Thursday, December 30, 2010

Music City USA!

On December 10th my friends from FL flew into Nashville and I drove out to meet them. We spent the weekend doing everything a good tourist should do in Nashville! It was great. The weather, while we were there, was good, but it got a little hairy the last day. I'll go into that more later.
We stayed in a hotel that was right in downtown which made it easy to walk almost everywhere we needed to go. The first night we walked around downtown which is full of historic bars where famous country singers first debuted. "The Stage" was our first stop. There was a cool band playing and a guy who showed us how to two-step. Then we headed over to a piano bar. I am always so amazed at how talented the performers are. They have to have all kinds of songs memorized, play them on the piano, and be funny and entertaining all at the same time! The best part though was when Jen got called up on stage to do the hokey pokey for her birthday. That was pretty funny.

The next day we went to the go check out the Grand Ole Opry House which we could not get into, so we just looked around outside. Right next door is the Gaylord Opryland Hotel which is the coolest hotel I have ever seen (outside of Las Vegas). It was decorated for Christmas with huge trees and wreaths. There were stores, and streets, gardens and skywalks around the hotel. The interesting thing, though, was that the rooms had balconys that overlooked the inside of the hotel. I bet at night it would be beautiful in there with all the Christmas lights.
The Blue Collar Comedy tour was next on our list of outings. This was probably the funniest part of the trip. We got on a school bus that had underwear hanging from the ceiling and well... lets just say it was a red neck heaven. They took us on a tour of the city telling us all kinds of interesting facts about the many recording studios, the country music hall of fame, and the downtown area all the while turning us into certified red necks. 

 That evening we stopped by Tooties one of the famous old bars where it is said Willy Nelson played when he was first starting out. The story behind this bar was pretty cool. Apparently, Tootise, the owner, was kind to artists who were just starting or were down on their luck by putting an IOU in a box when she knew they couldn't pay. As time went on artists started to come back to the bar as they got more popular and pay off all of the IOU's in her box so she would not lose any money. 
There is an alley behind all the bars in downtown and on the other side of the alley is the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was held for years before it moved the current location (The Grand Ole Opry House). The alley behind the bars was the hang out for the stars of the Grand Ole Opry before or after their sets. According to the stories many singers spent lots of time crossing the alley between Tootise's and the backstage entrance to the Ryman on performance nights. When the Opry radio show moved locations the Ryman was forgotten and was going to be demolished. Thankfully, some people decided to come in and restore this historic sight. Now, the Opry show moves back to the Ryman each year for Christmas since the Rockettes are performing at the Grand Ole Opry House. We had tickets to see the Opry at the Ryman on Saturday night. It was an interesting experience. I had no idea that The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show that has been playing every weekend for 85 years. (Where have I been?) Anyway, I had never heard of most of the acts that performed, but they were all good. One thing that was interesting was the commercials. They are performed live by the announcer and we had to sit through listening to the commercials after every song. It was funny. In my opinion, the best act that we saw that evening was Low Anthem. They are an up in coming band who was recently discovered by Emmylou Harris (the same person who was influential in saving the Ryman.) They had a very cool sound and they harmonize so well. I loved it! 
the alley

Emmylou Harris (on left)

The Low Anthem
On Sunday we spent the day visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA studio, and did a backstage tour of the Ryman. All of which were extremely interesting and there was way too much to mention all of it, but I thought the coolest part was getting to step inside the recording studio soundstage at the RCA studio B where many famous singers from Elvis to Dolly Parton recorded their songs. They even had the original piano that was played in all the songs that were recorded in the studio. Elvis offered to buy this piano many times claiming it had the best sound, but RCA would not sell it to him. He, apparently, would come in and play it before his sessions to get in the mood to record his songs. Everyone was allowed to sit down and actually play the piano if they wanted to. Wish I had retained something from my piano lessons...
Country Music Hall of Fame

The backstage tour of the Ryman was also packed with fun facts about the artists that performed there and the history behind the building itself. It was originally built as a church and many great revivals were held there. Like many places it did not have air conditioning before its restoration so they would hand out fans to the audience. One artist noted how she couldn't look out into the audience very often because all the fans going made her dizzy. We got our picture opportunity up on stage. I can only imagine what it would be like to sing on that stage. Amazing!

Great weekend! Lots to see and do in Nashville and if you are a country music fan it is definitely a must see.

To get back to what I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The weather was great while in Nashville, but as I was driving back to Knoxville I had to drive over what is called "the plateau" during the worst snow storm in a while to hit TN. (Of course, doesn't it figure.) Let me tell you, it was probably the most stressful and scary thing I have ever been through in my entire life. I never want to do that again. Thankfully, I had a guardian angle watching over me and I made it home safe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I think it may be a white Christmas.

It has been snowing everyday here. I woke up this morning to 19 degree weather. brrrr! The snow usually melts as soon as it hits the ground, but today it finally stuck for a little while.

my car windshield

the puddle around the mail boxes is ice.

Work is pretty hectic with 40-50 patients on the physical therapy case load and only 4 people on our PT team (2 PTs and 2 PTAs). The PTAs are not able to write most of the paperwork so the other PT, Heather, and I are trying to meet productivity and do all the paperwork for our patients (which in this setting is insane).

There is a lot more going on at this facility than the last one I worked in. We have all kinds of equipment and resources, but with all that cool stuff comes the busyness. I am not complaining, though, I really like all the people I work with and the patients, and staying busy usually helps the day go by faster. Except for this week which can't go by fast enough because this weekend I am taking a trip to Nashville with a few of my friends from Florida. Can't wait! You will have to check back for that story. I am sure I will have a ton of pics. I know we will pack everything we can into this one little weekend!