Rock The Night Away Discover Nashvilles Best Live Music Bars

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Greetings music lovers and party-goers! Have you ever found yourself in Nashville, Tennessee with no clue where to go to listen to music and have a good time? Fear not, because we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re going to dive into the best live music bars that Nashville has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a classic honky-tonk feel or something more low-key, we’ve got you covered.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a detailed understanding of the top-notch live music hotspots in Nashville. From underground dive bars to rooftop patios, you’ll know exactly where to go to get your music fix. Not only will you have a comprehensive list of venues, but we’ll also give you insight into the types of music you can expect to hear at each place. So, no matter what genre you’re into, you’ll have options lined up to satisfy your ears.

Why scour the internet for hours on end when we’ve done the research for you? Each of our selected bars has been tried and tested by Nashville locals and visitors alike. Plus, our top picks highlight what makes each venue unique, so you can make an informed decision on where to go based on your individual preferences. So sit back, grab a drink, and get ready for a wild ride through Nashville’s live music scene.

The History of Nashville’s Live Music Scene and Its Bars

Nashville, Tennessee, also known as Music City, has been the epicenter of country music for decades. With its bustling nightlife, live music bars in the city have become a legendary destination for music lovers around the world. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Nashville’s live music scene and its famous bars.

The Beginning of Nashville’s Love for Music

The birth of country music in Nashville was in the 1920s when radio stations started broadcasting country music across the region. The Grand Ole Opry, one of the most iconic country music venues in the world, started airing in 1925. As a result, many musicians and songwriters began flocking to Nashville in the 1930s and 1940s to launch their careers.

The Explosion of Nashville’s Live Music Scene

The 1950s and 1960s were the peak years of Nashville’s live music scene. During this time, many significant events put Nashville’s music scene on the map, including:

  1. The founding of the Recording Industry Association of America
  2. The establishment of the Country Music Association
  3. The release of Elvis Presley’s first album
  4. The publication of Hank Williams’ hit songs

With these events, Nashville’s live music scene began booming. The city’s independent music studios and record labels sprouted, attracting aspiring musicians eager to become the next country music star.

The Role of Bars in Nashville’s Live Music Scene

The bars in Nashville’s live music scene have played a significant role in shaping the city’s music culture. In the 1970s, local bars like the Exit-In and Bluebird Café became crucial venues that highlighted local talent.

In recent years, however, there is a decline in the number of independent bars in Nashville, which is concerning for the music industry. The emergence of chain venues, catering to tourists and commercial interests, has taken on the once-vibrant bar scene.

The Bars that Shaped Nashville’s Live Music Scene

Here are some of the most famous bars that shaped Nashville’s live music scene:

Bar Name Location Interesting fact
The Bluebird Café Green Hills The Bluebird Cafe was featured on the popular TV show, Nashville.
The Station Inn The Gulch Many famous musicians including Alison Krauss and Mark O’Connor have performed here.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Downtown The bar was named after its owner, Hattie ‘Tootsie’ Bess.
The Ryman Auditorium Downtown It was originally built as a church but was later transformed into a music hall.


Nashville’s live music scene has a rich history and has played a critical role in shaping the city’s cultural identity. For many aspiring musicians, Nashville’s live music scene is still the ultimate destination, where they can showcase their talent and be discovered. While Nashville’s independent bars face the challenge of commercialization, they remain a crucial part of the city’s thriving music scene.

Top Live Music Bars in Nashville for Country & Western Fans

If you are a country and western music enthusiast looking to enjoy some good, down-home live music while in Nashville, you are in for a real treat. With a city filled with honky-tonks, dive bars, and dance clubs, you will have an almost overwhelming number of options to choose from. To help you navigate this crowded field, we have put together a list of the top live music bars in Nashville for country and western fans.

The Stage on Broadway

The Stage on Broadway is one of the best places in Nashville to hear live country music. Located in the heart of downtown on Broadway, this bar has had some of the biggest names in country music play on its stage. The atmosphere at The Stage on Broadway is classic honky-tonk, with high-energy shows, cheap drinks, and crowds that know how to have a good time.

  • The Stage on Broadway has a laid-back atmosphere where visitors can unwind with excellent cold drinks and great country music.
  • The crowds at The Stage on Broadway are always pumped up and excited, making it the perfect spot for people who want to dance and move.
  • The poor lighting at the Stage on Broadway creates a cozy and intimate ambiance that encourages patrons to relax and let loose.
  • The Stage on Broadway is open every day of the week, allowing tourists and locals to have easy access to authentic country and western music.
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Pros Cons
The Stage serves cold drinks at affordable prices The audience gets noisy after a couple of drinks making it hard to concentrate on the music.
The musicians at The Stage are some of the best performers in the state, playing exciting and energetic sets that last for hours. The Stage gets incredibly crowded, and you may find yourself struggling to get in or get out of the bar.
The Stage on Broadway is open every day, making it the perfect spot to catch live music on a weekday or weekend. The Stage on Broadway is not the most spacious bar in Nashville, so it can get a little too cozy if you are looking for a more intimate place to listen to music.

Robert’s Western World

Robert’s Western World is a legendary honky-tonk located in downtown Nashville. This small bar is just a quick walking distance from the Ryman auditorium, where you can catch some of the most celebrated country music performers in action. Robert’s Western World’s interior is retro-inspired, complete with a stage backdrop featuring vintage neon lights, and has some of the most exciting and authentic country music performances in the city.

  • Robert’s Western World is one of the city’s most traditional honky-tonk bars, making it a must-visit, especially for people who are new in town or Nashville residents
  • The house band has exceptional skills, making it a popular spot to find a good band on a Friday night
  • The venue is located at the heart of downtown Nashville, making it possible for visitors to explore other nearby tourist destinations.
  • Robert’s Western World is an affordable option, particularly considering the high quality of the musical performances and the refreshing drinks.
  • The location allows the music-goers to enjoy the beat while in a beautiful, retro-inspired atmosphere
Pros Cons
Robert’s Western World is affordable compared to many other bars in Nashville, making it a great spot to listen to excellent musicians without breaking the bank. The bar is small and gets crowded quickly, which can be an issue in certain situations.
The venue is easy to find and is located close to other attractions in downtown Nashville, making it an excellent spot to start or end the night. Robert’s Western World crowd can get a little boisterous, making it hard to hear the music or carry on a conversation with other patrons.
Robert’s Western World is a celebration of Nashville’s musical history, and its décor will take visitors back in time and give them a glimpse of the city’s musical roots. The venue is also relatively small and can get extremely busy on a Friday or Saturday night, making it somewhat cramped and uncomfortable for some people.

The Bluebird Café

If you’re looking for a quieter, more intimate setting to listen to live music, The Bluebird Café might be the perfect destination for you. This small but iconic music venue is located in Green Hills, just south of Nashville’s downtown area. The Bluebird Café is famous for being one of the best places to hear the most original country and folk music and even hosts weekly songwriting sessions. The bar has a cozy atmosphere that’s perfect for music enthusiasts who want to enjoy some good music while sipping on cold drinks.

  • The Bluebird Café has a great reputation for attracting some of the finest musicians in the world, making it an excellent destination for music lovers.
  • The Songwriter’s Night is the venue’s most famous feature- customers can enjoy listening to songs played by some of the best artists in the world, catering to different taste in music.
  • The intimate setting and small bar mean that customers will have more opportunities to interact with the performing artists, making the experience a lot more personal and memorable.
Pros Cons
The Bluebird Café is a historic venue, a spot where many famous musicians have played, making it an excellent spot for music history enthusiasts. The tickets can get a little pricy, making it difficult for some individuals to experience the performances.
The atmosphere at The Bluebird Café is relaxing, and it offers visitors an escape from the fast-paced energy of most Nashville music bars. The Bluebird Café performance schedule is always tight, and the venue can get crowded quickly, so getting a seat can sometimes require a bit of luck.
The Bluebird Café is dedicated to highlighting original country and folk music, making it a great spot to listen to new artists and discover emerging talent. The Bluebird Cafe is located outside the downtown area, making it less convenient for people who don’t have a car or who don’t want to take a lengthy Uber ride.

Whether you’re looking for a high-energy performance at The Stage on Broadway, a cozy and intimate listening experience at The Bluebird Café, or a taste of traditional honky-tonk culture at Robert’s Western World, Nashville really does have it all. Take your time, explore the city, and let the music lead the way.

The Best Live Music Bars in Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, has long been recognized as the Country Music Capital of the World, and for a good reason. The city boasts some of the best live music venues, which draw thousands of music enthusiasts annually. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Nashville’s rich live music scene, these bars should top your list.

The Bluebird Cafe

For over 35 years, The Bluebird Cafe has been a prominent fixture in Nashville’s music scene, attracting renowned talent from all over the globe. The intimate venue has only 90 seats, making the live music experience all the more exclusive. Some notable country music musicians who have graced the cafe’s stage include Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban.

  • Pros:
    • The venue is small and intimate, making the live music experience more authentic.
    • You can enjoy cocktails and food while catching the live music shows.
  • Cons:
    • The Bluebird Cafe is very selective about the artists they feature, so getting a spot on the stage can be challenging.
    • The venue is always packed, making it difficult to secure a table for the live music shows.
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The Basement

If you’re looking for a venue that celebrates all genres of music, then The Basement should be on your radar. The venue is known for hosting a wide range of music performances, from rock to hip hop to indie. In addition to the two-story concert hall, The Basement also features a smaller intimate room designed to cater to local artists.

  • Pros:
    • The venue provides both indoor and outdoor live music experiences.
    • The smaller intimate room caters to local artists, giving them the opportunity to perform on stage.
  • Cons:
    • The staff can be less personable than other venues.
    • Some visitors have reported sound quality issues during live performances.

The Station Inn

The Station Inn is the go-to venue in Nashville for bluegrass enthusiasts. The live music joint has been around for over four decades and has played host to some of the biggest names in bluegrass music. The Station Inn’s iconic atmosphere features a dance floor, a full bar, and a patio ideal for outdoor concerts.

  • Pros:
    • The venue provides an authentic “barroom” experience that complements the live music experience.
    • You can catch live music shows from some of the biggest names in bluegrass.
  • Cons:
    • The venue’s location is not convenient for visitors relying on public transportation.
    • The Station Inn is a smaller venue, meaning it can get crowded during live performances.
Live Music Venue Capacity Genre Pros Cons
The Bluebird Cafe 90 seats Country Music Intimate Setting, Cocktails & Food Challenging to Secure a Spot, Always Packed
The Basement Two-Story Concert Hall & Intimate Room All Genres Indoor & Outdoor Concerts, Celebration of Local Artists Sound Quality Issues, Less Personable Staff
The Station Inn Barroom, Dance Floor, and Patio Bluegrass Authentic Barroom Experience, Catch Performances by Iconic Bluegrass Acts Unconvenient Location, Crowded During High Traffic Periods

In conclusion, Nashville hosts some of the most revered live music joints in the world. If you’re looking to experience the ultimate Nashville nightlife, then catching a show at The Bluebird Cafe, The Basement, or The Station Inn should be at the top of your list.

4. The Musician’s Corner: An Exploration of Nashville’s Up-and-Coming Artists

While Nashville certainly has no dearth of outstanding musicians, one of the best ways to experience the city’s thriving music scene is to head to one of the many live music venues that showcase the up-and-coming artists of Nashville. Whether you’re looking for something edgy and alternative, or you prefer your music with a more classic Nashville sound, there are plenty of options available for would-be concertgoers. Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite live music bars that are perfect for discovering Nashville’s hottest new talent.

The Basement

Tucked away beneath the historic Grimey’s New and Preloved Music store, The Basement has long been one of Nashville’s top spots for catching emerging artists. With a cozy, intimate atmosphere and a wide array of musical genres on display, this venue is perfect for those who want to explore new sounds and take a chance on up-and-coming musical acts. Some notable acts that have played here recently include Weyes Blood, Moses Sumney, and Ian Noe.

The 5 Spot

The 5 Spot is a classic Nashville honky tonk that has played host to many of the city’s top emerging artists over the years. With a focus on rock and roll, blues, and Americana, this venue offers a laid-back atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying live music with friends. Many notable musicians have taken the stage at The 5 Spot, including Margo Price, Nikki Lane, and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

The East Room

If you’re looking for something a bit more edgy and experimental, The East Room might be the perfect venue for you. Located in East Nashville, this venue has a reputation for hosting some of the city’s most daring and diverse musical acts, ranging from indie rock to experimental electronic music. Recent performers have included Laura Stevenson, Sad Baxter, and CHON.

The High Watt

If you want to experience Nashville’s vibrant indie music scene firsthand, The High Watt is the place to be. This venue, located in the trendy neighborhood of Cannery Row, offers an intimate setting for some of the city’s most promising young artists. Many notable bands have taken the stage at The High Watt, including The Black Cadillacs, Beach Fossils, and The Alabama Shakes.

For those who love live music, Nashville is truly a wonderland of sounds and experiences. Whether you’re looking for classic honky tonk tunes, edgy indie rock, or something in between, the city’s live music bars offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned concertgoer or a newcomer to the scene, there’s no better way to get the full Nashville experience than by checking out some of the city’s most exciting emerging artists.

Pros Cons
-The chance to discover Nashville’s next big star. -Some venues can be crowded and noisy.
-Intimate, small venues offer an up-close musical experience. -Some artists may not be to everyone’s taste.
-Tickets for up-and-coming artists are often affordable. -Some venues may not offer a full bar or food options.

#5: AJ’s Good Time Bar

Regularly voted as one of the best live music bars in Nashville, AJ’s Good Time Bar is a must-visit destination for those who love country music. Opened in 2014 by country music superstar Alan Jackson, AJ’s Good Time Bar has quickly become a hotspot for both locals and tourists alike, consistently bringing in top-notch performers to its stage.

High-energy Atmosphere

One of the things that sets AJ’s Good Time Bar apart from other live music bars is its high-energy atmosphere. The bar is designed to feel like a honky-tonk, complete with a large dance floor and plenty of space to let loose and have a good time. The energy in the room is infectious and creates a sense of community among the patrons, making it an ideal spot to go if you want to let loose and have some serious fun.

Top-Notch Performers

As mentioned earlier, AJ’s Good Time Bar consistently brings in some of the best performers in country music. With multiple stages and daily performances, there is always something happening at AJ’s Good Time Bar. What makes this live music venue special is that they often surprise their guests with impromptu performances by big-name artists, adding a level of excitement and unpredictability to the experience.

Distinctive Décor

The décor of AJ’s Good Time Bar is distinctly country, with cozy leather couches, rustic wood details, and a stage backdrop that features a large American flag. The bar’s design gives it an authentic, down-home feel that fits perfectly with the country music genre. There are also plenty of photo opportunities, including a replica of Alan Jackson’s signature cowboy hat and vest, which makes for a fun keepsake to take home.

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Food and Drink

No honky-tonk experience is complete without good food and drinks, and AJ’s Good Time Bar delivers on that front as well. The bar serves up classic Southern fare, including fried catfish and BBQ ribs, as well as plenty of drinks to keep the party going. Their cocktail menu is especially noteworthy, with creative drinks like the Peach Tea Mule and the Redneck Margarita, which are both delicious and imaginative.

Table: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
– High-energy atmosphere – Can get crowded
– Top-notch performers – Drinks can be pricey
– Distinctive décor – Food can be hit-or-miss
– Delicious cocktails – Limited seating
  • Overall, AJ’s Good Time Bar is a must-visit destination for those who love live country music.
  • The high-energy atmosphere and top-notch performers make it a great spot to let loose and have a good time.
  • The distinctive décor adds to the overall experience and creates an authentic honky-tonk vibe.
  • The food and drink offerings are solid, with a menu that features classic Southern fare and creative cocktails.
  • However, the bar can get quite crowded and the drinks can be pricey, so it’s best to come prepared for a lively and potentially expensive night out.

In conclusion, AJ’s Good Time Bar is an excellent option for those looking to catch a live country music performance in Nashville. With its authentic honky-tonk vibe, impressive lineup of performers, and delicious food and drink offerings, it’s one of the best places in town to let loose and have a good time.

FAQs About Nashville Live Music Bars

What are the most popular music bars in Nashville?

Some of the most popular live music bars in Nashville are The Bluebird Cafe, The Station Inn, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

What genres of music can I expect to hear in Nashville live music bars?

Nashville is known for its country music scene, but you can also expect to hear rock, bluegrass, jazz, and other genres of music in live music bars.

Do I need to buy tickets in advance for Nashville live music bars?

It depends on the venue and the artist playing. Some live music bars in Nashville sell out quickly, so it’s best to check their website or call ahead to see if tickets are required in advance.

Are there designated smoking areas in Nashville live music bars?

Many live music bars in Nashville are smoke-free, but some do have designated smoking areas outside. Be sure to check the bar’s policy before lighting up.

What is the dress code for Nashville live music bars?

Dress codes vary depending on the venue. Some bars may have a casual dress code, while others might require more formal attire. It’s best to check the bar’s website or call ahead to confirm.

Can I bring my own food or drinks into Nashville live music bars?

Most live music bars in Nashville do not allow you to bring in outside food or drinks. In fact, some may not even allow you to bring in water bottles. Be sure to check the bar’s policy before bringing anything in with you.

Are Nashville live music bars wheelchair accessible?

Most live music bars in Nashville offer wheelchair accessibility, but it’s best to check the bar’s website or call ahead to confirm.

Do Nashville live music bars have age restrictions?

Yes, many Nashville live music bars are 21 and over. Some may allow those under 21 to enter earlier in the evening, but you’ll have to check with each individual bar’s policy.

What time do Nashville live music bars typically open and close?

Most live music bars in Nashville open in the afternoon and close between midnight and 2 a.m. Some bars may stay open later depending on the night and the artist playing.

Can I dance in Nashville live music bars?

Yes, many live music bars in Nashville have designated areas for dancing. Be sure to check with the venue to see if there are any specific rules or guidelines for dancing.


Nashville is known for its vibrant live music scene, and there are many bars throughout the city where you can catch a great show. From the iconic Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to the cozy Bluebird Cafe, there is something for everyone when it comes to Nashville live music bars. Be sure to check the dress code, age requirements, and ticket policies before you go, and get ready for a night of great music and good times. After reading this article, plan your visit to Nashville and explore the city’s live music scene!

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