Nashville in 24 hours.
As a musician, there’s no possibly way to take in a fraction of Nashvilles music scene in 24 hours. It’s just that vast. But that’s just what we had to try to do. Here are some of the observations I came away with after our short visit.
1. Broadway alone has more venues than I’m used to seeing over the span of a whole city. Walking down Broadway on a Sunday night at 8pm, out of the dozens of venues we walked by, there was literally a band playing in every window front. It’s like the red light district for bands with clothes on and yeah, it’s touristy. I also noticed that 99% of these bands were country and/or cover bands. I’m sure other types of bands play here, I just didn’t see it. That, and like-minded bands are probably hiding out in spots that people who are in Nashville for more than 24 hours might know about. Regardless, Broadway was really interesting. The lack of genre variety didn’t matter. Every bar was packed with tourists and townies alike, decked in cowboy hats, singing a long and kicking their boots around.
2. Bands shan’t be too confident that the abundance of venues means you’ll get a show. I got a few responses from venues, all of which looked pretty promising. However, there was a music festival in town while we were there, and by the time the venues got back to me with their response that the date wasn’t going to work out, it was too late. Venues book several months ahead of time, and next time we go back we’ll have to make sure we confirm something pretty far in advance.
3. Even the open mic market is saturated. We tried to do an open mic at the famous Bluebird cafe, but when we got there, I nice dude with an umbrella trucked over to our car through the downpour to let us know that we wouldn’t be allowed to line up to get into the venue until 4:30 and we wouldn’t be let in to the venue until 5:30. We’d be allowed to sign up but playing a song is based on a lottery system and only 40 people (out of a lot more than 40 people) will be chosen to play over the course of 4 hours. Despite all the rain and the risk and the wait, we were tempted to stick around and give it a shot but we had plans with friends and some tacos and ultimately decided to do that instead. True, a run in with an A&R rep or Taylor Swift or something would’ve been nice, but the tacos were delicious.