ABC has another hit show on its hands with the decadent soapy drama "Nashville." The series offers up glitzy country stars -- and their deceptive pasts -- living Faith Hill-like existences in the South's hottest city. Episodes are chock full of original catchy tracks, which have become instant hits on iTunes. And then there's the behind-the-scenes deals to keep a fading songstress's stardom alive, while young ingenues seeking to make it big in the country music biz are hopeful with "just livin' my dreams" character plots.
However, there's another star of the mega-watt show -- and that's Nashville itself. The city and its surroundings are integral to the look and feel of the series. Melding a must-experience destination like Nashville and a successful show with the same moniker means viewers looking to visit Music City in person can experience film locations just like a true Nashville star.
Ya'll might remember the scene where Rayna and Deacon walk along the bridge, discussing their entangled past as more than just singer-songwriters touring together. That scene took place at Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River, with a perfect vantage point to spy the city skyline from across the water.
In country music history, playing a night at the famous Ryman Auditorium, home to the first Grand Ole Opry, was a huge deal. Headliners such as The Carter Sisters, Mae West, Elvis, and Emmylou Harris took to the stage to perform live for Nashville audiences. Today, it's worth a tour to see how "The Mother Church of Country Music" got its moniker. Although the location hasn't been seen on "Nashville" yet, it will! Look for the Ryman featuring most of the cast in an upcoming episode before Thanksgiving!
What is this thang called the Grand Ole Opry? What began in 1925 as a simple radio broadcast paying homage to country music, has now turned into the place for country stars to appear live in front of hundreds of thousands of fans and for the millions of listeners who tune into the radio version (Nasville's WSM 650am). Trisha Yearwood, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Loretta Lynn, Trace Adams, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean are just a few of the stars who have graced the stage. And, let's not forget, "Nashville's" famous characters, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) and Rayna James (Connie Britton), who performed at the Opry in the pilot and shot scenes backstage in the dressing rooms.
Want to be a part of the creative songwriting process by hashing out ideas like Juliette and Deacon did lakeside in Episode 2? KidBilly Music (they've won Grammys, Emmys, and CMAs) has worked with country greats, such as Keith Urban and Faith Hill, and they help novices write the next big hit. Have a song to sing? Songs of the Heart will help book an exclusive night at the legendary Bluebird Cafe -- the place where the show's waitress Scarlett O'Conner (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) put Scarlett's poetic words to music and performed the duet "If I Didn't Know Better" (original song by The Civil Wars).
The Watermark Restaurant is a local favorite, playing host to celebrities and country stars. Headed up by Chef Bob Waggoner, house specialties include pan-seared salmon, boneless duck confit, and beef cuts prepared on a specially built hickory wood grill. It's also the filming location where Scarlett explains the inspiration for her songs to her new record label executive in Episode 4, titled "We Live in Two Different Worlds."
Just off Music Row, where the heart of the country music business beats, is the Musica Statue on the Demonbreun roundabout where Juliette Barnes shot her music video for the show's song "Telescope." Make a couple of loops around it, then drive on over to meet the Musica's sculptor, Alan LeQuire, for a behind-the-scenes look at his LeQuire Gallery where the statue was created.
Other "Nashville" set locations to visit:
High atop the Nashville foodie scene sits the Capitol Grille inside the Hermitage Hotel -- a celebrity hotspot that will appear in an upcoming episode. Percy Warner Park steps is where Rayna told Deacon she cannot work with him any longer in Episode 3. Pop over to the make-up aisle at a local Publix to pick up a little somethin'. The Publix in Belle Meade is where Juliette shoplifted nail polish. East Nashville's 5 Spot is a local's live music venue where Deacon was performing when Rayna joined him for a duet in the second episode, and also where Scarlett's jealous boyfriend, Avery, plays with his punk country band, whatever that is.
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