Nashville has long been known as a city of dreams, a place to where aspiring musical artists and songwriters consistently flock with the hope of being discovered. Nashville is generally considered the heart and soul of country music, where many hopeful crooners can get their shot at stardom and a chance to follow in the footsteps of many of today’s—and yesterday’s—biggest names in the business.
Many of today’s musical greats got their start by sharing their songs and voices at open mic nights throughout the city of Nashville. Because of this, it is not surprising that these same bars, restaurants and music venues remain popular among young, upstart musicians and singers trying to get noticed. In the following article we will introduce you to some of the best “open mic” venues in the city of Nashville, where stars like Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and George Strait first got their start on their way to super stardom.
Douglas Corner Café
While some hotspots have seen declining crowds in recent years, this is not the case at the Douglas Corner Café. Open since 1987, this popular spot hosts a great open mic night every Tuesday evening beginning at 8:00 PM, and as the owner is quick to point out, this is the same spot where greats like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Blake Shelton all got their start. The open mic night at the Douglas Corner Café is hosted by Donnie Winters of the Winters Brother Band, a group that once toured with the likes of Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band, among others.
If you’d like to play or have your original song heard you will need to call the Douglas Corner Café on the same Tuesday you’d like to play between the hours of 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. The earlier you call, the earlier you play. Each performer or act is permitted to play two songs, and the show continues until every performer has played. To reach the Douglas Corner Café, call (615) 292-2530.
The Bluebird Café has always been a popular destination for aspiring artists on their way to fame and stardom—or simply a paying job; however, with the recent success of the “Nashville” television show, this great café in the Green Hills section of Nashville, Tennessee has skyrocketed to new heights, making the café and its open mic night one of the hottest in the country and a must-see destination for visiting tourists seeing Nashville for the first time.
At the famed Bluebird Café, the open mic night is on Monday from 6PM until 9PM. Nearly every country star of yesterday and today has played the renowned Bluebird stage—a stage that clearly emits some positive vibes; even for those artists whose first choice of music is something other than country or western.
Those wishing to play the Bluebird Stage are urged to call (615) 943-8168 on Mondays to sign up between the hours of 11:00 AM and Noon (Central Standard Time). Potential singers and acts are not allowed to leave a message. One must keep trying the number until they speak with someone. The Bluebird Café invites 25 acts and songwriters to take the stage. Performers must arrive at the café by 5:15 and will be permitted to play 1 or 2 songs depending on time.
Commodore Grill (at the Holiday Inn Select)
Although a bar and grille at a local Holiday Inn may not seem like the best place to play and listen to music, do not let yourself be fooled. The Commodore Grill is one of the most popular hotspots in Nashville and, except for Tuesday nights when the bar is dark, there is always a steady stream of musicians and songwriters playing to packed crowds of locals and tourists.
The Commodore Grill at the Holiday Inn Select plays and hosts music performers from 6:00 PM until 11:30 PM every night but Tuesdays. New singers and groups who would like to play for the crowds must sign up before 8:00 PM. Eight performers will be selected to play (1or 2 songs) between 10:30 and 11:30 PM—an admittedly short window but definitely a great way to get noticed if you’re an upstart singer. The music between 6:00 PM and 10:30 PM is performed by pre-advanced musicians, most of who were selected due to their short performance during a previous amateur hour at the club.
The Family Wash
Located in the eastern part of Nashville, the Family Wash is an extremely laid back, relaxed and cozy establishment that just happens to feature some of the best open-mic nights in the city. A former Laundromat, this well-loved Nashville outpost is the perfect spot for a night of great beer, food and lively music played by some of the most talented upstarts in the city.
Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar
For aspiring artists, the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar is a tremendous place in which to demonstrate new talent in this particular musical style. The popular bar, located in Nashville’s renowned Printer’s Alley, delivers some of the best in local and out-of-town talent and fun—a place that features a New Orleans-style restaurant and an energetic vibe.
The owners of the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, some of whom dabble in Blues music themselves, are very hospitable to new acts and they always aim to please their listening audience. With a quaint venue and a bit of Big-Easy style, the venue is very accepting of new acts and has, over time, hosted some of the most famous Blues and Bluegrass artists in the industry.
Those who make their way to the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar can expect to hear some of the most iconic blues music ever recorded as well as the sounds of new and upcoming artists dreaming of the Big Time. Whether to play or just sit back and listen after a great Cajun-style meal, the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar should definitely be on your list of places to visit when touring Nashville.
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