Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is one of Nashville's most famous honky tonks. Originally called "Mom's," Tootsie Bess bought it in 1960 and when a painter mistakenly painted it orchid, place became "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge." There are two levels to the lounge - lower and upper, and each has its own stage.

Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylong Jennings, Patsy Cline and others performed at Tootsie's before they hit it big, and continued to patronize it afterwards. One rumor is that Roger Miller wrote "Dang Me" while at the club. Willie Nelson supposedly got his first songwriting job after someone heard him singing at Tootsie's.

Hattie Louise Bess, aka "Tootsie," was a singer with Big Jeff and the Radio Boys before she bought the lounge. After she passed in 1978, the lounge had its ups and downs, and city officials almost tore it down to build a park. Current owners, Steve Smith and John Taylor, renovated the place and it remains popular today. Smith was able to get it registered as a historic landmark, so Tootsie's is safe from the wrecking ball.

A well-known Tootsie's tradition is the "hollar and swollar." The performer will ask patrons to hold their drinks in the air and "Hollar." After they scream for a few seconds, the performer commands, "Swollar!" and everyone takes a drink.


Carlos Lorenzo said...

What beautiful colors for a wall. I like the story behind this landmark. Thanks for your nice comments.

Anonymous said...

Legend has it that the Grand Ole Opry performers who were so inclined would scoot in the back door for a quick one before they had to go back on stage!


Anonymous said...

What and incredible living Country Legend! Venues such as these along with the music and soul behind it need to be kept alive. Here in Texas we have a great radio station that believes in preservation of the Soul of Country music. I work the people over at LoneStar 92.5 and they believe in limited commercials and non stop Country, Classic Rock and Outlaw Country! Keeping the beat alive! Ya'll should check them out at http://www/lonestar925.com for upcoming Willie Nelson shows and other Country events!