They Don’t Call It
Music City for Nothing
Five essential concert venues, plus where to pre- and postgame.
118 Twelfth Ave. S.; 615-254-3029
Start your night right with the Kitchen’s ’Shine Tour, a sampler of three regional un-aged whiskeys.
116 Fifth Ave. N.; 615-889-3060
This 2,362-seat auditorium is the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry and host to today’s biggest country and rock acts.
Robert’s Western World
416B Broadway; 615-244-1028
Taylor Swift–loathing locals flock here for the live music, fried bologna sandwiches, and icy-cold PBR.
Yazoo Brewing Company
910 Division St.; 615-891-4649
Their small-batch Gerst is on tap at any bar worth a damn, but the brewery itself offers sample-laden tours for $7.
The High Watt
1 Cannery Row; 615-251-3020
Buried in the back of a 129-year-old former cannery, the newest kid on the block books indie bands like Titus Andronicus.
2225 Bransford Ave.; 615-593-1872
This triple-wide trailer boasts cheap beer, nonstop karaoke, and a motorcycle-riding Santa Claus mural on its façade.
2600 Franklin Pike; 615-383-9201
Go here to play Ping-Pong with construction workers and pool with hotshot studio musicians.
1604 Eighth Ave. S.; 615-254-8006
This brick-and-velvet rumpus room has hosted secret shows from both Metallica and Old Crow Medicine Show.
2619 Franklin Pike; 615-298-1583
Sober up with an order of so-greasy-they’re-almost-soggy sliders from this regional fast-food chain.
1222 Fourth Ave. N.; 615-736-5838
Come for the upscale Sunday Suppers or housemade charcuterie and locally distilled bourbon.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Pl.; 615-687-6613
Audiophiles gush over the room tone, but the symphony isn’t too shabby either.
The Patterson House
1711 Division St.; 615-636-7724
This unmarked speakeasy makes drinks the way Music City makes records—with a reverence for history.
Bobby’s Idle Hour
1028 Sixteenth Ave. S.; 615-726-0446
Located on Music Row, it’s where you go to celebrate your record deal—or lament your stalled career.
The Station Inn
402 Twelfth Ave. S.; 615-255-3307
The down-home hangout of some of the world’s best bluegrass and roots musicians.
71 Hermitage Ave.; 615-254-8871
After a long night of boozing, it’s tough to argue with the biscuits and gravy and late-night people-watching at this laid-back greasy spoon.
The Honky-Tonk Hierarchy
The music joints of lower Broadway may be tourist magnets, but don’t let the shiny lights fool you: Not all honky-tonks are created equal.
From Local Legend to New Jack Tourist Trap:
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
The materfamilias of honky-tonking, this is where Willie Nelson cut his songwriting teeth, Patsy Cline drank, and Kris Kristofferson lived while transitioning out of the janitorial arts. 422 Broadway; 615-726-0463.
Layla’s Bluegrass Inn
Ask any local where they go to hear country music—and mind you, we’re talking about people with plenty of options—and they’ll say Layla’s. Expect neon signage, cowboy hats, and bands with names like Hillbilly Casino. 418 Broadway; 615-726-2799.
The Stage on Broadway
The bands here are always on fire, even if the set lists veer more Jimmy Buffett than Jimmie Rodgers. It’s country music for flip-flop-wearing pop fans. 412 Broadway; 615-726-0504.
Paradise Park Trailer Resort
The T.G.I. Friday’s of lower Broad, chock-full of sanitized kitsch, this is where office drones pretend to be white trash. At least the beer is cheap. 411 Broadway; 615-251-1515.
Honky Tonk Central
In the words of Waylon Jennings: “Are you sure Hank done it this way?” No Williams—Sr., Jr., or III—would approve of this three-story, mall-ified monstrosity—a honky-tonk in name only. 329 Broadway; 615-742-9095.
No Party Like a Southern Party
Celebrity journalist Heather Byrd tracks Nashvillian nightlife down to the nanosecond. Here, the rub on her three favorite after-dark to-dos.
For Hillbilly Hipsterism:
Holler & Stomp’s Dance Yer Ass Off (facebook.com/hollerandstomp)
Next event: November 29 at Cannery Ballroom
“The thought of counting 5, 6, 7, 8 and squaring off in public scares me, but the caller at these all-ages, all-ethnicities square dances gets on the microphone and explains everything. Half the fun is just colliding on the dance floor.”
For Rug-Cutting Mash-Ups:
Whiskey Disco, 615-650-7344
Next event: Every Sunday at No. 308
“The outside looks like a run-down seventies strip mall, but the inside is retro-chic and full of taxidermy. Music-wise, it’s a free-for-all: Sometimes it’s throwback Motown, sometimes disco, and always dance-y.”
For Old-School Hip-Hop:
The Boom Bap (theboombaplive.com)
Next event: November 24 at the 5 Spot
“This party started in Nashville, but has branched out to Philly. It’s hot and sweaty and thumping in there, and lots of weird people show up. I mean, Bill Bellamy at the Boom Bap?!”