4104 Hillsboro Rd., Green Hills
Located just outside of Nashville, this low-key spot hosts an open mic where you can hear all sorts of young up-and-coming singer/songwriters. This is another rec from Reese Witherspoon.
Ernest Tubb Record Shop
417 Broadway, Downtown
The Ernest Tubb Record Shop, with its vast array of blue-grass and classic country music, also hosts a live WSM-AM radio show each Saturday night—a Midnight Jamboree—at its other location at 2416 Music Drive.
Grande Ole Opry
2804 Opryland Dr., Cabin Hill
Each week the Grand Ole Opry takes place as a showcase of the best country, bluegrass, and folk bands in the country. The night GP caught it on a visit back to the Ryman, she saw the amazing Emmylou Harris, Carrie Underwood, and Vince Gill, just to give you an idea of the kind of all-star casts the Opry always hosts. The entire show is broadcast live every Saturday on WSM-AM at 7pm and is the longest running radio show in history. People say the Opry is touristy, and this is true, but it is at the same time absolutely authentic and the quality of the concerts is truly remarkable.
Robert’s Western World
416B Broadway, Downtown
Our favorite place for honky-tonk dancing, this low-key bar has live music every night, bringing couples young and old out to showcase their skills on the dance floor. It’s a great place to go on weeknights since it gets rowdier on the weekend as it is located right on the main strip. You can also buy cowboy boots here; one of the walls is lined in shelves full of pairs in every shape and size imaginable.
116 Fifth Ave., Downtown
The Ryman was founded as a church in 1892, which explains the stained glass windows and church pew seating. In the mid-20th century it came to house the legendary Johnny Cash television show and the weekly Grand Ole Opry concert and radio show, which was broadcast on WSM-AM. The Opry and the radio show have since moved house, but the Ryman remains a must-experience concert venue for its spectacular acoustics. Definitely try to get tickets to a show there and skip the daytime museum tour: You can kill two birds with one stone and check out the display cases while you’re at the concert.
402 12th Ave. S., The Gulch
Located in the up-and-coming Gulch neighborhood, the Station Inn is a vestige of another time. Don’t be fooled by the bare-bones exterior, this is the best venue for bluegrass. Period. They don’t take reservations and it’s first come, first serve and doors open at 7pm so be sure to line up early. When it fills up, they stick a paper plate on the door that says “Sold Out.” One of the nights GP went, she saw Jim Lauderdale, one of the best and most well-respected local singer/songwriters, and his band play some rockin’ bluegrass (she was in the company of a bunch of musicians that night and they were truly blown away by the music). The Time Jumpers, who play there on most Monday nights, are also worth catching if you get a chance.
The Family Wash
626A Main St., East Nashville
This bar is as cozy and intimate as could be; it has a worn-in, comfortable feel to it. There is a low stage in the back for all the musicians that come through playing bluegrass, country, and rock. The Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie is spectacular, made of layers of perfectly seasoned lentils, mashed potatoes, and cheddar cheese.
The Loveless Cafe & Barn
8400 Highway 100, Pasquo
Another institution, the Loveless has been around since the 1950’s when it began as a motel. Refurbished and expanded in 2004, it is now a restaurant and another WSM-AM radioshow venue. On Wednesday nights, the Loveless Barn lights up with a concert of country and bluegrass big-names, “Music City Roots: Live From The Loveless Cafe.” GP went there and had dinner—their food is delicious, a traditional Southern heart attack—and stayed for the show.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
422 Broadway, Downtown
The lovely Reese Witherspoon, a born and bred Nashville girl, gave us a list of some of the places she likes: At the top, the orchid-hued Tootsies, which is apparently the #1 honky-tonk bar in the world!
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