Monday, May 16, 2011

Much more then music

Tennessee, the name, was derived from the Cherokee Indian word, Tanasai. In 1796 it became the 16th State of the Union. I would need a lot more time than I have to properly explore Nashville. It is a history lesson, and I am only covering the immediate area of Downtown, just touching the edges. There are many outer area landmarks that tell the tales of the bloodied battlefields and Stately Sir’s of a long gone era. I know I keep saying it but it is amazing! Part 1 of my day, explore Capitol Hill State building and the surrounds. The architecture in this area gave Nashville the tag “The Athens of the South” because of the greek influence in the building structures. Towering columns of stone and marble, bronzed statues, ornate carvings, everything finished with refined detail. Such craftmanship. Culturally it was a leader. It was the first state to develop a public school system.

Settlers were attracted to the region for multiple reasons. It had everything, fertile soil, huge trees, abundant fauna and an ample water supply in the meandering Cumberland River. Initially home to Native Americans the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee Indians.
French fur traders were the first Europeans to arrive building Trading Posts in the seclusion of the bushy countryside. They co-habitated peacefully with the Native Indians bartering goods and balancing the cultures of two totally different breeds of people. In the year 1779 word was spreading of this new found land and approximately 400 people left North Carolina in search of their promised land. These folk remain in the history pages recognised as the “James Robertson Party”. Along the beautiful banks of the Cumberland River, just Downtown, there are quaint Fort like replica buildings erected in memory of the James Robertson Party and their promised place Nashborough. These buildings indicate the simplicity of our fargone eras offering somewhere to sleep and cook whilst comfortably sheltered from the harshness of the seasons. These cabins are real structures with some of the original furnishings and utensils used in that time displayed in believable placement. There is one cabin dedicated to the weaving of materials with the original wheel still in tact. Within the walls of simplicity these buildings also house the secrets of the many hardships the settlers would have endured. Thank heavens for historians.
Months after settling they were swept into war as the settlement became a Western Front for the American Revolution.
The Native Americans turned on the settlement with the encouragement of the British. Most of the settlers relocated to Kentucky, not far from here, in search of a safer haven. Seventy or so remained and held out until the dust settled.
In the year 1784 the community, under the leadership of James Robertson, changed the name to Nashville promoting prosperity and growth. He was recognised as assisting in the establishment of The Davidson Academy which later became the Davidson University which further down the track became what is known as now, The University of Nashville. There are several Universities in Nashville today. Under his vision demographic growth flourished. Erection of Public Buildings, Churches, Stores and Medical Facilities pushed Nashville ahead as a recognised leader in community development.
The era 1820 – 1843 became the era known as “The Age of Jackson”. A young lawyer and public prosecutor, Andrew Jackson, became a formidable figure in the development of the new frontier. A National Hero who eventually became the 7th President of the United States of America. His popularity gave Nashville prestige and power in the hearts and eyes of the Nation thus promoting Nashville to the Capital of Tennessee in the year 1843. This was the year the grand building that I walked in today, Capitol Hill State, was commissioned. The neo-classic, Greek style structure is located on the highest hill in the City taking 14 years to complete. Architectually designed by William Strickland, it’s style and stateliness were unprecedented in the era and still to this day remain something to behold in awe as you approach. Strickland is entombed in one of the corners of the building. When you wander amidst this grand structure you can not but reflect on the hardships endured as the building developed. During the years 1862 -1865 it was transformed into Fortress Andrew Johnson. There are numerous works of art, historical murals, portraits and massive chandeliers housed in the building. Parlimentary Chambers and galleries are also within the walls of this iconic building and of course the massive library must not be forgotten. The library has a spiral staircase leading to a first level that is difficult for me to describe. It is woven wrought iron with intricate castings of dogs and pigs. The iron fences on the 1st level have the painted heads of influential people placed in the centre of each section, it is amazing. The building is such a massive structure. I imagine slaves were the workers of the era. If you have ever watched the movie Roots you could possibly begin to imagine. The desks, the chairs, oh it is truly amazing to see. It is unfortunate that I am unable to upload photos as yet but be sure to watch this site to see some of this wonderful craftmanship.
In the grounds of Capitol State Building the 11th President of the United States, Mr. James K Polk and his wife lay peacefully entombed. The 7th President of the United States, Mr. Andrew Jackson is eternally captivated in an equestrian statue known as “Old Hickory”. He was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Other statues include that of President Andrew Johnson, the 17th President, Sam Davis recognised and remembered as the Boy Hero of the Confederacy, World War 1 Hero Sgt. Alvin York and Senator Edward W Carmack. There is also a massive bell that still rings. It, I believe, was put there as at some stage as a commerative milestone. I will have to check it out with Mr. Google. You have to physically move the pendulum but the echoing tones of this huge brass bell are majestic and ring for some minutes.
It may be alone on the pinnacle of the hill but the surrounding area is adorned with other buildings of the same era. The State Office building, The Court House, Churches, just to mention. Although these buildings are not internally accessible to tourists the exteriors are just as spectacular. Massive structures with towering columns and authentic statues. It must have been hard yakka for the men on the ground. Unbelievable! Well that is about it for the history lesson.
The other exciting thing to happen today, if you love The Blues, is The King himself, BB King was in town last night. Yes 86 year old Mr BB King stepped out of a 1 and a half million dollar bus, sat down in a mobile chair and ushered into the BB King Blues bar to play a gig. Unfortunately no tickets were available but I hovered and got some video footage and a smile from this legendary artist. There was a real street hype as dedicated fans awaited his appearance. Speaking to part of his entourage I found out that he still plays several gigs a year. The gigs have little structure. They maybe listed to start at 9 and finish at 11 but in fact they may not start until 9.45 and finish at some time after midnight or whenever he decides to stop playing. He said it all depends on how the man feels and how his audience is responding (connecting) at the time. Once again, an unbelievable day in Nashville Tennessee.

No comments:

Post a Comment