Experiencing NASHVILLE on a Weekend

A poster being made at the Hatch Printing Press. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Our reporter on-board, Nikita Sampath went to Nashville for a weekend to celebrate the launch of JetBlue Boston to Nashville, and got us a list of all that you can do in the city over a short trip. This post is for you to get a sense of the Arts and Culture of Nashville, where country music plays in every bar and bathroom.

Hatch Show Printing Press

Stencils at the Hatch Printing Press. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Stencils at the Hatch Printing Press. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Started in 1879 by the Hatch brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch, the Hatch Printing Press is the oldest printing press in the US; the print style dating back to 15th century Gutenberg. None of the posters printed for their 600 annual clients are digital. And they don’t add any new type faces.

Amber Richards, a graphic designer working a press at Hatch Printing Press. "I love the hands-on aspect," she says. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Amber Richards, a graphic designer working a press at Hatch Printing Press. “I love the hands-on aspect,” she says. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Each letterpress poster is one, two or three colors only. So one day they do all the maroon in a batch of posters, let them dry, and then do all the yellow on them the next day. Visitors can come in thrice a day to view the space and also make their own poster to take home.

Country Music Hall of Fame

Gold, Silver and Platinum records at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Gold, Silver and Platinum records at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

I am not a county music geek, but I am a lover of museums. And this is definitely one worth a visit – and if you’re a country music noob like me, you’ll definitely leave knowing more about it than you did coming in. The Country Music Hall of Fame claims to have the world’s largest collection of country music artifacts. On display are photographs, old music videos, historic musical instruments, clothing worn by country artists and cars they owned.

Blue Suede Shoes at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Blue Suede Shoes at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Owen Bradley's office recreated at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Owen Bradley’s office recreated at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Look out for: the Taylor Swift bus that includes a karaoke-like booth,  a re-assembled version of Owen Bradley’s office room and a pair of Blue Suede Shoes owned by Carl Perkins.

The Grand Ole Opry House

The Grand Ole Opry House. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
The Grand Ole Opry House. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

The Grand Ole Opry started out as a live radio show and continues to date making it the oldest running live music radio show in the US. Get a tour of the backstage where you will find themes dressing rooms – the blue grass room was full of banjo-playing artists when we walked past. The ‘family room’ is a larger backstage room where artists gather and make themselves coffee. A large mural by artist Archie Campbell on one side of the family room reveals a ‘watermark’ – the level the water got to during the 2010 Nashville flood.

A dressing room backstage of the Grand Ole Opry House. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
A dressing room backstage of the Grand Ole Opry House. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Soviet era photography in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Soviet era photography in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is housed in what used to be the Nashville Post Office. Much remains the same and you can see the floorboards worn at the spots where postmen used to stand and work all day. The museum rotates exhibits, nothing is permanent. Currently they have a very interesting series of photographs from the Soviet. The docent we had on our tour was very knowledgeable of the work on display and explained how photography was used as propaganda in the Stalinist era. On May 27 a sports car exhibition is scheduled to open at the space.

Nashville Hot Chicken

Cobb Salad with Hot Chicken at Party Fowl (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Cobb Salad with Hot Chicken at Party Fowl (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

Look up the legend behind this Nashville dish yourself. All I know is that I loved it and that it wasn’t anything I expected. I had the Cobb salad at Part Fowl and chose the ‘medium’ level of spiciness. Choose carefully if you have a weak tongue. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is where the dish is said to have its roots at and one will usually have to wait in line to get in.

Brewery tour

Barrels of whiskey at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Barrels of whiskey at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

If you have the time, drive 45 minutes out of the city to the Jack Daniels distillery. We didn’t have the time so we went to Nelson’s Green Brier that is easier to get to.  A guide gives you a background story of the family run business, shows you the distillation plant and the whiskey barrels in storgage. The tour ends with members getting to sample four of their whiskeys, the first of which is a white whiskey that is un-aged.

The “Parthenon”

The Nashville Parthenon. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
The Nashville Parthenon. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Statue of Athena in the Nashville Parthenon. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
Statue of Athena in the Nashville Parthenon. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

In the 1850s, Nashville began to be called the ‘Athens of the South.’ Built almost an eighth of an inch close to the original Greek monument, the Nashville Parthenon was originally built as a structure to house an arts fair. The inside houses a statue of Athena – “the tallest indoor statue in the Western Hemisphere” and an art gallery. I personally didn’t find the Athena statue awe inspiring (there was something off about her posture and her knee seemed to be too high) and the art work was sub-par. If you’ve witnessed the real Parthenon yourself, you might be in for major disappointment here. I know I was, but you go and critique it for yourself.

The Hermitage – Andrew Jackson’s home

The dining room of the Jackson residence. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)
The dining room of the Jackson residence. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

The Hermitage mansion, the home of President Jackson is situated on 1,120-acre grounds that used to be his plantation fields. Over 95% of the original objects and artifacts (furnishings, artwork, textiles, personal items, wallpapers) are held intact from his time. It is rather interesting to see. Also, ask your tour guide to narrate  any ghost stories surrounding the old President’s house.

When talks about booting Jackson from the $20 bill were going on, the administration at the Hermitage lobbied in DC for him to stay on and were told he would, apparently. They found out about Harriett Tubman with the rest of the world. “We were surprised,” said Jason Nelson, VP of Marketing.


About the Author: Nikita Sampath is an award-winning visual journalist who loves food, travel and culture. She has a personal blog, a reporting blog and likes to be followed on Instagram.