Some of the best music is in small bars.
Musicians on their way to the top start in these bars. Big stars sometimes go back to these bars to enjoy an intimate audience experience that's unavailable at the big venues. I've seen both BB King and Paul Simon in small clubs.
So, how to go to a bar alone? Here are some tips. And then, advice on where to find some of the best music in Nashville.
How to Go to a Bar Alone
There are some bars, like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, that are really easy to go to alone. They have a full house every night and they seat you so that they use their space efficiently. When I went I was seated with another single woman. Easy! But, if you are going to a bar where they don't seat you, here are a few tips:
- Don’t carry a purse. Leave most valuables in a safe at your hotel or hostel. Money tucked into a zipped pocket and more stuffed into your bra or shoe (again for backup) makes things simple.
- Arrive early. This will give you your choice of seats in the room and time to get to know your server or bartender a bit. Do so, and they'll have your back should you need support during the evening.
- Choose a seat with a view. Take a seat at the bar or another location where you have a good view of the room and the exit.
- Don’t drink too much. Stay sober so that you have your wits about you and keep an eye on your drink so that nothing is slipped into it.
- Feel the vibe of the room. Observe how the room feels as people arrive. If you’re not comfortable, leave.
- Choose the people you'll talk with. Be cautious of people who choose to talk with you. It’s usually better to choose people yourself.
- Go home by taxi. Don't take a ride from someone you've just met. Stay safe all the way home.
Best Music in Nashville
I may do research before I leave on a trip but I do not rely on it for everything. To find the best of a place I ask a local. And then I ask another to try and confirm the information I've received.
To find the best music in Nashville, I spoke with Steve, the manager of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway. He directed me to Roberts Western World one afternoon where I saw Rachel Hester & the Tennessee Walkers. Certainly the best I'd seen in the honky-tonks. So I returned the next day to get his word on the best bars in Nashville. His #1 choice was Robert's Western World but there were more and they tended to be outside of the tourist areas.
Here's Steve's list of the best music venues in Nashville.
- Robert's Western World – to see some top musicians that you will see on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
- The Family Wash – I'm told that musicians will show up for impromptu jams here.
- 3rd and Lindsey – it was under renovation when I was in town but it is open for business again.
- Foobar – off the beaten track in a building that looks bunkerish, Foobar is supposed to have great music.
- The Nashville Palace – located near Opryland, the Nashville Palace is run by the people behind Robert's Western World
- The Stove Fox – another that’s located outside of honky-tonk central. It also offers great music.