Some of the city’s finest showcases are found at indoor live music series. Most are multi-artist events–some bringing together diverse musical styles, others keeping things more focused.
New for 2018, the season runs every Sunday night, July 15-August 19. Each show features multiple artists and the series roster includes Buddy Miller & Friends, Jim Lauderdale, Mark O’Connor Band, Amanda Shires, William Fitzsimmons, Justin Townes Earle and others. You can buy tickets for individual shows or a series pass.
A grand ole tradition since 1994, this season’s Bluegrass Nights features Dailey & Vincent, Del McCoury Band, Vince Gill, Hot Rize, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Runs through June and July on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm.
My friend Jeffry the Lighting Director tipped me off to this intimate series spotlights a single artist in each show. Past guests have included Jerry Lee Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, Jason Isbell, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Miller, Taj Mahal and Gladys Knight. Plus, you never know who might show up as a special guest. Professional chops in a laidback environment. Shows can be viewed online through a variety of outlets. Check their website for their curious way of filling seats. (Photo above: Jeffry Gordon)
Currently on hiatus until it secures a new venue. One of the longest-running indoor live music series, MCR leans toward roots and Americana acts in an “Austin City Limits” sort of format. The show has a livecast every Wednesday at 7 pm so you can test-drive it before purchasing tickets. On their website, you can also view select videos from past shows as well as connect to their podcast and stream music from their affiliated radio station WMOT-FM on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
Held at the venerable War Memorial Auditorium, the hosts are Storme Warren and Joe Denim. They want more than a passive audience for their music-driven variety series. They delight in bringing you a cornucopia of talent in four loosely defined categories: Rising Star, Songwriter, Chart-Topper/Legend and an X Factor. Shows take place the first Thursday of the month–but not year-round–so consult the website for upcoming rosters.
It’s a little like “A Prairie Home Companion” with an added dose of Christian spirituality.In addition to a multi-artist cast that changes for each show, there are featured speakers, comedy bits and the occasional sing-along. Past guests have included Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Ricky Skaggs, the Whites, the McCrary Sisters, Keb Mo’ and Hal Holbrook. Even acts without big-time name recognition are A-list quality. Visit their website and try out their podcast for a sample of what you can expect. Note: it has changed venues several times including the Ryman Auditorium and Symphony Hall so double-check the location.
Most people think it’s just a museum–a real amazing museum–but it also hosts performances. Two prime examples of indoor live music series: its Musician Spotlight and Songwriter Session series (typically held on the weekends). This year’s Artist-in-Residence is the commercially successful and critically acclaimed Jason Isbell who will perform mini-concerts throughout the year. The CMA Theater seats 776 while the more intimate Ford Theater holds 213 music lovers. For a sample of these intimate gatherings, click the “Watch and Listen” button on its homepage menu.
Let’s pretend a back porch can count as an indoor venue. Every Thursday May 3-June 21, 6:00-8:30 pm you can enjoy a laidback roster of talent FREE. Of course they won’t argue if you’d like to buy food or drink.
If you listen to the SiriusXM channel “The Highway,” you’re familiar with this Friday afternoon four-hour show hosted by Buzz Brainard. It’s a hot ticket (except it’s free) with people lining up for hours before the 3 pm airtime. Why? To see the likes of Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Maren Morris or Charles Esten. No reservations are accepted but I hear the best strategy is to get a table early and have a late lunch before the show starts.
It’s not in Nashville. It’s about an hour-and-a-half down I-24 toward Chattanooga. But it’s among the most unique music venues you’ll ever visit. Concerts (also recorded for its PBS series) are staged in The Caverns near tiny Pelham, TN. The series name is a little misleading because they extend their borders beyond bluegrass favorites to include artists as diverse as Wyclef Jean, indie band Guster and master guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.
Also, check out charity events
Many local artists are quite generous with their time and talents by performing at fund-raising events. Though not exactly a indoor music series, it might be a good way to hear top talent in a more intimate environment. Alison Krauss, John Hiatt, Amy Grant, Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow are the first names that came to mind. Is the weather nice?