Live music stage in Nashville

City Guide / Nashville

6 Best Bars in Nashville With Live Music

By Bri Hand | Sep 16, 2021

If you want to find bars in Nashville with live music, you won’t have to look far. On most nights of the week, simply stumbling into one of the city’s numerous bars gives you front-row access to some of the country’s best live bands and acts.

From Dolly Parton to Taylor Swift and John Oates to Vince Gill, the list of singer-songwriters and musicians who’ve found success in the neon-lit, whisky-tinged Nashville bars is extensive. If the ancient Greeks had Mount Olympus, the muses of country, blues, and rock call Nashville home.

Put simply, it’s a bustling city with music always on its mind.

In this post, we’ll cover the best bars in Nashville with live music by focusing on the six bars anyone who has moved to Nashville can’t forget:

  1. The Bluebird Cafe
  2. The Station Inn
  3. Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge
  4. The 5 Spot
  5. Bobby’s Idle Hour
  6. Robert’s Western World

Let’s get started!

1.  The Bluebird Cafe

Located in a strip mall outside of downtown Nashville, The Bluebird Cafe is a small, unassuming bar that packs big-time musical talent. Unlike the noisier bars downtown, this venue has a strict “Shhh” policy designed to let both the guests and musicians focus only on the live music. 

Because of this “artists-first” stance, The Bluebird Cafe is popular with established and up-and-coming musicians alike. Artists such as LeAnn Rimes and Phil Vassar are known to frequent the bar, as are famous songwriters such as Allen Shamblin and Josh Kear.

Visiting this music venue has many benefits. In addition to hearing some of the finest pop and country music and around, check out the following:

  • The menu: Although The Bluebird Cafe is technically a bar, don’t expect to eat the same finger foods you’d find anywhere. Instead, listen to the twang of a guitar while dining on Pimento Mac and Cheese made with cavatappi, white cheddar, and bread crumbs. Or, feel nostalgic with The Bluebird Basket, a plate of chicken tenders, buttermilk ranch, and curly fries.
  • Open mic nights: This music venue hosts multiple open mic nights each month for songwriters to try out new material. However, some nights are only open to Nashville residents who’ve written hit songs, while others are open to anyone just starting out in songwriting.

2. The Station Inn

Known for its emphasis on bluegrass, Americana, and roots music, The Station Inn is a music bar that you simply can’t miss if you’re a Nashville resident. 

Located close to Music Row in the city’s Gulch district, the over 40-year-old bar has featured musical legends such as Dolly Parton, Sam Bush, and John Prine. Even U2 has performed there! Equally impressive is the fact that from Jan. 15, 2021, to Jan. 8, 2022, the bar’s history will be displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

If you come for a beer and a live music show, there are a few things to know. To start, seating is first come, first served. Given the establishment’s popularity with locals, this means it’s a good idea to arrive well before the night’s singer-songwriter takes the stage. Also, this live music venue only seats 200, and shows frequently sell out.

If you visit The Station Inn, be sure to check out the following:

  • The bar food: The Station Inn is a Southern bar food lover’s dream. From Moon Pies to Daddy Bob’s Pimento Cheese, the bar has you covered when it comes to matching your taste buds with what you’re hearing. Also, be sure to order a Southern staple—Yazoo beer.
  • Bluegrass jam: Although it sounds like a banjo-themed fruit preserve, the bluegrass jam is an event held every Sunday night in which experienced and inexperienced bluegrass pickers alike are invited to strum together. The live music event is completely free, and you may find yourself picking a banjo next to a living legend.
  • Jam class: While the bluegrass jam is more informal, the jam class is for bluegrass musicians who want to develop their craft. Learn from a professional musician in a laid-back group setting.

3. Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge

Although it’s only been open since 2016, Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge has garnered a large following, and regulars can be spotted there every night of the week. The bar has even gained national attention: A 2020 article in Rolling Stone dubbed it one of the best hidden hangouts outside of downtown Nashville.

Located in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge is best described as a time-traveling country bar from the 1970s. From the retro decor to the artists covering country legends such as Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr., the bar exudes a classic country aesthetic.

But residents don’t just come for the music and decor (although those are serious perks). In addition to the atmosphere, the food can’t be missed. Some popular menu items include:

  • Chicago-style Italian beef: Think a roast beef sandwich meeting a French dip. These sandwiches are served au jus with thin layers of roast beef, hot giardiniera, and sweet peppers.
  • Frito pie: If you’ve never had a Frito pie, you’re seriously missing out. A culinary icon of the Southwest, a Frito pie consists of ground beef layered over Fritos and topped with sour cream and taco sauce. And the best part? It’s eaten right out of the bag.
  • Shitake mushroom bao buns: Topped with shitake mushrooms, cilantro, and green onions, and doused in a house-made hoisin sauce, these bao buns are the real deal.

The bar also specializes in classic and signature cocktails. Quench your thirst in between live bands and acts by ordering an old fashioned, a Parton Me (a spin on a martini), or Dee’s Margarita. Or, just order all three!

4. The 5 Spot

Located in the swanky, bohemian neighborhood of East Nashville, The 5 Spot is a neighborhood favorite that features musical acts ranging from alternative rock to Motown cover bands. What’s more, a dance party is a weekly staple, as is the occasional impromptu DJ set.

The 5 Spot is also notable for its Motown Mondays. Each Monday, East Nashville residents gather to dance the night away to soul and R&B classics. Two Dollar Tuesdays and a weekly concert series hosted by local musician Derek Hoke are also widely popular.

While you’re listening to live music, be sure to enjoy some of the following popular bar items:

  • California cheese fries with bacon, guacamole, and red onion.
  • Discada fries with chorizo, bacon, and hot dogs.
  • Southern poutine with sausage gravy and scallions.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Nashville’s downtown scene, you could do much worse than find yourself in East Nashville’s hip neighborhoods. Stop by the 5 Spot for that Nashville soul you’ve been searching for.

5. Bobby’s Idle Hour

Writing for the New York Times, Margaret Renkl described Bobby’s Idle Hour as “the place you’ve been looking for, the kind of place that makes you pack up and move to a new city to start your life all over again.” 

After visiting the iconic establishment, you’ll understand why.

Founded in 1978 and located on Nashville’s famed Music Row, Bobby’s Idle Hour has long been the place where up-and-coming and established songwriters gather to perform. A dive bar in the truest sense of the word, the place evokes a bluesy grittiness that many have called “the real Nashville.”

Stop in after work for a quick bite and a beer, and you’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for Nashville’s raw, untouched music scene.

6. Robert’s Western World

One of the best Nashville bars for live music, Robert’s Western World is located in downtown Nashville. But don’t let the location fool you—this iconic Nashville Broadway honky tonk is just as popular with local residents as it is with out-of-towners.

Founded in 1999 in a building that used to house a guitar company, Robert’s Western World has seen its fair share of showstoppers come through, from Big Ben Keith to Curly Chalker. But musical talent isn’t the only thing drawing people in. 

In addition to the classic country atmosphere, people also come for the bar food. Popular menu items include:

  • Cheeseburger basket
  • Grilled turkey melt
  • Recession special (fried bologna sandwich, Moon Pie, and a PBR)

Downtown Nashville is filled with many great music bars. Robert’s Western World should be at the top of your list.

End the night with Landing

Whether you’re into music bars with a distinctly Southern vibe or dive bars that pack a serious underground punch, Nashville has a bar for everyone. Whichever bar calls to you, know that at the end of the night, you’ve always got a place to stay with Landing.

Living with Landing means flexible leases without the strings that come with a long-term commitment. Plus, you’ll have access to furnished apartments in Nashville via our member-based network and absolutely no application fees, security deposits, or additional month’s rent upfront. In short? You’ll have more money for your bar tabs!

Find your Nashville home with Landing today and start exploring all the music bars Nashville has to offer. The Music City can’t wait to call you a regular!

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.