An unassuming listening room in a strip mall near Nashville might seem like an odd place to have an extremely popular music venue, but it's certainly worked out for the Bluebird Cafe. Located at 4104 Hillsboro Pike in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, the Bluebird Cafe is a place where songwriters and country music singers alike can be discovered at Open Mic Night -- just ask Garth Brooks, who played there before he hit it big.
What is The Bluebird Cafe?
This restaurant and performance space is basically what it sounds like. Amy Kurland opened it in 1982, and it began as a restaurant intended to have live music as entertainment. Instead, it turned into a world-renowned place for singer-songwriters to practice their craft before audience members and maybe even get discovered for a record deal in the Music City.
Who's Played There?
Not to be confused with Bluebird London restaurant in New York, today this 90 seat venue has music basically every night. There are "two shows a night, seven nights a week, with our In The Round shows typically scheduled Tuesday-Saturday, our established Open Mic on Mondays at 6 PM, and our audition-only Sunday Writers' Nights on Sundays at 8 PM," the venue's website, bluebirdcafe.com, reports. Shows have limited accessibility for wheelchairs, and a small cover charge, but the website accepts credit cards ahead of time.
The venue has a special "Shhh policy" which means people in the audience need to be silent during performances and only speak between songs and during applause in the intimate setting. For someone really focusing on their songwriting and performing, it can make all the difference.
Singers like LeAnn Rimes, John Prine, Maren Morris, and Phil Vassar have all performed at the Bluebird Cafe, and songwriters like Ashley Cleveland and Tricia Walker (who have done cuts by the likes of Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, and Taylor Swift) mingle right alongside them.
The show has also been featured on the ABC hit drama TV show Nashville!
Who Owns The Bluebird Cafe?
Today, the cafe and music venue is owned by the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), a not-for-profit organization "devoted to the service of songwriters and the craft of songwriting," according to the venue's website. It all started as a little restaurant in a strip mall owned by one woman with a dream.