The Bluebird – The Movie, The Experience

Bluebird Cafe close up

The Bluebird Cafe – Photo: LTTL

We Review ‘Bluebird’ The Movie

We Recast Our Last Visit There



Words Rob Dickens

Images: Jim Jacob

It is one of the most iconic music venues in one of the greatest music cities in the world.

It is tiny.

It has a more-than-humble appearance from the outside.

It is renowned as devoted to nurturing new talent and being a supreme listening space – the command ‘SHHH’ appears everywhere.

Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe is located in a Hillsboro Pike strip mall in the city’s south-west and is widely known as one of the most influential music venues.

Bluebird, the first in-depth documentary about the tiny 90-seat club was released last year. It is a glorious testament to how this place became so famous and cherished not just by audiences, but by performers, past and present.

The documentary takes us carefully through the venue’s various stages – the early rock days, the evolution to an in-the-round hard listening space, the audition program, the talent-spotting draw for record company executives, the famous names appearing there, the critical focus on songwriting, the management and staff who adore the place, the spotlight that the hit TV series Nashville provided and the consequent burst of interest, intense fan demand and the current day situation.

The film includes some engrossing commentary – Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Maren Morris, Kathy Mattea, Faith Hill and many more. There are plenty of live performances included and what I particularly enjoyed were the songwriters showcasing the songs that others made hits.

Bluebird runs 90 minutes and was directed by Brian Loschiavo, produced by Loschiavo and Bluebird General Manager Erika Wollam Nichols, with beautiful cinematography by Jeff Molyneaux.

“The Bluebird Cafe is home to thousands of musical storytellers, both established writers and new rising stars, and yet its own story has never been told in film,” said Nichols. “We’re excited to have captured the Bluebird’s history, through stories and songs from many folks whose lives have intersected with and were changed by their performance at this tiny, accidental landmark.”

The film features Bluebird Cafe founder Amy Kurland, who in 1982 was a 27-year-old culinary student with a dream of opening a café in a strip mall of an upscale Nashville suburb.  On the suggestion of a boyfriend, she added a stage, and live music soon followed. The film captures how this modest beginning turned into the famous music venue it is today.

Bluebird is a must-see for anyone who has been there, enjoyed the TV series, wants an understanding of Nashville and the depth of talent that is drawn there. Actually, Bluebird is a must for any music fan.

The Bluebird Cafe – Photo: LTTL




It has always been a challenge to get tickets to Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Cafe. Since its starring role in the long-running TV series Nashville, that task has become even more difficult.

Tonight’s show was the first of two for the day – we aimed for the six o’clock in-the-round session but the tickets for the ninety-seat venue which has been operating in a humble Green Hills shopping mall since 1982, sold out quickly.

Luckily venue operators leave some seats at the back pews available for the door line. Tonight the doors opened at 5 and Jim and I stood in line for about ninety minutes to ensure we got in. Not only did we achieve that, we got prime seats, literally tapping-shoulder distance from one of the performers who, in accordance with tradition, are placed in a circle in the centre of this cosy, but historic place.

In The Round – Source: Bluebird Cafe

Tonight’s early set included Josh Allison & Judy Allison, Jim Parker, Brad Bulla and Mike Roberts.

Bios provided by Bluebird Cafe website, with commentary added by us:

Josh Allison and Judy Allison – Photo: LTTL

Josh Allison comes from a blue-eyed soul background with a commanding voice, and with wife and music partner Judy, the duo provides sweet harmonies. Josh & Judy can be found performing live 4 to 6 days a week across North Alabama/Tennessee for live venues, corporate parties and weddings. 

The couple passed a songwriters’ audition, doing well enough to be invited to this session. “Can’t Stop” and a new song “Driveway” were particularly memorable.

Jim Parker – Photo: LTTL

Jim Parker has a long and rich career – a founding member of The Illusions, recording with Lee Hazelwood’s LHI label, studio work with various recording artists including Sonny and Cher. He met a young John Anderson in Nashville and began writing successful chart songs. He is also the creator and host of a popular series at the Von Braun Center Playhouse in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jim provided plenty of highlights tinged with humour tonight – “Walmart Wedding Ring” and “Blood In The Water” stood out.

Brad Bulla – Photo: LTTL

Brad Bulla was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina with an early exposure to bluegrass and acoustic music. Brad began performing at festivals, fairs and concert venues, forming a band and opening shows for Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride and Ricky Skaggs.

Along with performing with bluegrass band, Fireball Mail, Brad operates Bulla Promotions – a promotion and management company based in Nashville. His song “The Dark Night Of The Soul” is based on two tragic losses, one as personal and as heart-breaking as it gets – not a dry eye in the house.

Mike Roberts – Photo: LTTL

Mike Roberts is one of the most respected and genuine musicians in the North Alabama region. Mike returned to Huntsville after touring solo for about fifteen years ago and the talented singer/guitarist is also known for his band, 5ive O’Clock Charlie.

His soulful voice and grounded lyrics were memorable – “Carry On The Torch” (an ode to Outlaw Country) and the tale of his struggles with depression, “My Soul” were excellent.

A line for the 9 o’clock show had formed outside during this entire session. As we filed outside, you could see the anticipation in their eyes.

Long live the Bluebird





Bluebird Cafe close up

Bluebird Cafe close up

Bluebird Cafe close up

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Author: Rob Dickens

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