TV’s Next Big Stars!

KG has graciously blogged about our Monday in Nashville over here at “still to come”. Teaser: we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame & the historic RCA Studio B. She did a super awesome job, but I have one point I need to add. It’s unimportant in the flow of our Monday, but all-important in what happened on Tuesday…which is what this post is about…
At multiple points on Monday evening we lounged about the hostel common area with our new friend Tom. During one of such times the hostel manager Ron came to show us a notice he’d receive. Please don’t confuse Ron with Ron 😡. As opposed to my arch-nemesis Ron 😡 this guy was super helpful & became like a pen pal to me while I was planning the trip/stuck in Denver. Here’s what Ron’s notice said:
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Yes we took a picture of it. We’d hate to forget any of the details and miss our big break on country music television. Originally we didn’t think we’d get to partake in the taping, but our flight home wasn’t until the afternoon so the morning filming worked perfect for us.

After our customary stop at Starbucks we met Tom at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday morning. Filming was to happen in the round glass building attached to it’s front.
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We were briefed slightly then left to chat with the other extras. Many of them were young people trying to break in to the music in various ways (singers, songwriters, producers). They were there to see how a tv taping worked, in case it was relevant in their future careers. We were here for a cool story and a chance to be on tv 😉
The next 2.5 hours were spent being a glorified laugh/clap track. We cheered at the start of each segment. We clapped as they ended. We laughed when the director told us the hosts were saying something funny…although as time went on we learned to trust our instincts and laugh at things we thought were funny. We also learned that laughter must be exaggerated to be effective. It wasn’t super exciting but it was incitingly interesting.
The hosts of the CMT Hot 20, Cody Alan & Alecia Davis, were professional but fun. They played off us all standing there staring at them like it wasn’t awkward and required very few do-over takes. They also smiled a lot…way more than I could ever smile. And with so many bright shiny teeth.
The takes were done in order but per camera. They did all the shots through the show from the fixed camera. Then when through the show again with shots from the steady-cam.
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Then, at lunch time when we were staring to feel our stomachs grumble, they did a TGI Friday’s spot for the Superbowl weekend. We watched them eat cheesey macaroni bites over and over while we starved in the audience.
In the end it was a neat experience and we were glad we went, even if it did spoil the number one video 2 weeks in advance. Who knew they filmed these countdowns so far in advance!? Spoiler: It was Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us”. Plus we got to touch people who had once touched people like Luke Bryan & Keith Urban…what hunks. Wait I touched Keith Urban once…he was dressed like a hobo 😉

On the way back from Bridgestone, with sore hands from all the clapping, we swung by the field & the parking lot for photos. We explain why these are of importance in “Nashville’s Nashville”.
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After changing clothes and making sure we were properly packed we hopped in a cab to the airport. There is a flat rate fee between Broadway and the airport, making this the most economical way to travel. We dealt with security immediately. We are stressers and just wanted to be ready to fly and able to relax.

Once unloaded of our suitcases and ready for take off we sought out lunch. We used a trick we’d learned on this trip and followed our ears to the only place with live music: Tootsies Orchid Lounge! Dedicated readers will recognize this as our favorite Broadway haunt. Well apparently it has an airport location too! We munched down burgers and listened to Jeff Ivy serenade us. He was very good and gave us his CD to “spread about Canada.” So all of you out there in internet land: go check out Jeff Ivy! And all of you how actually know me, let me know if you want me to burn you a copy of his CD. We have the artist’s permission to distribute!

Our plane trip was uneventful. We did have to pass through the dreaded Denver International Airport, but I put on my brave face and tried to reminisce fondly about my stay there.
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We landed safely back in Edmonton in the middle of the night, excited for work the next day…or not… The real world sucks! And on the happy note…

Love & Luck,
Kris

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Is it still stalking if you’re paying for it?

Although KG & I didn’t do a lot of pre-planning for our Nashville trip there is one attraction we actually applied forethought to: a bus tour. These outings are not cheap, but can be a great (albeit super touristy) way to see a wide variety of sites spread over a large area. And let’s be serious: you are a tourist so what’s the harm in acting like it occasionally. When weighing the pros & cons of the various tours offered throughout Nashville (there were surprisingly few tours…we had thought this place would be more tourist-centric) we decided that the ABC’s Nashville tour was best for us. We love the show and wanted an easy way to see the random filming locations without having to rent a car & do hours of research. Plus it wasn’t as uncomfortable as one of those “Houses of the Stars” tours….

It turned out that while on our show tour (read about it here at Nashville’s Nashville) we were treated to the Houses tour as well. Our occasionally jerky guide does the Stars tour during the week and decided to give us a special treat by throwing in some guided creeping while on our journey. This led us to this existential question:

Is it still stalking if you’re paying for it?

It is a question for the ages really. We decided that since we hadn’t asked for it we were not technically stalkers. More like casual observers of the compulsory view…that sounds less creepy right? I’m trying to be all high & mighty but the truth is that we snapped photos right along with everyone else. Can you blame us for wanting to see how the other half lives?

It all began when our route took us past Dierks Bentley’s house. The guide innocently pointed it out so we could ooo & ahhh over the more-than-modest size. Not overly creepy, right? The problem was that Mrs. Bentley had chosen that exact time to leave the house with their young daughter. Her eyes went wide into a classic deer-in-the-headlight’s look when she spotted our bus. Immediately she ordered her daughter to duck and looked away so we might not see her face. That’s when I obviously took a stalker shot of the car… I’m not proud of that moment. I just got caught up in the excitement of seeing someone who knew someone who was famous. Sorry for invading your privacy Mrs. Bentley.
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Thus began the rerouting that allowed us to see the not-so-humble abodes of the country music big-shots.

Toby Keith lives on a non-descript city street, although the massive mansion & fancy car where a bit eye catching.
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Kellie Pickler’s cute stone ‘cottage’ is tucked away in a classy neighborhood. She is apparently unfazed by the creeping. She can often be seen in a rocking chair on her front porch on Sundays with her Grandfather…not this Sunday though. We did notice her Christmas tree was still up. Don’t worry Kellie; at that point so was ours.
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A Kings of Leon guy (I think one of the brothers…although that doesn’t help much as the band is made up of 3 brothers & their cousin) lives in the same area as Kellie. The band may not be country but they are from Nashville so the ritzy communities south of the city are a nature place for the now famous rockers to settle down. While honing my stalker skills I notices a scary bear head hanging on his wall.
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The most expensive home we saw was Faith Hill & Tim McGraw’s hilltop mansion. Its said to be values at a mere $52 million…soooooo much money…. It sits so high up on a hill that you must zoom way in on your camera to properly capture its image. There are multiple driveways that give access to the property.
One which only Tim & Faith use. That gate will literally not open for anyone else.
One for guests. I wish I were lucky enough to get to use that blessed passage.
And one for deliveries. Perhaps if I become a Nashville based postal employee I’ll make my way up there?
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Finally we were given a glimpse of Taylor Swift’s houses. Yes houses…as in plural. The starlet has both a penthouse apartment & a mansion in the Nashville city limits. The penthouse is in a central location & currently houses her brother, who is going to university here. The mansion is in Belle Meade and resembles the White House. Does anyone know a Belle Meade man I can marry? Because driving around there left me coveting some of the classic southern mansions.
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We also passed Taylor’s favorite BBQ place. You can try to decipher what it is from this quality photo I snapped as we drove by.
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And I think that’s enough creeping for now…good luck in all of your future staking!
Love & Luck,
Kris

Fangirling – Nashville Edition

This morning I had the very difficult task of loiter about the Opryland Hotel. It was a hard job and took all of my tenacity to complete 😉 KG’s conference ran until the afternoon so I was left waiting until she was ready to move on. I would think I had the easy morning considering I just lounged in bed, wandered around the gorgeous lush greenery scattered about the hotel and drank Starbucks in the Garden Conservatory Cafe but if you’ve read her post about her morning (The Hot List) you’ll see she was having a pretty fun time too.

When the conference was concluded, our bags were packed and we had checked out it was time to head downtown. We looked a little odd loading our suitcases onto the Wildhorse Shuttle but it was the most economical way to proceed. We didn’t care that it was normally just Opryland guests going on a day trip to the main part of the city, we were using it to get us from our high class resort to our next residence. I am, of course, speaking of the Nashville Downtown Hostel. If you had expected anything else you (a) overestimate our level of class, (b) under estimate our adventurous natures and (c) obviously don’t regularity read our blogs. It was only a few blocks walk from the drop off point (being the famous Ryman Auditorium) and was hardly as hilly as the trek we made with our suitcases in San Fran. We are now settled into a 4-person mixed dorm, although from the look of their stuff we believe both of our roommates are girls, and are prepared for four nights of hostel life. To prep for such a life we hit up a grocery store for snacks & easy lunch/supper food and a convenience store for liquor. This is after the hostel employees looked at us like crazy people for asking where the nearest liquor store was. “Um…there’s a specialty wine store up the street…if you need more selection.” “More selection than what?” “Than what you can get across the street at the convenience store.” It was like light bulbs went off above our heads…oh yeah, you can just buy beer absolutely anywhere in this country, not just from its own special store.

We needed an afternoon snack (also know as lunch if you believe in such a thing) so we headed out in search of live music, beer and bar food. We ended up at The Stage. This is a pretty iconic Nashville bar where many a country music legend has played. We had a drink, some jalapeños poppers & an order of spring rolls. It was serious deep fried goodness. While we ate we enjoyed the song stylings of a man and his band. I call them that because I don’t think I ever knew who they were…sometimes these performers don’t do a very good job of informing an ever-changing crowd of their name. It was an entertaining set though. The lead singer pulled off a wide variety of covers, from classics to current outlaw country hits. He created a stellar party atmosphere, especially when you consider it was the middle of the afternoon and no one in the bar was attempting to party.
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Otherwise we spent most of our day relaxing. We got our belongings organized in our rooms. We sat in the common area & blogged. We intensely listed out everything we still wanted to do in Nashville and systematically scheduled each thing in for the next 4 days. We made a light supper of cold meat & cheese sandwiches and salad. It was pretty chill. Spending time at this hostel is pleasant. We are pretty sure it is a converted office building. Our room has 2 bunk beds pushed against the walls of what would have been an office. It’s not a lot of space, but it’s clean and well laid out. Plus the fourth floor where we are bunking has beautiful hardwood flooring. There are small common spaces on the dorm floors, but they are designated quiet areas for just hanging out in to read, etc. (I use etc because I’m not entirely sure what else you’d use them for) the main common area is on the main floor and has an open concept. The check in desk, tv area, dining tables and kitchen are all in the same large room, which seems hectic but due to superior planning actually flows quite well. Everything is nice quality and has a new & classy look to it. Basically it’s still up there with San Francisco as a beautiful place to stay. It doesn’t appear to be as lively though. We’ll see how the weekend progresses, but so far people seem a little lethargic when out lounging and not eager to organize a big hostel-group drinking party.
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It was after nine before we even considered moving. KG looked at me and said “We should probably go do something, shouldn’t we?” “I guess so…although it feels like it’s already 4 in the morning.” Ironic…just a little foreshadowing being thrown in here… We decided that the night life is a huge part of the Nashville experience and we could suck it up and go out. Just because we felt sluggish now didn’t mean we wouldn’t perk up with some fresh air and alcohol. Not to mention the music. Instant Party: Just add Beer & Country Music.

After walking 2nd Ave and Broadway we settled on Tootsies Orchid Lounge. The bouncer had done the “Ladies come in here” non-sell that seems to work on us so well. Tootsies is a Nashville institution that we intended on visiting at some point so this was as good of a time as any. The cramped but lively bar is wallpapered with signed photos of all the classic country music greats. When the Grand Ole Opry was situated in the Ryman Auditorium the artists used to finish their set, walk out the back door of the theater and into the back door of Tootsies.
We were luck enough to snag 2 seats at the bar. The place was already squished standing room only but we’d entered as the on stage talent was changing so we also hit the changing of bar patrons. We came in for the new act as the previous owners of our stools left with the last singer. Once on our thrones we kind of just held court while the people around us changed. We made all sorts of random friends as they drifted past, some just for a few minutes but many who kept coming be to pay us a visit as the night progressed. One fellow thought KG should dance with him even though she repeatedly insisted she was good. Multiple old men (and we mean 50+…sorry dad but I’m counting that as old) stopped to tell me how pretty I was. A group of studio musicians alternated between kinda fun, kinda creepy and kinda fun, depending on the time they’d stop by. A super drunk but totally harmless business man kept awkwardly flail-dancing in our vicinity, much to our entertainment. Basically we had a steady stream of randoms to keep us amused.
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But the real entertainment of the evening was that evenings entertainment. The band that played from minutes after we entered the bar until close was spectacular! This group of gentlemen had everyone singing, dancing and having a kick ass time. Orio and the Goodfellers are born entertainers who ran through the best party-playlist of requests and inspired fangirl reactions from this prone-to-fangirling duo. We made our request when we tipped the band: something Canadian. Anthony Orio, the lead singer, promised us he’d choose something good. We ended up getting a 2-for-1 deal when he first proudly stood on the stage and belted out Man I feel like A Woman by Shania Twain, then had the whole bar rocking to Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69. After that we got a kick from his random Canadian shout-outs.
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As we were now the bands biggest fans we ended up staying right till close…which came a bit sooner than expected when there was a fight upstairs and the police helped the bouncers clear the bar. Staying was aided by the acquisition of 2 new friends, Hostel Friends! When we’d been relax earlier two young men had been playing pool across the common area. Now they spotted us across the bar. Staying at the same hostel always equals instant friends. We tried to educate this Australian & Argentinian pair as to what were the best country songs and enjoyed the company of some other excited travelers.

When we left the bar it was pouring rain. We ran back the hostel trying to duck under store front canopies and into covered doorways…well the others did at least. I, on the other hand, tried to jump in as many puddles as possible and make the most epic splashes my rain-soaked companions had ever seen.
Once back at the hostel we played pool while we dried off. Everyone bonded over travel adventures, stories from home and cross-continental shared interests. Time flies by when your having fun and we finally crawled into bed at 4am. What can I say? We’re party animals 😉

Love & Luck,
Kris