My Visit To Nashville

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Wow. What a trip.

So, if you’ve been following along you know I went to Nashville to play the Melodica festival in Nashville. And boy, oh boy, I had a great time. There was music, a lot of extremely unhealthy and delicious southern food, and I may or may not have had a couple of drinks.

You may have followed along in my Facebook group, where I posted a few live updates. But right now I just want to bring it all together and write a bit about the whole experience. We can call this a tour diary of sorts, although it’s a bit after the fact.

So, my trip started on a Wednesday afternoon, and I spent some quality time at the airport bar, reading a book and having a nice drink to prepare myself for the long journey ahead. I do not do well with very long trips, and this was going to be a pretty long one for me, but I had a lot of entertainment to keep myself occupied – books, audiobooks, movies and TV shows on the planes… So I was excited.

My planner and my drinks

So, I went out into the airplane, and this is where things started to break down a bit. As we were sitting on the tarmac, the captain came on and told us there was a problem with the plane that had to be looked into. Which is a good thing, of course, but this caused a 90 minute delay which really caused me trouble in Boston, where I had to catch a flight to Nashville. I was meant to have plenty of time to get from one flight to the other, but as it turned out, I had to run like crazy to catch my plane, and my bag didn’t make it until the next day.

I actually made a little video the morning after, as I walked around the beautiful scenery in Hendersonville, where I was staying.

The story of my travel woes on the way to Nashville

Well, my bag did arrive, and all was well. I was even able to change clothes and shower, which is a bit of a luxury.

The next day I checked out the venue for the Melodica festival, and took a little stroll around downtown Nashville, which was amazing. It’s a vibrant and fun city, and there’s so much music everywhere. It felt almost overwhelming.

After a nice time walking around with my friend Alexander, who is a wonderful singer-songwriter, we all went to Casa Kelley, the home of Brian and Lori Kelley, where we had a meet and greet for all the artists. Lori is an amazing artist, and has been a part of the Melodica family for a while, and she was gracious enough to open her home to us, which was wonderful.

It was a great night of meeting new and old Melodica artists, having drinks and playing music. And a great start of a fantastic Melodica weekend.

I posted this little diary entry, feeling a bit hung over after the Melodica meet and greet.

Now it was time for the festival! And oh, it was a great show. Two days of intimate and beautiful singer-songwriter goodness at a very nice location, Just Love Coffee, which is located on Nashville’s Music Row. Right next door there was a bar that had a LOT of New England Patriots flags hanging from the ceiling, which I thought was kind of brave in Titans territory, and next door to that there was a wonderful craft bar which had a Cincinnati Bengals banner, which I found even weirder. But the beer was fantastic.

So, the festival went great. I was able to live stream the first night, but unfortunately the coffeeshop’s wi-fi was out on the second day, so I couldn’t do the second one. I’m going to post the replay of the live stream I was able to do on this site in a couple of days, so watch this space. 🙂

After the first day of the festival was done, on the Friday night, me and my friend Alexander didn’t really feel like going home to Hendersonville yet. So we figured we’d go downtown, have a late dinner and get an Uber back. A quick price check told us it would only be about $40, so we thought it was a great idea.

We went out and had a huge dinner, some beer and drank in some great country music. Young people were dancing all around us, and we had a wonderful time.

It was then time to head home and get some sleep, but now the price of the Uber had gone up to about $70. We grumbled, but well, we had to get back. A hotel room would surely be a lot more expensive, and it was getting cold.

Well, we had a LOT of trouble getting the Uber. First they didn’t find us, and then the app just stopped working altogether. We stood on a street corner just outside downtown Nashville for about 45 minutes trying to get the Uber thing to work, to no avail. I’m pretty sure we looked extremely suspicious, and I’m a little surprised we didn’t get arrested.

Eventually we were able to get a cab driver to stop, and he offered to take us there for $75, which made us very happy. And we had the most wonderful conversation with the guy. He was an African-American, born in Puerto Rico, who was working his way through University driving a cab. It was really eye-opening to get his perspective on American politics and living in the South as a minority. Really made all that mess worth it to get to chat with that guy. He travels a lot and I gave him the information for my tour company, so if he makes it to Iceland, I’m hoping to catch up with him again.

The second day of the festival was just as wonderful as the first (although I only played on the first day, so that was obviously the better lineup), and afterwards we had another party at Casa Kelley. This one was a bit shorter, though, and we went home pretty early.

I was then fortunate enough to be able to spend a few extra days in Hendersonville. I visited the Johnny Cash museum, as well as Third Man Records, Jack White’s record store, which is a magical place. I even recorded a song directly to vinyl there – which I am going to post for you guys as soon as I can. It’s something else.

Hendersonville is of course the town where Johnny Cash lived for much of his life. That’s where he and June Carter had a big house, and a lot of stars would stay with them. Unfortunately the house has since burned down, but my host, Eggert, took us to look at the remains. It’s basically the foundation, the garage and June’s work cabin – nothing else remains. But it was a cool thing to see, anyway.

Before I left Nashville I had to get a tattoo, of course. I always get tattoos when I play Melodica in a new town. Usually it’s the logo for each festival, but Melodica Nashville didn’t have a logo, so I had to improvise a bit. I was lucky that Michelle Nielson, Eggert’s wife, who is one of my dear friends, is very artistic and clever, and she found some ideas for me. So with her help, as well as the tattoo artist’s, I got a tattoo based around the Nashville skyline, and the idea of the Melodica festival. Here’s a picture of it:

The bottom tattoo is the Nashville one – the one above is for my hometown, Hafnarfjörður, where we had our first Melodica earlier this year.

So there. I now have a Nashville tattoo. Also a nice Bob Dylan reference, which is always good. But mainly, it’s a Melodica tattoo.

Now, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I only follow one sport: American Football. I’ve never been into sports at all, but for some reason, a couple of years ago, I really got into American Football, and now I follow the NFL pretty closely. And as it happened, the Tennessee Titans had a home game while I was in Nashville. So obviously I had to go.

So me and a couple of friends headed down to Nissan Stadium. We picked up a six pack of New Belgium’s Fat Tire, and headed into the parking lot to check out the tailgating, which is something I’ve always wanted to witness. We asked the first people we saw if they had a bottle opener (since I was dumb enough to buy bottles instead of cans), and they certainly had. After asking us where we were from, they invited us to join their tailgate, and lo and behold, we had made new friends! They fed us giant hot dogs and offered us beer (and were kind of offended when we went and bought more beer for ourselves). Southern hospitality!

Then we watched the game, and it was awesome. I’m afraid I’ll have to make an annual trip to the States to see an NFL game now. And to tailgate!

So, that’s my account of my visit to Nashville. I had the most wonderful time. I’m so thankful that I was invited to the festival, and for how warmly Tennessee embraced me. I met so many interesting and wonderful people, and had so many great conversations.

I think one of my main takeaways from this visit was all the people I got to talk to who had very different opinions from my own (me being from a country where the American left would be considered pretty far right of center), and hear their opinions and expressing mine without anybody getting defensive or offended. There’s a lot of talk about how divisive the world has become, and looking at social media it’s very easy to see that, but on this trip, stepping outside of my echo chamber and communicating with people who come from a totally different culture, and doing so without any kind of arguing or defensiveness, was really great. Maybe it’s because I was a foreigner, or maybe people are just reasonable, by and large, and we shouldn’t judge each other’s behavior from the internet too much.

Anyway, I digress.

I hope you enjoyed my little diary here. I really loved having the folks over in my Facebook group follow along with me on this trip, and I hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already. I’m going to post a couple of more things from the trip soon, but I just wanted to get this part out of the way now. Below you’ll find a little photo gallery from the trip. Enjoy. 🙂

Until next time,

Folk on.

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