Our first drive into Nashville took us down Broadway past the U.S. Customs House (right, below) and the First Baptist Church (right center, below).
The orchestra level seating can be transformed from rows of theater-style seating to a 5,700-square-foot hardwood ballroom floor, typically used for cabaret-style events such as pops and jazz concerts. A unique motorized system lowers rows of seats into a special storage space below the surface of the ballroom floor.
This statue represents an expression of the Nashville Symphony's gratitude to the citizens of Nashville for the Center.
Nearby is the Music City Walk of Fame.
We headed up 5th Avenue toward the Ryman Auditorium (center, photo below) to learn more about Tootsie.
"Since Tootsie and Big Jeff already knew plenty of folks in the business from their performing and bartending, and their then-teenage son Steve was playing drums in Ray Price's band, it took no time at all for musicians to start showing up at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
"That some of the Opry performers used to duck out the Ryman's backstage door between shows, slip across the alley and have a few beers in Tootsie's industry-only back room would've been enough to earn the bar a place in country music lore.
"But catering to the likes of Faron Young, Webb Pierce and Patsy Cline was only part of the story. The Orchid Lounge made the biggest difference to a group who weren't stars, at least not yet--the songwriters.
"'She loved songwriters more than she loved the stars,] (Bobby) Bare says. 'The stars got the huge egos and they'd throw it around a lot. She had a soft spot for songwriters. And musicians. There's no telling how much money she loaned Roger [Miller] and people, you know, who would come in broke. And feed them.'
"Professional break or no, what could always be counted on at Tootsie's was the motherly generosity of Tootsie herself. She ran (and ran and ran) tabs for those who weren't having much luck getting cuts or gigs. She made sure they got fed too. Almost as much fried chicken, biscuits and chili went on those tabs as beer.
Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Mel Tillis and Tom T. Hall are in that group of songwriters that Tootsie helped.
"It was said she had a cigar box behind the counter full of IOU's from where she had given drinks and food to hungry writers and pickers. Supposedly, at each year's end, a bunch of Opry Performers would take all the IOU's and pay Tootsie so she wouldn't lose the money" (Jewly Hight at http://www.nashvillescene.com).
Tootsie certainly contributed to Nashville's music scene and the success of many songwriters. And deserves that star.