The "Mother Church” is a Nashville staple. The historic building is hallowed ground in Music City. The beautiful building was a church until it served as the stage for The Grand Ole Opry. Revamped in the ‘90s, the Ryman is now revered as one of the world’s most significant music heritage sites.
History and nostalgia make a show at the “Mother Church” feel like a spiritual experience.
Nostalgia. It’s the birthplace of bluegrass. It’s where Johnny Cash met June Carter. Fans have sat in pews to watch acts from Elvis to Emmylou Harris, from Paul Simon to the Pixies, and from Kings of Leon to B.B. King.
Originally built over a century ago to project the booming voices of evangelists, and enhanced by today’s technology, the wrap-around church pews and the signature curves of the room make for a more intimate sonic experience than you might expect.
If you’re hungry before the show, The Ryman’s casual chef-driven eatery and bar, Cafe Lula, is a good place to grab a bite. Want to know more about the history? Daytime tours are available.
Photo courtesy of The Ryman Auditorium
The Grand Ole Opry is the show that made country music famous. What began as a simple radio broadcast nearly a century ago in 1925 is now a world-famous American icon and live entertainment phenomenon, dedicated to honoring country music’s rich history. The Opry showcases a mix of country legends and contemporary chart-toppers.
A down-home, knee-slappin’ good time in a historic venue that honors country music’s roots.
Nashville’s number one attraction and the “home of American music”. “Country’s most famous stage” has seen the soles of country stars from Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, to Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.
To see any of your favorite Opry members: Blake Shelton, Pam Tillis, Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, and/or any of the up-and-coming guest artists. Take the post-show tour to stand center-stage on the six-foot circle of hardwood that was taken from the Ryman.
Even if you aren’t a country music fan, a stop at the Grand Ole Opry House is a must on any Nashville to do list.
The Basement's little sister is actually bigger in size, with a capacity of 400. Often shortened to the “Beast”, the East Nashville location is not actually a basement, although the lack of windows makes it feel like one. Tickets are usually under $20. You can see up-and-coming acts during the week, and bigger names on the weekend.
Party with strangers who may become friends by the end of the night. The guitarist just took off her top.
You can walk in any day of the week and see a good show, but get tickets when your favorite artists comes through. It will likely be the most intimate setting you will see them in.
You may find yourself smoking on the patio with the opening act.
You are too old to headbang. You will give yourself whiplash.
Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom, and The High Watt reside in Nashville’s historic Cannery building (which really used to be a cannery). The Mercy Lounge is on the second story and has a standing room capacity of 500, a state of the art sound system, and a back bar area that features pool tables, booth seating, and a more relaxed environment from which to take in the show. The renovated Cannery Ballroom on the ground floor has a standing room capacity of 1,000 and hosts big name acts. The newest kid on the block, The High Watt, was opened in 2013 and features emerging artists in it’s 250 capacity venue.
Locally-favored and nationally-renowned venue consistently offering reliable atmosphere, entertainment, and drinks to a diverse crowd of downtown tourists, hip young socialites, and fans of live music alike.
Their annual anniversary celebrations, the Road to Bonnaroo concert series, BMI’s 8 off 8th showcases (a staple of the local rock scene), as well as a place to see household names such as Adele, Alabama Shakes, Bon Jovi, Cage the Elephant, Chris Stapleton, Counting Crows, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Imagine Dragons, Meghan Trainor, Muse, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, Old Crow Medicine Show, Snoop Dogg, The Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, The Head And The Heart, The White Stripes, The Lumineers as well and up-and-coming acts.
Your favorite band of the moment is playing Cannery Ballroom, but you can catch a show here almost any night of the week.
For most concerts in the Cannery Ballroom, there is no seating of any kind in the main performance area. There is, however, some seating available in an adjacent area.
Located in Midtown on historic Elliston Place (also known as the Rock Block) near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University, Exit/In opened in 1971. Instead of another honky tonk club, “Nashville’s Music Forum” distinguished itself from the beginning as a place for the best music talent of any kind to perform.
Low key. You would never guess the big names that have graced the stage. With a capacity of 500, the band and the audience feed off each other’s energy in an intimate setting that doesn’t feel cramped.
Where Jimmy Buffett got his start; where young Red Hot Chili Peppers enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal, and where Steve Martin took his entire comedy audience down the street to buy them all burgers, then back to Exit/In to finish his show. Legends such as Chuck Berry, Neil Young, and The Police have performed on the Exit/In stage as well as current favorites like Kings of Leon, Maroon 5, and Death Cab For Cutie.
It’s “Music City” not “Country City” and Exit/In gets that. If it’s a local act, you can get close to the stage without getting clobbered.
Parking is available on surrounding streets, or at the pay-to-park lot behind the venue. Mostly standing-room only.
Photo courtesy of Exit/In
Another staple of the Nashville live music scene, 3rd & Lindsley offers up nightly performances from eclectic roster of acts for (usually) $20 or less. Maybe you’ve never heard of the band, but this town is full of good musicians.
Unassuming and music-centric. Painted portraits of music legends dot the walls. A variety of live music comes through the sound system. Intimate without feeling like a sardine.
The Time Jumpers play acoustic swing and country here every Monday night.
If you’re too old or lazy to stand for a whole show, get there early to get a seat at one of the tables downstairs, stools upstairs, or at the bar.
You’re here for the music, and maybe a beer--not dinner and cocktails.
This iconic, laid back bluegrass bar is the last music venue in the Gulch that has held true to the Nashville classic music scene. The Station Inn was opened in 1974 by a group of six bluegrass pickers and singers as a stationary place to play music, without having to hit the road.
Just a little ol’ friendly, welcoming, pickin’ place. Intimate and kind of dark. Ambiance schmambiance.
Gospel every Sunday, The Bluegrass Jam classic picking circle (all musicians sit in the round and play together), and the Jam Class where pickers can hone their skills together.
To hear bluegrass, blues, roots, and Americana tunes. You never know who you’ll run into here. Top names still drop in at times to perform, sit in on a gig, or relax and enjoy a show.
Tickets are first come, first served. As in you literally have to be there before the show to get a ticket--no pre-sales unless otherwise specified.
Photo courtesy of The Station Inn
At this funky music venue in Green Hills, patrons can sip on drinks and nosh on a small, but sufficient food menu while getting up-close-and-personal with singer/songwriters performing pop, rock, country, and Christian rock tunes. The cafe is so charming; it’s even become a regular feature on ABC’s ‘Nashville’, and anything that’s fine by Connie Britton is just fine by us too.
Located in a small strip mall outside of downtown Nashville, this unassuming 90 seat venue has a reputation as an acoustic music listening room.
Being one of the most intimate places in town to catch a show by an up-and-comer--LeAnn Rimes, Kathy Mattea, and Garth Brooks have all been headliners pre-fame and fortune.
One of the world’s preeminent listening rooms, the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space. Hear the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music.
No loud, drunk frat bros invited. The Bluebird has “Shhh policy”--aka keep your mouth shut/use your inside voice or you will get dirty looks.
Photo courtesy of The Bluebird Cafe