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Nashville, TN: Where the Nightlife Hums

From music to museums, the region boasts an abundant collection of entertainment options.

By Patsy B. Weiler on September 27, 2021

Group of girls take shots out of a guitar at Hampton Social in downtown Nashville
Jeff Adkins

The arts and entertainment scene in the Nashville Region is like a pan of scratch biscuits in the oven — fresh, hot and on the rise.

Nashville, known the world over as Music City, lives up to its name. It is an epicenter of the full spectrum of musical genres, from the iconic Grand Ole Opry — the show that made country music famous — to the elegant Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony.

A downtown landmark, the restored Ryman Auditorium housed the Opry from 1943-1974. Known for its world-class acoustics, the famous stage of the Mother Church of Country Music has been selected multiple times as Theatre of the Year by Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine.

High-Octane Entertainment

Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville is a historic, high-octane haven of neon signs, cold beer, live music and an explosion of new rooftop bars. Country music entertainers are making hits with their namesake, multistoried destination venues.

AJ’s Good Time Bar (Alan Jackson), Ole Red (Blake Shelton), Luke’s 32 Bridge (Luke Bryan) and others are drawing droves of visitors.

Traditional honky-tonks like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge — the reigning queen of the district that opened in 1957 —was recognized by Esquire magazine as one of America’s Best Bars. Tootsie’s and neighbor Robert’s Western World still serve up traditional country music with a side of PBR.

The open-air Ascend Amphitheater is a part of Riverfront Park at the end of Broadway overlooking the scenic Cumberland River, where acts like Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Buffett have appeared.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Frist Art Museum, housed in a stately art deco building, was previously the city’s main post office. Today, it brings a wide variety of traveling art to the heart of the city, snagging the only U.S. stop of a Pablo Picasso exhibit in 2021.

A few blocks away, the 350,000-square-foot Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects, preserves, and interprets country music’s evolving history and traditions.

“NMAAM is important to Nashville’s ever-changing tourism landscape because not only will it provide reason for more diverse conventions to meet in Tennessee, but it will serve as a tool for employers to be able to attract and retain talented employees.”

H. Beecher Hicks III, NMAAM

New Music Museum Opens

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), an anchor in the newly opened Fifth + Broadway development, opened its doors in January 2021. The 56,000-square-foot facility is the only museum encouraging visitors to discover the many connections and influences that African American composers have had on all genres of musicians, using artifacts, memorabilia, clothing and state-of-the-art technology.

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Photo by 353 Media Group

“NMAAM is important to Nashville’s ever-changing tourism landscape because not only will it provide reason for more diverse conventions to meet in Tennessee, but it will serve as a tool for employers to be able to attract and retain talented employees and encourage expanded opportunities for growth in the state’s music industry,” says H. Beecher Hicks III, president and CEO.

A trip to Nashville should include a stop at the Fisk University Galleries, including the Carl Van Vechten Gallery, home to the Alfred Stieglitz exhibit of modern art, and the Aaron Douglas Gallery. And you won’t want to miss the chance to reflect on the 225 years of the Volunteer State’s history through the thousands of stories told at the Tennessee State Museum.

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Nathan Lambrecht

From Jazz to Rock

The Nashville Jazz Workshop is the place for fans of syncopated rhythms and improvisation. For more than 40 years, tight harmonies and lightning-fast licks have been the trademark of the Station Inn, where bluegrass, Americana and the occasional gospel music reign supreme.

Hear the best of Nashville songwriters at the famous Bluebird Cafe (located in the Green Hills area), plus check out The Listening Room Cafe or 3rd and Lindsley. Next, rock it out at The End, a small-capacity rock’ n’ roll dive bar on Elliston Place, or its neighbor, the iconic Exit/In. Finally, cross the river and head to East Nashville to catch an eclectic musical mix of sounds, from blues to rock, behind the microphone at The 5 Spot and The Basement East.

Travel a short distance to nearby communities for fun, including Arrington Vineyards, near Nolensville, to sip a glass of wine and hear bands on Friday nights and jazz in the pavilion on Saturdays.

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Nick Bumgardner

In Murfreesboro, go to Mayday Brewery or Gallagher Guitar Co.’s listening room for a special experience between the audience and the artist. The Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor in Franklin is full of exciting vibes, and south of Nashville in Columbia, The Mulehouse is a recently opened venue downtown for music and entertainment inside a restored historic church.

Downhome pickin’ and dancing is a long tradition at Long Hollow Jamboree & Restaurant in Goodlettsville. And don’t overlook Puckett’s in Murfreesboro, Franklin, and Columbia.

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