Greetings from Nashville - or, as it's more commonly referred to down here, "Music City." I arrived here last night just as the Titans were wrapping up their loss to the Chargers over at LP field, and the honkytonks on Southern Broadway (a.k.a. SoBro) were starting to heat up. I eventually settled in at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge - the self-proclaimed "#1 honkytonk in the world" - where Willie Nelson landed his first songwriting gig and Tim McGraw played in public for the first time.
Last night, a black-hatted local named Scott Collier played an extended set of songs by favorite sons such as Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, working only for tips: $20 got you a request; $150 would get you "a low-carb breakfast in the morning." The room was packed: apparently, noone in Nashville sits at home on Xmas night. After an hour or so, Collier brought up a young guest singer from Texas named Alicia, who knocked my socks off with her easy looks and effortless charm, with great pipes to match. These country girls have had their bar set almost unattainably high by stars like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, but that doesn't seem to keep a whole new army of hopefuls from trying to fill their boots. (More pics below.)