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A young musician sets out to make it in Nashville | © Thomas Hawk / Flickr
A young musician sets out to make it in Nashville | © Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Essential Guide To Nashville's Best Live Music

Picture of Leena Kollar
Updated: 15 January 2017
Nashville earned its nickname, Music City, with good reason. In almost every part of town, there’s a live music venue where locals and tourists alike can enjoy the sounds of singers and songwriters. From country to rock, jazz and pop, you’ll find music worth listening to at these Nashville live music venues.

The Basement

Just below Grimey’s New & Preloved Music store is The Basement, a small live music venue that hosts singers, songwriters and bands from different music genres. Tuesday is New Faces Nite, which promotes unsigned and/or newly signed artists from all across the country. On other nights of the week, shows by independent artists and more high-profile musicians can be enjoyed. There is a sister venue, The Basement East, that also hosts different art and entertainment events throughout the year.

The Basement, 1604 8th Avenue S., Nashville, TN, USA

The Basement | © Sean Davis / Flickr

The Basement attracts both big and small singers/songwriters | © Sean Davis / Flickr

The Station Inn

The Station Inn is known for booking country, roots and bluegrass artists. Every Sunday, the venue has its Bluegrass Jam. Country singer Alison Krauss frequented the venue in the 1980s and today is one of the biggest artists in country music. On Tuesday nights, you’ll find The Doyle & Debbie Show, which is a satiric performance that showcases the truths about country duos, particularly ones with a man and woman.

The Station Inn, 402 12th Avenue S., Nashville, TN, USA

Love it here! #stationinn #nashville #lizzietramps

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The Bluebird Cafe

Many aspiring singers and songwriters hope to play at The Bluebird Cafe, a well-known Nashville venue that has hosted many of today’s biggest names in country music. The small but distinguished venue has performance rounds every night, as well as an open mic night on Mondays. You’ll hear everything from classic country songs to pop and rock numbers, but the tiny establishment ensures there won’t be any music that will break your ear drums.

The Bluebird Cafe, 4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN, USA

Sinds de #serie #nashville #wereldberoemd ; #bluebirdcafe! #instagramtennessee #goamerika #weknowthestates

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3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill

From those new to the Nashville circuit to legendary names that have been around for decades, musicians of all genres have graced the stage of 3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill. This restaurant/music venue has full lunch and dinner menus and can also be rented for private events. On most nights, you’ll find a roster of talent that reminds you of why Nashville is so competitive in the music business. Country, rock, pop and more music styles have found a friend in 3rd and Lindsley.

3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill, 818 3rd Avenue South, Nashville, TN, USA

Tootsies Orchid Lounge

For some classic, stompin’ in your boots country music, Tootsies Orchid Lounge is the place to be; in fact, Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsies! Located on Broadway in the heart of downtown, it’s one of the most frequented honky-tonks in Nashville. You won’t hear any pop, rock or contemporary music at Tootsies, but you might, however, get to experience the talent of local budding songwriters trying to get their big break.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, 422 Broadway, Nashville, TN, USA

#tootsiesorchidlounge #tootsiesyall

A photo posted by Tootsies Orchid Lounge (@tootsies_orchid_lounge) on

Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom

One of the larger live music venues in Nashville is Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom, a two-story venue with a standing room capacity of 500 on the second floor, along with a back bar and booth seating. Artists like Katy Perry, Adele, Counting Crows and The White Stripes have played at Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom, and that is a testament to its influential status in Nashville. Independent artists also get the chance to perform here — the venue hosts a variety of musical acts and welcomes booking inquiries from songwriters interested in performing.

Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom, 1 Cannery Row, Nashville, TN, USA

Mercy Lounge. #nashville #mercylounge #canneryballroom #musiccity

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Ryman Auditorium

Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium lives up to its reputation. The best of the best in country music have performed at the venue, as well as musicians in other genres of music. With two levels of seating, including a balcony level, the venue can seat over 2,300 people. The acoustics are like no other, and of course, getting to watch a show at the Ryman is a once in a lifetime experience.

Ryman Auditorium, 116 Fifth Avenue North, Nashville, TN, USA

Ryman Auditorium seats over 2,300 people / © Mark Stephenson / Flickr

Ryman Auditorium seats over 2,300 people / © Mark Stephenson / Flickr

Robert’s Western World

On the home page of its website, you’ll find the words “Welcome to Hillbilly Heaven.” Robert’s Western World is the place to go for a large dose of traditional country music. If you’re looking for country music with a twist, the venue’s house band, Brazilbilly, plays music with a Latin flair on Friday and Saturday nights. You’ll want to wear your dancing boots no matter what night you visit, as the crowd isn’t one to just sit and listen.

Robert’s Western World, 416B Broadway, Nashville, TN, USA

This place has the best music! #nashville #youbrokemybanjostring

A photo posted by Laura Bailey (@wrappedupinrainbows) on

Wildhorse Saloon
Concert Hall, Music Venue

Jack Owen performing at Wildhorse Saloon | (c) Zack Massey

Wildhorse Saloon

Not only is the Wildhorse Saloon one of the best places to hear live music in Nashville, but it’s also a great place to sign up for free line dancing lessons. With 66,000 square feet and three stories of seating and entertainment, you won’t be bored at The Wildhorse. The venue hosts events large and small, showcasing a range of local artists and national touring ones. Inside is a gift shop, as well as a bar and restaurant; and, for extra kicks, you can snap a photo with one of the many horse statues while you wait for the biggest names in music to hit the stage.

Wildhorse Saloon, 120 Second Avenue North, Nashville, TN, USA

More Info
Mon - Thu:
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri - Sat:
11:00 am - 1:00 am
11:00 am - 11:00 pm

Music Venue, Concert Hall

Exit/In / (c) Christopher Amrich / Flickr


For everyone who wants to hear something other than country music while in Nashville, Exit/In is where they’ll find it. The venue proudly opens its stage to rock bands, rappers, punks and even metal heads. With a location close to Vanderbilt University, the venue attracts college students who are interested in rocking out to loud tunes after class; you won’t find any teenagers inside, however, because Exit/In is an 18+ establishment.

Exit/In, 2208 Elliston Place, Nashville, TN, USA

Exit/In / (c) Christopher Amrich / Flickr

Exit/In is close to Vanderbilt University and attracts many college students | © Christopher Amrich / Flickr

More Info