As the first direct flights from the UK launch this month, we find that, despite building and gentrification, the home of country and bluegrass hasnt lost touch with its roots
For a medium-size US city, Nashville has an XXL reputation. Everybody thinks they know what its about: country music, the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash, improbable dreams of stardom, cheesy ballads and rhinestone shirts.
But dont be so sure, warned singer-songwriter and rising star Ben Danaher, during a gig at 3rd and Lindsley, one of the citys many superb music venues. Lots of dive bars are becoming karaokes, he said, before dedicating a song, Silver Screen, to all the hipsters.
His tone was gently ironic, the song full of feeling. Danaher (who is playing the Black Deer festival in Kent on 23 June) later told me he was alluding to really gritty places that the blue-collar crowd would go to, that all of a sudden have a charm to hipsters.
So gentrification is happening. Meanwhile, mass tourism has turned many of the honky tonks into fun pubs for boozy bachelorettes and preppy boys wanting to show how badly they can behave for a weekend.
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