January 29, 2020 Feature

“My Nashville”: TIPS Section Conference, April 29–May 2, 2020

By John Tarpley

Welcome to my home: Nashville, Music City USA. If this is your first trip to Nashville in a few years, you will not believe what you see. Nashville is a city on the move. There is construction everywhere. When you first arrive at the airport, you will see the major expansion efforts for our new international terminal; then, downtown, there are cranes everywhere. Nashville is considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in the country. It boasts a thriving economy, an energetic entertainment industry, and a robust and growing food and restaurant scene. Nashville also is now recognized as an influence center; the final presidential debate for the 2020 election will take place here.

Yes, you say, but what about the good times you will have here this spring? Of course, TIPS’s host committee has planned a number of events for what will be one of the largest TIPS meetings in years. After all, we will be meeting in conjunction with the spring conference of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. The headquarters hotel, the JW Marriott, is new and as accommodating as any facility anywhere. Moreover, it is located perfectly: just a short walk from the Broadway entertainment district. (Side note here: Nashville is a very walkable city—bring your comfortable shoes and get ready to walk.)

When you are not attending the business sessions or the scheduled social events, get ready for some fun. No visit to Nashville would be complete without a trip to “Lower Broad,” as the locals call it. This is the location of the music venues. Some refer to them as “honky-tonks,” but, whatever you call them, they will feature great, great music of all genres. Of course, country and western is the mainstay. The options are almost limitless. Tootsies Orchid Lounge is famous and has been in the same location for decades. Many country music legends stepped out the back door of the Ryman Auditorium, the first real home of the Grand Ole Opry, and into the back door of Tootsies between sets on the Opry stage. There are acts performing day and night there. And, to be clear, that is not the only venue. Visit the Stage on Broadway or numerous others. But, my favorite is Roberts Western World. It’s a western wear store and a music and dance venue. (Second side note: bring a big suitcase so that you can take home an extra pair or two of boots and maybe a hat.). If music is not your interest, hit the newly opened Downtown Sporting Club (just a two-minute walk from the Ryman Auditorium) to catch the latest sporting event on huge video screens. Some of you will certainly want to try out your skill at axe throwing. I am serious . . . axe throwing. It is really a ton of fun; even I have done it.

One other fun thing that is all the rage is pedal taverns. Get about a dozen of your friends together and go on a stroll through the entertainment district. This contraption is loosely propelled by pedaling, like a bicycle. All the while, you are served your favorite beverage. Do not worry about the police; the “steerer,” who is the real driver, is sober.

Further, you have to experience the food scene when you are in town. You will find everything you want, I promise. Bourbon Steak, an excellent fine dining restaurant located in the JW Marriott, features some of the best views in the city and great food to boot. Try your luck at the Pinewood Social bowling lanes and enjoy a great meal while you are there. The Southern Steak & Oyster features fare just as its name proclaims. I love Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill, which is in the central business district but just a few blocks away from the TIPS venue, and Stateside Kitchen, which is in the same area. But, my favorite is the Palm Nashville. Yes, it is a chain, but it is uniquely Nashville, and you almost always see somebody famous in the place. One word to the wise: make a reservation for your dinner meal. Nashville is hopping, and there will be thousands of out-of-towners in the area at the same time you are here.

Finally, don’t forget the other exciting venues in Nashville. The Country Music Hall of Fame is an incredible, world-class museum and always features a special exhibit. The Ryman offers daily tours of the “mother church of country music.” The beautiful state capitol is just blocks away. Incidentally, Tennessee is the state that provided the critical vote 100 years ago to guarantee women the right to vote. There are great walking tours of the entertainment area and of downtown. And, if you are a shopper, take an Uber ride to Green Hills Mall where tremendous world-class shopping awaits you.

I promise that you will have the time of your life in my city. We have everything—entertainment, history, great food, fun, and did I mention pedal taverns? Come rested and prepare to spend your energy in a world-class city that has incredible manners and charm.

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By John Tarpley

John Tarpley is a partner at Lewis Thomason in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a past chair of the TIPS Section and may be reached at jtarpley@lewisthomason.com.