• Lillie Burke

Hello Nashville: Music City venues

In Music City, it should come as no surprise that music can literally be found anywhere. It isn’t unusual for coffee shops, street corners, city parks and restaurants to turn into venues.

With all these venues and opportunities to hear live music, it can be overwhelming, especially for a city-newbie. So, we here at the Vision are making it easy for you by listing the city’s top spots to hear local musicians.

Exit/In

Since 1971, the black building, graffitied with the names of its former headliners, has served Nashville as an iconic venue. And hot young acts have been pouring in ever since. It has played host to Tom Petty, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Wolfmother, The Who and Etta James. Though commonly left out of national top venue lists, Exit/In has come to embrace its alternative status and even describe itself as “an old, dark, loud piece of Nashville rock stuck right in the middle of Music City.”

Mercy Lounge and the Cannery Ballroom

Mercy Lounge and the Cannery Ballroom are technically two separate venues that occupy an area right off Cannery Row and share the same low-key environment. Both have been building a reputation for finding the best in burgeoning buzz bands and renowned national talents. Second story Mercy Lounge can only hold a crowd of 500, with standing room only. The Cannery Ballroom accommodates larger acts and crowds. Each year, the joint venues play host to the Road to Bonnaroo concert series.

Marathon Music Works

Open since November 2011, Marathon Music Works has quickly become a noted space for special events. While it may lack history as a music venue, the building makes up for it in character and in its early 1900s charm – a feature that has made the space well sought after for video shoots and weddings. Here, show-goers are treated to a roomy venue that is set to play host to a variety of artists, including the Arctic Monkeys.

12th & Porter Playroom

You may recognize this venue from its brief cameos on ABC’s TV series “Nashville,” or from a recent mention in Rolling Stone. But even with its high profile listing, it has maintained a reputation for showcasing new, upcoming talents. The building is known for great acoustics and has been voted as Nashville’s second best venue, just behind the historic Ryman Auditorium. Currently, the bright blue building in the Gulch is undergoing renovations but will remain open for performances.

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