Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nashville: Where Have All The Outlaws Gone?

The life of a ramblin' man ain't easy. Especially with the law breathing down your neck.

Those were my thoughts as I sat on my plane awaiting my 7:05 am takeoff to Nashville, TN from an undisclosed location.

I had never been to Nashville before.

All I knew was it is supposedly the "country music capital of the world."

But, one of my favorite outlaws, Hank III, calls it "Trashville," and says it's no longer a place for outlaws and is instead nothing more than a corporate-controlled, cookie cutter tourist spot. As he said at one of his concerts, "it's watered down . . . It's no longer about the music."

I would finally get to find out for myself that evening.

But I'd have to jump through some hoops first -- thanks to Big Brother.

Apparently, the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, implemented a new safety standard on planes that requires a new type of exit sign.

Well, my plane didn't have one of these new signs, so after sitting there an hour on the runway, waiting for a union mechanic to come and install the new sign, the airline finally realized that they didn't have an extra, and would have to fly one down from Baltimore.

That meant I was stuck at my undisclosed location for three more hours, but at least I was safe! I'm sure my plane would have crashed without one of those new signs.

Fortunately, after such a long ordeal, I finally made it. Walking through the airport in Nashville I thought a lot about where Suit420 should eat that night after my meetings.

And the airport sure did make Hank III seem right. Nothing screamed "outlaw" at me. All I saw were gift shops full of cookie cutter, corporate designed shirts, mugs and pins. Where were the rebels? The anti-establishment, anti-mainstream stuff?

I was anxious to find out for myself if there still were any in Nashville.

I got through my meetings and got checked in to my hotel downtown, and I was ready to find out if outlaws were still welcome in Nashville.

There were so many places that I just decided to head to the downtown area on Broad Street, walk around, have a couple beers and pick out my place.

As I walked over the hill on Broad Street, the first thought that came to my mind was "Hank was right." It looked just like any other city. Actually, it reminded me of Memphis in its own way.

And there were fake outlaws walking around. It looked like a bunch of losers from some MTV reality show spent a few hundred bucks on "western wear" and headed out for the night. When a chick looks uncomfortable and can't hardly walk in her cowboy boots, you know she doesn't usually wear them and is just a fraud. But I digress.

And not to mention the police that were everywhere. Were they looking for Suit420? After all, I was smoking a fresh clove straight from Indonesia. The same cloves that Big Brother banned last year. But of course, it was for the kids, so I can't get too mad....

As I got in the middle of everything I was even more disappointed. I heard crap music coming out of a lot of the bars. The same old watered down, paid to play that Hank III talks about. But then I saw it: A bar called "Whiskey Bent."

Hank III has a song called "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound," so I thought this may be an outlaw place. And it was. When I walked in, there was actually a chick on stage singing "Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."

Unfortunately, they didn't serve food, so I had a couple beers and headed out.

I couldn't find anywhere suitable for Suit420. It was all too franchisee like. I might as well review the local Long Horn's. So I decided to venture off the main drag and see what I could find off in an alley somewhere.

And that was my best decision of the night.

As I rounded a corner, I saw what is called "Printer's Alley." It was a small, dimly lit alley, full of bar signs so I decided to head right down.

And the first thing that caught my eye was a huge sign that said, "Nude Karaoke." This definitely wasn't a corporate-controlled area.

The first bar I went in, Ms. Kellis, was awesome, but their cook didn't make it in that night, so they weren't serving food. I settled for a couple of beers, and chatted the bartender up. She told me to go to the place across from them because they had great food.

So I had a beer and three shots and headed to the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar.

As soon as I opened the door, I knew this was my place. It was dimly lit, dead with a few locals at the bar, and a lone guitarist on stage playing some old country.

The Fiddle and Steel has a small stand in the back where you order your food. The menu was great. Greasy bar food with extremely cheap prices.

I settled for a burger and some chips. I ordered my food, and the best part was that the guy didn't even give me a bill. He said when I went to the bar to just tell the bartender to charge me $4.50 for the food on top of whatever I drank. I thought to myself "in a corporate-controlled bar that would never happen."

I headed to the bar, told the bartender to charge me $4.50, and decided on what to drink. Since I was in a dive bar I just decided to go with good ole Budweiser. But for others, there is a nice beer selection, and all the whiskey and liquor you could ever want.

And then the final straw happened. The guy next to me lit up a cigarette. Wow, somewhere in America, you still have the freedom to allow patrons to smoke in YOUR bar. But what was funny was at Whiskey Bent, smoking wasn't allowed -- must be a corporate joint after all.

The Fiddle and Steel Guitar's food was just what the doctor ordered.

I downed it really fast because the steak burger was so damn good.

And best of all, the people there were really friendly. The guy that cooked the food made it a point to come over to me and ask how it was. He then told me a little bit about the bar, and how they were off to the side and were more of a hole-in-the-wall, anti-establishment place.

There were guitars hanging from the ceiling, bull horns over the door, and funny signs posted around the place. Overall, it was a great place, from the food to the beer to the atmosphere. The bartender even let me write "Ron Paul 2012" in permanent marker real large on the bar top.

I had made my decision. Yes, in general Hank III is right. It's no longer the country music capital. It's the sellout, concrete cowboy capital.

Everyone from Dolly Parton to Hank III have trashed Nashville in recent years for selling out and going corporate.

But if you have Suit420's nose for trouble, an outlaw can still get down in Trashville -- and even sing karaoke naked if you get drunk enough.

Rating: Bought The Shirt!

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