Update from The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN

A Letter from our General Manager, Erika Wollam Nichols:

Greetings Bluebird friends and family,

We’re receiving calls every day – to check on whether we are currently open (which is no, we are not) and when we will open. I wanted to answer everyone straightforwardly. We don’t know.

What makes The Bluebird such a unique experience; the intimacy and interaction, where our audience of song lovers and fans is seated close to the writers and each other…our small room of 90 seats…right now, that is not a safe or healthy environment. We plan to remain closed until we can open safely, keeping the health of our visitors, our songwriters and our staff in mind. This includes both public performances and private events. Right now, we have no idea, and cannot predict when that might be.

Like many of you, I am a planner. In order to operate a business, especially one that relies on coordinating people, actions and activities, you need to plan and schedule. That is understood to be part of the job description. For all of us, in our work and personally, calendars and dates direct our lives and that scaffolding has now been toppled by a situation that we cannot control despite our wishful intentions. What we do know is that this virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future. We know that people are becoming ill, some gravely, others less so, but the virus is spreading and has no timeline. We also know that people, congregating in small, enclosed spaces like The Bluebird Cafe is a recipe for continuing the spread of the virus. In light of these health and safety concerns, there are also economic consequences that we must consider. As a small, independent business, we have a very limited margin of profit. Given the reduced capacities that safety dictates, we cannot open without taking a financial hit and losing money on a nightly basis.

This decision to remain closed is a considered response to the situation on my part as General Manager of The Bluebird Cafe and on the part of our parent organization, Nashville Songwriters Association International. Collectively we are monitoring recommendations and have all hope that we, as a city and a country, are moving forward in managing this health situation and will find ourselves at a place where we can resume congregating and sharing the emotional and unique experience that The Bluebird Cafe offers.

In the meantime, we are working to create a few ways that our fans can share and participate in some Bluebird experiences while we are unable to welcome you into the club. Stay with us on our social media and via our website for information updates – and please, everyone, stay healthy. We want to see your lovely faces back with us at The Bluebird Cafe!

With warm wishes,

  • erika

IMHO, one of the great Listening Rooms in North America.


Thanks for posting @RedJim…just sad. Hope they can weather the storm and reopen someday.

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Yeah, me too.

We thought about going to the Bluebird on our last trip to Nashville (2016) but my recollection is that, at the time, they didnt take reservations or, maybe, only took reservations the day before - neither of which suited the holiday planner in me. We had a very nice evening at the Listening Room Cafe instead, where I was introduced to Nashville Hot Chicken for dinner. I knew it was supposed to be spicy - hadnt quite realised just how spicy. Phew!

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Hope you’ll make it back. At the rate we’re going, we’ll settle for having been to Tootsie’s and the Opry.

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@Harters, haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Nashville nor have I tried the famous, hot chicken. It even looks hot, so I don’t doubt it’s extreme spiciness. It’s on the short bucket list, as is Memphis. We’ll have to see how current situation plays out over time. But glad you and Mrs H were able to go!

This was the second time we’d been to Nashville. We put that trip together as our music tour. Nashville for country. Memphis for the Blues (and Elvis). New Orleans for jazz. And Lafayette, LA, for cajun and zydeco. We had a great time (and some very good eats).


Lyrics here might go a little ways to explain the significance of The Bluebird Cafe…

Nashville Cats

The Lovin’ Spoonful

Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
Nashville cats, get work before they’re two

Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee ant hill
Yeah, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks 'is guitar could play
Twice as better than I will

Yeah, I was just thirteen, you might say I was a
Musical proverbial knee-high
When I heard a couple new-sounding tunes on the tubes
And they blasted me sky-high
And the record man said every one is a yellow sun
Record from Nashville
And up north there ain’t nobody buys them
And I said, “But I Will”

And it was

Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
Nashville cats, get work before they’re two

Well, there’s sixteen thousand eight hundred ‘n’ twenty one
Mothers from Nashville
All their friends play music, and they ain’t uptight
If one of the kids will
Because it’s custom made for any mothers son
To be a guitar picker in Nashville
And I sure am glad I got a chance to say a word about
The music and the mothers from Nashville

Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
Nashville cats, get work before they’re two

Kick it

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: John Sebastian

Nashville Cats lyrics © Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, BMG Rights Management, Carlin America Inc


Sure it was a very memorable trip, and hope you’re able to visit the US again, if you wish to. Think you’d enjoy the Pacific Northwest, as well as British Columbia and Vancouver Island. I’m sure you’ve heard about the world famous Butchart Gardens, near Victoria BC @Harters? There’s an excellent restaurant and inn in Sooke Harbour, on the island, considered to be the best resto In BC. Think you’d like it a lot, and no sports coats or ties required…:smiley_cat:

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Can’t tell you how happy I am you posted that, because I’d completely forgotten about that song! Have listened to it hundreds of times - pretty sure I wore the grooves off that Lovin Spoonful album @RedJim.

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John Sebastian wrote the song in, I think, 1961. He said there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville…

I’ll bet that number today is closer to 13 thousand, five hundred and twenty. Amazing musical talent in that town.

Talk about pickers, Del McCoury’s cover is endearing.

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Wouldn’t be surprised if 13,000 was about right; guess its where just about everybody goes to be “discovered” hopefully, for them. Well, maybe if Covid goes to HELL one of these days, the bucket list will morph into reality @RedJim.

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I’m sure I would. Driving the Pacific Highway south to north is still on the list (a Virginian friend from a different forum recommended it to me). But then so is driving Route 66.


Appalachian Mountain Music at its finest! Thank you for the reference.

Good recs, with each very different to the other. Haven’t done the entirety of the iconic Route 66 yet. You travel through some great red and green Chile territory, as in sauces, and such, bonus for foodies @Harters.

The very superstar of bluegrass.

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I’ve long been a fan of country music but it’s only in recent years that I’ve discovered bluegrass - through my friend Paul, who practices law in Lexington, KY and is something of an expert. In the genes I suppose.

I like the music of the long established acts, like McCoury and Seldom Scene but am also a fan of the more contemporary bluegrass artists like Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent.

Had a great evening at the Rex in Galax, VA, where the music style is “old time” rather than bluegrass. BBQ dinner that night at the Galax Smokehouse which was OK but no better than OK.


I’m tentatively planning a trip to Nashville and Louisville for a look about in October, while keeping an eye on the current variant. It looks like the Bluebird is hosting virtual events only still?

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@Harters - This isn’t about food, but, if you haven’t already seen it, you might enjoy Ken Burns’ documentary series Country Music. I really loved it even though I thought I disliked all country music. It turns out what I don’t care for is the Nashville Sound. I really like the older stuff. Sorry to all the other fans! Probably a post about a Nashville restaurant isn’t the best place to mention this. Oh well…

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Yep, I’ve already watched Burns documentary. Thought it almost as good as his excellent Civil War series.

The older stuff, along with Bluegrass, is much closer to the roots of the music. Have a look on Youtube for “Transatlantic Sessions” which was a series on British TV, featuring traditional American, Scottish & Irish music. You easily see how intertwined they are.