5 Of Nashville’s Best Live Music Venues
Whether you’re looking to two-step or slam dance, you’ll undoubtedly find your place in Music City. On any given day, the city is filled with the sound and the fury of live music from all genres, proving once and for all that there is more to Nashville than blue jeans and bluegrass. From honky-tonks to mosh pits, here are five of Nashville’s best live music venues.
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37219
Established in 1980, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (also known by the very hip moniker of TPAC) collectively houses the Andrew Jackson Hall, James K. Polk Theater, Andrew Johnson Theater and the War Memorial Auditorium. The multiple venues make it a musical hot-spot and cultural center for touring acts of all styles.
The Station Inn
402 12th Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37203
Located in The Gulch since 1978, The Station Inn is widely considered Nashville’s premier spot for mountain, bluegrass and roots music. The notable locale also fosters up-and-coming talent, offering amateur pickers a chance to get schooled at its Jam Class.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
422 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
For over five decades Tootsie’s has remained popular with tourists and beloved by natives. This lower Broadway honky-tonk has become one of the most important institutions in country music, featuring three stages of live music nightly. The must-see dive bar is both steeped in history and well-known as a haven for once-struggling musicians: Faron Young, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson all started here.
2208 Elliston Place, Nashville, TN 37203
There’s a reason singer-songwriters, rappers, punk bands and indie bands flock to Nashville to begin their careers, and by far one of the most infamous locales to begin is Exit/In. Since 1971, Nashvillians have swayed to the sounds emanating from this black-walled club. Since then it has clawed and scratched against the establishment to become the site for emerging artists and established performers looking for a more intimate setting. Located on Nashville’s “rock block” near Vanderbilt University, you can feel the history when you cross its threshold. Exit/In has hosted nearly everyone from Jimmy Buffett and Etta James to The Circle Jerks, The Ramones, R.E.M. and Talking Heads and was also a filming location for Robert Altman’s classic film, “Nashville.”
The Ryman Auditorium
116 5th Ave. N, Nashville, TN 37219
If you visit Nashville and do not stop by The Ryman then you have basically missed the essence of the city’s musical legacy. Originally opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892, The Mother Church of Country Music has played home to a presidential visit by Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 as well as performances from Houdini, Chaplin and every legend in country, R&B, pop and rock music. The Ryman is also known as the home base for the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and as the filming site for The Johnny Cash Show from 1969 to 1971. Despite its historical status, The Ryman doesn’t rest on its laurels. With aggressive booking and perfect acoustics, it’s the ideal spot for concerts all year long.