When your bank account can’t be tapped and all you have left are the clothes on your back and the gas in your tank… where do you go when you want to network in Nashville? I am one of the many musicians in this town that came here to make music and I am on a budget in a town where everything seems to require money.
Part of establishing yourself as a viable member of the Nashville community is networking. You need to see and be seen. Bar tenders need to know your name, house bands need to smile when you arrive, and you should be a facet at songwriter rounds. However all of the food, drink, and gasoline that this requires can make you just want to stay home.
Going out on various nights of the week I have found some places that one can go that won’t break the bank! Of course, logically if you eat at home, stick to water and maybe drive with a friend – some of the extra costs can be cut out, but I am sure you have already thought of that! Here are my suggestions of free music events so that you can begin to see and be seen.
Sunday – The Station Inn 7:00 doors open, 9:00 music starts
This bluegrass venue on any other night is $10 and up. They bring in the best of the best. Sunday night is the Bluegrass Jam. Pickers can come in with their instrument and sit in on one big “family” jam session. The food and drinks are reasonable and the atmosphere is always friendly. This would be a great place to network as a or for a musician.
Monday – Dan McGuiness, Guiness Girls
As you can see by the name, it is committed to encouraging the females in town. Although occasionally there will be a male or two if they come as a part of a set. This show, with the exception of the coldest days of winter, is held outdoors in a tented patio. This makes for a very cool atmosphere. Right on the corner of music row – it is a great spot to meet people coming form work from any of the music businesses in town.
Tuesday – Douglas Corner, Open Mic Night
Open mic night is held every Tuesday at 8pm. To sign up call 615 292-2530 between 1 – 6pm on the Tuesday you wish to play. You must be there at 8pm and you get to perform 2 songs. Open mics are always a good way to test new songs, meet other songwriters and get your bearings up on stage.
Wednesday – The Blue Bar, Stage Write Writer’s Night
The bar has a great atmosphere, friendly Bartender Bob, good food and of course the music ROCKS! Songwriters are scheduled for either 15 minute slots, as a part of a round, or longer if they are the featured writer of the night. You never know who will show up in the line-up or in the crowd. This is a great chance to get out there and support the community, hear good music, and meet the people you need to know.
Thursday – The Listening Room Cafe
Located in the historic Cummins Station building, the Listening Room’s recent relocation from downtown Franklin to Nashville was pure genius! Just minutes from music row, it is the place to be for a sophisticated audience and talented musical guests. The only thing you need to know is there is usually no cover but there is a minimum purchase if you choose to sit at a table. So for an hour or so, stand… you won’t regret it!
Friday –The Blue Bird, 6:00 show
The Blue Bird is a historic site in Nashville. Every night they have 2 shows – the 6:00 is free and the 9:00 has a cover. The only thing you have to know about the 6:00 show is that if you sit at a table – there is a minimum purchase requirement… the pews are always free, ask to sit there. I have never been disappointed when going to the Blue Bird. FYI – don’t go with a friend you want to catch up with, it is a quiet reflective atmosphere, and chatty people playing with their phones, texting, and talking to their neighbors are frowned upon.
Saturday – Commodore Sports bar and Grill
Weekends at the Commodore is a scheduled songwriter’s night in a unique venue. Held in the grill of the Holiday Inn Hotel you always have a mixed crowd. Guests of the hotel along with Nashville regulars give the songwriter a good crowd to be around and to sing to.
Again – these are not the ONLY no cover/free venues in town. Many of the events listed are free multiple, if not all nights of the week. Always check the website’s calendar to see if events have been rescheduled or they have changed the cover amount. This is just a suggested networking schedule, hope it helps you get out and about. Let me know if I have missed a MUST SEE.