Nissan USA’s Nashville Skyline Revisited.

Whenever we receive an invitation to see Nissan USA’s headquarters, it’s rare the invite is refused. That’s because the company HQ just happens to be near one of the most exciting cities in America, Nashville, Tennessee. That it was to test-drive the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is just icing on the cake. Nashville is the home of Country music, which despite the current fascination with the “Bro-Country” genre, is definitely not lost on me, so naturally, there was just no way I was going to miss this excursion.

Sure, I own a pair of Justin boots that don’t get nearly as much wear, as they should. I also own a Stetson hat but don’t even go there. Hats, and my diabolically shaped head don’t play well together. So, while the Stetson cooled itself in my closet back home, my Justin’s made it through the TSA checkpoint just fine.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport at Nissan Headquarters in Franklin, TN.

The 2017 Rogue Sport is the newest family member of the best-selling model in the Nissan lineup, and this continuation looks to be right in line to continue the CUV’s good fortune. With seating for five, it should be just the thing for urban-dwelling millennials to haul around close friends and their stuff.

Landing at Nashville International Airport was a familiar beginning to an adventure that started with a troubadour playing classic country right outside Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge airport outlet. Shortly thereafter, a greeter from Nissan and Prestige Auto Specialists was whisking us away to our hotel in Nashville’s “Gulch” that was formerly a Louisville & Nashville Railroad freight yard in another life. Now a hipster haven, it is home to artist’s lofts, galleries, excellent restaurants, whiskey tasting rooms, music venues and even a few progressive recording studios.

But the one thing we did notice was a considerable downturn in the boot-wearing population. Normal kicks seem to be the order of the day, and despite the image of a rhinestone cowboy dancing around in your head, there was no hint of a Nudie suit to be seen anywhere.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with the Sons of the Pioneers in their Nudie Suits.

With those thoughts in mind, Nissan took us on a deep dive, which included visits to microbreweries, visual art museums, artist workshops, artisan chocolatiers, and recording studios that favor new alternative artists including one actually owned by one of the most prolific alt-rockers of this age. Although we missed seeing him in person, we spent several evenings at Jack White’s Third Man Records studio, checking out new era vinyl and one very old do-it-yourself recording booth as used by Neil Young on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Venture over to East Nashville for a taste of the up and coming, which will satiate the eyes and the stomach. They include incredible street art curated by the Nashville Walls project. Co-founder Éva Boros described a life of eating Ramen in the rain, before finding her calling in Nashville’s art world. The result is now some of the most incredible mural designs on earth by artists such as Banksy and Nathan Brown.

Third Man is a crossroads where classic country, alt-rock, shredding and other styles of music intersect and the result couldn’t be any better. Founded by the leader of the White Stripes and Raconteurs, not to mention numerous other music projects, it has been the scene of groundbreaking recordings such as Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album as well as the studios where chanteuse Margo Price cut her latest. The gift shop is well stocked with vinyl from the Third Man catalog as well as anything else a JW fan could want.

Jack White’s Third Man Records.

Owners of Nashville’s Native Magazine told of the city’s burgeoning art, food, and fashion scenes, which show no signs of letting up. With upwards of 85 new residents moving to the Music City each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is clear why there is a building boom going on downtown, as evidenced by the abundance of towering construction cranes along downtown’s skyline.

Inside the studio’s Blue Room which does double and triple duty as a dining room, soundstage or photo studio, performers like the Paul McDonald Band showed how being second or third place on American Idol can actually make you a winner everywhere else. Alternative rockers The Roosevelts showed great songwriting skills, not to mention some righteous beards during their set.

Nashville has been through more than a few changes since the Grand Ole Opry was founded in 1925. Opry show runner George D. Hay has more than likely turned a few RPMs in his grave as a result.