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History

Over 70,000 people visit the venue annually, many of them as a result of seeing The Bluebird on television or reading about the club in publications such as Southwest Spirit, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times or hearing it mentioned by the artists such as Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Kim Richey, Dierks Bentley, Faith Hill and Vince Gill, all of whom have had career moments over the past 31 years at the tiny, legendary club.

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  • January 1, 1982

    OPENING

    OPENING

    January 1, 1982
    OPENING
    Amy Kurland opens The Bluebird Cafe as a 100-seat restaurant in a small strip mall, five miles from downtown Nashville.While her focus was to serve lunch and dinner, Kurland adds a small stage and involves friends with music venue experience to help book bands after the dinner crowd. Music becomes a part of the Cafe's repertoire.
  • January 1, 1983

    FIRST RECORD DEAL

    FIRST RECORD DEAL

    January 1, 1983
    Kathy Mattea had been playing the Bluebird for several months and lands a record deal on Mercury Records.
  • February 13, 1984

    BLUE MONDAY

    BLUE MONDAY

    February 13, 1984
    Blue Monday, fronted by vocalist Roguie Ray, begins a weekly Monday Night blues band tradition at The Bluebird Cafe. During his time, Ray along with band members, Eddie Blakely, Jimmy Greasy, Billy Earl McClelland, Johnny Neel and Dave Pomeroy, hosted many of the music industry great players such as Greg Allman, Dickey Betts, Lenny Breau, Steve Cropper, Vince Gill, Jimmy Hall, Dave Mason, Dee Murray, David Olney & Wynonna.
  • July 1, 1984

    WRITERS NIGHT BEGINS

    WRITERS NIGHT BEGINS

    July 1, 1984
    The Bluebird Cafe adds their first official weekly Sunday Writers’ Night, featuring 8-10 songwriters chosen through an audition process. Don Schlitz was the special guest on the first show.
  • July 12, 1984

    T. GRAHAM BROWN

    T. GRAHAM BROWN

    July 12, 1984
    T. Graham Brown’s first performance.
  • January 1, 1985

    IN THE ROUND BEGINS

    IN THE ROUND BEGINS

    January 1, 1985
    The songwriter In The Round format, which is now known worldwide, gets its start at the Bluebird. Thom Schuyler (16th Avenue and Old Yellow Car), Fred Knobloch (Used to Blue and Meanwhile), Don Schlitz (he would collect his second Grammy a few years later for Forever and Ever, Amen), and Paul Overstreet (future co-writer of Forever and Ever, Amen as well as a slew of other hit songs) were the first to perform in this format. To this day, a typical nightly performance consists of four songwriters seated in the center of the room, taking turns playing their songs and accompanying each other both instrumentally and with harmony vocals.
  • June 1, 1985

    NEW YORK TIMES

    NEW YORK TIMES

    June 1, 1985
    The Sweethearts of the Rodeo appear for the first time with Don Schlitz. They get a record deal on Columbia Records. The Bluebird gets mentioned in The New York Times.
  • September 24, 1985

    RADNEY FOSTER

    RADNEY FOSTER

    September 24, 1985
    Radney Foster’s first show.
  • March 26, 1986

    INDIGO GIRLS

    INDIGO GIRLS

    March 26, 1986
    Carol Elliot brings a group of the best local talent from Atlanta. That group includes The Indigo Girls.
  • June 18, 1986

    KIX BROOKS

    KIX BROOKS

    June 18, 1986
    Although he’s played at The Bluebird many times before on Writers’ Nnights, this was Kix Brooks’ first appearance here with a band.
  • July 7, 1986

    THE SNAKES

    THE SNAKES

    July 7, 1986
    • Mike Henderson starts a weekly performance with The Kingsnakes (shortened to The Snakes after being signed to Curb Records), with Kenny Greenberg, Wally Wilson, Glenn Worf, John Gardner & Bill Swartz (later replaced by James Stroud).• A second incarnation, The Bluebloods, replaces the Snakes in 1986. Originally a trio featuring Henderson, John Gardner, & Glenn Worf, the addition of keyboards to the ‘Bloods brought such luminaries to the band over time including Al Kooper, Greg Wetzel, Reese Wynans and later, John Jarvis.• Currently on Monday nights, The Bluebird hosts The Mike Henderson Band with Henderson, Willie Domann and Kevin McKendree.
  • January 1, 1987

    MONDAY OPEN-MIC

    MONDAY OPEN-MIC

    January 1, 1987
    The Bluebird Cafe adds early shows and the Monday Open-Mic nights, stops serving lunches to concentrate on music and songwriters.
  • December 19, 1987

    GARTH BROOKS

    GARTH BROOKS

    December 19, 1987
    • Jonell Mosser’s first appearance at The Bluebird Cafe. • Garth Brooks performs at The Bluebird. Due to a cancellation, his performance is moved up in the program and Lynn Schults from Capitol Records is in the audience. Shults takes Garth into the kitchen and asks him to come to Capitol the next day to offer him a deal. Years later, Garth says, “The Bluebird is the beginning and the mecca, the end.”
  • January 1, 1988

    WOMEN IN THE ROUND

    WOMEN IN THE ROUND

    January 1, 1988
    • First “Women In The Round” show, with Ashley Cleveland, Karen Staley, Pam Tillis and Tricia Walker. • Jeffrey Steele showcases at The Bluebird with Boy Howdy. • Gary Burr passes his Bluebird audition
  • January 2, 1989

    COWBOY JUNKIES

    COWBOY JUNKIES

    January 2, 1989
    The Cowboy Junkies come through on their first tour.
  • February 4, 1990

    DEANA CARTER

    DEANA CARTER

    February 4, 1990
    Deana Carter passes her Bluebird audition.
  • June 16, 1990

    JANIS IAN

    JANIS IAN

    June 16, 1990
    Janis Ian performs her first Bluebird ITR.
  • October 10, 1990

    HAL KETCHUM

    HAL KETCHUM

    October 10, 1990
    Hal Ketchum’s performs his first feature show at The Bluebird.
  • March 3, 1991

    KENNY CHESNEY

    KENNY CHESNEY

    March 3, 1991
    Kenny Chesney passes his Bluebird audition.
  • January 1, 1992

    LES KERR

    LES KERR

    January 1, 1992
    Songwriter and café regular Les Kerr performs his first Mardi Gras concert at the Bluebird featuring original songs about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, beginning Nashville’s longest running Fat Tuesday Celebration.
  • January 1, 1993

    THE THING CALLED LOVE

    THE THING CALLED LOVE

    January 1, 1993
    • The Bluebird Cafe is the setting for the movie The Thing Called Love starring River Phoenix, K.T. Oslin, Samantha & Sandra Bullock. Amy Kurland is quoted several times by Oslin’s character.• Keith Urban passes his Bluebird audition.
  • January 1, 1994

    GARTH BROOKS

    GARTH BROOKS

    January 1, 1994
    Barbara Walters interviews Garth Brooks at The Bluebird about his career.
  • January 1, 1996

    DISNEY

    DISNEY

    January 1, 1996
    The Bluebird Cafe partners with the Disney Institute to present songwriters performances on the Disney property in Orlando, FL.
  • May 25, 1996

    CAROLYN DAWN JOHNSON

    CAROLYN DAWN JOHNSON

    May 25, 1996
    Carolyn Dawn Johnson passes her Bluebird audition.
  • January 1, 1999

    FREEDOM SINGS

    FREEDOM SINGS

    January 1, 1999
    Nashville’s First Amendment Center begins an annual “Freedom Sings” show, a celebration of freedom of expression through music.
  • February 13, 2000

    DIERKS BENTLEY

    DIERKS BENTLEY

    February 13, 2000
    Dierks Bentley passes his Bluebird audition.
  • January 1, 2001

    LIVE FROM THE BLUEBIRD CAFE

    LIVE FROM THE BLUEBIRD CAFE

    January 1, 2001
    Turner South network begins broadcasting a program called “Live from the Bluebird Cafe” which features songwriters performing many well-known original works. The show runs for five years, although is never broadcast in Nashville.
  • January 1, 2002

    BIG AND RICH

    BIG AND RICH

    January 1, 2002
    • Bluebird Cafe receives “Night Club of the Year” Award from the Academy of Country Music.• The Bluebird Cafe Scrapbook, chronicling important Bluebird events and the people involved in them, is published.• The duo of John Rich & Kenny Alphin performs officially as “Big and Rich” in an acoustic set at The Bluebird.
  • January 1, 2002

    KELLY COLLOM

    KELLY COLLOM

    January 1, 2002
    Kelly Collom proposes to owner Amy Kurland in the round with a song he co-wrote with Billy Dean.
  • January 1, 2003

    SUMMER SONGWRITERS PERFORMANCE

    SUMMER SONGWRITERS PERFORMANCE

    January 1, 2003
    The Bluebird Cafe begins an annual summer songwriters performance series at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah.
  • January 1, 2004

    TAYLOR SWIFT

    TAYLOR SWIFT

    January 1, 2004
    • Dreamworks Records’ Scott Borchetta sees 15 year old Taylor Swift perform for the first time and invites her to be a part of his new venture – a label to be called Big Machine Label Group.• The Bluebird Cafe partners with Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory to present an annual outdoor concert series, Bluebird on the Mountain.
  • November 11, 2007

    KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

    KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

    November 11, 2007
    Kris Kristofferson performs his first BB show with members of his original band including Billy Swan, Stephen Bruton Chris Gantry and Donnie Fritts to announce the pending sale of The Bluebird to the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). Katie Couric interviews Amy on on CBS news about her retirement and sale of The Bluebird to NSAI.
  • January 1, 2008

    CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP

    CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP

    January 1, 2008
    Original owner and founder Amy Kurland transfers ownership of the legendary venue to the Nashville Songwriters Association International. More of a donation than a corporate sale, Kurland saw NSAI’s mission to “educate, elevate and celebrate songwriters” as a way to continue the Bluebird’s relationship to songwriters and to the community.
  • January 1, 2010

    COUNTRY THROWDOWN

    COUNTRY THROWDOWN

    January 1, 2010
    The Bluebird Cafe Stage is featured on the new Country Throwdown Tour presented by 4fini, creators of the Warped tour.
  • April 6, 2011

    GARTH BROOKS

    GARTH BROOKS

    April 6, 2011
    Garth Brooks is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York where he is quoted as saying, “You might think this [induction] is it, but trust me, the way The Bluebird is run, the songwriters are king. If the whole entertainment world understood that, we’d all be so much better off, because they get it.”
  • April 6, 2011

    THE JOHNS

    THE JOHNS

    April 6, 2011
    “The Johns” (John Rich & John Anderson) perform at The Bluebird Cafe as part of The Birdsongs series, benefitting the club.
  • April 6, 2011

    TOBY KEITH

    TOBY KEITH

    April 6, 2011
    Toby Keith performs at The Bluebird Cafe with co-writers Scotty Emerick & Bobby Pinson as part of The Birdsongs series. The show was a benefit for The Bluebird – the proceeds provide needed bathrooms upgrades.
  • October 10, 2012

    NASHVILLE TV SHOW

    NASHVILLE TV SHOW

    October 10, 2012
    The Bluebird Cafe is featured in the new ABC-TV series “Nashville”, starring Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Robert Wisdom, Powers Boothe, Clare Bowen, Charles Esten and Jonathan Jackson.

The Bluebird Cafe is a magnet for Nashville visitors from all walks of life…some of our more well-known visitors:
Supreme Court Justice David Souter, T-Bone Burnett, Lauren Bacall, Peter Jennings, Helen Hunt, Mary Steenbergen, Ted Danson, Hal David, George Benson, George Stephanopoulis, Neil Sedaka, Carole King, David Crosby, Barbara Walters, Donna Summer, Katie Couric, Susan Stanborg, Bono, John BonJovi, Don Everly, Johnny Cash, Minnie Pearl, Chet Atkins, Mark Knofler, Billy Gibbons, Roy Blount Jr., Al Gore, Patricia Eaton, Jim Varney, George Lindsey, Cher, Bonnie Raitt, Leslie Stahl, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Melissa Etheridge, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stephen Schwartz, Bill Medley, Mose Allison.

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