What makes seven women in different ages, from different backgrounds and occupations that also live in different states and have never met before, cross states lines and go on a journey to Nashville, Tennessee? The answer is simple: A TV show called Nashville and the magic of the real city of Nashville it embodies.
Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes art imitates life. And sometimes life and art meet and create something new that none has envisioned before but all are grateful for. That something new and very special is what happens these days in the realm of ABC’s Nashville fandom.
It’s common for people to bond over a common interest such as a (great!!) TV show and develop an entire world around it. It’s also common for music, which happens to be a central theme in this particular show, to connect people. Even Deacon Claybourne, in one of Nashville‘s episodes, said:
What’s not so common is that this common interest and the music that bond the fans together also have a concrete address – Nashville, Tennessee.
The universe of ABC’s Nashville is invented but not in the same way as, for example, the universe of Games of Thrones or The Vampire Diaries and also not in the way many shows that use a specific place as their backdrop like Grey’s Anatomy with Seattle or The Good Wife with Chicago but in fact mostly function in a fictional world that can exist anywhere. With Nashville one simply cannot separate the fictional world from the real city. It’s related to the amount of outdoor shoots, the involvement of local musicians (and businesses) in the production but it’s not just that. It’s also related to a certain atmosphere that comes across while watching the show that lures viewers in even if they’re not completely aware of it at first. They become aware when they visit the city and find out that this great feeling that comes out of this special blend between so many different elements that create the magic of their beloved show is actually completely authentic.
There aren’t many TV shows that are that authentic and even fewer the shows a world one wants to visit. To do that and to do it for a place that, unlike a city like New York or Los Angeles, has very small amount of on-screen representations is something one simply can’t ignore. It’s like watching a weekly invitation on your screen to go on a journey of discovery and since (luckily) Nashville does exist, this journey is possible.
Read what Asia Cito (16) from Connecticut says about her first trip to Nashville last January:
“The show was a contributing factor to our visit because I wanted to see it in person. I think Nashville is a beautiful place with soul and country music pouring out of it from every corner. Visiting it made me want to go back immediately because it’s such a peaceful place and who knows? Maybe I’ll be there for college! I didn’t know much about Nashville before the show so when I visited I realized there are indeed lots of singer-songwriters who are trying to make it. It was smaller than I thought and I thought ‘Oh, that’s why Rayna asked Deacon to walk her to Tootsies from the bridge. It’s so close!’ I can’t wait to go back!”
Nashville is so full of love for the city and the music world it focuses on and so authentic in that way that it affects its fans, even those that were familiar with the city before. As Emily Johnson (33) from Owensboro, Kentucky says:
“I’ve been to Nashville numerous times, living so close. Having family living there, I have been mostly to family functions. The connection of family being there is actually what sparked my initial interest in the show but once it started I fell in love with the city in a whole new way. The show allowed me to see how music not only is a way of life, but it also runs deep in the souls of the musicians. I’ve always loved visiting Nashville, but the show has influenced me to learn more about the city, the music and songwriting”.
For some, like Dawn Robinson (40) from Delaware, it simply put her on the map:
“The show put the city on my radar. Of course I knew of the city but I hadn’t really thought much about it. By watching the show my interest peaked. Now, after visiting it my family and I really love it. The music, the people, the things to do both for adults only and for families (Dawn has two daughters ages 8 and 4) all make the city the perfect place for everyone. My husband and I even discussed the possibility of purchasing property there”
Kim (41) from Alexandria, Virginia whose occupation as a clinical researcher demand her to take many business trips all over the US including Nashville, says that until the show it was mostly in and out trips:
“I couldn’t wait to get out (of Nashville). How times have changed! Now I extend business trips as much as possible. I took my family for spring break there last year, had a friend fly in and join me for a weekend…every experience is different”.
Kim plans at least two more trips this year. She summarizes:
“If it wasn’t for the show, I probably wouldn’t have realized how cool Nashville has become”.
And there’s another thing. Since the things that bond Nashville fans are a certain location, music the spirit of those two that comes across in the look and feel of the show but also in the storylines and the characters, it’s not targeted to a narrow demographic but to everyone that feel connected to it and they can be very different from one another in almost anything else. It’s directed for people that love complicated people, art, artists, music and..the city of Nashville.
The result of this unique blend is a also unique community of fans from all across the globe in different that come from different backgrounds and carry different life experience and world view.
For these fans the lines between its love for the show and the city is so blurred and therefore visiting the city is an essential part of watching the show, and seeing the actors perform live is also the most natural thing in the world since, through their performances they became not just their favorite TV characters but also some of their favorite musicians.
As a result among the many Nashville fans that will be flocking to the Grand Ole Opry house tonight to watch the taping of the second Nashville “On The Record” special there will also be a group of fans that for them this is an opportunity to combine their love for the show, the music, the actors, the city and most of all – for each other.
The heart of this group is seven women: Angie, Asia, Dawn, Emily, Gabrielle, Kim and Sharon. They all bonded over their shared love for show via Twitter (with some other women that couldn’t make the trip this time).
First there was the usual “fangirling” activity like live tweeting and voicing opinions about the show. They all loved the online discussions since as one of them said ” It makes getting so excited over the show fun and not embarrassing”. Gradually, over time, the nature of some of these talk altered and long discussions about the show they found out they have lots in common. Discussions about specific characters and storylines turned into talks about relationships, careers, marriage, growing up, friendship and life in general.
So when the opportunity to go to Nashville, watch the taping of “On the Record” and meet each other arrive, they simply HAD to say yes! That’s also where the influence of their “Nashie community” came to play because all were interested in going, but some were more hesitant due to the technicalities it involves.
For Gabrielle Russell (21) film student that just moved to New York City and that this is her first trip to Nashville, the twitter group literally made the trip possible since she didn’t have the money to fly there and didn’t buy a ticket for the show on time since they were sold out so quickly. What eventually did make it possible is that Asia offered to share a train ride part of the way and then Kim, who drove to Nashville with her 6 years old daughter (“A Nashie in training” according to her who’s also a huge Lennon and Maisy fan) picked them up, took them the rest of the way and took care of the lodging while they’re there and gave her an extra ticket she had.
All of that makes her feel like a dream come true:
“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to visit Nashville! I’ve always been a huge fan of everything Nashville. My dad is a musician so I grew up on all of the greats and most of them came from Nashville or spend time there writing and recording. Watching the show has just made me more eager to visit! I cannot wait!!”
For Angie Beilman (28) from St. Joseph, Michigan this is also her first trip to Nashville. For her taking the decision was the easy part but making it happen was harder since she didn’t know till the last minute if the weather will allow her to drive there and if anyone will accompany her. The last part had much to do with the super bowl and the fact that Angie and those closest to her are HUGE sports fans (let’s just say that this concert came in an inconvenient time). At the end the gods were on her side and she made it. To say that she’s excited is an understatement:
“I’m sure I would have made it to Nashville one day, I would not have been this excited, nor would I have this type of urgency to get down there. I’m sad I’ll only be in Nashville for a relatively short time but I already have plans to make it back in October!”
Another member of this group, Sharon Abramczyk (56) from Farmington, Connecticut, said the group was defiantly a crucial factor in her decision to go. Similar to Gabrielle and Angie it’s also her first trip to Nashville but unlike them, if it wasn’t for the show and the group this trip would not have happened. To her testimony she never even liked Country music until she saw the show. When she did decide to get on a plane to Nashville she also decided to make it into a more local adventure and chose to stay in Airbnb and not a hotel.
So, three women and a girl on a road trip at the heart of Tennessee, one woman driving from Michigan and another flying in. Dawn is arriving with husband and daughters, whereas Emily arriving with her husband and another couple since, Beth, the woman, recently binged watched the show and became a fan as well.
Some will stay in town more than the others but all of them plan a walk over the (Deyna) Shelby Bridge, have breakfast at the Loveless Café and take a group photo in front of Deacon’s house.
Most of them saw at least some of the actors perform before on different locations and tonight they’re looking forward to see everyone being at the top of their game. Each one of them has a favorite character, a favorite season and a favorite song but it’s safe to say that this group is ‘Team Deacon’ all the way. They all also share a common fantasy and that for Connie Britton aka Rayna Jaymes, make a guest appearance and sing “No One Will Ever Love You” With Charles Esten. Hey, it’s a show about artists and realizing dreams. We all can dream.
It’s hard to convey the spirit of the group almost as much that it’s difficult to convey the spirit of Nashville, the city and the show.
One thing though can be said. The story of these women that found unexpected friendship and an inspiration thanks to a TV show and the Zip code it’s located in sent each and every one of them, including so many other fans (as well as the writer of these lines) on a journey.
Related: How ABC’s Nashville Changed My Life
The first song that was performed on the show during the pilot episode was “Already Gone”. Rayna Jaymes stood on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and sang from the top of her lunges about a journey. Nashville provides a wonderful, heart-warming and mind opening opportunities to go on a journey and there’s no turning back. Now, all that there’s left to do is simply…drive, just drive.
Epilog: They all came and it was fabulous!!
Nashville Forever y’all 🙂