Rock Out At The Best Nashville Bars For Live Music

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Hello fellow music lovers! Are you tired of waiting in long lines to see your favorite artists, only to end up with a subpar listening experience? Look no further than Nashville, the land of live music and a thriving bar scene. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best Nashville bars with live music, and how they can provide an unparalleled entertainment experience.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a comprehensive guide to the top destinations for live music in Nashville. Whether you’re in the mood for blues, country, or rock, we’ve got you covered. You’ll also come away with a newfound appreciation for the musicians and venues that make this city so special.

With Nashville’s unique blend of Southern hospitality and a thriving music scene, you won’t have to go far to find a great live show. From Music Row to Midtown, we’ll introduce you to the best bars with live music and give you insider tips on how to make the most of your evening. So sit back, grab a drink, and let’s explore the best Nashville has to offer.

Best Nashville Bars for Live Music

Nashville is famously known as the Music City of America, and rightfully so. The city has an incredible history of live music, with a plethora of talented musicians calling Nashville their home. Nashville is inundated with quality bars that offer its visitors an unparalleled live music experience. In this section, we will take a look at some of the best Nashville bars for live music.

The Stage on Broadway

The Stage on Broadway is a must-visit bar in Nashville for live music enthusiasts. It hosts around 50 artists every week, with the best live music that Nashville has to offer. The venue has three floors with different types of musical performances on each floor. Patrons can enjoy live country, rock, and blues music, among other genres. The first-floor hosts acoustic performances, the second floor hosts the band and DJ, and the rooftop patio has a perfect view of the Nashville skyline coupled with live music.

  • The Stage on Broadway is one of the most sought-after live music bars in Nashville with a history that goes back to the 1980s.
  • It has a free champagne toast for ladies on Wednesday nights.
  • The venue has an extensive drink menu with a wide array of draught beer selections, craft cocktails, and whiskey shots.
Pros Cons
Multiple floors and rooftop with a stunning view of Nashville The bar can get incredibly crowded on weekends making it hard to find space
Great selection of live music with some of the best musicians in Nashville The first-floor acoustics can be quite loud
Large drink and food menu with vegetarian options available The rooftop area can get too hot or too cold depending on the weather

The Bluebird Cafe

A music institution with humble beginnings, The Bluebird Cafe has been an important part of Nashville’s live music scene since 1982. It is a cozy and intimate setting, where both aspiring and established musicians come to showcase their talents through acoustic performances. The café has redefined the singer-songwriter musical genre, allowing musicians to tell their stories through original music. The venue has a capacity of 90 people, making it an incredibly unique experience.

  • The Bluebird Cafe is one of the most iconic venues in Nashville, featured in film and television productions like Nashville, and visited by music legends like Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban, among others.
  • The venue offers patrons an opportunity to discover some of the newest and upcoming songwriters in Nashville.
  • The café has delicious homemade breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items, as well as a great selection of craft beers, cocktails, and wines.
Pros Cons
One of the most iconic and intimate venues in Nashville The venue has limited capacity with a waitlist, and it can be a challenge to get a table
Great opportunities to discover the latest songwriters on Nashville’s music scene Patrons are advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before show time, as late arrivals will not be admitted
Delicious homemade catering available Patrons are not allowed to talk or take pictures during performances

The Basement East

The Basement East is an exciting live music bar with a vibrant atmosphere that presents some of the most talented local and national musicians to its patrons. It has a massive stage for performances and can accommodate up to 400 patrons. The bar is incredibly popular for its lively sets by bands and live karaoke events, making the environment fun and electric.

  • Celebrities like The Black Keys, The Strokes, and Cage The Elephant have played sets at The Basement East.
  • The venue hosts one of the best live karaoke nights on Mondays, where patrons can share the stage with a live band and perform their favorite songs.
  • It has a fantastic food and drink menu, with delicious cocktails, local craft beers, and excellent bar fare available.
Pros Cons
An exciting and vibrant atmosphere that makes for an unforgettable music experience The venue has no structure to wait in line, so it can be difficult to get in on popular nights
A broad spectrum of musical genres with internationally recognized artists playing weekly The Basement East can get overcrowded, making it hard to find a spot to watch the show
Great food and drink menu that caters to every taste Some of the shows at The Basement East can be expensive, depending on the artist performing

Nashville has a plethora of amazing bars for live music, and these three highlighted bars are a great start to an unforgettable night out in the Music City of America. Each bar offers its unique experience with great food, drinks, and some of Nashville’s best musicians performing live.

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The History of Live Music in Nashville Bars

Live music has been an essential part of Nashville’s culture and identity since the 1800s. The combination of country music and honky-tonk bars has made Nashville the world-renowned Music City it is today. The city boasts a vibrant and flourishing nightlife with a plethora of bars and venues that have showcased many talented musicians over the years. In this section, we will delve into the history of live music in Nashville bars.

The Beginnings of Live Music in Nashville Bars

In the early 1800s, Nashville was a bustling city with a thriving live music scene. The first bars and music venues were established downtown, where many African American musicians played jazz and blues music. However, country music started gaining popularity in Nashville in the 1920s, leading to the opening of honky-tonks and country music bars.

One of the first honky-tonks was the Texas Troubadour Theater, which opened in 1946. The venue was owned by Ernest Tubb, a famous country singer, and songwriter. The Texas Troubadour Theater showcased many legendary musicians such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Johnny Cash.

The Golden Age of Live Music in Nashville Bars

The 1960s and 1970s are known as the “Golden Age” of live music in Nashville bars. This era saw the emergence of many iconic country music stars, including Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. During this time, Nashville was buzzing with energy, and the city’s bars and venues were packed with eager music lovers.

One of the most famous bars during this era was Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, which opened in 1960. The bar was named after the owner, Tootsie Bess, and became a hub for aspiring musicians. Many famous musicians such as Patsy Cline and Kris Kristofferson played at Tootsie’s, and it became a legendary landmark of Nashville’s live music scene.

The Modern Era of Live Music in Nashville Bars

The modern era of live music in Nashville bars is marked by a diversification of styles and genres. While country music still dominates the city’s music scene, Nashville now offers a wide range of music genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and hip hop.

One of the most popular modern venues in Nashville is The Bluebird Cafe, which opened in 1982. The Bluebird Cafe has become a mecca for singer-songwriters, with many musicians launching their careers after performing at the venue. Famous musicians such as Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks also played at The Bluebird Cafe early in their careers.

The Impact of Live Music in Nashville Bars

The impact of live music on Nashville’s culture and economy cannot be overstated. The music industry generates over $10 billion in economic activity annually in the city, supporting over 56,000 jobs. Nashville is also home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which attracts over one million visitors annually.

Live music also plays a vital role in the city’s tourism industry. Thousands of music enthusiasts travel to Nashville every year to experience the city’s live music scene. The city’s bars and venues have become iconic landmarks, and many music lovers plan their trips around attending concerts and events in Nashville.

Pros Cons
Attracts tourists and boosts the local economy Can be disruptive to residents living near the bars and venues
Provides entertainment and cultural enrichment for locals and visitors Noise pollution and other issues related to large gatherings
Plays a significant role in preserving Nashville’s cultural identity Can contribute to alcohol-related crime and disorderly conduct
  • Live music has a long and rich history in Nashville bars, dating back to the 1800s
  • The emergence of honky-tonks and country music bars in the 1920s marked the beginning of Nashville’s live music scene
  • The Golden Age of live music in Nashville bars took place during the 1960s and 1970s, when country music was at its peak
  • The modern era of live music is marked by diversification of genres and styles, with a wide range of music genres now represented in Nashville’s bars and venues
  • The impact of live music on Nashville’s economy and culture is significant, with the music industry generating over $10 billion in economic activity annually

Despite the possible drawbacks associated with bars and live music venues, Nashville’s bars are an essential part of the city’s cultural and entertainment landscape. From the Texas Troubadour Theater to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s bars and venues have played a vital role in the development and promotion of live music.

How to find the best live music in Nashville bars

Live music is an integral part of Nashville’s culture, and bars in the city offer an array of opportunities to experience this live music scene. However, with so many bars boasting about their live music, it can be challenging to determine which bars offer the best experience. Here are three ways to find the best live music in Nashville bars:

1. Research the Bar Scene

Before visiting Nashville bars, it is essential to research the bar scene. By doing so, you can not only find bars that appeal to your music tastes but also bars that offer the best live music experiences. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Ask Locals: Get recommendations from locals or frequent visitors to Nashville. They can suggest their favorite bars and tell you about their live music experiences.
  2. Online Reviews: Check online reviews for insights into the live music bar scene. Websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor provide user-generated reviews of bars, helping you make informed decisions.
  3. Music Blogs: Music blogs are also an excellent resource for finding live music in Nashville bars. These blogs cover the city’s music scene and offer in-depth reviews of bars and music performances.

2. Check the Bar’s Schedule

Checking the bar’s live music schedule is crucial in finding the best live music in Nashville’s bars. By checking schedules, you can ensure that you visit the bar on a night when your favorite live music performers are playing. Here are some things to consider when checking the bar’s schedule:

  • Music Genre: Make sure to check the music genre of the live music on offer. Nashville has a diverse music scene, from country to rock, pop, blues and jazz, so ensure the bar offers the music genre you enjoy.
  • Timing: The timing of the live performances is also crucial. Check when the performances start and end, and plan your visit accordingly. Additionally, consider the duration of the performance; some bars may only have a short performance by the artist.
  • Cover Charge: Some bars may charge a cover fee for their live music performances. Thus, ensure that you check the cost before visiting.

3. Attend Live Music Festivals

Attending live music festivals is a fantastic way to discover new music and bars in Nashville. Nashville hosts various music festivals throughout the year, such as the CMA festival, Americana Fest, and Live on the Green, among others. Here are some advantages of attending live music festivals:

  • LineUp: Live music festivals have a lineup of top artists from various genres. You can see multiple artists in one day.
  • Discover New Music: Live music festivals are a great way to discover new artists and genres of music that you may not have known or listened to before.
  • Experience the City’s Music Culture: Nashville’s music scene is one of the best in the world, and attending live music festivals demonstrates this culture’s richness.
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Pros Cons
Attend multiple artists in one day Possible long waiting times
Discover new music and artists Potentially higher costs than single bar gigs
Experience a range of music genres Outdoor music festivals can be weather-dependent

In conclusion, finding the best live music in Nashville bars requires some research and planning. Start by researching the bar scene, checking the bar’s schedule, and attending live music festivals. With these tips, you can have an unforgettable live music experience in Nashville’s bars.

The future of live music in Nashville bars

As one of the music capitals of the world, Nashville is home to many bars and venues that host live music performances. Live music is not only a part of Nashville’s culture and history, but it also contributes significantly to the city’s economy. The city’s bars are always looking for ways to maintain the live music scene thriving in the wake of the pandemic.

Technology and Innovation

Innovation and technology are two pillars that can be relied upon in terms of encouraging the growth of live music. In the aftermath of the pandemic, many bars in Nashville have adapted to technology to maintain their live music events. One of the most popular innovations by Nashville bars has been the live streaming of their shows. Many bars have used social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to stream their live music events to a global audience. This has helped many bars to maintain their audience numbers, especially during the pandemic period when physical events were not permitted.

Another significant innovation has been the use of virtual reality (VR) technology, which provides an immersive experience for music lovers. VR technology enables viewers to experience live music events from the comfort of their homes. VR rooms are built with advanced sound and visual technology that completely immerses the viewer into the concert-going experience. This technology has the potential to revolutionize how bars engage with their audiences and present new musical acts.

Collaborations and Partnerships

Collaborations and partnerships have always been critical in the music industry. In the future, Nashville bars need to focus on collaborating with other industry players to maintain a thriving live music scene. For example, Nashville bars could partner with independent artists and labels to offer them performance platforms. By partnering with artists, bars can provide unique experiences and attract new audiences while artists can gain exposure and build their brand.

Bars can also collaborate with other industry players such as music festivals, performance contracts, and labels. These collaborations can help create unique experiences that cannot be found elsewhere, attracting a wider audience from different music genres.

Musician Support and Development

Aspiring musicians in Nashville view the city’s bars as the perfect platform to showcase their talent. Bars play a vital role in providing aspiring musicians with performance platforms, connections to recording labels and other industry players. However, bars also have a responsibility to support their musicians and help them develop their skills.

Bars can offer workshops, training, and mentorship programs to help emerging musicians develop their skills. By offering these programs, bars can ensure they remain relevant in the industry, retaining their current talent and attracting new talent.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a topic that increasingly concerns many business entities, including local bars. The future of live music in Nashville bars needs to include a focus on sustainability, and it is important that bars adopt environmentally friendly practices.

Becoming an environmentally sustainable bar can present numerous benefits that include cost savings, attracting environmentally conscious customers who develop brand loyalty, and contributing to environmental protection. Bars can practice sustainability through various strategies such as implementing waste reduction strategies, water conservation, and reduced energy consumption.

In conclusion, the future of live music in Nashville bars is closely tied to innovation, collaboration, development, and sustainability. By focusing on these elements, Nashville bars can maintain a thriving live music scene and remain relevant in an industry that is continuously changing. Through partnerships, technology and supporting developing musicians, bars can continue to provide audiences with unique musical experiences that reflect Nashville’s rich and diverse music culture.

5. Best Practices for Enjoying Live Music in Nashville Bars

Live music is an essential part of the Nashville bar scene. Whether you’re visiting as a tourist or a local, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to make the most of your time in Nashville’s bars. Here are some best practices for enjoying live music in Nashville bars.

Be Respectful of the Musicians

It’s important to remember that the musicians playing in Nashville’s bars are professionals. They’re working hard to create an atmosphere that you’ll enjoy, and they’re doing it for your entertainment. As such, it’s essential to be respectful of the musicians when you’re in their space.

  • Keep your conversation down during the performances.
  • Avoid getting up and walking around while the band is playing.
  • Don’t request songs that the band doesn’t know. Instead, enjoy the tunes they have to offer.
  • Tip the musicians if you can. It’s a sign of appreciation and support for their craft.

Being respectful of the musicians creates a supportive environment that enhances your overall experience.

Arrive Early

Nashville bars are popular destinations for tourists and locals alike. If you’re planning to catch a live show, it’s wise to arrive early. Arriving early ensures that you’ve got a prime spot. You can get there up to an hour or two before the showtime to get the best seats.

  • Beat the crowds and grab a table in front of the stage.
  • You can catch the musicians as they’re preparing for their set and sometimes even chat with them.
  • Getting there early gives you time to get comfortable and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the bar.
  • If you’re a big fan, it might even give you a chance to request a particular song or meet the members of the band.

Arriving early is a smart move in Nashville’s busiest bars.

Try Something New

Nashville’s bars feature a wide range of musical styles. It’s an opportunity to discover new genres and styles that you may not have heard before. One of the most exciting parts of experiencing music in Nashville is exploring different sub-genres, musicians, and bars.

  • Take a chance and visit a bar that you haven’t been to before, add variety to your musical experience.
  • Be open to new bands and genres, expanding your musical influences, and understanding.
  • Talk to other patrons and ask for recommendations. They could help you discover your new favorite bar or artist.
  • Explore technology channels such as ReverbNation or SoundCloud, it could expose you to Nashville’s up-and-coming talents.

Trying something new is an opportunity to diversify your musical library and be entertained by something different.

Drink Responsibly

Drinking responsibly is always essential, but it is even more critical in Nashville’s bars that feature live music. Being unaware of your intake can lead to unwanted disruptions, sadness or memory loss, every event goer wants to avoid these situations.

  • Set personal limits for the night, one beer, one shot, or one cocktail per hour to stay on track.
  • Watch the clock and be mindful of how much you’ve consumed by the end of the night.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, “virgin drinks,” which could be juices or soda, choices can help you stay sober.
  • Choose water, it keeps you hydrated and supports your well-being as you cheer on your favorite musician.
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Drinking responsibly ensures that you can continue to enjoy Nashville’s vibrant-bar scene safely.

Taking Photography & Videos

Mobile phones’ fast spread enables almost everyone to have a camera with them throughout the day. However, it is important to remember that taking photography or videos can interfere with both the sound and lighting quality in small music clubs. Some photographers use infrared cameras that can create band interference.

  • Refrain from the tablet, digital or still cameras with interchangeable lenses to avoid intrusion from the others’ view.
  • Absorb the atmosphere and culture of the live show without any interruption or disturbance.
  • Experiencing the real performance without a screen blocking your view enriches the experience.
  • It is best to follow the bar’s rules, some bars might have specific policies on photography or videos, so check ahead of time

Taking photography and videos is fun, but remember to be considerate and note any restrictions in the bar.

Pros Cons
You’ll remain supportive of the local musicians’ art You might miss out on the live experience if you start watching the show through your camera or phone screen.
Arriving early and getting the best front-row seats minimize disruptions without having to worry about others blocking your view If you’re a latecomer to any event, you will be able to get a good spot, especially in a packed bar
The music scene in Nashville is so diverse that going to several bars means discovering new sub-genres and sounds If you limit yourself to a particular type of music or artist, going to a broad range of events and bars can be exhausting.
Drinking responsibly will keep you alert throughout the night, enhancing the experience If you’re not aware of your capacity, you might not remember the music nor the show, and the experience becomes poor.
Following bar policies will ensure that everyone maintains respect for the musicians performing. You might not be able to take pictures or videos that some bars have restrictions.

Whether you’re a Nashville local or tourist, these best practices will help you make the most of your live music experience. By being considerate and responsible, you can enjoy Nashville’s vibrant bar scene to the fullest.

FAQs: Nashville Bars Live Music

What bars in Nashville have live music?

There are several bars in Nashville that have live music, including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, The Station Inn, Robert’s Western World, The Bluebird Cafe, and The 5 Spot.

What type of live music is played in Nashville bars?

Nashville is known for its country music, but many bars also have rock, blues, and jazz performers as well. It depends on the bar and the night of the week.

What time do bars with live music typically start their shows?

Most bars with live music start their shows in the evening, around 7 or 8 PM. However, some bars may have earlier shows on certain days of the week.

Is there a cover charge to see live music at Nashville bars?

Yes, some bars may have a cover charge to see live music, especially if it’s a well-known performer or a weekend night. However, there are also many bars that offer free live music.

Can I bring my kids to a bar with live music in Nashville?

It depends on the bar. Some bars in Nashville are only 21 and up, while others allow children accompanied by a parent or guardian. It’s always best to check the bar’s website or call ahead before bringing children.

What’s the dress code for Nashville bars with live music?

The dress code can vary depending on the bar. Some bars may have a more casual dress code, while others require dressier attire. It’s always a good idea to check the bar’s website or call ahead to make sure you’re dressed appropriately.

Do Nashville bars with live music serve food?

Most bars with live music in Nashville serve some type of food, whether it’s a full menu or snacks like bar food. Again, it depends on the bar and the night of the week.

What’s the best day of the week to see live music at Nashville bars?

It depends on the bar and the type of music you’re interested in. Some bars have live music every night of the week, while others may have specific nights dedicated to certain genres of music. It’s always best to check the bar’s website or social media page to see what’s playing when.

Can I make reservations to see live music at Nashville bars?

It depends on the bar. Some bars may take reservations for certain shows, especially if it’s a well-known performer. It’s always a good idea to call ahead to see if reservations are required or recommended.

Is it safe to attend live music shows at Nashville bars?

Most bars in Nashville take safety seriously and have measures in place to ensure the safety of their patrons, such as security staff and ID checks. However, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take personal safety precautions when attending any event.


In conclusion, Nashville is a city that’s known for its live music scene, and there are many bars in the area that offer live music shows. Whether you’re interested in country music, rock, blues, or jazz, there’s something for everyone in Nashville. While some bars may have cover charges or specific dress codes, there are plenty of free shows and casual options as well. If you’re planning a trip to Nashville, be sure to check out some of the popular bars with live music, but also be open to exploring some of the lesser-known venues for a unique and memorable experience. Thanks for reading and enjoy your time in Nashville!