Southern Stories
Apr 04/13

Nashville On Location: The Venues That Make the TV Series Posted by: Lauren Weintraub | 0 Comments

While rhinestones, cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats have forever been associated with Music City, ABC’s new nighttime television series, “Nashville,” has avoided the city’s stereotypes in the hopes of a more genuine, authentic approach.

We are in no way claiming that the show doesn’t throw some unrealistic drama into the mix, or that it accurately depicts how the city’s music industry operates. However, it does a great job of showcasing the diverse music offerings and noteworthy venues found throughout the city, allowing Nashville to emerge as a star in its own right.

1. The Bluebird Café is one of Nashville’s most treasured musical landmarks, hosting the talent of songwriters seven days a week. Of course, it’s also a landmark for those wanting to be discovered—just ask Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift. The Bluebird is in the middle of a strip mall in Green Hills, where you might expect to find a nail salon instead of an intimate 100-seat listening room. In fact, the space is so intimate that after the first episode, the crew had to recreate the venue at a local sound stage to ensure there would be enough room to film.

2. You haven’t truly seen a concert until you’ve sat in a historic pew at the Ryman Auditorium. The auditorium was originally built as a tabernacle for a revivalist; later used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts; and finally resurrected to its current grandeur as a performance venue. Whether belting out “Rich Girl” along Hall & Oates at a sold out concert, or getting goose bumps as Neil Young sings “Old Man” during an encore, any performance at The Ryman is guaranteed-unforgettable. Photo courtesy of Ryman Auditorium.

3. While East Nashville might be undeniably linked to the word “hipster,” it is hard to ignore a part of town with so many hotspots within such close proximity—not to mention they host a yearly festival dedicated to the tomato. The 5 Spot is one of several happenin’ places on the east side. While I’ve attended some awesome shows there—including a tribute to The Band, and an intimate performance by rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson—the real fun is had at their Keep on Movin’ dance party. Every Monday night patrons can cut a rug as they play tunes from rock, doo-wop and girl groups of the 50s, 60s and 70s. You might even spot Clare Bowen, who is known to attend—and I’m sure her Nashville character, “Scarlett O’Connor,” would approve.

4. Since “Nashville” is exclusively filmed in Music City, many of the cast and crew find places to hang out when not on set. One in particular is Robert’s Western World, which is a rockabilly-style honky-tonk located on Lower Broadway. Here you can get beer in a can, apple pie moonshine and fried bologna sandwiches while a traditional country band plays for the crowd. Get bonus points if you’re lucky enough to spot fiddlers and washboard players still wearing their pistols in leather gun holsters on stage. Image from

5. Joe Cocker, Dolly Parton and The Beach Boys have all cut a record or two at the historic RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studio (also known as RCA Studio A), built in 1964 by Chet Atkins, the guitarist and producer credited with creating the infamous Nashville Sound. It is now owned by piano rocker, Ben Folds, who selectively leases the studio when he is not using it to crank out his own jams. Located on Music Row on what seems like an endless street of recording studios, it is there that “Scarlett” and “Gunnar” recorded their demos in episode 3 of the show. Image from The Country Music Hall of Fame.

6. On a grassy knoll in the center of a traffic roundabout, sits “Musica,” Alan LeQuire’s classically inspired bronze statue consisting of nine nude dancers. It was created as a visual expression of music; a perfect fit for the heart of Music Row. From time to time the nude dancers are found dressed in colorful swag promoting a philanthropic cause, giving kudos to chart toppers or celebrating an upcoming holiday. Of course the statue’s unveiling did not come without controversy, as some Nashvillians felt the display of the neither regions had little to do with music. Either way, it seems fitting that this was the location of the music video of the show’s ever-controversial “Juliette Barnes.”

Regardless of whether “Nashville” is renewed for another season, the city is and always will be about the music. But that’s why I love this town, and the celebrity it has become.

Lauren Weintraub is a Little Rock, Arkansas native currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. When she is not listening to the good tunes the city has to offer, she moonlights as the owner of The Solution Girl – providing professional organizing, party planning and problem solving services to clients throughout the south.

*header image courtesy of ABC




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