The Best Bars For Live Music in Nashville, TN

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They don’t call Nashville the Music City for nothing.

It’s not just country music that you’ll find in Nashville, but classy singer songwriters, honky tonk music you can let your hair down too, bluegrass and jazz bars, Americana, burlesque, big charting artists, and mellow acoustic mellow melodies.

If you’re looking to experience the true essence of the Music City, you’re going to want to head down to one of the best bars for live music in Nashville.

sign on bar that says nashville lives here

The music in Nashville, TN not only sounds good, but it will make you feel good, too.

So if you’re looking to experience some live music, take a look at our favorite Nashville music venues below!

Nashville Music Venues, TN

1. The Grand Ole Opry

Performers at the Grand Ole Opry Show, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville will be a city I return to again and again just to hang out, have fun and connect to music – the language of the soul.

No place does it better than The Grand Ole Opry. Attending the Opry is one of my favorite things to do in Nashville AND the United States.

women in backstage room Grand Ole Opry

What I love the most about the Grand Ole Opry is its tradition and family like atmosphere. I’m not sure any other musical genre is as close knit as the country music one.

I think the Opry is at the core of helping to create that atmosphere.

I love being a part of it. I particularly love going backstage for a deeper insight into the Opry history and the culture behind it.

Walking around the halls back there seeing the dressing rooms, and Keith Urban’s mailbox, listening to people like Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts warm up, and running into Lauren Alaina was thrilling.

With Lauren Ailiana backstage at the Grand Ole Opry
backstage room in Grand Ole Opry with photo of taylor swift

But best of all was experiencing the warm welcoming atmosphere of the Opry family.

Even if you don’t get that backstage opportunity, sitting in the audience is an absolute treat.

young girl sitting in chair in grand opry backstage room

Where else can you listen to multiple award winning artists playing several of their tunes?

At the Opry you hear at least 8 musicians from many different styles of country, old and new, sing. They sing new hits and old hits, and even cover hits.

On our first trip we discovered and fell in love with Chris Janson. I was stoked to see him on the line up when I took my Mum and Dad to the Opry..

Chris Janson Grand Ole Opry

The second time I visited, I discovered a young female artist, Kallie Shorr, and I was thrilled to see Rascal Flatts play live as they were one of the first country bands that got me appreciating the music genre a little more.

Kallie Shor Grand Ole Opry
Rascal Flatts Grand Ole Opry (1)

And then you have moments, where it’s not the artists standing in the famous Opry circle who steal the show, but a member of their band whose energy and enthusiasm lights up the entire stage.

I don’t know who this musician in the Rascal Flatts band was, but he was having a damn good time playing the drums and the keyboard at the same time AND then someone from off stage would throw him a guitar and he’d jam on that.

All the while dancing and jigging.

He was just incredible.

Rascal Flatts Grand Ole Opry (1)

The Grand Ole Opry is accepting of any style you want to show up in – casual jeans and cowboy boots, or something a little dressy.

Go with what feels right for you.

The Cascades American Cafe at the Gaylord Resort

outside dining of Cascades American Restaurant
Cascades American CAfe

Enhance the Opry experience with a pre-show dinner at The Cascades American Cafe in the Opryland Resort.

We dined as guests of the Opryland resort and it was sensational. Craig insists his filet mignon is the best steak he’s ever had and my parents said the same about their salmon.

steak and asparagus on plate

It’s worth wondering around the Gaylord Resort to check out the decorated atriums, inner gardens with waterfalls and delta river boat cruises.

The Gaylord Opryland Resort is the largest non-gaming hotel in Continental US.

boat on canal beside waterfall at Opryland Resort, Nashville, Tennessee

It’s quite a spectacular resort and restaurant. You may even want to consider staying here.

Families will love it, especially considering there’s a new water park opening here soon!

2. The Bluebird Café

people lining up outside the blue bird cafe

Another music venue in Nashville to add to your bucket list should be a night at the Bluebird Café, which is featured often in the TV show, Nashville.

Those in the music industry already knew about the Bluebird’s legendary status before fans of the show did.

Many famous musicians had their first start at this intimate café located in strip mall just south of the city.

On our last visit to Nashville, we took the girls to Monday’s singer songwriter open mic evening.

It was fantastic watching artists at the beginning of their careers opening their hearts and soul to the audience.

young girls watching the show at bluebird cafe

On Mondays, there is a regular blues session with the Mike Henderson Band (25+ years running!).

I’ve only just learned that Mike Henderson is a talented songwriter who has recorded with many big name artists.

He just won a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Country Song, “Broken Halos,” which he co-wrote with singer, Chris Stapleton. Wow. It’s one of my favorite songs at the moment. I had no idea.

Mike’s Monday night blues session is totally different to the other Bluebird café music sessions throughout the week. Those sessions demand silence during the performances to respect the artist’s singer songwriter talents.

But Mike’s session is about letting loose and slipping into a rowdy blues mood.

Bluebird CAfe Mike Henderson Band

I was a little worried. I’m not a blues person – well I can do a couple of tunes and then I’m ready for something a little shorter and different.

Would I be able to handle 90 minutes of blues and in an venue that is small, meaning it was going to be really loud? And it wouldn’t be finishing until 11pm, way past our bedtime!!

Well, the three of us loved it!

It was such a fun atmosphere and the music was incredible. We were all mesmerized by the pianist, Kevin McKendree.

None of us had ever seen anyone play a piano like that before. As my Dad said, he had the strength and power, yet was also so gentle in how he hit the keys.

He was phenomenal.

We couldn’t believe it after the performance when we saw him sitting at the bar with his arm in a sling. How did he play like that with an injured arm?

A night at the Bluebird is a music experience you do not want to miss in Nashville.

Hopefully you can get tickets online beforehand, otherwise the queue can be up to four hours long – for the total diehards at least.

My parents said our night at the Bluebird Cafe was one of their favorite things to do in Nashville, actually on our entire Dallas to Boston road trip.

3. Ryman Auditorium

family on tour at the Ryman Auditorium sitting on pews looking at stage

Another great Nashville music venue to experience a live music event at is the Ryman auditorium.

One thing you learn in Nashville pretty quickly is that this revered concert hall has one of the best acoustic sounds in the entire world.

Many many artists claim that it is their favorite place to play a concert.

Some artists like Passenger have even broken down in tears playing there, as they dreamed that playing at the Ryman was a sign they had made it.

Imagine finally living that dream on this stage that was home to the Opry for 35 years and had artists like Johnny Cash grace the stage.

Nowadays you’ll find artists like Foo Fighters, and Ed Sheeran. You’ll see how many there are when you visit the Ryman Auditorium on a tour, which I recommend you do even if you can’t see a concert.

It hasn’t lined up for us yet, but as I am always looking for an excuse to visit Nashville, I just might fly in for a concert experience at the Ryman.

rows of pews inside the Ryman auditorium

Backstage tours of the Ryman take you through the auditorium, into the dressing rooms and even onto the stage.

This gives you a chance to see what it looks like to look out into the tiered audience sitting on pews as it was designed in its beginnings when it was a tabernacle.

4. Honky Tonk Bars on Broadway

exterior of tootsies bar on broadway

You don’t want to visit Nashville and miss the raw live musical experience of the Honky Tonk bars on Broadway, also known as Honky Tonk Highway. This iconic street is nestled in Downtown Nashville and connects the Midtown, The Gulch, Music Row, Sobro and Capitol View districts.

You can easily fit it into your Nashville itinerary as there is a band playing from morning until night, and you have endless bars to choose from.

Every bar on Broadway has live music and you can see some incredible artists at the beginning of their careers. Lower Broadway is where you will find all the dive bars, music bars and free live music venues, as well as clubs and places to dance and party the night away.

This is where inspiring artists come to be heard and catch their big break. You just never know when you might hear the next Keith Urban who used to be a Honky Tonk performer.

people playing guitar on stage

And you never know when Keith Urban may pop up in one for an impromptu play like he and Steve Tyler did one evening at Tootsies, the most famous Honky Tonk bar of all!

We did not visit that one as I wouldn’t say it’s a family-friendly venue with young kids like ours! There are however plenty of family friendly honky tonk bars.

Make sure you visit in the day time though.

people on the rooftop of the The famous Tootsie's Honky Tonk Bar in Nashville.
The famous Tootsie’s Honky Tonk Bar

Robert’s Western World

Robert’s Western World is one family friendly honky tonk bar. It’s more of a sedate restaurant type and is known for having really good fried bologna sandwiches. We enjoyed coming in here for lunch with the girls!

George Jones Museum

Riverfront views from terrace restaurant in nashville
Views from the George Jones rooftop

George Jones Museum has a great rooftop bar that has live music at different times of the day. We enjoyed lunch here listening to a great live act and enjoying the views.

The Wildhorse Saloon

yTravel with Deacon Claybourne (447 x 600)
This photo is one of my favorite memories from our Dallas to Boston road trip. It shows each of our personalities so perfectly.

The Wildhorse Saloon is also a family-friendly place to see live music and do some line dancing if you are keen.

We did find Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) in the store next door and had to have a family picture with him.

Legend’s Corner

people standing in front of a wall mural

If you’re visiting Nashville without the kids, head to Legend’s Corner for a classic honky tonk vibe. Here you will find an authentically decorated bar with country albums cladding the walls and a few round tables with stools.

The beer is cold and the vibes are good. Be sure to get a photo of the large-scale Gibson guitar outside!

The Twelve Thirty Club

The Twelve Thirty Club is what’s called a “Supper Club” and is where you will find the perfect combination of a social atmosphere and exquisite dining.

It’s more of a date night venue than a place to take the kids too and can be a bit loud during peak times.

It’s elegantly styled and has a more sophisticated vibe than some of the other venues I’ve mentioned here, but it would be an ideal spot for brunch or early dinner if you want a more luxurious experience.

5. Puckett’s Grocery Leiper’s Fork

L and F neon lights

Leiper’s Fork is where many famous country music artists, producers and songwriters escape to live a normal life.

They have homes out here and can often be seen on the tiny one road that makes up the town.

On this street is Puckett’s Grocery, which has similar legendary status to the Blue Bird Café.

motorbikes and people outside Pucketts Grocery Leipers Fork Franklin Nashville Tennessee

Thursday nights is the open mic night. Anyone, can get up and sing.

Sadly for us, we ended up at a table in the corner behind the bar so couldn’t see anything very well. It really distracted from our experience.

The artists started to get really good too before we decided to go home. I was disappointed as it looked like a fun night and it had a lively atmosphere.

If you can get a good table, you’ll enjoy it.

Patrons spill out the front hanging around the petrol bowsers listening to the tunes. It’s a very local experience and who wouldn’t want to soak up that vibe?

open mic night Pucketts Grocery Leipers Fork TN
This lady was sensational!

The food here is going to be simple and old style country. It didn’t serve us too well having gluten free dietary issues, but we made do.

If you love that southern style of pulled pork, and deep fried everything you’ll love it.

Puckett’s Grocery does have that old school local charm.

Nashville is full of music events and festivals each year, like the CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo, both of which are on my Nashville and music bucket list.

6. Gallatin Ave, Nashville

While Broadway is the most famous street for live music venues in Nashville, another street worth checking out for live music experiences is Gallatin Ave, located across the Cumberland River in East Nashville.

Here you will find great music from smaller, independent Nashville bars that cater towards locals as opposed to tourists.

Some of the best bars for live music in East Nashville are:

Dino’s Bar & Grill

Dino’s Bar & Grill exudes an authentic dive bar charm that captures the essence of the city’s vibrant music culture.

As you walk through the doors, you’re immediately welcomed by a gracious atmosphere and an unpretentious setting reminiscent of Nashville’s rich history.

The menu at Dino’s offers a delightful selection of classic dishes that pay homage to the local flavors, providing a genuine taste of the city.

People come for the hot chicken, but stay for the Dolly Parton art!

Jane’s Hideaway

Jane’s Hideaway has an intimate ambiance and offers soul-stirring live performances from their much-loved house band.

You might not notice Jane’s Hideaway at first, but as soon as you enter the decor, you’ll feel right at home.

The decor is of a traditional dive bar flare, with neon lights and music memorabilia lining the walls, but it’s the talent of the music that makes you take a seat and stay a while.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable evening, where you can savor Tennessee spirit-based cocktails while being serenaded by the city’s finest musicians, this is the place to be.

The Basement East

The Basement East is a hidden gem music destination in Nashville, celebrating a harmonious blend of voices, cultures, and identities.

The venue’s intimate setting ensures a fantastic atmosphere, where every guest feels immersed in the music, akin to partying in a cool basement.

With state-of-the-art sound systems, the acoustics are amazing, allowing you to get a good sound no matter where you stand.

Paired with multiple bars, and free parking, this is definitely one bar to check out.

7. The Listening Room Cafe

The Listening Room Cafe was founded in 2006, and is owned by songwriter Chris Blair.

His goal is to create a space where original songwriters can perform their own music in an intimate setting.

The space feels immersive, creating a space for soul-stirring performances.

This haven’s commitment to storytelling through music sets the stage for an unforgettable night out.

8. The Station Inn

For bluegrass, head to The Station Inn. For over 40 years, this intimate venue has upheld the timeless allure of Nashville’s classic bluegrass music scene, attracting global acclaim for its nightly performances.

Nestled in the evolving Gulch area, The Station Inn is one of the last bastions of Nashville’s musical legacy.

Everyone from the musicians to the staff are dedicated to keeping the spirit of Nashville’s musical roots alive at The Station Inn

9. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

sketch poster of bob dylan and johnny cash

Located in the aptly named Music Row district, is the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is a museum dedicated to some of the greatest artists in Country music.

Not only is it a museum, but they also host songwriter sessions and live performances.

Be sure to check out their events calendar to see what’s happening on the day you visit. There’s usually more than one event happening every day!

We highly recommend spending some time in the Country Music Hall of Fame perusing the exhibitions. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Nashville and all music lovers will enjoy it! Don’t miss the Studio B Tour as well! Here is your combo ticket – the Studio B tour can fill up so book in advance!

10. Skull’s Rainbow Room

Since 1948, Skull’s Rainbow Room has stood as a cornerstone of Printer’s Alley, epitomizing the city’s vibrant spirit and artistic legacy.

This distinguished establishment is renowned for its fusion of exquisite dining, craft cocktails, and live jazz music. They also have burlesque performances every Thursday and Saturday night.

It has an intimate, speak-easy vibe with dark decor and table lamps and a grand piano.

It’s another classic venue to visit for a date night with live music in Nashville.

11. Loser’s Bar & Grill

Lastly, there’s Loser’s Bar & Grill, which is another unassuming dive bar with authentic Nashville charm.

This hidden gem offers a laid-back escape from the bustling Broadway scene, where you can savor the delectable Southern cuisine while basking in the sounds of live music on Saturdays from the bar’s parking lot.

While most bars for live music in Nashville are dark and secluded, Loser’s is open and airy, with lots of natural light and space to move around.

It even has TV’s where you can watch the latest sports.

Where to stay in Nashville

If exploring the music side of Nashville, you will probably want to stay close to Downtown Nashville. Nashville hotels are expensive and fill quickly, so book in advance. The further out of the city you stay the better the rates!

  • The W Hotel in Downtown Nashville is a popular place to stay for its location and amenities. Check rates and availability.
  • You can beat the Nashville Riverfront Lofts for location and amenities – some with kitchens! Check rates and availability.
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in The Gulch is another great option. People rave about the breakfast, and we love the Gulch area! Check rates and availability.
  • We’ve previously stayed two evenings at the family friendly Loews Vanderbilt Hotel located in Midtown. It’s near many restaurants including the famous Hattie B’s hot chicken. It’s also near Vanderbilt University.
  • We often rent VRBO’s in East Nashville, which has a fun local vibe with plenty to see and do but is slightly away from the downtown madness – but easy to access when you want it!

Use the map to also help you find your ideal Nashville accommodation:

Final Thoughts

singers on stage at Ole Red Nashville Tennessee

I’m so happy and grateful Raleigh is my home as I can get to Nashville pretty easily to satisfy my thirst for amazing live musical experiences.

If you love live music, Nashville Tennessee is the place to be not just on a Friday or Saturday night, but every night.

Nashville you are the best for it in the USA for sure!

More Tennessee Travel Tips

Need more inspiration for your trip to Tennessee? Then you may enjoy these other guides!

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