From spring through fall, there’s a good chance of finding free live music outdoors in Nashville. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of possibilities.
One of the most popular free live music series, it happens on Thursday evenings in August and September at Public Square Park downtown. To get a feel for the stellar talent, here are highlights from the 2017 line-up: Sheryl Crow, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Spoon, the Weeks, and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.
Centennial Park: Acoustic Fridays, 5-9 pm (May and June) and more expansive shows on Saturday afternoon, noon-5 pm (May and June, August and September) Family-friendly with a lively, ever-changing Kidsville activity zone. Even if you hate music, you can enjoy the beer garden, food trucks and an artisans’ area. An eclectic multi-artist roster for each performance. 2017 highlights included North Mississippi Allstars, Colin Hay, The Secret Sisters and Sugar + The Hi-Lows. Centennial Park off West End Avenue.
Dragon Music Sundays
Hillsboro Village. Held at Fannie Mae Dees Park (aka as Dragon Park) in May and June. Almost exclusively local artists but some are nationally recognized.
Franklin. 1 neighborhood, 16 porches, 100+ musicians–at least that’s what it was in 2017. Think of this as trick-or-treating for free live music outdoors. This multi-genre musical event is very Mayberry-ish (if the Darlings joined Andy to jam in an upscale Franklin neighborhood). Always on a Saturday in June.
Lower Broad and other locations. Early June. There’s a fee structure to enter most festival events but you can hear free outdoor music at several satellite stages featuring recognizable artists in areas open to the general public. Also, check out nearby clubs for free artist showcases.
Every June things heat up down on Jefferson Street for a weekend showcase of Nashville’s roots in jazz, blues and a dose of gospel. Nashville’s legendary clubs have long been shuttered but their memories live on. This celebration is a vivid reminder that Nashville holds a powerful place in African American musical history. It starts Friday at 5th and Demonbreun, then shifts to the Bicentennial Mall on Saturday. Soak it in.
Riverfront Park. Every year features a line-up of nationally and regionally known acts. For 2017, the roster included Chris Young and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. There’s also a performance by the Nashville Symphony and reportedly one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays.
Bring a lunch and enjoy music from an eclectic line-up of performers Tuesdays at 11:45 in September and October. Enter the courtyard from the second floor of the library. Riders in the Sky, Opry members and musicians featured in the “Toy Story” movies, are among its annual guests.
Did someone shout “Polka!”? Well, maybe not but that’s only one of the genres represented in this highly popular weekend event that packs out Germantown each October with a wide variety of food and craft vendors.
Bicentennial Mall/Germantown. It’s a block party in the frosty air as the giant guitar drops at midnight. Festivities include hours of free live music from top-tier artists. Past performers have included Jimmy Buffett, Keith Urban and Kings of Leon. The celebration ends with a bodacious fireworks display.