In Nashville, the live music actually starts when you arrive at the airport, where the Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge outpost employs talented performers to entertain those coming and going. That gives you just a taste of what’s in store on Broadway, where every doorway opens to belting sounds of country’s best tunes. In recent years, the city has become just as well known for other genres of music. From rock to jazz to alternative and everything in between, you will find the most artistic musicians in the world playing throughout the city. No matter what your taste, you can find an impressive performance at one of these venues.
Owned by Mike Grimes, the man behind Grimey's New & Pre-Loved Music, the Basement showcases live bands six to seven nights out of the week, usually with very reasonable cover charges. The venue is small and intimate, and the talent tends to be newer local or touring bands. ((615) 254-8006)
Grand Ole Opry
The top attraction in Music City, The Grand Ole Opry is an American icon. Known as "country's most famous stage," what began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925 is today a live-entertainment phenomenon. Providing world-famous entertainment for all ages, The Opry showcases both country music legends and up-and-coming stars. A one-of-a-kind experience, guests come for the memorable shows and unforgettable moments, and are offered a behind-the-scenes look at this famous show on the Opry tours. Each Friday and Saturday night, a backstage glimpse into new and old country history is available, and guests are sure to remember their "opry moments" long after the curtain is closed. (615-871-6779, 800-733-6779)
This popular live music venue is a staple in the Nashville nightlife scene. Featuring live music six days a week, the Tin Roof is the place to go for an after-work drink or an energetic night out. College kids and professionals alike flock to this fun-loving bar for the music and drinks, so be on the look out for local celebrities in the crowds! (615-313-7103)
The 5 Spot
One of the most popular live music venues around, the Mercy Lounge attracts a diverse crowd of music aficionados and laid-back partiers. Red lighting, plush sofas and curvy bars compliment the comfortable, bohemian vibe. Pool tables and retro pinball machines add to the entertainment offerings of the upstairs lounge, while the new Cannery Ballroom downstairs provides a space for private events and larger concerts. (615-251-3020)
Exit / In
One of the more prominent stages, and Open Mic Night bars, Exit/Inn always draws a crowd. A popular spot for up-and-coming artists (along with those who have already made a name for themselves), this club hosts everyone from local punk bands to nationally known rock and country performers. The establishment has been around for a few decades now and is still going strong. If you're a fan of country music lore, check out the pictures along the walls that catalog the Exit/In's storied past. Past musicians have included Steve Earle, Shelby Lynne, and Seven Mary Three. Performers and showtimes vary. (615-321-3340)
This isn't only where flocks of tourists come to see the heart of country music in downtown Nashville, but where locals take their friends to get a true feel of what the city is all about: music, hospitality and fun. Famous bars and live act venues not to miss are Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Roberts Western World, Legends Corner and The Stage. Big crowds also flood into the multi tiered Honky Tonk Central where different music is offered on every level. Rippy's is also famous for their house bands and barbeque. If you want to seek a moment of refuge (and a sophisticated drink), simply take a break and step into Merchant's, which is the best dining and wine list on the block. You can go right back to the strip for more action without skipping a beat. (na)
Is that the tuning of banjos I hear? This is place in Nashville to hear bluegrass music! The popular Station Inn hosts new and veteran bluegrass acoustic musicians alike, and the Sunday night in-house "jam sessions" are not to be missed. The cover charge varies depending on the musicians present, and admission to shows is first-come-first-served, so it's best to arrive early. (615-255-3307)
The Bluebird Cafe
Bluebird Caf is a must-see for all music fans. The quiet, smoke-free venue is a great place to hear Nashville's up-and-coming singer-songwriters perform before they hit the big time. Garth Brooks and Kathy Mattea are just two well-known singers who have played. Since it's a popular spot, make reservations in advance, and don't forget to observe the "Shhh!" rule while the music's playing. Depending on how big the booked act is, the cover can be as high as $50. (615-383-1461)
One of Nashville's most beloved music venues, The Ryman is the premier spot for any music lover seeking to hear their favorite performer or tour a legendary performance space. Originally built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 by Captain Tom G. Ryman, it is one of the most famous music venues in the country (as well a a National Historic Landmark). With their top-notch acoustics and history, The Ryman has an almost mystical, welcoming feel. Ryman also offers daytime tours, so you can explore the majesty of this venue at your own pace. Easily spend two hours in the museum and, before you leave, make sure to stop by Cafe Lula for fresh and healthy eats. (615-889-3060, 615-458-8700)
About Stacie Standifer
As the founder of acclaimed titles Nashville Lifestyles, Nashville Weddings and AT HOME/NL, Stacie has been involved with every level of fashion, celebrity and home design in her city for over 14+ years. An avid traveler, she is a respected resource in sharing trends with thousands of followers in the South. Since selling her publications and ultimately leaving her publisher post in mid-2013, Stacie continues to freelance as a contributor and also acts as a consultant for select luxury retail and entertainment clients. Shopping, travel and entertaining tips are posted weekly on her popular website, SouthernSophisticate.com.
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