From the country twang on Nashville’s Broadway to the Memphis blues on Beale Street, Tennessee’s rich musical heritage takes center stage no matter where you are in the state. Here’s a list of some of the best music venues across the state.
Rhythm and Roots, Bristol
Bristol is known as the birthplace of country music thanks to a 1927 recording session that discovered the legendary Carter family. Today, The New York Times reports the city’s landmark museum regularly hosts performances by local and regional acts. But the Rhythm and Roots Reunion is always the best opportunity to hear live music. Held in September, this three-day music festival features dozens of big-name and regional acts on numerous stages and venues in downtown Bristol.
The Down Home, Johnson City
A long-time mecca for fans of live music, The Down Home in Johnson City hosts a wide variety of musical talent. With seating for about 150, it prides itself on hosting quality performers in an atmosphere that inspires you to listen, not just socialize behind the scenes. Past performers include Red Clay Ramblers and the Boxcars.
Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville
As the official state theatre of Tennessee, the Tennessee Theatre has a storied past. The theatre opened its doors in 1928 as a “movie palace” where patrons could see films for only 40 cents. After an extensive renovation, the theatre now hosts a variety of concerts and events. Go for a visit and be enchanted by the building’s glittering chandeliers and ornate décor.
Find more activities for your family to enjoy in Nashville.
Given the sheer volume, it would be difficult to list all the live music venues in Nashville. From arenas with seating for thousands to intimate dives in Printer’s Alley, Nashville has tons to offer every live-music aficionado. Discover new songwriters at The Bluebird Cafe listening room, find up-and-coming punk bands at The End, and listen world-class bluegrass at The Station Inn.
The city’s most well-known may be the Ryman Auditorium, sometimes called the “Mother Church of country music.” For 25 years, the Ryman housed the Grand Ole Opry, where many country and rock legends played: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Sr., The Carter Sisters and many others. Today, a variety of artists perform at the Ryman, and the venue still occasionally hosts the Grand Ole Opry.
Music in Memphis
Home of the blues, Memphis is full of local music venues. Historic Beale Street has a large concentration of blues clubs, including the Rum Boogie Cafe, Blue Monkey, Black Diamond, Newby’s and BB King’s Blues Club.
Beale Street can be a bit touristy and crowded, especially during the summer months. To escape the masses, venture to Wild Bill’s on Vollintine Avenue, where legendary soul and R&B musicians perform regularly. Find rock at the Hi-Tone or Buccaneer Lounge. The Levitt Shell in Overton Park hosted blues festivals in the 1960s, and today features live music five nights a week in the spring and autumn. And don’t forget to see the Elvis impersonator at Dad’s Place on East Brooks Road.