The iconic Bluebird Cafe is turning 35, and June kicks off a year of celebration with special performances, appearances, other milestones and acknowledgements. The 90-seat music venue, known for originating the songwriter “In The Round” concept, will be the epicenter for events at the club and across the country over the next 12 months.
Amy Kurland opened the small but influential Bluebird Cafe as a restaurant in a nondescript strip center just south of downtown Nashville in June of 1982. She added a stage as an afterthought, and live music became a staple of the eatery. She offered the club as an outlet for songwriters and aspiring artists to perform and with the help of regular performers Thom Schuyler and J. Fred Knobloch, pioneered the idea of presenting songwriters “in the round,” where writers set their chairs in the center of the room to play their original material, telling the stories and inspirations for their songs.
The careers of numerous artists and songwriters have been launched from the small stage. Budding songwriters continue to travel from all over the world and wait in line for hours to audition for the chance to perform one song during Monday open mic night, and the club still has the original applications filled out by Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and others. Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea and Taylor Swift were discovered playing there, and countless producers, artists and A&R folks heard songs that became huge hits for many artists.
Over the years, The Bluebird Cafe has been the setting for movie and television scenes, from the feature film “The Thing Called Love” to the popular “Live From The Bluebird Cafe” television series that ran on the former Turner South network for five years, and the club’s inclusion in the Foo Fighters’ “Sonic Highways.” The Bluebird name skyrocketed to a new level when the location was used in many scenes of the hit television show “Nashville.” Producers later built an exact replica of The Bluebird on a soundstage in Nashville – right down to the neon bird above the stage, headshots, lights, tables and chairs.
In 2008, original owner and founder Amy Kurland sold the legendary venue to the Nashville Songwriters Association International, (NSAI) a 50-year-old, not-for-profit organization devoted to the service of songwriters and the craft of songwriting. 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. In the ensuing nine years, little about the club has changed, continuing to focus on promoting the craft of songwriting.
The 35th anniversary year will also celebrate 25 years of Alive at the Bluebird, an important fundraiser benefitting Nashville’s Alive Hospice. This beloved concert series features 130+ songwriters playing 35 shows, Tuesdays through Saturdays at The Bluebird Cafe. Participating songwriters have included Jason Isbell, Michael McDonald, John Oates, Amy Grant, Vince Gill and many others.
Outside of its home base, The Bluebird Cafe continues a host of events that bear the iconic name. Bluebird on the Mountain – a sold-out concert series at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory in Nashville, the Bluebird Cafe at London’s Country2Country Festival, Bluebird at Blackberry Farm, Bluebird at the Ballet and the 15th anniversary of the Bluebird Cafe Concert Series at Utah’s Sundance Resort are all scheduled in the coming year.
Additional anniversary events, special guests and more will be announced throughout the coming year.
For additional information on The Bluebird Cafe and the various events celebrating the 35th anniversary, visit www.bluebirdcafe.com