Nashville Update

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How was your trip? Dale and Vicky Blackwell and the Chuck and Joyce Maltese tell us about their trip to Nashville.

Did you get your country music fix? The Blackwells and Malteses happily spent their evenings listening to music on Lower Broadway. In four nights, they hit the Bluegrass Inn, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Robert's, the Wildhorse Saloon, and The Stage, which turned out to be their favorite. "They all had great music," says Vicky. "But The Stage was the most comfortable. We didn't have to fight the crowds on and off the dance floor." Joyce bought a CD from local artist Craig Campbell, who plays there on Tuesday nights. (She had him autograph it in case he turns out to be the next Randy Travis.) They loved the Country Music Hall of Fame, too. "The walls are covered with thousands of silver and platinum records," says Chuck. "And the video and soundtracks there will help country music and its history live on forever."

Did you buy anything special? "Dale and I have been collecting pins for 23 years," says Vicky. "We try to get one from each state or country we visit and then a couple more from specific attractions. We've got about 200 of them in a shadow box we keep on our coffee table. They're great conversation starters." Vicky also got a concert poster at the Hatch Show Print.

A fancy excursion "The Belle Meade Plantation was gorgeous," Vicky reports. "Even the stables were impressive, with brick herringbone floors." During a tour of the grounds, she and Dale posed for a photo. "I've always wanted one of those big, long dresses, but I guess the wooden one is as close as I'll ever get." It's probably just as well, Vicky adds with a laugh: "I don't think I'd like the corset!"

Springtime, all the time, at a resort The Gaylord Opryland resort, with its three climate-controlled atria, was a big hit. "We had a nice time wandering around in and out of the shops in the spring-like temperatures," says Joyce. "It was a pleasant surprise to see DiVine--a leaf-covered performer on stilts. She moved with such elegance and flexibility."

Great discovery "We ate at Ellendale's Restaurant on our first night because it was close to our hotel," says Joyce. "It's in a renovated mansion, and the prices were reasonable. There was a piano player and a singer who told us she quit her teaching job because she wanted to become the first black, female country star" (2739 Old Elm Hill Pike, 615/884-0171, entrées from $15).

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