Music is what draws most visitors to Nashville, and with good reason. The city is teeming with talented performers, and you’ll hear them playing everywhere you go. That’s more than apparent in the new TV hit, Nashville—while the show might be a bit soapy, it gives a pretty accurate portrayal of the city.
But in between your visits to all the obligatory stops (Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and so many more), you should explore some emerging neighborhoods to see where real Nashvillians live and play. You’re still in the South, remember, but this is the hip South, forward-thinking while venerating the past—for example, many stores have a retro, villagey look, with exposed brick, high ceilings and weathered concrete floors.
Just north of downtown, follow the back roads past establishments with names like Southern Mop and Broom to find what looks like an abandoned meatpacking plant (that’s what it was!) with the name “Peter Nappi” in stylish wrought-iron script above the door. Inside is a soaring space with the regulation exposed brick walls and concrete floors, plus shelves of leather boots, shoes and bags. The town’s well-heeled musical artists have fallen for Peter Nappi’s old-world-style lace-up boots (around $700 a pair). The footwear is all handmade in Italy, but custom-distressed here in the shop—which is an über-cool space just to hang out, facilitated by the small stage where musicians perform several times a week.
In and around Germantown are many other spots worth a stop. Marathon Village, once a redbrick auto plant, now houses Bang Candy, selling artisanal marshmallows (in flavors like rose cardamom and toasted coconut); several artists’ studios; and Corsair Artisan Brewery, whose taproom dispenses craft draft beers from microbreweries around the country. Marathon Village’s biggest tenant is Antique Archeology, a retail spinoff from TV’s American Pickers. The merchandise might make good souvenirs for rabid fans of the show, while others might judge that a metal “standing desk lamp,” rewired but with its authentic grime left intact, doesn’t warrant the price tag.
Peter Nappi: 1308 Adams St.; 615.248.3310; peternappi.com
Marathon Village: 1305 Clinton St.; 615.327.1010; marathonvillage.com
Bang Candy: 1300 Clinton St #127; 615.587.4819; bangcandycompany.com
Corsair Artisan Brewery: 1200 Clinton St #110; 615.200.0320; corsairartisan.com
Antique Archeology: 1300 Clinton St #130; 615.810.9906; antiquearchaeology.com