The Bluebird Cafe
For a certain type of music fan, the Bluebird Cafe (4104 Hillsboro Pike, 615/383-1461, www.bluebirdcafe.com, cover varies) has a whole lot going for it. It is intimate and homey. It books some of the best up-and-coming country and acoustic acts in the business. Its shows start as early as 6:30 p.m.
There’s no smoking, no talking during the acts, and virtually none of the usual bar pick-up scene. In short, the Bluebird is a place where music comes first, and everything else is a far second.
Opened in 1982 by Amy Kurland, the Bluebird started out as a casual restaurant with live music. It’s located next to a dry cleaners in a nondescript shopping mall a few miles south of Hillsboro Village. Over the years, it has evolved into a destination for music lovers who appreciate its no-nonsense take on live music, and who hope that they just might stumble in on the next big thing.
The Bluebird is famous as an early venue for the then-unknown Garth Brooks, but its stage has also hosted the likes of Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Gillian Welch, Trisha Yearwood, and Steve Earl, among many more.
The Bluebird opens every night of the week, and most evenings the entertainment starts at 6:30 p.m. Cover is usually under $10. There is no cover charge and no reservations accepted for the shows on Sunday, songwriters’ night, or Monday, open-mic night, but guests should arrive by 5:30 p.m. to get one of the first-come, first-served seats. There are only 21 tables and a few additional seats at the bar, so you have to be on your toes to get a spot in the house.
For shows on Friday and Saturday nights, the Bluebird takes reservations the Monday of that week noon–5 p.m. Be advised that many weeks the shows sell out in a mere half hour, so keep hitting that redial button! Reservations for Tuesday–Thursday shows are available a week ahead 11 a.m.–5 p.m. You can also make reservations online.
There is a $7 minimum per seat at all shows, so come hungry or thirsty. The food is standard bar fare, nothing more and nothing less. No outside drinks are allowed.
Once you’ve successfully navigated the rules of getting a seat at the Bluebird, sit back and enjoy some fine live music. Nashville is the city where anybody can become a somebody, and it’s places like the Bluebird that make that happen. Be a part of it.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition