January 23, 2018
“I asked my parents for a fiddle when I was 3 years old. Specifically a fiddle … and I got a fiddle some years after when I was about 8 years old, and then I just have been playing music ever since.” In a time when putting a “modern twist” on a classic sound is all the rage, Joshua Hedley has always gravitated toward tradition. With his mastery of the fiddle and soulful baritone voice, Joshua is bringing back honky-tonk country music — no new twist necessary. With musicians like Joshua, Lillie Mae and Margo Price, Third Man Records is celebrating a classic country sound by signing artists with true talent, an old soul and a love for the true Tennessee roots of country music.
After visiting Nashville at 12, Joshua knew that it’s where he had to be to become a country musician. “I would sit in at the bars down here, bring my fiddle and get up with the band and play. I pretty much knew then, at 12, that as soon as I could get here, that this is where I wanted to be. I just wanted to play music with the caliber of musician that there is here.” At 19, Joshua finally moved to Nashville to pursue his dreams, and he hasn’t looked back.
Joshua Hedley was one of the Third Man Records musicians who played at the exclusive 333 ft. Underground concert, a one-of-a-kind concert experience to was a celebration of Tennessee’s deep musical roots and natural beauty. Hosted by Jack White, the artists performed at the beautiful Cumberland Caverns in an auditorium 333 feet underground. Before the cave concert, Joshua told us about some of his top spots for music, food, and more in Tennessee.
In the 13 years Joshua has lived in Nashville, he has played nearly every venue on the famous strip of bars and music venues on Broadway, but his favorite has always been Robert’s Western World. “The one place that I feel most comfortable and most welcome doing my thing is at Robert’s. This is the only bar I’ve consistently played at … I want to play honky-tonk music forever, and I want to do it here.”
This no-frills country bar is known for having cheap beer, fried bologna sandwiches and some of the best live country music in the city. Voted Nashville Scene’s Best Honky-Tonk, Robert’s makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the golden era of country music. Awesome bartenders, low-key vibes, and a Western wares shop make this spot a go-to for both locals and in-the-know visitors. Even when Joshua isn’t performing at Robert’s, he can often be found hanging out at the bar chowing down on a burger and enjoying some live music.
Dino’s: East Nashville
Another one of Joshua’s favorite spots to hang out and get some awesome bar food is Dino’s, East Nashville’s oldest dive bar. A local favorite, Dino’s is known for amazing burgers, fries and extra hot chicken. This dive may be off the beaten path, but locals know that its late-night menu and cheap beer is totally worth the detour. Dino’s also has an outdoor patio and awesome brunch options on Saturdays and Sundays.
Dee’s country cocktail lounge, a great place to see live country music, is just outside Nashville in Madison, Tennessee, and another regular haunt for Joshua: “If you ever want to find me, that’s where I’ll be.” This quirky dive is a ’70s-themed country bar, complete with a vintage jukebox, retro rainbow-colored lights and neon signage. Dee’s always has awesome live country music as well as great bar snacks and happy hour specials.
Originally from Naples, Florida, Joshua always stops in Chattanooga when driving to and from his hometown to Tennessee. The Yellow Deli in Chattanooga is his go-to road trip pit stop in the city: “They have this iced peach maté that'll send you into outer space.” Along with delicious drinks, The Yellow Deli whips up some awesome sandwiches and fresh salads in a cozy atmosphere. This popular deli with hippie vibes is open 24 hours a day from Sunday at noon until 3 p.m. Friday, making it a great place for late night grub during the week.
Joshua recently took a trip to Memphis, another one of his favorite cities in Tennessee, to work on Margo Price’s new album at the famous Sam Phillips studio. Considered one of the most important producers in rock ’n’ roll history, Sam Phillips helped launch the career of artists like B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and countless other groundbreaking musicians. You can see the Sam Phillips story firsthand at Sun Studio, the famous Memphis recording studio Phillips opened in 1950. Often considered “the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll,” Sun Studio now offers daily tours, so you can see where some of music’s biggest names recorded their hits.
“I love Bristol. Bristol is, of course, the birthplace of country music.” In 1927, a set of recordings took place in Bristol, Tennessee, that launched an entire genre of music. Recognized internationally as “the big bang of country music,” the Bristol Sessions are considered the most influential event in country music history, establishing the city as the official birthplace of country music. To learn more, check out the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol. Stories come alive through interactive exhibits, listening stations and live year-round performances.
Bristol’s rich history goes beyond country music. One of Joshua’s favorite parts of the city is the L.C. King Building, a workwear manufacturing factory steeped in Americana heritage. Since the early 1900s, L.C. King Manufacturing Co. has been making quality men’s workwear and apparel in Bristol. Stop by the gift shop and take a factory tour to see the tradition of American craftsmanship up close.
Along with great food and live country music, one thing Joshua loves about Tennessee is the state’s rich musical history. “The blues came up from the delta and it went to the west side of Tennessee, and became rock and roll, and it went to the east side and became country music. … That’s what I like about living in Tennessee. You could play country music anywhere, but playing it in Tennessee, especially Nashville, I feel more connected to it.” From the best honky-tonks in the nation to holes-in-the-wall with live music every night, the spirit of country music is alive and kicking in Tennessee.