Clubs listed here may book a rock band one night and folk the next. Always check the free weekly Nashville Scene for the latest entertainment listings.
The Exit/In (2208 Elliston Pl., 615/321-3340, cover varies) has been a favorite rock music venue for years, although it also books alternative country, blues, and reggae. Located on Elliston Place, the club is convenient to Vanderbilt and downtown.
The Basement (1604 8th Ave. S., 615/254-8006, www.thebasementnashville.com, cover varies) calls itself a cellar full of noise, but it’s a good kind of noise. Indie rock is the most common art form here, but they book other types of acts too. The Basement’s New Faces Night on Tuesday is a popular place to hear singer-songwriters. Admission is 21 and over, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is a full bar and light menu. Note that inside the club is totally smoke-free; there is an outdoor smoking porch. The brick walls and subterranean feel give the Basement its cool atmosphere. Park behind the club and on side streets.
3rd and Lindsley (818 3rd Ave. S., 615/259-9891, www.3rdandlindsley.com, cover varies) is a neighborhood bar and grill that showcases rock, alternative, progressive, Americana, soul, and R&B music. Over the years they have developed a reputation for booking good blues acts. They serve a full lunch and dinner menu, the bar is well-stocked, and the club offers a great atmosphere and sound quality. Smoking is allowed.
Located in an old warehouse that has housed a flour mill, jam factory, and country music concert hall, Cannery Row (One Cannery Row, 615/251-3020, www.mercylounge.com, cover varies) and its derivative Mercy Lounge are two cool venues for live music. Cannery Row is a large, somewhat cavernous space with lots of nice cherry-red touches, hardwood floors, and a shiny red bar. It can hold up to 1,000 people. The Mercy Lounge upstairs is a bit more intimate, with a capacity of up to 500 people. The Mercy Lounge hosts 8 off 8th on Monday nights, an open mic where eight different bands get to perform three songs. Both venues book rock, country, soul, and all sorts of other acts. It is located off 8th Avenue South.
12th and Porter (114 12th Ave. S., 615/254-7250, cover varies) is a favorite venue for live music in the city. Second only to the Ryman in popularity, 12th and Porter books all kinds of acts. They are a popular choice for music-label showcases, and legendary performers have been known to stage impromptu shows here. Spacious and offering a full menu, including good Mexican food, 12th and Porter is a great hangout and place to hear live music.
Coffee shop by day, bar and live music venue by night, Café Coco (210 Louise Ave., 615/321-2626, cover varies) in Elliston Place is the best of both worlds. Monday is songwriter’s night, Tuesday is open-mic poetry, and Thursday is open-mic music. Jazz and rock bands play other nights, when the cover ranges $2–5.
A music venue designed by performers, The Rutledge (410 4th Ave. S., 615/782-6858, www.therutledgelmv.com, cover varies) has some of the most ear-pleasing acoustics in the city. An intimate venue—it seats only 250—the Rutledge books a wide variety of acts, hosts industry events, and even puts on tribute shows now and then. It is a smoke-free club and serves a limited food menu.
Over in East Nashville, the French Quarter Cafe (823 Woodland St., 615/227-3100, cover varies) offers a Thursday night in-the-round songwriter’s night. Weekends will find blues, rock, and soul musicians on the stage at this New Orleans–style nightclub. Dine on spicy po-boys, muffaletta, or other Cajun specialties while you enjoy a night out.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition