Music City rocks: Nashville tops the charts of American destinations

American music has long been entrenched in Australian culture, so a trip to Music City USA - otherwise known as Nashville, Tennessee - strikes a chord with many.

Having grown up in a household where the LPs and cassettes (remember those?) generally swung between 50s and 60s rock 'n' roll or country music, pretty much everything from Australia's own Slim Dusty to legendary American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash (my Dad's favourite), the opportunity to travel to Nashville is pretty special.

Whether you call it Music City or the Country Music Capital of the World, there's no denying that Nashville's live music scene is immense. Almost every bar you walk into Downtown has a live singer or band - and the atmosphere is unbeatable.

For this reason, Downtown Nashville is definitely a fun place to visit; albeit quite filthy and generally a little on the nose.

One of my favourite places to soak in the Nashville vibe is the iconic venue Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a honky-tonk bar with three stages, a long history of big-name acts and photos of performers plastered over its walls. It's a great place for a casual drink or feed, made even better by the quality of entertainment. 

One veteran singer we saw perform at Tootsie's interspersed his songs with tales from days rubbing shoulder with Cash in his youth - and delivered a superb tribute with a rendition of Folsom Prison Blues. In contrast, some singers choose to strut their stuff on the bar as they perform. You just never know what you'll get, which is part of the charm.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and The Johnny Cash Museum both offer extraordinary glimpses into the musical revolution of the 50s and 60s and there's many more music-related attractions. Other highlights of a visit to Nashville include The Grand Ole Opry and its original home, Ryman Auditorium, while buying boots from one of the myriad boot stores Downtown - usually with a buy-two-get-one-free deal or similar - is quite popular too.

Stitched panorama of John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and Dow
Stitched panorama of Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks

For me, the architecture of Nashville also has great appeal - and it's something I wish I'd had more time to explore. The Batman Building (aka the AT&T Building), completed in 1994, is unmistakable in the city skyline but there's many historic buildings in addition to the Ryman Auditorium that are worthy of a look.

The city skyline in general offers up some great photographic opportunities, however. I couldn't resist creating a couple of stitched panoramas, shooting at dusk and then again at dawn.