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The Bluebird Turns 40

Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe’s Anniversary

The Bluebird Cafe sign – Photo: LTTL
The Bluebird Cafe – Photo: LTTL

The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville TN

Fortieth Anniversary

We Look Back

Nashville’s iconic The Bluebird Cafe is turning 40 and is celebrating with a special event this weekend – CHECK CALENDAR.

We decided to look back at our own experiences – our last night of live music there in 2019 (link follows) and our review of the wonderful documentary Bluebird, the latter we recount below.

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
Photo: LTTL

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Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe’s Anniversary

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Author: Rob Dickens

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