My Nashville: the musician

As told to Andy Morris, Editor, British Airways’ High Life magazine

Photography by Eric Ryan Anderson

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May 2018

Whether she’s hanging out with country music royalty or recording dreamy tracks with her southern beau, Ruston Kelly, Kacey Musgraves is right in the core of Nashville’s buzzing music scene. Here, she shares her must-visit venues.

1. Grimey’s

I love the record store Grimey’s – Mike “Grimey” Grimes is a well-known cool guy and music lover around town. His shop not only has a great selection of records – he’s a big supporter of all different genres and artists both new and old – but a really good vibe. I’ve done a few signings and in-store performances there, it’s just really nice to have someone in the community who truly cares about music.

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2. Ryman Auditorium

To catch an iconic country music performance, head to Ryman Auditorium. It’s hallowed ground. I remember in 2012 I got to play on the Ryman stage for the first time with Merry Go Round, which I had to really fight for to be a single in the first place. Getting out on the stage, there’s an immense amount of pressure but I sang the song and I’ll never forget the audience’s reaction: a crazy standing ovation. They just wouldn’t sit down.

The Station Inn has been a little bluegrass dive for fifty years, all these chic condos and high rises have sprung up around it, but somehow it always manages to remain the same.

3. Robert’s Western World

Robert’s Western World is one of the only bars on Broadway – Nashville’s vibrant main street – that focuses on old school country, with live music seven days a week. There are great fried baloney sandwiches, a rockabilly honky tonk soundtrack and plenty of beer. To me, it’s one of the last remaining representations of old Nashville and a guaranteed authentic experience.

  • Kacey is a big fan of Grimey’s record shop © Eric Ryan Anderson.

    Radio waves

    The original WSM radio station became the first commercial radio station in the United States to receive an FM licence back in 1941 and is home to the world’s longest running radio program, The Grand Ole Opry.£522 return

    Fly to Nashville
  • Head to the Bluebird Café for old and new country sounds © Deone Jahnke.

    Country café

    On a visit to the café, you could see and hear anyone from LeAnn Rimes to one of Kacey’s favourites, John Prine.£431 pp

    Explore Nashville
  • Visit the home of traditional country music, Robert’s Western World.

    Roots and beer 

    This Nashville institution is open from 11.00 until 02.00 Monday to Saturday, and 12.00 until 02.00 on Sundays.£366 pp

    Discover Music City

4. 3rd and Lindsley

On Monday nights, you’ll want to head to 3rd and Lindsley to see the Time Jumpers play live. This legendary Western Swing band is revered in Nashville musicians’ circles, with members such as Vince Gill on vocals and Paul Frankli with his steel guitar. It’s some of the best musicianship you’ll ever hear. And it’s been running for years.

5. Play

Play was one of the first places I ended up at when I came to Nashville. Perfect for a fun night on the town, they do drag shows every weekend – two drag shows a night that showcase a whole host of different queens. I’ve seen a Shania Twain drag queen here, a Wynonna Judd, a Reba McEntire – and if you’re going to be a Reba drag queen in Nashville, you better be good!

6. Country Music Hall of Fame

Even if you’re not a fan, you should go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s so full of history and it’s the place to see iconic mementoes and milestones – I find the place really inspiring. They have Elvis Presley’s Cadillac, Tammy Wynette’s dresses, artefacts from the Carter family, Jimmy Rogers and Loretta Lynn. They also pay homage to new parts of country music, so it’s not all from the past.

  • Explore the history of country at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

    Walk the line

    The museum contains 466 guitars, 26 Grammy awards, and 11 handwritten song manuscripts including Jolene by Dolly Parton.£431 pp

    Plan your trip

7. Bluebird Café

I met my husband Ruston Kelly at Bluebird, and can say it’s a place unlike any other. It’s obviously a Nashville staple, and everyone from Emmylou Harris to Guy Clark to John Prine has played there, but it’s also a hub for aspiring songwriters. Definitely not the place I expected to find the love of my life.

8. The Station Inn

This is a really cool place and it’s in the Gulch neighbourhood, between downtown and Music Row. The Station Inn has been a little bluegrass dive for fifty years. All these chic condos and high rises have sprung up around it, but somehow it always manages to remain the same. I guarantee there would be a revolutionary war if anything happened to that place, people would be up in arms. You can get popcorn, a PBR beer and watch bluegrass jams every Sunday night. Amateur bluegrass lovers can bring their instruments along too. It’s really cute, and I love that all the old timers still play there.

Kacey Musgraves is a Nashville-based country musician. To discover Kacey’s sound, visit kaceymugraves.