They don’t call it Music City for nothing. The town that spawned the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Bluebird Café boasts more than 160 live music venues within its city limits. The rumors are true, you can have any type of musical experience you want in Nashville—don’t let anyone try to tell you it’s all country, all the time, because that’s straight-up nonsense. We can’t help but be charmed by these four local and off-the-radar music spots in Nashville.
1.) Cannery Row
This red bricked row of historic warehouses south of downtown has been a Nashville landmark since the late 1800s. Home to a trio of performance spaces—Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom and the High Watt—Cannery Row has been holding shows since the 70’s, hosting rock acts from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bon Jovi to pop darlings Tori Kelly and Maren Morris. Get there early and grab a few drinks at the bar to get the best view. With tickets from $15 to $35, it’s a steal to catch big name acts like Grace Potter or Punch Brothers.
2.) Basement East
The Basement has been a beloved institution among die-hard music fans in Nashville, but two years ago, the Basement East opened and is four times the size of the original with an expansive, fully stocked bar. Located in East Nashville and walkable to many favorite Five Points haunts, the sister bar has already held Brothers Osborne’s album listening parties, tributes to legends like Dave Grohl and secret Shadowboxers shows.
3.) The Station Inn
In every city, there’s that oldie-but-goodie that’s managed to stand the test of time. In Nashville, that staple is Station Inn. Catering to the tried-and-true bluegrass and Americana fans as well as the Gulch bar-hoppers who are intrigued by the small, standalone building dwarfed by shiny new high-rises It’s not uncommon for artists to pop into the audience following their own performance at the Grand Ole Opry. But the best night of any week is on Sunday for the free Bluegrass Jam when a hodgepodge of professional pickers all pack their instruments, take the stage and rock out until their fingers hurt.
4.) Douglas Corner Café
Douglas Corner Café has been doing the same writers “in the round” concept as the Bluebird Café since 1987, and its shows are every bit as good. This intimate, no-frills venue occupies a modest storefront among a strip of vintage and antique shops on 8th Avenue South and features live music six nights a week. With a cover of $8 or less, a night at Douglas Corner is a low-cost way to see both up-and-comers and industry veterans alike.
Where to stay during your Nashville escape: Kimpton Aertson Hotel