Unless you’ve been to a show at the Bluebird Cafe, it’s very difficult to describe the exceptional atmosphere in this music venue and why so many people in the audience respond in an overly emotional way (I literally had to cry).
Part of it is probably the modest, cozy atmosphere of this 100-seat location lit up by warm lights and with the walls covered in pictures of singers who have played there. Moreover the audience is seated just an arm’s length around the musicians in the center. The setting is so intimate that artists often play deeply personal songs.
A cafe that went from a beloved local institution to a must-see travel destination
Since founder Amy Kurland opened the venue in 1982 in the Green Hills neighborhood, the Bluebird has evolved from a bistro to a launch pad for the careers of songwriters such as Garth Brooks (who is known to still drop by from time to time), Pam Tillis, Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift (she played there before she had a record deal).
But it was not least because of the TV series Nashville that the Bluebird Cafe turned into a must-see stop for tourists from around the globe. Many of the show's key scenes have been shot at this venue where characters like Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) perform songs that make the audience cry. Over the years, fans of the show who visited Music City have been eager to check out the real-life place.
Plan ahead if you want to enjoy a live show at the Bluebird Cafe
When we arrived in Nashville last July, the Bluebird Cafe was obviously on top of our list of places we wanted to ckeck out (#hugefanofnashvilletvseries). But what started as a spontanous 'let’s go to the Bluebird for some good music and beer' turned out to be a difficult undertaking. It actually took us two attempts in order to get a seat. So here is my advice on how to manage to get in:
#1 If you are not up for queuing then you need to buy your tickets prior to the show. However the reservation mechanism is kind of tricky and tickets are snapped up only seconds after they go online, therefore the following site should help you to find the guidlines for each specific show.
#2 Now, if you don’t snag a reservation, you have to wait, some line up outside around 6:30 p.m. for a 9 p.m. show! The Bluebird offers only very few first come, first served seating for their shows (max 10-12 seats). We made the experience that it is not worth waiting if there are more than 15-20 people already ahead of you. But before you leave you should ask the doorman, he will tell you whether it is worth waiting or not. So be there early enough (at least 1h prior to the show) and line up on the RIGHT side of the front door (because the left side is for people with tickets).
#3 You can bring your kids, all ages are welcome. Just be aware that in order to sit at the 10 bar seats you MUST be 21+ (these seats are mostly the ones left for people waiting in line). So if you take your kids, I'd rather try to buy tickets in advance. Also there is a 'SHHH! POLICY', so unless your kid is a huge music fan and can quietly sit through a 1.5h concert, better go with your date or friends in order to be able to enjoy the show.