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VOL. 35 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 16, 2011

Curious music fans enjoy visiting 'real thing'

By Tim Ghianni

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While Lower Broad may be taken for granted by many locals, who perhaps prefer their live music at the Bluebird or the Family Wash, there is no doubt it has allure for tourists.

Dale and Betty Brenning of Royal Oaks, Mich., a couple “in our 50s” – on their first visit to Nashville – are not honky-tonkers, but they have naturally found themselves shuffling along Lower Broadway.

“It’s an exciting atmosphere,” Dale says. “We’re here to see what Nashville’s all about.”

“It’s been fun,” says Betty, adding “It’s a very clean place.”

Janet and Frank Barnett, from Charleston, W.Va., came here in search of the real story. “We’ve been to Pigeon Forge four or five times.”

While there’s plenty of country music up in that Smoky Mountains family vacation destination, “we really wanted to see what’s here,” Frank says.

The two have also enjoyed a cruise on the General Jackson and have just stepped from one of the city’s most under-appreciated tours: a guided visit to the Ryman Auditorium, complete with anecdotes and relics chronicling the venue’s history.

“It was great to see the actual stage and the dressing rooms,” Janet says.

As for Lower Broad, well “it’s bearable,” says Frank, noting the “street people” and “panhandlers” were a bit off-putting. “I would have felt more comfortable down here with a group of guys than with my wife.”

Bruce and Leslie Beckman, from Shreveport, La., aren’t nightlife seekers, but they enjoy Lower Broad by day, listening to the music.

They compare it to New Orleans’ French Quarter, “but not only is it cleaner, you feel more comfortable walking the streets here than you feel in New Orleans,” Bruce says.

Brooke Tonne, Kristen Hanson and Rachel Green – three attractive young women, fresh graduates of Concordia College in Minnesota – have just arrived in town and their first real stop is Lower Broadway.

“This is our girls road trip before we look for work,” Brooke says.

“When we were talking about where to go on our trip, we thought about the fact we go to all the country bars up in Minnesota,” Kristen says. “We wanted to check out the real thing.”

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