Monday, August 17, 2009

Playin' since they's babies

NASHVILLE -- Where can you blow in on a Sunday after midnight and still catch six different bands flailing away in the confines of one city block? And grab some late-nite grub while the fiddles are flying? Nashville's Lower Broad, there's where.

Honky tonkin' is never dull in downtown Nashville. The gateway for me has always been Robert's Western World, where the grill is open until 1:30 and the band plays until 2. Get a load of their special $5 ''stimulus package'':

All-beef hot dog
Busch beer
Lay's potato chips

For five bucks! Now how's that for Southern hospitality? (I've never tried a Moonpie and beer, so I stuck with the old standby: a chili cheese dog and a bottle of Miller Lite).

Esquire magazine rated Robert's one of the best bars in America in 2006, which is a nice feather to wear in your 10-gallon hat. But it's no secret to regulars that this is one of Music City's must-visit venues. And notoriety has not changed the the place one bit.

The only downside to a midnight meander along Lower Broad is that two favorite haunts -- Gruhn Guitars and Hatch Show Print -- keep more regular business hours. But that just allows you to concentrate on the music -- and the music is boot-kickin' beautiful.

John Sebastian paid these incredible musicians -- most of whom play for bar tips -- the ultimate tribute in "Nashville Cats'':

Well, there's thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee anthill
Yeah, there's thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks his guitar could play
Twice as better than I will

All true. I humbly rest my (guitar) case.

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