Nashville, Tennessee may be known for its live music scene, especially the honky-tonks and bars of Broadway. But neighboring Franklin rivals the “Music City” with its makeshift “pickin’ parlors” and venues.
The town is where many musicians and celebrities choose to make their homes, convenient to the big city but with small-town comforts. It’s why you never know who you might see playing at the local bars and restaurants on any given night. It’s also home to the Pilgrimage Music & Arts Festival.
This post contains affiliate links.
Owned by country music legend Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, wine is just one thing on the menu at Arrington Vineyards. The stunning winery outside of town offers tastings and picnics with Arrington Vineyard Winery Round Trip Transportation from Nashville.
But it’s also a great place to see live music with a view. On their Food Truck Fridays, you can see a free show while ordering bites from the onsite vendors. Songwriter Nights showcases artists as they talk about the stories behind their songs.
The Franklin Theatre is in the heart of downtown and was originally the area’s movie theater. Today it has been completely restored, including the 1937 marquee.
Now the theatre hosts the bigger name acts touring through town. Past performers include Jason Isbell, Marc Cohn, Sheryl Crow, and Travis Tritt. In addition to music, they host movies, dance, and plays.
Gray’s on Main
Set in a former pharmacy, Gray’s on Main is a lively restaurant offering dishes like fried chicken, braised brisket, and seafood gumbo.
It has an extensive cocktail menu as well as a stage hosting local live music acts ranging from folk to country to gospel. Grab a table upstairs for the full experience. If you have to wait for a table, enjoy a local whiskey from neighboring O Be Joyful, a narrow bar known for its selection.
Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor
Set inside a Victorian cottage and storefront, The Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin Parlor is perhaps the most well-known space for live music in town. Opened in 2005 by songwriter Ron Kimbro, it’s covered in eclectic decor.
It has hosted countless acts, including Vince Gill, John Prine, and Wynonna Judd. It’s the best place to spot artists after music festivals like Pilgrimage. In addition to the music, Kimbro’s offers bar food like pizza and burgers along with draft beer.
Leiper’s Fork Market
Franklin has a number of places offering “pickin’ corners,” which are makeshift music spaces with instruments anyone can pick up and play. Leiper’s Fork Market is one of those, with a photo of Hank Williams there to guide musicians in the convenience store.
Fox & Locke
Puckett’s Grocery Leiper’s Fork is now Fox & Locke, the original name from 1955. Now surrounded by art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, the building was originally a 1953 grocery store.
Grocery items still cover the shelves, but it now operates as a restaurant and music venue known for its burgers and soul food. On any given night, you can also see live music from big and small acts alike.
Open mic nights showcase rising stars while past performers include Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bela Fleck, and Abigail Washburn.
Looking for a place to stay while in Franklin? The Harpeth Hotel Downtown Franklin is a stylish property in the heart of Franklin. There’s also an in-house restaurant and coffee shop.