Speight & Son Bus Tour
Speight & Son Bus Tour
Nashville, particularly as shown to us by the two Richard Speights, is a fascinating town with a rich and varied history. From a trip to Greece at the Parthenon, to Civil War history at Belle Meade mansion, with stops to enjoy a ton of music history along the way, it's a great place to visit even outside of a con. Must sees include the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for a drink (if you can get in!), and a vibrant downtown - be sure to check out the Batman Building and the Gulch.
I feel a little like a fraud writing this, since I’ve been to Nashville exactly one time, and therefore, also been on the bus tour once. In general, the tour itself is one of my favorite memories ever. If you’re going to tour Nashville, having Speight Sr. and Jr. as your guides is the absolute best way to go.
My first bus tour was The Double Speight tour of Nashville. Best thing I could ever do. The weather that day was perfect. I put on my magic cowboy hat and was ready to tour the city. We made lots of fun stops, art museums, the senior Mr. Speight serenaded my friends and I with a rendition of ‘I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover’ as I was looking for a four leaf clover. We saw the best sights of the city including the Hatch Show Print which was a highlight. We sang songs on the bus including Tammy Wynette’s ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ and Dobie Gray’s ‘Drift Away’. It was so fun to spend time with the Speights in their amazing music filled hometown. 10/10 would recommend.
I just really enjoy being able to hang out with Rich like a person, you know? It never gets old hearing him or his dad tell new stories and every single year, even if we go to some of the same places, is different than the others. It's literally my favorite part of the year and I can't wait to be back on that bus.
Honestly, the best thing was being able to see it through the eyes of two people who love it so much - so many great stories and insider info - that’s what made it the most special.
Walking down Broadway in Nashville is an experience like no other. Music that speaks to my soul rings out from every neon-illuminated bar front. Artists singing Dolly, Bob Dylan, Shania, and Johnny Cash all compete to capture my attention and my dollars. Hen parties move from bar to bar requesting "Jolene" and taking over the dance floor when their money gets their song played, while men in baseball caps sit at the bar and tap their toes along to Wagon Wheel. The fashion ranges from jeans and t-shirts to sequinned skirts and cowboy hats and no-one looks out of place. Feeling reflective? Head to the third floor of that bar where the singer is covering a slow Billy Currington number. Feeling more upbeat? Head to the first floor here where the band is belting out Alan Jackson. For people watching while enjoying some great live music, nothing beats Broadway in Nashville.
Out of the four bus tours I did in Nashville my favorite things would have to be a tossup between the Ryman tour and getting to be on the stage and the Loveless Cafe. Not only was the food amazing, but the history of both places, in general and Rich's personal history just made them that much better."
Growing up, I must’ve watched Coal Miner’s Daughter with my mom at least 200 times and quoted from it more than that. And it was certainly a full circle moment for me when Rich put “In the Pines” on his debut album. So, when I got the chance to visit Nashville in February 2016 for my first Supernatural convention, I made a bee-line for the Ryman, with its wooden pews and stained glass, when I rolled into town. I loved finally getting to see the places where Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and so many others that I grew up on had played. There was so much history to take in, that I would recommend clearing your afternoon when you go. One of my favorite exhibits involved a story about the final show that was held at the Ryman where Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash had led everyone in a final chorus of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” I remember it moving me to tears when I read it on my first visit - the feeling of that place is just unparalleled. If you haven’t been already, I suggest that you “Move It On Over” to the Ryman Auditorium the next time you visit Nashville, TN.
I would have to go with the Ryman Auditorium - as a kid I remember listening to the Grand Ole Opry with my grandmother on the radio - it brought back a ton of memories of that, all the artists I knew as a kid. Just so much history, so many names I recognized - all the fantastic costumes were so cool to see.
I’d probably have to say the Opry was my favourite stop - as it was the only place we visited I’d heard of long before. Legendary, and very special. And to have such knowledgeable guides was fabulous.
THE LOVELESS CAFE
I had a wonderful time on the Speight bus tour. A great memory was our lunch stop. Rich and his dad took us to a famous place called The Loveless Cafe. It had wonderful home cooked food and an old school charm that makes one understand why people have kept coming back since 1951.
We went there for lunch. Now it’s not in the city proper, but beyond having an amazing authentic southern meal it was super cute and has an amazing history! Later when my family was down there on a family trip I had us stop on our way back from Memphis and they loved it too! We still order jams and bbq rubs/sauces from them...the peach selection is out of this world!
Loveless Cafe and their amazing food plus getting the chance to sit down and eat with Rich and his dad. They were very friendly and kept us laughing.
THE STATION INN
Once on the bus tour I asked Rich where is ONE place we should go. Typical question, I know. He said if he had one place to go it would be The Station Inn to listen to live music. He said it was a no frills place and he was not lying. Basically picnic tables, beer and wine. That's it. No mixed drinks, waitresses or fancy menus. Just musicians on stage doing their thing. Bluegrass music at its finest. We had a great night there and I would go back a million times.
HATCH SHOW PRINT
The stop on the 2019 tour that tops my list of ‘must visits’ is the place to which an entire wall of my home is dedicated, Hatch Show Print. The art and the history that goes with it combine in all the best
the Dick Jr. and the Volunteers album artwork!"
After the tour, my family and I went back to Nashville, and my son loved the store.
THIRD MAN RECORDS
One of the last stops on the 2018 bus tour was Third Man Records, this tiny record store that was too small to hold everyone. I was browning because I hadn’t been in a record store in years. Rich was also browsing and we passed each other. He smiled all the way to his eyes and said ‘This is awesome!’ He wasn’t an “actor” in this moment, surrounded by his fans. He was just a dude in a record store looking around. It was just a five second moment, but it was great!
Visiting the Parthenon was also an unexpected treat. The building sits in Centennial Park. It was a lovely place to walk around and experience the art of Greece.
The only time I was able to go on the Nashville Bus Tour was 2017...yay school break! There were many memorable moments and places we visited. The most memorable place we visited I think was the Parthenon replica with the huge golden statue. It was so unexpected in 'Music City'! Thank you to the Speight men for a fun tour!
Words and Pictures:
JoAnne Ramirez Wills
Jessica Wade Capasso
Thanks to FanWorld’s FB Maven Jill Pokrivka for tracking down previous bus tour participants!