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posted: 1/24/2014 5:30 AM

Music lovers flock to Nashville for free things

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  • The Ernest Tubb Record Shop, which contains hard-to-find recordings and also features live shows, is located on lower Broadway, the home of honky tonks and street musicians, in Nashville, Tenn.

      The Ernest Tubb Record Shop, which contains hard-to-find recordings and also features live shows, is located on lower Broadway, the home of honky tonks and street musicians, in Nashville, Tenn.
    Associated Press

  • The banks of the Cumberland River and the bridges over it offer viewpoints for the Nashville, Tenn., skyline that inspired Bob Dylan to write a country album.

      The banks of the Cumberland River and the bridges over it offer viewpoints for the Nashville, Tenn., skyline that inspired Bob Dylan to write a country album.
    Associated Press File Photo

  • Most of the bars on lower Broadway in Nashville, Tenn., are free from cover charges, like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, although it's always good to tip the band when they pass the bucket around.

      Most of the bars on lower Broadway in Nashville, Tenn., are free from cover charges, like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, although it's always good to tip the band when they pass the bucket around.
    Associated Press

  • Lydia Witty, left, and Laura Baisden set type at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tenn. There's no cost to watch the presses and the staff churn out the iconic handmade art that has been used by everyone from Grand Ole Opry stars to blues and jazz greats and modern rock bands. If you want to take some posters home, there is a large selection to choose from.

      Lydia Witty, left, and Laura Baisden set type at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tenn. There's no cost to watch the presses and the staff churn out the iconic handmade art that has been used by everyone from Grand Ole Opry stars to blues and jazz greats and modern rock bands. If you want to take some posters home, there is a large selection to choose from.
    Associated Press

  • Visitors view barrels of aging whiskey while on a tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. The 70-mile trip from Nashville to Lynchburg offers a free tour of the oldest registered American distillery.

      Visitors view barrels of aging whiskey while on a tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. The 70-mile trip from Nashville to Lynchburg offers a free tour of the oldest registered American distillery.
    Associated Press File Photo

  • Kim Young, of Seoul, South Korea, poses for a photo by a statue of Elvis Presley while visiting Broadway in Nashville, Tenn. Broadway is lined with honky tonks, restaurants and souvenir shops.

      Kim Young, of Seoul, South Korea, poses for a photo by a statue of Elvis Presley while visiting Broadway in Nashville, Tenn. Broadway is lined with honky tonks, restaurants and souvenir shops.
    Associated Press

  • The Shelby Street pedestrian bridge spans the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn. The banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville are more than a place to watch barges pass. The bridge is one of the best viewpoints for the Nashville skyline that inspired Bob Dylan to write a country album.

      The Shelby Street pedestrian bridge spans the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn. The banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville are more than a place to watch barges pass. The bridge is one of the best viewpoints for the Nashville skyline that inspired Bob Dylan to write a country album.
    Associated Press

  • Ellen Kuras, of New York, looks through posters at the Hatch Show Print shop in Nashville, Tenn. Besides being able to buy unique posters, there's no cost to watch the presses and the staff churn out the iconic handmade art that has been used by everyone from Grand Ole Opry stars to blues and jazz greats and modern rock bands.

      Ellen Kuras, of New York, looks through posters at the Hatch Show Print shop in Nashville, Tenn. Besides being able to buy unique posters, there's no cost to watch the presses and the staff churn out the iconic handmade art that has been used by everyone from Grand Ole Opry stars to blues and jazz greats and modern rock bands.
    Associated Press

  • Tour guide David "Porky" Roper, right, sits by a statue of Jack Daniel as he waits for the tour group he is leading to catch up to him at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. The 70-mile trip from Nashville to Lynchburg offers a free tour of the oldest registered American distillery.

      Tour guide David "Porky" Roper, right, sits by a statue of Jack Daniel as he waits for the tour group he is leading to catch up to him at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. The 70-mile trip from Nashville to Lynchburg offers a free tour of the oldest registered American distillery.
    Associated Press File Photo

 
By Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press

Nashville's history is so intertwined with music and creative expression that tunes seem to pour from every door and window. From Music Row to the Honky Tonk Highway, the city recognizes its past, while also celebrating emerging artists who are drawn to the city just like music lovers. Learn a little about the great artists that defined the Nashville scene for decades, hear new music that may soon be hitting radio waves, and take a sniff of Tennessee sipping whiskey, all for free.

Honky tonks

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Nashville's siren song for tourists has long been the neon lights and twangy guitars pouring country and western standards from downtown honky tonks, where you can catch an up-and-coming singer or one of the town's talented musicians. If you're lucky, sometimes even country's biggest stars will make a surprise appearance for a song or two, like Keith Urban did to promote his latest album. Most of the bars on lower Broadway -- sometimes called the Honky Tonk Highway -- are free from cover charges, so you can stop in for a two-step or just gaze at the memorabilia on the walls, although it's always good to tip the band when they pass the bucket around. Best picks are Robert's Western World and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

Hatch Show Print

The letterpress print shop that dates to 1879 recently moved to the newly renovated Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, but the packed shelves of thousands of wood blocks look right at home among the displays of country music artifacts that are spread throughout the building. There's no cost to watch the presses and the staff churn out the iconic handmade posters that have been used by everyone from Grand Ole Opry stars to blues and jazz greats and modern rock bands. Don't miss the Haley Gallery, which showcases reprints of original posters from the Hatch collection, as well as monoprints made by master printer Jim Sherraden.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

About 70 miles southeast of Nashville in the small town of Lynchburg is the home to the Jack Daniel's Distillery. It's worth the drive to take a free tour of the oldest registered American distillery, where you can learn about the ingredients that go into Old No. 7, take a whiff of the charcoal mellowing process and see the barrels where whiskey is stored to mature. The iconic brand has inspired many classic country songs from artists like Miranda Lambert to Eric Church.

CMA Festival

One of the city's biggest parties is the annual CMA Festival, a four-day celebration of country music in June that has always been about connecting fans with their favorite musicians. While the nightly concerts at LP Field require tickets, there are multiple stages set up around the city, including free concerts outside the Bridgestone Arena, where artists play for free during the daytime. Last year, artists like Sara Evans, Ronnie Milsap and Brett Eldredge played on the riverfront along the Cumberland River, and many other events like autograph signings are free as well.

Cumberland River

The banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville are more than a place to watch barges pass. The Shelby Street pedestrian bridge over the river is one of the best viewpoints for the Nashville skyline that inspired Bob Dylan to write a country album. Besides the city skyline, the view from the bridge includes a 100-foot industrial steel sculpture created by Alice Aycock, the Tennessee Titans' stadium, the spot where the first settlers founded Nashville at Fort Nashborough and a newly built city water park and playground.

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