Top 12 Live Music Venues in Nashville

Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Emily Johnson

As the undisputed capital of country music, Nashville offers no shortage of incredible live music venues to experience while visiting Music City. From the legendary Grand Ole Opry to historic dive bars on Broadway to intimate songwriting shows in the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville sets the stage for stumbling upon vibrant acts and big-name performances every night of the week.

VenueDescription
Lower Broadway Honky TonksIconic bars with live country music, vibrant nightlife.
The Bluebird CafeIntimate venue for songwriters, famous for launching careers of major artists.
Ryman AuditoriumHistoric site with exceptional acoustics, hosting diverse music genres.
Grand Ole OpryLegendary venue for country music, known for its live radio broadcasts.
3rd And LindsleyOffers a mix of local and touring acts across genres, known for its sound quality.
Station InnPremier spot for live bluegrass music in a cozy setting.
Basement EastEast Nashville’s leading venue for a wide range of genres, known for its sound and atmosphere.
Exit/InHistoric venue hosting a variety of music acts, known for its intimate setting.
Marathon Music WorksSpacious venue for larger acts, offering a unique industrial setting.
Mercy Lounge/Cannery BallroomTwo connected venues known for their architecture and diverse music offerings.
The High WattIntimate venue for emerging artists, offering up-close music experiences.

To help you discover the city’s best live music scenes, we compiled a go-to list of Nashville’s top venues to catch can’t-miss shows. From multilevel Broadway honky-tonks blending rockin’ country bands to storied clubs where superstars got their starts, here are 12 of the best places to hear live music and soak in Nashville’s energetic entertainment culture.

Lower Broadway Honky Tonks

Name and Location: Lower Broadway Honky Tonks, downtown Nashville

History and Significance: Nashville’s famous Lower Broadway features legendary honky tonk bars where music echoes from morning to night for visitors seeking the heartbeat of Country Music City.

What to Expect: Boot-stomping live country bands firing up neon-lit stages where dancers two-step and crowds sing along with familiar tunes and classics under one “roof.”

Visitor Information: Historic venues line Broadway between 1st & 5th Avenue. No cover at most bars but must be 21+ to enter & ID is checked.

The neon-lit strip of honky tonks along Lower Broadway represents the heart of Nashville’s live music and nightlife. Modern country stars and electrifying cover bands trade off hour-long sets on elevated stages inside venues packing in crowds every night. Just strolling past rowdy bars like Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, and Bootleggers Inn means catching glorious sounds spilling onto the streets.

Drink in hand, wedge up close to stages inside these iconic Broadway venues. Soak in the dazzling musicianship from the next generation of country’s greatest pickers and crooners igniting Nashville’s downtown entertainment zone until last call.

The Bluebird Cafe

Name and Location: The Bluebird Cafe, Green Hills

History and Significance: Intimate 90-seat Bluebird Cafe has gained fame as a songwriters platform launching many big names since opening in 1982, thanks partly to its long-running songwriter performance series.

What to Expect: Unique in-the-round set up places audience close to artists. Come early to get seats for shows mixing rising talents with established tunesmiths across genres. Reserve tickets online.

Visitor Information: Located in a small strip mall. Minors permitted early shows. Special podcast tapings and writers nights monthly with no cover.

For an entirely different live music experience, make reservations for Nashville’s storied Bluebird Cafe venue. Songwriting greats who went on to become major recording artists – like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift – first premiered soon-to-be hit songs in this cozy 90-seat venue.

The Bluebird’s shows in the round setup makes for an incredibly intimate experience. Touring musicians today flock to play the Bluebird, swapping stories and acoustic song renditions surrounding tables with listeners. The talent level remains sky-high, so prepare to be blown away by up-close musical magic in the Bluebird’s living room atmosphere.

Ryman Auditorium

Name and Location: Ryman Auditorium, downtown

History and Significance: The Ryman famously hosted the Grand Ole Opry radio show from 1943-1974, earning the designation ‘Mother Church of Country Music’ for its beloved legacy. Renovations have since enhanced its dynamics.

What to Expect: Catch a stellar show by legends or today’s chart-toppers in the Ryman’s pristine wooden pews and peerless acoustics delivering sacred music experiences. Self-guided backstage tours too!

Visitor Information: Box office hours Monday-Saturday. Event calendar mixes country, rock, bluegrass and more. Guided tour packages available online with add-ons.

As the original site of the Grand Ole Opry and the storied venue where Johnny Cash met June Carter, catching a concert at downtown’s Ryman Auditorium means soaking in musical history. Everyone from Elvis and Louis Armstrong to modern superstars have graced the Ryman’s stage over the years.

With stellar acoustics and a church-like environment under wooden roof trusses, the Ryman’s excellent live shows range from genre legends to indie darlings. Tour the building to peek behind the curtains first, then return to see an unforgettable evening concert on the Ryman’s hallowed stage. There’s no more iconic musical setting in all of Nashville.

Grand Ole Opry

Name and Location: Grand Ole Opry House, Opryland

History and Significance: The Grand Ole Opry famously started as a radio broadcast in 1925. Now the Opry House anchors Opryland Resort but the country music institution still broadcasts its musical variety show with big crowds weekly.

What to Expect: Hear a blend of new artists and legends playing beloved country hits live on the Opry’s stage in an intimate 4,000 seat theater hosting shows Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays year-round.

Visitor Information: Backstage tours available. Discount lodging/show packages at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Box office open Mon-Sat for tickets.

Make the 20-minute drive from Nashville to see the show that made country music famous at the Grand Ole Opry venue. Broadcasting its musical revue live to radio audiences since 1925, the Opry stage delivers an unparalleled variety show format.

Legends and upstarts alike perform short sets packed with country chart-toppers and gospel numbers for the notoriously enthusiastic Opry crowd. Hear musicians who influenced modern country sounds or catch country-pop crossover sensations and Americana favorites bringing fresh styles to the Opry’s weekly musical productions.

3rd And Lindsley

Name and Location: 3rd & Lindsley, SoBro

History and Significance: Established in 1991, top notch acoustics and sightlines make intimate 550-seat 3rd & Lindsley a favorite Nashville concert spot for up-close shows across Americana, blues, country, rock and bluegrass genres.

What to Expect: National acts often swing through the renovated former cigar warehouse mixing pro session players alongside area standouts and talented newcomers. Bar bites available.

Visitor Information: All-ages venue unless show 21+ only. Self-parking lot behind building off 4th Ave. Entry door on alley side. Cash only at the bar.

For a taste of Nashville’s music scene away from chaotic Lower Broadway, check out shows at 3rd and Lindsley. The spacious venue with pristine acoustics sits just across the Cumberland River from downtown. Genre-blending local musicians frequent the mid-sized room graced by touring groups as well.

Everyone from Americana songstresses and blues belters to rock and funk party bands light up the stage several nights a week. Arrive early to snag dinner beforehand and scope out 3rd and Lindsley’s ideal setup putting you close to artists making Nashville’s contemporary music magic happen.

Station Inn

Name and Location: Station Inn, The Gulch

History and Significance: Open since 1974, Station Inn stands as one of America’s greatest and definitely most low-frills listening rooms expressly dedicated to bluegrass music’s sounds in an intimate 100-person capacity space.

What to Expect: Authentic bands light up the spare wooden stage with banjos and fiddles nightly celebrating bluegrass and its modern offshoots. Affordable tickets keep shows accessible for music purists.

Visitor Information: All shows either general admission or reserved seating setups. Opens 30 minutes before showtime. Cash bar. Valid ID required for entry.

Nashville’s Station Inn stands as one of the best venues in America to catch live bluegrass music. Located in the Gulch area near downtown, the Station Inn’s exposed brick walls, wooden benches, and small stage set an ideal scene for newgrass talents and seasoned bluegrass greats alike.

Modern progressive pickers pass down classic Appalachian sounds here while sledgehammer percussion, fancy fiddle work, and smoking guitar solos elicit hollering from the crowd. Listen for the latest Grammy nominees or local bluegrass heavies setting off bluegrass fireworks several times weekly at the Station Inn.

Basement East

Name and Location: Basement East, East Nashville

History and Significance: Independent concert hall Basement East opened its doors along burgeoning East Nashville’s Woodland Street scene in 2015, fast earning renown for diverse acts in a landmark formerly housing an antique mall.

What to Expect: Escape the underground for stellar entertainment spanning Americana, funk, EDM, jazz, jam bands, rap and rock hosted in state-of-the-art modern environs beneath a brick facade holding a vintage neon marquee out front.

Visitor Information: All-age shows unless indicated 21+ only. Street parking. Sets often start after 9pm. Box office open on event days.

The city’s newest destination for marquee concerts and preeminent parties, Basement East rose from the ashes of Nashville’s beloved venue The Basement (and an actual fire). Quickly becoming East Nashville’s premier live music anchor, Basement East lures major touring acts across genres eager to play its superb sounding, feature-filled 600-person room.

Get up close beneath psychedelic murals for shows spanning Americana troubadours, EDM party starters, rock riff slingers, and Billboard toppers riding recent releases. The calendar stays stuffed with rising rockers, viral pop performers, and crossover country hitmakers shining under Basement East’s circus tent ceilings.

Exit/In

Name and Location: Exit/In, Elliston Place

History and Significance: A fixture of Nashville’s hip Midtown district since 1971, iconic Exit/In has become an eclectic rock club launching breakout acts from Broadway musicals to indie bands thanks partly to its steadfast local owners through five decades.

What to Expect: Gritty, graffitied, stickered walls surround the triangular main stage that lights up with alt rock to punk to metal to bluegrass jams keeping friendly crowds fired up at show after show.

Visitor Information: All-age and 18+ shows, some 21+ only. Cash/cards accepted at bar. Original “Honky Tonk Central” sign still standing outside with iconic imagery.

A waypoint venue between Nashville dive bars and larger rock music halls, Exit/In offers a well-worn stepping stone for artists en route to fame. For 50 years and counting, almost every significant musician passed through its festively graffitied doors as a rising talent. That list includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, and the Kings of Leon.

The compact standing room space keeps concertgoers and bands tightly connected during sets from abrasive punk acts, psychedelic jam collectives, indie pop sweethearts, and beer-raising rock ‘n’ rollers circling Nashville on tour. Catch tomorrow’s sensations following in legends’ footsteps at Exit/In.

Marathon Music Works

Name and Location: Marathon Music Works, The Gulch

History and Significance: As a cornerstone venue along The Gulch’s booming strip since opening in 2013, Marathon Music Works accommodates up to 1,500 fans within its flexible standing-room/seated ticketing setups ideal for A-level acts.

What to Expect: Top touring talents help sell out the rectangular room boasting high production values from AV to bars for enjoying rock, Americana, EDM, country, metal, blues, jazz and more ticketed events.

Visitor Information: Select 18+ shows, most others require 21+ entry. Will call stays open through events. Nearby pay lots/garages available.

Hosting packed house shows beneath steel trusses inside an old brick factory turned modern music sanctuary, Marathon Music Works is a favorite Nashville spot for major touring acts. The Marathon’s standout setup includes multiple bars, upper balconies for prime viewing, and a sunken GA floor putting fans at eye level with the stage.

Viral pop stars, EDM festival favorites, all-star jam bands, and genre fluid trailblazers flock to play electrifying concerts inside the cavernous room. Arrive ready to rock alongside excited local fans when celebrated modern bands blaze through Music City with a stop at the Marathon.

Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom

Name and Location: Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom

History and Significance: Side-by-side venues share a building once home to the 19th-century Cannery liquor warehouse. Today the dual concert halls host leading acts with Mercy Lounge at capacity of 500 and Cannery Ballroom fitting 1,000 fans.

What to Expect: Take advantage of stellar bookings from Americana and indie rock favorites on through to alt country, punk and metal groups that keep both dedicated music venues energized.

Visitor Information: Range of all-ages shows to 18+ and 21+ only events between the two rooms. Discounted parking at nearby garages available.

Connected venues Mercy Lounge and Cannery Ballroom place concertgoers amidst impressive original architecture inside a former flour and sorghum mill. Stacked lineups range from underground lo-fi and synth pop to Americana troubadours and indie rock luminaries conquering one stage after the next.

Downstairs at Mercy Lounge, experience sweat-soaked sets under stunning stained glass windows and carved ceiling beams. Take the steps to Cannery’s open dancefloor overlooking the expansive stage, bar, and balcony views. Catch fireworks-finale jams from jam grass brands, health goth ragers, viral country rebels, and every sound between at these stapled Nashville venues.

The High Watt

Name and Location: The High Watt, SoBro

History and Significance: Intimate club The High Watt brings leading Music City promoter Mercy Lounge’s knack for scouting emerging bands to an offshoot venue anchoring rapidly growing SoBro near downtown Nashville since its 2014 launch.

What to Expect: Catch fireball live acts on the rise across genres from alt country and rock to indie and rap within modest environs outfitted for music immersion between the small stage and multi-level layout.

Visitor Information: Many 18+ shows, some require 21+ entry only. Street parking scarce, rideshares recommended. Entry door off 5th Ave. Timings vary by performer.

For an up-close perspective on Nashville’s new generation of musicians, plug in at intimate venue The High Watt. Connected to famed rock club Mercy Lounge, the smaller High Watt space provides bands a more approachable introduction to touring Nashville’s stages. Local indie pop sweethearts, garage rock heathens, and Americana ramblers breaking onto people’s radar frequent the High Watt first.

You may wind up with a front-row view of rising talents spotlighted later at huge festivals and selling out arenas down the road. But you first saw them igniting Nashville dive bar magic performing raw, impassioned sets under rows of incandescent lightbulbs at The High Watt.

Conclusion

Nashville dishes out live music experiences for all tastes from storied venues to hole-in-the-wall nightlife institutions. Icons take the stage and tomorrow’s stars are born nightly in Music City. Use this guide to discover Broadway’s boot-stomping dance parties, songwriter shows in intimate listening rooms, constellations of musical talent igniting rock clubs, and more.

Let Nashville’s endless entertainment options be your playlist. Pick venues from Lower Broadway marquees to the cozy Bluebird Cafe and see why Nashville retains its title as America’s capital of live music.

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