find it’ll be something special.
Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum is dedicated to the entire history of Tennessee, exploring the natural history of the area, the ancient inhabitants of the area, the beginning of America and the Civil War. The exhibits are extraordinarily detailed, with original civil war uniforms, fossils from prehistoric creatures and primitive artefacts from the first Americans.
The museum also highlights several important figures that originated in Tennessee, Alvin York, Sam Houston and Rosa Parks to name a few.
If you love history and want to understand more about the state and the city of Nashville, this museum offers more than any other in the state – and it’s completely free to explore.