Top 10 Nashville Live Music Venues of 2012



Nashville is a music Mecca. It’s the place to watch for up and coming music acts, song writers, and to see exemplary musicians from every genre. You can never be sure who will show up to hit the stage on a weekday at the local bar, it could be anyone from a local “up and comer”, to John Mayer or Carrie Underwood. Below, we’ve listed just a few of the amazing venues where you can watch some of the best live music Nashville has to offer, and maybe even catch a few stars in the meantime.



The Ryman Auditorium is possibly the most famous of all Nashville venues. Host to national and international acts, the Ryman is a National Historic Landmark. This was also the location of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. This venue is responsible for early dissemination of country music to the entire world. The wooden pew seating adds to the holy feel of this country music Mecca. Elvis Presley, James Brown, and Hank Williams are only a few of past players of The Ryman. The venue is located at 116 Fifth Avenue North, Nashville, TN37219, and they even offer backstage tours on non-show days.



Bluebird Cafe has been called a “songwriter’s haven”, it’s where you go to hear original works of songwriters by songwriters, and not the versions sold to the big name performers. The music is performed the way it was meant to sound. The Bluebird Cafe is tiny, 100 seats. It’s not difficult to get into if you make reservations ahead online, though the business has picked up due to it being the featured venue on the first season of ABC’s hit television series “Nashville”. If you can’t book a spot online, they offer first come first serve at bar seats, or you can wait in line outside for last minute openings. The Bluebird is a hushed event with a focus on the listening experience.


12th & PORTER

12th and Porter is Nashville’s premier modern and Indie rock club. It has one of the best sound stages in Nashville, and has enough room to bring in a solid crowd with a capacity of about 500. Indie rock gods Kings of Leon, and pop star Ke$ha have played there in recent years, as well as Neil Young and Vince Gill. They also book electronica music for the dancing masses. 12 & Porter is the rock and indie hub of the singer-songwriter town.



Winners & Losers are sister bars located right next to one another on Division Street. Winners is more of a rock alternative vibe, while Losers is a country dive bar if ever there was one. Winners has been host to Whiskey Jam on Monday nights, a jamboree of whatever talent happens to be in town at the time. At our recent visit to the Whiskey Jam, we saw performances by David Hodges (former songwriter and band member of Evanescence), Tony Lucca of The Voice (recently signed to Adam Levine’s label 222 Records), Tristan Prettyman, and Marti Dodson (former lead singer of Saving Jane).


The walk next door to Losers makes natural sense after a few drinks at Winners, because you can watch all of the artists from Winners perform more songs with their friends in a more low key setting. Losers is an infamous dive bar, and a favorite of tons of country stars. Everyone we watched play at the Whiskey Jam at Winners ended up collaborating on the stage at Losers later that night. We even ran into Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar Scott on ABC’s new hit television series “Nashville”.



Raucous big and loud, The Stage is one of Broadway’s biggest music venues. They always have live music and there is never a cover, this place is wide open. The décor is farm house, and the giant mural of country music greats reminds you that you’re at the heart of the country music scene. This place thrives on the throngs of tourists and locals looking for night life. It’s one of the best, easiest and cheapest places to come for a good time.



The Mercy Lounge is a favorite place for locals to go for a show for a few reasons. It’s a cozy feel due to the lighting and the warm red bar top. You get all of the frills of a concert venue, but without the feeling that you’re a barn animal crammed into a pen. The outside deck also provides a nice respite when the music is at full tilt. It’s like getting a great live show, but in the comfort of your living room. Subsequently, Mercy Lounge makes for a great place to take a date, or someone visiting from out of town. A nicer part of the Nashville experience, with all the music, and none of the seedy underbelly.



The recently renovated 3rd & Lindsley is located about a half mile from Nashville’s Broadway street. It’s a smaller venue feel and table seating for smaller name artists, but they will also clear out the tables for bigger acts. The talent varies from country, rock to Indie rock, and alternative rock shows. Some past artists include Brandi Carlile, Train, and The Indigo Girls. Their talent calendar is crammed, so don’t be surprised if you go to an early show and are asked to pay to stay for the second act. For a more free and easy experience at this venue, go on no cover Mondays.



Located on 12th and Pine in Nashville’s Gulch district, the Station Inn is a 30 year old Nashville staple. It features live acoustic music every single day of the week. If you are looking for stellar Bluegrass and good “old” country, with a line-up of regular Joe pickers to Grammy award winning artists, the Station Inn is the place to be. The vibe here is more calm than a rowdy country show, and seating is intimate and open. Be sure to get there early for the best seats and a parking spot.



Located at 220 Printers Alley in Downtown Nasvhille in the Historic Printer’s Alley, Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar serves Cajun and American food, but is known for playing live Blues every night. Open from 11 a.m. until 3 a.m. every single day, it’s the perfect place to get into some trouble. Did I mention Hambone?!



Tootsie’s is one of Nashville’s world famous live music venues. It’s a Honky-Tonk on Nashville’s main Boulevard strip. This place is infamous and rowdy, and has been frequented by everybody from Chris Rock, to Willie Nelson and Patsy Klein. A bastion for down on their luck musicians, Tootsie was known to feed the poor guys on her own dime. Think of it as The Grand Ole Opry’s uglier, wilder, more fun sister. Tootsie’s hosts live music all day everyday, morning, noon, and night, with two stages hitting you in the front and in the back.


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