There are tons of music clubs in Nashville. Most of these are small, off the beaten path places with bars and a lively clientele. If you are at a loss for something to do at night here head downtown to Broadway and/or Second Street and pop your head in to one of these places. Not all of them feature country music and some of them are really a lot of fun. The best part is that there are so many clubs that if you start getting tired of the music in one, you can move down the street to the next one. There is even a lot of music happening down here on weeknights. It's great.
UPDATE 5/6/11: Jesse Zane's Nashville Nights has closed. :-(
Jesse Zane's Nashville Nights is a fun place to hear live music - the band is really good. Jesse himself can be coaxed onto the stage with minimal encouragement (just scream for KISS!) I talked to a couple who seem to be regulars - they said Thursday night karaoke is a hoot! I'll have to check that out for myself! :-)
Dress Code: Casual - shirt and shoes are required, but that's about the extent of the dress code. The night I was there, you had girls in their sandals and sundresses, guys in shorts and jeans...
Very small and intimate - something like 20 tables, plus seating at the bar. Performances are generally "in the round" and feature songwriters performing their own original works. Come hear the songs you'll be hearing on the radio next year! This is a "listening room" and as such there is no talking during performances. No smoking, but the outside is wired for sound, so if you must step out you won't miss any part of the show. Early performances have no cover; late performances have a minimal cover - all shows have a $7 beverage minimum.
This place is world famous, and rightly so. Some of the best songwriters in the world showcase their songs here, and some world-class and famous people frequent here - both on stage and off. Lari White performed tonight, and was kind enough to autograph my CD!
Dress Code: I am unaware of any dress code other than the standard shirt and shoes...
the cadillac ranch is a bar and resturant located on broadway in the broadway entertainment district. the cadillac ranch offers live country & western music. a fun place to eat and drink and listen to music in downtown nashville.
Dress Code: casual.
Tootsie Bess bought this place in 1960.
She credits a painter with naming Tootsie’s. She came in one day to find that he had painted her place orchid…thus the name Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
Records recorded about Tootsie’s include “The Wettest Shoulders in Town” and “What’s Tootsies Gonna Do When They Tear the Ryman Down?”
It is rumored that Roger Miller wrote “Dang Me” in Tootsies.
Famous early customers were Kris Kristofferson, Faron Young, Willie Nelson, Tom T. Hall, Hank Cochran, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline and many more.
Movies filmed at Tootsie’s include “W.W. & the Dixie Dance Kings” starring Bert Reynolds, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” about Loretta Lynn and starring Sissy Spacek, and “The Nashville Rebel” starring Tex Ritter, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Loretta Lynn, The Wilburn Brothers, and Waylon Jennings.
A segment of the Dean Martin summer show was filmed at Tootsie’s.
Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsie’s.
The photo and memorabilia lined walls are called the “Wall of Fame”.
Tootsie was known to slip $5’s and $10’s into the pockets of luckless writers and pickers.
It was said that she had a cigar box behind the counter full of IOU’s from where she had given drinks and food to hungry pickers and writers. Supposedly, at each years end, a bunch of Opry Performers would take all the IOU’s and pay Tootsie so she wouldn’t lose the money.
At her funeral were Tom T. Hall, Roy Acuff and Faron Young. She was buried in an orchid gown, with an orchid placed in the orchid-colored casket, so she could take her favorite flower with her to heaven. Connie Smith sang some of Tootsie’s favorite hymns at the funeral.
Dress Code: just walk in
The Bluebird Cafe is pretty much the singer-song-writer hall of fame in Nashville. It's a great little spot, though you'd hardly think to put the location with the place. It's in a strip mall in the near 'burbs and you would pass it up if you didn't do Map Quest to get you right to it.
On the night we went, they were just finishing up a first round of singers from an early, free show. When those guys, all way too clean-cut country for our taste - you could hear them squeak when they went out to the pickups (shiny) with their sweet little wives (also shiny), everyone had to exit the building. Then we could come back in after a bit of standing in line for the paid show. It was a great group of interesting guys, each one with a different sound and a unique take on the whole thing.
You sit right in with the performers and you can order food but do it really quietly. The big thing at the Bluebird is the "shhh" since you are there to listen to the artists, not to do the usual bar yapping.
Dress Code: Casual
Excellent place for live music. Smallish venue (maybe seats 150 at small tables & bar). The sound was great, and the venue is smoke-free, which works for me. Calendar list in on their website, and the music is eclectic.
tootsie's orchid lounge is located in the broadway entertainment district downtown. tootsie's is a great place to drink and listen to live music. tootsie's is my favorite bar in nashville. see the attached web site for their entertainment schedule.
Dress Code: casual.
You've got to drive to the Station, which is not in the greatest neighborhood, but it's definitely worth getting in the car for. The club is open seven nights a week and offers some of the best bluegrass you'll find anywhere. Cover charges are usually under $10, the beer comes in plastic cups, and there are plenty of seats for everyone. This is a great, comfortable, home-grown place.
The hot spot for cruising nighttime Nashville is the stretch of Broadway between 5th and 2nd Streets known as Honky Tonk Row. If you walk around there on pretty much any night of the week, you'll be sucked into any one of dozens of clubs showing live country music every day. Most have no cover charge, but you'll pay dearly for your drinks. The bars here can be fun, but be aware that you'll be socializing mostly with other tourists and a lot of drunken college students.
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