by S. Parks
Nashville continues to grow in leaps and bounds, to the north and south
and especially up, it never forgets the value of tradition and the
memories that built it.  One of it’s most important pieces of history
has now been permanently preserved.  
When the
original country music stars, including Patsy Cline, Hank Williams,
Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff and all those who performed
decades ago at the Ryman in the Grand Ole Opry, had a break during the
show, they would cross the alley from the Ryman backstage entrance into
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  To this day, the unique two-story venue,
untouched by time, welcomes local artists and major superstars daily,
playing favorite songs and surrounded by hundreds of original signed 8” x
10” glossies of stars since the sixties.  A musician stands outside the
door on lower Broadway in the honky tonk district to invite you in.
 One might even catch a regular such as the amazing John Stone or even
Keith Urban and Steven Tyler playing a set on the tiny stage in the
famous painted window.
The alley between these
two strongholds of country music has been known as Tootsie’s Alley and
it is now official with the installation of the refurbished original
neon sign claiming it as “Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Alley“.   The Roys, TG
Sheppard, Kelly Lang, David Ball and Terri Clark were on hand for the
lighting of the sign that had the same excitement as the official
lighting of the city and state’s Christmas trees, which occurred only
days before.   Jett Williams spoke about the memories of her father,
Hank Williams, visiting Tootsies and walking through the famous alley,
adding his footprints to those who built this city on country music.
 Walking in those footprints will continue to be an honor and a
tradition for country music lovers and performers for generations to
come as they capture a photo underneath the bright orchid neon sign.
by S. Parks

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