Much to our friend James’ dismay, neither Christine nor I had heard of the quintessentially-Nashville Bluebird Cafe before we began planning our trip. I know, we’re lame.
Had we simply gone with him when James implored us to see “The Thing Called Love” — River Phoenix’s last completed film, set in and around the Bluebird — back in 1993, we would have known all about it.
In any case, once we read about the club’s rich history as a launching pad for up-and-coming singer-songwriters like Faith Hill, Kathy Mattea, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks (who signed with Capitol Records the day after performing at a showcase here in 1987) we knew we couldn’t miss a visit to the Bluebird.
Located way outside of town in a shockingly suburban stretch of mini-marts and grocery stores — the last place you’d expect to find a famous, world-class music venue — the Bluebird is tucked into a dingy strip mall next door to the Green Hills dry cleaners, pictured below. Strange, I know…but looks can be deceiving.
Inside, the club is pretty nondescript, not much more than a long bar and a bunch of scattered tables and chairs set around a really small stage. But once the music starts up, the vibe is so soulful and intimate that right away you understand why the Bluebird’s motto is: “Shhh!”. Because, whoa, you could not talk in that place without everyone hearing you…it’s that small. But once the jams start flowing, who wants to talk anyway?
The night we were there, there was a blues band (whose name I will remember in time and post here, but for now, totally escapes me) performing and they were totally on fire! Really fantastic, dirty delta blues done right. You could feel that music in your bones, baby!
We stayed till they finished up (around midnight) then drifted back towards town with our ears ringing and our hearts pounding from the experience. Or maybe it was those fried pickles. Either way, a truly magical night…