A few years ago, I wrote about a really ignorant and off base blog. Imagine that, right. I was younger, dumber, and more ignorant-er back then.
I've been looking forward to taking this trip for a long time, and I'm glad I finally did.
Friday morning, I flew out of Chicago ahead of the snow and landed in Nashville, ready for a good time weekend, and hopefully two points from the Blackhawks. Let me just say that the only let down of the entire weekend was the performance of my team.
After crashing for a few hours at my hotel (Millenium Maxwell House), I caught the shuttle to meet my cousin and a friend downtown. As I stepped out of the bus, I looked down Broadway, and saw nothing but bars, boot shops, and restaurants. It was Vegas without the blistering neon, techno music, and store bought atmosphere. These places were genuine.
After a quick stop at the Second Fiddle, we headed to lunch at Jack's BBQ, which is probably the most famous BBQ joint in Nashville. It was outstanding and inexpensive. From there, we headed over to Layla's Bluegrass Inn for some $1 PBRs and more music. The band at Layla's, Just Plain Trouble, was the best act I saw all weekend. I'm a big fan of old country. Cash, Jennings, Nelson, etc., and was slightly concerned I'd be blasted with Brooks and Dunn, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney all weekend. Well, those fears were quickly squashed. Every bar had some classic country song coming out of it, performed by legitimate artists just playing for tips looking to get noticed. Anywhere else, and you'd need a ticket for these acts.
Big Shotz, near 2nd and Commerce, was where I discovered Yuengling beer. I mean, a $1 PBR is tough to beat, but I'll take a Yuengling over nearly any beer now. In fact, the only time I put down the Yuengling was to drink a Bushwhacker from the Broadway Brewhouse.
Once the drinking stopped, it was time for game day on Saturday. The Bridgestone Arena is a great place to watch a hockey game. While it's not as luxurious as the United Center or the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, it's a beautiful clean arena with nice sightlines, regardless of how crappy your seats are.
While it could be argued that Blackhawks fans made up 40-50% of the arena crowd (and 90% of downtown that weekend), the Nashville fans were loud and into the game from start to finish. Every situation seemed to have a chant or song to go along with it, including migraine inducing whistles every second of every Jordin Tootoo shift. These interactive parts of the fan experience engaged the fans and kept them entertained.
For the most part, the Nashville fans were welcoming and reasonably knowledgeable about the sport. There was one angry Preds fans screaming at Hawks fans for cheering the anthem. "Here in Nashville, we respect the flag! We don't hoot and holler during the anthem." He was shut up when asked how many rebel flags he had hanging in his garage.
It was one of the top road game experiences I've had in any sport, and one of the top trips I've taken in my life.
I loved Nashville, and hope to make it an annual adventure. Please don't hesitate in checking out this great road city.