Chapter 6: Nashville, Willy Nelson and the holy land…..Jack Daniels
Chapter 6: Nashville, Willy Nelson and the holy land…..Jack Daniels
I was enjoying my sleep in my double queen bed. The alarm went off and before you know it I was up, showered, dressed and in the death mobile before the sun had properly risen.
That’s right folks, we were off again. This time, heading for Nashville. We really had no idea what we were going to do there other than use the city as a base point to get to the Promised Land.
So off we went, cruising the highways and marvelling at such wonders as the sheer volume of heavy hauling trucks, discount firework tents on the side of the road and the disturbingly high amount of massive churches along the road.
It wasn’t the longest drive we were going to have but it still sucked. The highways there are all just bleak multi-laned stretches where the country side doesn’t change a hell of a lot and every now and then a small supply stop appears. We took turns driving and whoever wasn’t was either playing with the camera or sleeping. That’s right fuckers, I slept in that car!
Gradually we started seeing more and more signs for Nashville and it was a much welcome sight to pull into the Maxwell house hotel. About that point I realised that we were staying at a hotel sponsored by a damn coffee company. At least it had that going for it.
The place was a lot more fancy than I had expected and we kind of felt out of place driving our little red Avio into the car park amongst 300c’s, F-trucks and a myriad of other expensive large cars.
It wasn’t until we walked inside that our fears were elevated as the place looked like a bombsite. They were in the process of replacing the carpet throughout so the ground floor was littered with furniture piled up and squashed together in clumps.
We checked in and made our way up to our room on the 7th floor, not too far from the top. Being the 9th floor. Oooooooh such luxury was unbefitting of us two Aussie yokels on a road trip. A nice room with a nice view allowed us to relax a bit after the long and somewhat boring drive.
We jumped on the laptop and spent a bit of time skyping people back home and sussing out what local attractions there were for us. It was about this time our plan of getting to a city and then finding 2135235235 things to do and widdling it down to the things we had time for was getting well-rehearsed. This afternoon’s treat would involve catching the hotel taxi to the centre of town to have a wander around and find what mischief we could.
We got dumped pretty much in the guts of Nashville on the main street. Another hot day and no idea where to go lead us to wander the streets up and down just being tourists. A fair way to spend the day. It was an interesting place to suss out, as every second building we passed was a pub. They looked hideous from the outside, dilapidated shitholes to be polite, but as we looked through the windows in side they were lavish and lush oasis’s of beer food and the all-important music. Literally every pub we walked past had a singer or whole band playing all kinds of different music. But none of them appealed to us enough to wander in. I think I heard everything from solid moshing speed metal to true home-grown hick bands with a wash board and banjo in our walks…..an amazing experience.
We eventually decided it was time for some din dins, and ended up heading to a larger more swish looking pub down the river end of the street called Big River Grille and Brewing works. I figured what the hell; they make beer and have food. Can’t be too bad.
I noticed as we walked in, they had a big sign on the door saying “no concealed firearms on premises”. Ok, so I’m allowed to have a firearm as long as everyone can see it? Wow, they really do things differently here.
Anyways, after trying some of the in house brews and having an epic feast we decided to call it as it was getting late and we had an early start the next day. So we called the hotel and ordered our pick up. Two smokes and a bit of a perve later, George was back in the hotel cab to pick us up.
The reason I remember his name was because he was a very memorable bloke. While driving us back to Maxwell house he was giving us a commentary about everything from the local women, the local Friday night cookouts at the church through to the flooding of recent times. We drove past a KFC and we were told about George loving the KFC seasoning. He began talking about when the flood had hit Nashville how the water was pretty high and nearly flooded out the KFC. He was telling us that when the flood hit, he was down at the KFC sandbagging the doors instead of being at home trying to protect that. I chuckled at the thought, this guy loves the colonel as much as I do…..to which he asked, what I found so funny about that? He said to us, something along the lines of “Yall think that’s funny that the black man loves chicken that much don’t ya? Yall think cause I’m black I eat nothing but chicken? Mother fuckers, I like cat fish too” by this point myself and Juzzy were pissing ourselves laughing as he was clearly messing around with us and about a topic in a style I could muchly appreciate.
We retreated back to our room and cooled down as bit. That’s right, it still wasn’t much cooler.
After having a few night caps in the bar down stairs we called it a night so we could get up early.
The day had finally come. 1 of 3 reasons we had ventured through this part of the country was upon us. It seemed like an eternity travelling the winding back roads through the countryside to Lynchburg. The fact that we had to drive through places like “Columbia” and “Shelbyville” only made it more interesting.
So the moment had arrived, we pulled into the car park of the Jack Daniels Distillery. I had been a long time coming for Juzzy and rightly so it was like all his Christmases had come at once. We made short work of the car park and got inside to book our tour as quick as we could. With a bit of time to spare we had a chance to wander around the entry hall and take a bunch of photos. The tour began and after a short intro video with the rules etc., we were on our way around the distillery. Our tour guide was what one might deem “a bit of a redneck” with the trucker cap, the overalls and the oily rag hanging out the back pocket we made our way around the distillery. The thing I loved about the inner states and town, this guy represented. He was so down to earth and honest and although hard to understand at times just an all-round amusingly friendly bloke. If he wasn’t paying the piss out of himself he was filling our heads with knowledge he had gained from generations handing it down.
Things like, it’s actually illegal in Lynchburg County to drink. Even at the Distillery. You can buy it but can’t drink it. The irony was amazing……
From the smoke yards to the barrel house and even in to the cave were Jack Daniels get their spring water we toured the whole place. I was truly a sense of achievement to come to the home of something that we had both enjoyed so much over the years. This was Juzzy’s Graceland. He knew all about the place and wouldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear as we wandered the grounds wishing that we were allowed to touch everything and sample all the brews. Just the design of the place was a marvel in itself. From the lush green surrounds with creeks running through out to the buildings that were not only rustic timber but decorated with the same stuff, it indeed gave the feeling that everything in that place had been formed out of a used Jack Daniels barrel at some stage.
All too soon the tour ended, and we made our way back to the staging area to sample some homemade ice lemonade (which was a blessing cause it was hot as all hell that day) and purchase some bottles. We stocked up, took our final salute to this marvellous establishment and headed into Lynchburg itself.
Only five hundred meters up the road we came to the town centre of Lynchburg. It was one of those places that had only about 400 people that lived in the town itself and as we soon discovered every one of those 400 people were on the oval setting up for foundation day. (I later found out it was the annual celebration of the founding of Lynchburg). We parked the death mobile and went to wander around and have a look. The centre of town sported a couple of banks, a couple of foodatoriums and the general population milling around doing their usual thing. It became apparent all too quick that the majority of the 400 people that lived there were related, as we noticed a fair few people did look like each other.
After stopping off to pick up a dated JD’s shot glass to commemorate our visit to the distillery (which Lia later shattered to my great unhappiness :P) we discovered the holy land. A building that was literally 3 stories high and just as long and dwarfed anything else in that town. It was the Jack Daniels merchandise store. Before Juzzy could spooge in jocks too much we made a bee line for it and began what ended up being a pretty well behaved spend up. Considering you could buy everything from Harleys and pool tables to the barrels themselves I think we did pretty good to leave with only a few small bits and pieces each.
With another quick lap of the square to again marvel at the inbred ways around those parts (but more so to get another soda) we packed our new found wares back into the death mobile and made our way back to Nashville. Now I can’t recall if we missed our turnoffs or what the fuck happened, but we somehow ended up in a different part of Nashville that we clearly hadn’t been in before.
With a quick gander at Google maps and our list of shit we wanted to do, it became all too clear of our next destination.
That’s right folks; we were bound for Willy Nelsons Museum. Everything awesome over the years has somehow involved Willy nelson and for me growing up in a household that regularly listened to his tunes, it seemed only right. Upon arriving there tho we realised, SCORE! The Willy Nelson museum was actually right next door to the Dukes of Hazard museum. I know right, almost too much awesome for one day. Turns out that the Willy Nelson museum actually sucked. It was basically one giant fricking souvenir shop and the highlight was me getting a chance to grab the boobs of a Dolly Parton cardboard cut-out for a photo and then leaving.
We quickly made our way next door and took a self-guided tour of everything the Dukes had to offer. Amongst all the memorabilia and scale electric sets they actually had the original cars featured in the series. A small flashback to another of my childhood shows. Alright you got me, it kind of sucked too. The main highlight of that place was getting a photo with a restored General Lee, and then going in the Pub next door for a beer.
Now this place was cool. Not only was the bar chick real friendly, but the place was made out of timber cladding from top to bottom. The catch being, there was not a blank bit of timber in the joint. Apparently we had stumbled into the busiest musical pub in town. Every pillar, every slat, every toothpick in the place had been autographed by the musicians that had played in the place. Some had gone on to become megastars; some had failed and returned to being a janitor or whatever. But it was definitely cool to sit, drink a beer, eat the greasiest potato skins on record and read some of the messages left for people like me.
A few beers later and the heat were beginning to take its toll. Before I knew it we were back in the hotel sending emails and dozing off between random episodes of man vs food and CSI.
I awoke some time before midnight with one of those appetites that would suit me well at the watermark in my stretchy pants. Juzzy was content to chill in the room, so I ventured down stairs to find some foods. I found the hotel bar that was all but deserted except for the lonely looking singer with her guitar and the chick behind the bar. I put away a burger in a tidy time and proceeded to watch the NBA highlights while talking with both the bar chick and the singer. Apparently open mic night wasn’t going to be too busy tonight. After getting in an argument with the bar chick that I could mix drinks by colour not ingredient something very strange happened. I got complete and utterly shit faced off something other than bourbon. I mean, I was messed up Vegas styles of everything from fruity coladas to triple doubles of 3 different whiskeys. Now in my usual drunken state as anyone knows I’ll talk to a brick wall if it looks like it can hold up its end of the conversation. And somewhere in the piece we had been joined by some business looking dude in a suit who was quick to join in the mix and match game of who could get the most fucked up the quickest that me and the singer chick were playing. Before you know it, she was singing, he was playing her guitar, the bar chick was deciding what song to play and I was trying my best to keep up on the piano. That’s right! ME! Playing the piano in public!!!!! That right there is your indication of how messed up I was. The only thing I remember was playing some Greenday song, belting out my own drunken rendition of on the road again (GO WILLY NELSON!) and trying to teach these musically gifted strangers how to play classic Australian tunes such as INXS, chisel and of course the obligatory farnzy songs. I do recall abusing them because they didn’t know the words to you’re the voice too…
At around 4am much to our dismay, the bar had to close up. Sadly I bid my new spastically drunk musical mates of the last 5 hours a farewell and made my way back to the room were I woke Juzzy with my drunken stumbling antics of tripping over everything in the room before going ass up and passing out.
Sadly I don’t have any photos of the people that I spent such an amusing time with, and I don’t even remember their names. But to me, that night was a true testament to just how musical Nashville was. It showed me just how much everyone in that city is affected by music, how everyone deep down is a fan of Willy nelson and how you can mix by colour and get some awesome tasting drinks.
I didn’t really plan it too well as after breakfast at 8am we were due to be on the road again. We were due to head for another critical part of our journey. Being I am an ambassador for Makers Mark bourbon it wouldn’t be right to not visit my embassy. It was after breakfast at 8am that we were back in the death mobile and heading for Shepardsville, General Patton’s Tanks and My embassy….Makers Mark.