Country music follows you everywhere in Nashville, from open-air arenas and honky-tonks to street corners, elevators, and hotel lobbies. The multibillion-dollar industry is more popular than ever before, and there’s no better example of its power than Taylor Swift. Her net worth is north of $300 million, and that number tells you not only that country music is popular but that country music hybridization is popular, and that’s what is ubiquitous here these days.
Acts like Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean have gone all-in on venues that offer everything from live music to sushi. Feelings on that locally are . . . mixed, to put it nicely, but there’s no doubt that big ‘ol, red-Solo-cup-totin’, cow-tippin’ country is having its moment. If that is your scene, Broadway is your Disneyland. If it’s not, know this: Every night of the week, you can find live music of all kinds here, from blues, rock, soul, and jazz to hip-hop, Americana, and everything in between. And if you don’t like music at all, well—that’s what the booze is for.
Nashville nightlife exists everywhere to some degree, but it’s most predominant downtown and in little pockets in neighborhoods everywhere from Germantown to East Nashville. Downtown you’ll find the Wildhorse Saloon, Robert’s Western World, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. A little farther west you’ll come across bluegrass landmark The Station Inn, Mercy Lounge, and Cannery Ballroom. Between and around all these things are dozens of other clubs showcasing bands most nights of the week.
Downtown, Broadway and 2nd Avenue are the main drags, but increasingly there are other streets in the mix, including Printers Alley, a famous spot for late-night haunts and speakeasy-ish restaurants. Also downtown are the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) as well as Bridgestone Arena, where big-name concerts, televised awards shows, and Nashville Predators hockey games take place.
Ten miles northeast of downtown but worlds away in terms of feel are Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry. The nightlife in that area is more sedate and pre-packaged, but there are some places such as the Nashville Palace and Texas Troubadour Theatre where you can see live music. There’s also a shuttle downtown you should absolutely spring for if you do want to experience real Nashville nightlife but are staying at Opryland.
Check the websites of The Nashville Scene, the city’s arts-and-entertainment weekly, and The Tennessean, the daily newspaper for up-to-the-minute club listings, music festivals, and other concerts. Tickets to major concerts and sporting events can be purchased through Ticketmaster (tel. 800/745-3000), which maintains a desk at TPAC. You can also find a comprehensive list of live music, performing arts, and sports events at www.nowplayingnashville.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.