Fidelis Companies President’s Trip is awarded to employees and managers who exceed annual sales and performance goals. Previous President’s trip destinations include New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Steamboat Springs, CO. This year’s excursion was a 4-day visit to Nashville with five employees and their significant others…and, Alan and Karen, of course. Setting foot on Nashville turf on Thursday morning, and having arrived at the hotel too early for check-in, eight of the twelve Fidelis crew headed over to The Pharmacy for lunch, and what turned out to be one of the best burgers any of us had ever eaten. The craft beers were pretty tasty, too.
After check-in, the same eight headed out for a two-hour walking tour, experiencing some of the downtown Nashville highlights. It was led by Bill DeMain, a Grammy nominated country music journalist, songwriter and musician (http://www.walkinnashville.com/content/meet-your-guide). Bill was quite knowledgeable and entertaining; the tour was laced with history and stories about Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and many others. Some of the most memorable sites of the tour were Skull Shulman’s and Bourbon Street, both located in Printer’s Alley, Tootsie’s (originally knows as The Orchid Lounge where many famous songs were written on napkins, and where many musicians got their start), the Ryman Auditorium (originally, The Union Gospel Tabernacle and the original home of the Grand Ole Opry) and Hatch Print Shop, which has been in business for over 100 years and still uses the same printing method it did in it’s original day.
On Friday, some of the crew hit the town on the Sprocket Rocket, pedaling and suds-ing their way around town. On Friday night, all of us were treated to second row, center stage seats at The Grand Ole Opry, where we experienced a live radio show! With almost a dozen different acts, the music, humor and entertainment made it a great evening, highlighted by Little Big Town, Mo Pitney, Chip Esten, Whispering Bill Anderson and Exile (yes, we all belted out, “I Wanna Kiss You All Over” as loud as we could).
Many of us toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, featuring “Dylan, Cash & The Nashville Cats,” with very cool and historical displays of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, of course; but, also of Elvis, Kenny Rogers, George Strait, Patsy Cline…you name the CM star, there was something there about them…as far back as you can remember, Roy Acuff, Roy Rogers, Loretta Lynn…up to today – Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan…
Most, if not everyone, made it to “Hattie B’s,” across the street from the hotel, for “hot chicken,” which was pretty tasty. And, if you turned up the heat and ordered the “Shut the Cluck Up” level of spice, it lived up to it’s name. I sweated and teared-up through a couple of pieces, but was unable to finish, and my stomach was warm for several hours after lunch..mm-mmm!
The other music and entertainment that we all experienced was The Bluebird Café, where Garth Brooks got his start in 1987, filling in for someone. It’s a small and quaint, 90-seat restaurant tucked away in a strip center that features all types of musical talent and is always sold out. We were serenaded by four singer/song-writers performing acoustic versions of songs they had written and published. Each of the artist took turns explaining how, when and why they wrote the songs before performing them, making it a cool evening full of fun, laughter and even a few tears as they mixed in a few emotional ballads.
On Saturday night, Alan and Karen treated all of us to an incredible dinner at Kayne Prime Steakhouse. The menu included Lobster Buttered Popcorn and Black Peppercorn Bacon wrapped with Maple Cotton Candy for appetizers, Black Kale salad with almonds and currants, and Filet Mignon, Salmon and Porterhouse steaks for dinner – all with fine wine, of course; and, closed out with several incredible desserts.