Apple Music’s Nada Taha’s Nashville city guide
Live Music City like a local with the country radio host
Tuesday 15 February 2022 By Nada Taha Photography by Keren Treviño
Nashville was never the plan.
Besides my Shania Twain obsession and the talent show I won at age four by singing ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, Nashville was not an obvious fit. Growing up in an Egyptian household with an older brother in south Atlanta ensured my musical palette was rounded out at an early age. My parents had their ABBA vinyls, and my brother and I had a little white cassette tape: ‘Tupac – Hail Mary’. Not what you would think of as a song that defined the childhood of a country radio host.
Over 10 years ago, Nashville was far more cowboy hats than bachelorette sashes. Country artists kept their mouths and their closets closed. Now, they clap back on Twitter, drink beer as much as tequila, and go on tour with Harry Styles.
The cowboy hat-wearing Nashville was the city I thought I was walking into, and the Nashville people still make invalid assumptions about it. But this place is so much more. It’s inspirational for both visitors who run through Broadway and for the people like me who call this place home. Nashville is pedal taverns and perfectly plated seven-course meals. It’s tourist trap boot shops and the birthplace of iconic lyrics. It’s country and it’s not.
Below, find my favourite music-fuelled spots to experience Music City like a local.
Robert’s Western World
I’ve considered tattooing the Robert’s ‘R’ stamp for entry on my hand. It’s almost as iconic as the Brazilbilly band that appears regularly on stage. Technically, Robert’s is a honky-tonk, but it’s a rare blend of Miller High Life and cute 70-year-old men who just want to two-step. You won’t hear one mainstream country song played here. Local’s tip: spend $6 on the Recession Special: a fried bologna sandwich, chips, and a PBR.
Third Man Records and The Blue Room
While the Broadway lights may read Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan or Dierks Bentley, there are other artists associated with Nashville that I don’t play on my Apple Music Country show. A few years before Nashville was on my radar, Jack White was already here shaking things up with Third Man Records, the world’s only live music venue with direct-to-acetate recording capabilities.
Somehow amid the pandemic that left Nashville reeling, Third Man Records opened The Blue Room, an intimate showcase of art, poetry, and music. But it’s Nashville, so it’s also a bar.
When Nashville’s Apple Store opened, I was emotional. For obvious reasons: I now work my dream job at my dream brand, but beyond that I was proud of Nashville. Broadway transformed from hardware and feed stores in the late 1800s to declining into desolation and crime in the early 1990s. And now there’s an Apple Store at the forefront, which shows that our growth as a music city has been taken seriously.
Your Peloton may take you to another level in .8 miles, but from Broadway that distance will take you to one of my favourite places in town, Pinewood Social. The number of coffees, fries, Turkey Brie sandwiches, and Moscow Mules (with tequila) I’ve had at Pinewood Social do not compete with the hours I’ve spent losing at bowling there. With one of the best playlists in town, it’s the perfect place to work for hours with your laptop and a drink, or sink into a booth with friends and run into all of Nashville.
Analog At Hutton Hotel
Nashville has no shortage of live music, but Analog stands out. As a spot with some of the best acoustics in town, the venue draws a curated list of musicians with its exclusive calendar of events. The living room ambience allows for an intimacy different from that of a crowded Broadway bar. I was even able to shoot a music video in the space this year.
If there’s anything you need in life, it’s hip-hop karaoke and a specialty cocktail du jour. You’re telling me I can have a Picante and then walk down the street for a balloon-laced nacho plate? Bastion has long been my secret gem. Its decor is as eclectic as its patrons, the music is impeccable, and did I mention the nachos?
The Country Chart Show With Nada Taha airs Mondays through Thursdays at 3pm CST on Apple Music Country at Apple.co/countrychart