In Knoxville, start at historic Market Square and nearby Gay Street, where you’ll find live music every night. Next stop is the Old City, where Barley’s Tap Room and other hotspots serve up a great variety of rock, roots and alternative music along with pizza and microbrews.
Like most college towns, the Johnson City/Kingsport area has a wide assortment of places to hear rock, alternative, punk, dance music and more. The Sophisticated Otter Brewing Company features a variety of big name and regional acts.
Chattanooga’s downtown area, with its many entertainment venues, is the place where college students and young professionals head for music and fun, from the riverfront up to Fountain Square and across the river to the NorthShore area. Rhythm & Brews and Murphy’s Ale House are popular venues, as is the Tremont Tavern. The Midtown Music Hall is the place for progressive alt rock, and Las Margaritas offers mostly Latin and folk-rock.
Nashville has almost too many music venues to choose from, but start at 3rd & Lindsley Bar and Grill, where you can hear R&B, rock, alt and progressive rock, blues, soul, and even Americana, seven nights a week. The famous Exit/In is a 35-year-old club where the list of performers reads like a who’s who of rock history, from Bo Diddly to R.E.M. Another popular night spot is The Basement, with music Monday through Saturday. Take some time to nose around in the Printer’s Alley area, where great music is always just around the corner.
Memphis is a city made for entertainment, so ramble around in the Beale Street Historic District and see what you find. Check out who’s playing at the New Daisy, a charming old theater that frequently hosts big names. The Hi Tone Cafe is a rowdy Overton Park spot with a strong and varied lineup of acts, recently voted the best place in town to see live music. Also on the list: B.B. King’s, and anywhere on Beale Street.