Sandwiched between a sea of cowboy hats and a wall of cowboy boots of all shapes and sizes, my buddy taps me on the shoulder and says, “Let’s head out the back and go back east.”
We maneuver to the crowded bar’s back exit that spits us out right next to the Ryman Auditorium, an old church of some musical significance. I ask my friend how the city’s grown since he moved here in 2011.
“It’s like Austin, Texas was 10 years ago,” he tells me as we scramble down Broadway past bachelorette parties, fraternity bros in town on road trips, and old timers from just outside the city dressed up in their finest Friday night attire.
“Not sure what that means, but that’s what people say.”
Perhaps sparked by the 100 or so people moving to the city a day, Nashville has been making its case as the cosmopolitan, cultural center of the southern United States over the past 10 years. An influx of young people from all over the country in search of work and looking to make their musical dreams come true (yours truly included) has put a spotlight on the city, and the capital of the Volunteer State is relishing in its moment as the belle of the ball.
But Nashville is more than an amalgamation of worn-down big city folk bringing their ideas to a place once thought of as a quiet place to settle. The city is still country, but it’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll now, too. You’ll find your bible-thumpin’ preachers next to your coffee roastin’ hipster snobs, and don’t be surprised if they’re all one in the same.