There’s a reason they call Nashville Music City, and it may just have a little something to do with all the great music. Whether you’re looking for a big concert experience or an intimate music hot spot, Nashville is the city for you. Nashville offers music lovers historic venues like the Opry or the Ryman, huge concerts at Bridgestone Arena, and divey-er stages in East Nashville.
If you’re looking for live music Nashville, here are a few of the best places to start:
Grand Ole Opry
If you’re visiting Nashville, chances are you’ve already heard of the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry attracts country music fans from all over the world (even if you’re not a country music lover, it’s worth a visit!). The historic live broadcast moved to its current space in 1974 after 30 years at the Ryman Auditorium. The Grand Ole Opry is a little out of the way from downtown Nashville, but always worth the magical journey. The biggest names in country music headline and make surprise appearances there regularly.
The original location of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium is considered the “the Mother Church of Country Music,” and no other venue in Tennessee can compare to its history with performances by Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and more. The Ryman remains a country music Mecca to this day and offers annual events like Opry at the Ryman, Bluegrass Nights in the summer, and Sam’s Place every winter.
The Station Inn
The Station Inn is another historic spot with iconic bluegrass and roots. Every seat provides a perfect view of the stage and a perfect musical experience. Be sure not to miss the Sunday night bluegrass jam, a classic “pickin’ circle” with seasoned pros and aspiring amateurs… you never know how’ll show up.
The Basement East
The Basement’s sister property, The Basement East in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood, offers about four times the space and some surprisingly big rock acts (Yo La Tengo, Lee Ann Womack, and Dave Grohl to name a few). Known as the “The Beast,” it has a charming atmosphere including a living room-themed VIP section.
The Bluebird Cafe
Many legendary country music artists got their start at the Bluebird. Located in a strip mall in Green Hills, the venue is well known to for locals, out-of-town tourists and even A-list stars. Tickets go fast though as space is limited to just 90 seats.
The Cannery Row offers three popular music venues: Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom and The High Watt. The Cannery Ballroom is the largest with a 1,000-person capacity. This is a great place to discover something different than the regular country music acts in Nashville, Cannery Ballroom is home to rock, pop, and indie acts.
There’s no better place to see music on a hot summer night than Ascend Amphitheater. It’s one of Nashville’s only open-air venues and is situated right along the riverfront. Music lovers can enjoy the views of the Nashville skyline and some once-in-a-lifetime shows.
Another great rock and roll venue in Nashville, Exit/In attracts a nearly limitless range of acts to their stage. While there’s not a bad seat in Exit/In, the balcony is definitely the best seat in the house.
Douglas Corner Café
Douglas Corner Café is a small lounge-café, but is a memorable piece of Nashville music culture. Tuesdays are open mic nights, and Wednesday through Saturday, there’s wide range live music on display. Singers, songwriters, and small acts all pack the calendar throughout the year.
3rd and Lindsley
3rd and Lindsley is close to Nashville’s downtown scene and has a more intimate feel. If you’re looking to eat or drink before you hit a show, there’s no better place than 3rd and Lindsley.