When it comes to authenticity in atmosphere, performers, and patrons, the revered Station Inn in Nashville’s Gulch is the golden ticket.
In a far-from-gaudy one-story building across from a couple posh yet delicious restaurants (Bar Otaku being one, and as your trusted blogger, I’d advise you to indulge) you will find some of the finest and fastest pickers in town. Even if you don’t fancy yourself much of a lover of bluegrass, traditional country, or Americana music, you just may be a fan after a night there.
While you could check the regularly scheduled content all you want, you just never know who may pop in for a couple tunes. You might just catch a coy Jim Lauderdale, maybe a Jerry Douglas, or Billy Strings hanging around and head up for a few. You never know at The Station Inn.
The atmosphere is half ski lodge-half dive bar, (maybe a little heavier on the dive) and does not intimidate. All are welcome, and all are encouraged. There’s almost a cafeteria-style feel to the chairs and tables situation, and the food and beverage concierge is not unlike a bowling alley. This is the kind of establishment where you stick to pizza and beer, and for God’s sake why would you stray from the tried and true two.
You’ll often see the tables littered with a glut of pitchers and plastic cups, pizzas of various varieties steaming alongside, or perhaps some forgotten crust of a once salivating patron. (throw out your trash, folks) It’s a simple place with a simple order of business, and it hits on all the right levels.
The artists will usually have their merch table set up in the far corner for you to peruse just in front of the wall of delicately slanted stand up basses from who knows when. And while I’m not a proponent of buying tacky tourist souvenirs, if you are swinging through town and want some momentos, Station Inn gear is something I can always get behind as a token of fond memories at one of Nashville’s finer establishments. To the right of the food/beverage window you’ll find all kinds of CDs of artists who frequent The Inn (likely CDs of live performances there), killer ¾ sleeve jersey shirts for a very modest price, koozies, coffee mugs, and much more.
So if you find yourself in Nashville seeking the authentic live music experience, look no further than The Station Inn. No frills, no phonies, no BS- just some genuine entertainment from genuine artists with an abundance of pizza and beer, and when you’re done, you just might be able to catch a Sake bomb at Bar Otaku before they close. This is no doubt a haunt where the real heads frequent. Save your Luke Bryan and Eric Church wannabes for the Broadway circus.
[Of course, this is the way it once was, and will hopefully continue to be in a not so distant future. Please, if you’re in a position to help places like Station Inn remain open and delighting audiences, learn how you can help Save Our Stages with NIVA.]