There's so much to do in our APME 2012 conference city, and we encourage you to stay after the sessions for a great weekend. As an occasional visitor to Nashville and a country music fan, I'll offer a few tips. Give these a try:
Of course you know about the Country Music Hall of Fame, and you should make time to visit. But while there, don't overlook the Studio B tour, which can be added on and is too special to miss. Studio B on Music Row but only accessible through the museum. You'll take a short ride to this landmark where than 35,000 songs came to life, including 200 from Elvis Presley. There's nothing like this for a country fan, and you'll need a couple hours for it on top of your museum visit.
What's a visit to Nashville without a trip to the Grand Ole Opry, and you're in luck. Shows are scheduled Sept. 18, the night before the conference begins, and Sept. 21 and 22, just after the conference. Just get a ticket and enjoy a celebration of country music in four segments that zip along. And who knows, you might pick a night when a big star is on the program. Here's hoping.
The Grand Ole Opry started as a radio show and found a home at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville in 1943. It stayed there for the next 31 years until it moved to its present location. But the Ryman continues to hold rich history and host performances. It's a must tour for any country fan, and don't forget the gift shop. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
When in Nashville you have to check out a Honky Tonk or two, and you can't walk past Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Started in 1960, it's a platform for artists with stages upstairs and down and music virtually all the time. Just stop in and look around and listen for a unique experience. You might stay awhile.
How many record stores -- remember them? -- have you been in lately? Well, don't miss a classic when in Nashville. The Ernest Tubbs Record Store downtown has been serving customers for 65 years and is going strong. If you're a country music fan you might spend some quality time -- and money -- in here. If not, you have to at least visit. It's an original.
-- Bob Heisse, APME president