The Bluebird Cafe has been a place for songwriters to showcase their talent since 1982.
Nestled in a strip mall on Hillsboro Pike in west Nashville, the small venue has hosted acts like Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, as songwriters before they were stars.
“The Bluebird is a club that really presents the heroes behind the hits,” said General Manager Erika Wollam Nichols.
Wollam Nichols has been with The Bluebird Cafe since food was the main attraction, and the acoustic notes of songwriters were merely a side dish.
“It has evolved into a place where the music has taken over and defined it, much more so than the chicken salad we used to serve at lunch,” laughed Wollam Nichols.
After menus gave way music, many referred to this 100-seat listening room as simply The Bluebird.
Now this simple set-up that helped launch countless careers is about to go Hollywood.
The new ABC drama “Nashville,” a show about the country music business, will feature The Bluebird and its stage.
This isn't the first time Hollywood has knocked on the door of the legendary venue.
In 1993, Paramount Pictures released “The Thing Called Love,” featuring River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis and Sandra Bullock, among several notable country acts like K. T. Oslin and Pam Tillis. The Bluebird was prominent in the movie, but the studios didn't get it quite right.
“The wardrobe then had a lot of fringe and checked shirts,” Wollam Nichols said. “And they only filmed outside. They built a set that didn't look like The Bluebird.”
This time, things are different.
“Anybody that has seen the set, or when they do see the set, they will not be able to tell the difference between The Bluebird and the set,” she said.
Amid the scripted drama, “Nashville” will put the spotlight on Music City's real life treasures. Wollam Nichols has mixed feelings about the show's fans flocking to see the real thing.
“That would be great to be able to make more money to keep the place, to replace our carpets, the kind of things that a little venue has trouble doing,” she said. “And yet, it's a living, breathing part of the music community in Nashville, and it has to remain that way.”
For more information on hours and shows at The Bluebird Cafe, visit their Web site.
“Nashville” premieres Wednesday, October 10 at 9 p.m., on Nashville's News 2.
- October 3, 2012: 'Nashville' debuts next week, Filming continues in Music City
- August 12, 2012: New ABC show 'Nashville' films in town
- July 18, 2012: Local extras needed for ABC's 'Nashville'
- July 12, 2012: ABC's 'Nashville' to hold casting call in Music City
- June 20, 2012: 'Nashville' TV show to start production in July in Music City