Musical Menagerie: Great Spots for Live Music in Middle Tennessee

Musical Menagerie: Great Spots for Live Music in Middle Tennessee

Follow your ears to some toe-tapping Middle Tennessee music.

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Nashville may be known as Music City, but more broadly, Tennessee is the musical state—from blues-infused Memphis to the far corners of Appalachian with its roots-y swagger. It's true, however, that Nashville owns the market on indie acts, and there's no better time of the year to experience a little of what the music scene is all about than Tin Pan South.

Taking place April 5 through 9 this year, the acclaimed songwriters festival features a number of top hitmakers like Tim Nichols, Maggie Chapman, Kendell Marvel and Randy Montana, in addition to well-known artists like Kip Moore and Maren Morris—playing in rounds all over town: at Blue Bar, Commodore Grille, The Country, Douglas Corner Café, Hard Rock Café, the Listening Room, Whiskey Rhythm Saloon, 3rd & Lindsley, Station Inn and the iconic Bluebird.

And when Tin Pan South has come and gone, be sure to add the following songwriter-inspired events and venues to your to-do list—each one of them an easy road trip from Nashville.

Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant | Leiper's Fork

Drive time: 36 miles or 45 minutes

(Courtesy of Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant) 

While Puckett's star has shone bright the last few years—the locally owned enterprise now boasts six locations across the state—live music is one of its main draws. What the Puckett family started as a country store and local gathering spot for the tiny town of Leiper's Fork in the 1950s morphed into a restaurant and stage for up-and-coming musical talent when purchased by supermarket veteran Andy Marshall in the late 90's. Nowadays, Thursdays feature the regular Creole Shrimp Boil & Open Mic Night, while every Tuesday is reserved for Uncle Lester's Country Dance hoedown.

The Bunganut Pig Pub and Eatery| Murfreesboro

Drive time: 33 miles or 53 minutes

(Courtesy of The Bunganut Pig Pub and Eatery) 

It may be a mouthful to say, but this Murfreesboro establishment has been going strong for nearly 20 years and is as well known for its diverse musical offerings as it is for its greasy pub grub (not to mention, daily happy hour specials 2-7 p.m.). Nearly every night of the week is booked with some sort of stage happening, whether a band, karaoke or a writers' night. The Bunganut has a location in Franklin, as well, for those of you closer to I-65 instead of I-24.

Bluegrass Underground | McMinnville

Drive time: 77 miles or 1 hour, 38 minutes

If you're up for a lazy drive through the pastoral countryside, buy a ticket to hear some world-class bluegrass performed in the belly of the Cumberland Caverns and make a day of it. Several times a year, Bluegrass Underground brings in heavenly acts to fill its soaring Volcano Room with harmonious tunes. 

Music City Roots | Franklin

Drive time: 20 miles or 35 minutes

(Courtesy of Music City Roots) 

You never know who you might encounter at this famed, weekly Williamson County event hosted by Americana legend Jim Lauderdale (the Willis Clan, Donna the Buffalo and even Vince Gill have all taken the stage in the past). Similar in format to the Grand Ole Opry, Music City Roots features four to five artists in 20-minute segments every Wednesday night—for just $10, you can take part in the live country and bluegrass radio broadcast, which is held at the Factory at Franklin.

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