Hall Of Fame Throws Party For Tootsie's 4-01-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

Hall Of Fame Throws Party For Tootsie's 4-01-2011

Reported by Jennifer Johnson
A fixture on Broadway is turning 50, and the Country Music Hall of Fame is throwing a birthday party.

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Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is one of the places most tourists have on their short list of things to do. Now they can go to the Country Music Hall of Fame to find out exactly how the honky-tonk became almost as legendary as the Grand Ole Opry.
The stage at Tootsie's is rarely empty. Sometimes it's a struggling artist behind the mic, or you might find the likes of Kenny Chesney there belting out a hit.
"It's unbelievable the people who come through Tootsie's and still support Tootsie's, and all the entertainers of today and all the entertainers of yesterday still come through," said Steve Smith, owner of Tootsie's. "It's quite an experience to come in that place."
"A lot of great songs were probably conceived at Tootsie's," said Mick Buck of the Country Music Hall of Fame. "A lot of the classic writers, like Kris Kristoferson and Harlan Howard, Roger Miller spent a lot of time there back in the 1960s. You could say it was their second home."
In fact, Mel Tillis was on hand for Friday's unveiling of the exhibit. He said he has fond memories of walking off the stage of the Opry and through the back door of Tootsie's.
"It was more of a fraternity back then," said Tillis. "Everybody would hang out and write together. 'Hey, boy, I wrote this song. Listen to this. Man what you think about this song?'"
And he said he remembers Tootsie, the woman the bar was named for. She was one part owner, the other part bouncer.
"Old Tootsie, she'd take care of us. If you got out of line, though, she had a little old pin. She'd stick you with that pin," Tillis said. "Man oh man, Tootsie's in the Hall of Fame. She should have been in there a long time ago."
The exterior of the real Tootsie's will also be a little brighter. The owners have been inspired to throw on a new coat of orchid paint in honor of the 50-year milestone.

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