The Bluebird Cafe, long famous for concerts of songwriters playing their work–and making sure the audience shuts up to listen to them–has been sold to the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). The official handover takes place on January 1 of 2008.
An article in today’s Tennessean quotes Bluebird founder Amy Kurland as saying, “I wanted to retire, but I didn’t want The Bluebird to go away.” The legendary club was where Garth Brooks was discovered in 1988, and artists such a Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood played there as well.
A typical night at Bluebird is the one offered tonight: In the Round with Lari White, Chuck Cannon, Gary Nicholson and special guests. Just one of this talented trio, Gary Nicholson, has had, according to his website, “over four hundred songs recorded in various genres including country, rock, blues, folk, bluegrass, and pop by such diverse artists as BB King, Garth Brooks, Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Etta James, John Prine, Dixie Chicks, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Keb Mo, George Jones, the Neville Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Del McCoury, Guy Clark and so many more.”
“In The Round” means that the songwriters sit together on a stage and take turns playing songs. The Bluebird is an intimate place with only 96 seats, so there’s not a bad seat in the house. Better yet, Amy Kurland has created an atmosphere of respect for the performers among members of the audience. This is not the place to yak with your friends or take those cell phone calls. (I hate that in a club.)
Hats off to Amy for creating this wonderful Nashville institution, and for not selling the place to the highest bidder. “Something special happens in these walls that happens nowhere else in the world, and we would be fools to tamper with that,” said NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison.