You’ve heard the old cliché:
But today more than ever, that’s really true.
If you tune out at the sound of the Grand Ole Opry but still like to get in the groove, the opportunities to see live music that’s a little less country are endless.
Founded by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, Arrington Vineyards features two live music locations on their grounds, with live jazz groups and bluegrass bands playing all year round.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery while listening to great music and drinking a glass of their locally produced and award-winning wines.
Saturdays and Sundays: Arrington Vineyards hosts Music in the Vines every year from April through October.
The Back Corner
Looking for the next cool music club before everyone else discovers it? The Back Corner might be it.
Owned by the folks at 5th and Taylor, it’s a separate event space that opened in late 2016 and has quickly become the site of rock shows, dance parties and acoustic singer-songwriter sets. The music schedule each week includes special themes such as:
- “HARD 45: Vintage. Vinyl. Dance.” and
- “ENTRO: Nashville’s music industry/influencer playlist night.”
Thursdays: Pull on your leg warmers and bring along your pet rocks to “NEON: an 80’s revival,” which goes back in time to the days of Culture Club and Duran Duran.
James Bond once said, “Sometimes the old ways are the best” and that absolutely applies to The Basement, which resides in a 100-year-old red brick building under Grimey’s.
Read more One Day in Boston: The Best Boston Itinerary for 24 Hours
It’s an intimate venue with a full schedule of up-and-coming bands and singer-songwriters. If you get there early enough, head upstairs and choose from the best vinyl selection in the city. In 2015 the Basement’s East Nashville sister venue — with a capacity of 400, four times that of the original — opened to rave reviews.
Clout control: Need further proof of The Basement’s hip factor? Alice Cooper made a surprise appearance there earlier this year.
Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar
Downtown can be a tough place to find anywhere country isn’t oozing out the open doors, but you can always find a stellar talent lineup at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar.
The venue has an impressive lineup of regulars, as well as guest appearances from former band members for Aretha Franklin and Prince, among others.
Mondays: Open mic nights are a major draw, and allow people to sign up for an impromptu jam session. The emcees put together a band and the musicians have to perform three songs together. It could be music to your ears or things may come to a screeching halt; not knowing what you’re getting is half the fun.
Housed in a former flour mill, Cannery Row is home to three different venues:
Long before she had the most popular account on Twitter, Katy Perry performed at the Mercy in April 2009. Later that same year, a modest young singer-songwriter from England made her Nashville debut inside Cannery Ballroom. Her name: Adele.
Mondays: The weekly 8 off 8th event is free to the public and features a glimpse of the indie rock scene with eight different acts playing short sets.
The Family Wash
Since opening a new location on Main Street two years ago, this East Nashville favorite has found a wider audience beyond its cult following.
Read more 10 Fun Things to Do in Sault Ste Marie, MI
Everybody knows that the best time to visit Family Wash is on Tuesdays for pie & pint nights: a shepherd’s pie (traditional or vegetarian) and a pint of beer for only $10.
Mondays: Every first Monday of the month, American Songwriter Magazine and Reverb Nation present Discover, which offers an introduction to some of the rising talent around Nashville.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Offering a variety of historic and contemporary art exhibits, the Frist Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of monthly live music performances:
- Classical guitarists
- Jazz ensembles
- International dance groups and more.
Fridays: The outdoor summer concert series Frist Fridays takes place on the final Fridays of June, July and August in the Turner Courtyard. Visitors are treated to an evening of live music, snacks and beverages, as well as access to the exhibition galleries.
Known as Nashville’s premier rock ‘n’ roll dive , The End on Elliston Place has seen some career-making shows for some of the most successful bands of the last 30 years — think REM, the Black Crowes and the White Stripes.
Kick back with a PBR tallboy, pump your fist in the air and headbang with the best of them.
The Sutler is home to Bluegrass Brunch every Saturday and Sunday, but this revived saloon in the Melrose area features entertainment from musical genres across the board.
Case in point: On weekends, DJ Foldy holds late-night dance parties, where he spins new favorites and old classics in hip-hop and house music.
Thursdays: It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday: #TBT is a nostalgia trip back to the 90s with a mix of hip-hop, pop, rock and more — anything from Boyz II Men to Metallica.
Read more Top 10 Activities for Seniors to Do in Austin, TX
Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music
Get a musical education at one of Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music hosts an array of live performances, from major concerts to student recitals.
Collaborative concerts bring together:
- The Vanderbilt University Orchestra
- The Vanderbilt Symphonic Choir
- The Blair String Quartet and other groups across campus.
Many of the ensembles feature a mix of students, professors and guest artists, so you can experience everything from future classical music stars to contemporary sounds from the city’s most talented musicians.
Meet & Three
If you’re looking for something a little more country but in a legitimate, old-school way, we offer three classic options:
The Station Inn
Located smack in the middle of the uber hip Gulch, the inside of the Station Inn couldn’t feel more removed from it.
On any night, you can strike gold. A lot of country and bluegrass greats — like Chris Stapleton back when he was heading up the still-excellent Steeldrivers — get their start here.
Robert’s Western World
Robert’s is not a secret; its PBR-bologna-sandwich combo has launched 1,000 blogs all on its own.
But it’s nice to step in from time to time and remember that the bands they put on stage every night of the week are Nashville’s best examples of what country music can be.
Music City Roots
Another staple of the Nashville music scene, Music City Roots offers 4-5 acts that are often and eclectic mix of country, rock, bluegrass and more every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
People often make the trek to the Factory at Franklin to see one artist on the roster and end up falling in love with someone new. If you can’t make the trip, can catch the live show on 89.5 Roots Radio.