NASHVILLE, TN - JULY 25: Mike Armistead, Mike Webb, Ernie Syker, and Leroy Troy of The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band performs at Station Inn on July 25, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Station Inn: Everything You Need to Know About Nashville's Historic Bluegrass Venue

Roots music mecca the Station Inn opened in Nashville in 1974 and moved to its current address (402 12th Avenue South) in 1978. Originally founded by musicians in search of regular gigs, the venue remains a destination for tourists and locals in search of the world's best bluegrass pickers and storytellers.

Its stage has been an invaluable platform for everyone from the late progressive bluegrass innovator Roland White to a hungry, young Dierks Bentley. Back in the '80s, bluegrass jams would attract such genre pillars as Bill Monroe and Bobby Osborne. The early aughts popularity of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and the rise of Americana only upped the reputation of one of the most influential and respected music venues in all of Tennessee. Nowadays, the past, present and future stars of roots music benefit from new owner Joshua Ulbrich, who's staying true to the vision of the venue's owner from 1981- 2021, the late JT Gray.

Here's everything else first-time visitors need to know about the Station Inn.

The Neighborhood It's in Has Changed Drastically

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 12: A general view of atmosphere of Station Inn on December 12, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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The Gulch area near downtown Nashville transformed in recent years into a glitzy stretch of expensive rental properties, high-end hotels and swanky shops and restaurants. The Station Inn still sits there unchanged, creating a similar visual as the house in Up or Kenny's home in South Park. Depending on whom you ask, this circumstance makes for a cruel reminder of gentrification or a charming relic in a must-visit neighborhood.

Inside, the venue is like a time capsule, maintaining a vibe that's yet to be replicated by a corporate space that's chasing a retro aesthetic. It's so old-school that credit cards still aren't accepted as payment at the door, so be sure to bring cash.

It Serves Good Food

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 13: General view during the performance by singer/songwriter Mike Farris and The McCrary Sisters during a gospel throw down at the Station Inn on September 13, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Less is more when it comes to the food and beverage selections, with many patrons opting for buckets of bottled beer and servings of popcorn. Hand-made —and John Prine-endorsed— pizzas are as fancy as it gets, and regulars wouldn't have it any other way.

It's Among the Last Historic Music City Venues Standing

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 02: (L-R) Erin Enderlin, Joey Feek, Rory Feek, Tonya Lynette Stout, and Chris Caminiti performs live Station Inn during the Tin Pan South festival on April 2, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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As of Dec. 2022, the multi-venue Cannery Row complex is closed, with plans in place for different live music spaces to eventually open in the building. Across town, what's next for the historic Exit/In remains unclear, with its show calendar coming to a halt right before Thanksgiving. More recently, reports placed singer-songwriter hotspot 3rd and Lindsley's current home in jeopardy. Thus, Station Inn makes the short list —along with the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe— of comparable local attractions without an uncertain future.

It Sets the Singer-Songwriter Night Standard in Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 22: A view of the atmosphere during the 17th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference at the Station Inn on September 22, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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On a nightly basis, numerous venues, hotel bars and other spaces around town host songwriters-in-the-round events, where songsmiths take turns singing and telling stories about their compositions. In a town like Nashville, any given show is bound to be good, and there's a chance you might witness a top-tier Music Row writer expounding on chart hits at a barbecue joint. Elite pickers, singers and writers Val Storey, Larry Cordle and Carl Jackson set the standard on Monday nights at the Station Inn with sets that hold up against what you'd hear at just about any big-ticket show in the city, much less any other songwriter night.

Check the Station Inn website and its social media presence for upcoming events.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Nashville Music Venues for Fans of Classic Country