One of my favorite nightspots has been “supersized.”
At the grand opening of the new Listening Room on Thursday (Oct. 19), I couldn’t get over how vast and cool the new space is. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought I wanted,” said owner Chris Blair. “But the building and the location were just too good to pass up.”
The old room, down the hill on Second Avenue, held 180. The new space, in the old International Harvester building at 618 4th Ave. S. has a capacity of 350. It has a balcony above the bar. It has an adjacent restaurant with 150 more seats and a spacious patio that holds another 100. Plus, there’s a private meeting room with a groovy conference table and the building’s original antique boiler.
The vibe is clean and industrial contrasted with warm, vintage-wood tables and doors, all built by Blair, himself. What’s even better is how great the place SOUNDS. Entertaining at the open house was the male-female duo Smithfield, harmonizing beautifully. The sight lines from every table are completely clear and the audio was consistently
pristine throughout the space.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Carly Pearce has been to the new venue. “She just had her CD-release party here,” Blair reported. That was two weeks ago, when the construction dust was still settling.
Carly is one of the Listening Room’s most illustrious graduates. Since 2014, the venue has been the home of the weekly Song Suffragettes showcases, where Carly got her Nashville start. She estimates that she performed at least 150 times at the old Listening Room.
Over the years, the club has also hosted then-unknowns ranging from Keith Urban to Chris Stapleton, not to mention attractions like Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters and Suzy Bogguss. For several years, the old Listening Room hosted the annual Grammy viewing parties.
I have a feeling that the new Listening Room is poised to host even greater soirees. For one thing, it is in the heart of what could become a music-mecca neighborhood.
Here’s why: Head east from Music Row down Division Street past Frugal MacDoogal Liquors, and you’ll find that the new SoBro bridge drops you practically at the front door of The Listening Room, Rocketown and the new second location of the Fond Object hipster venue/record shop. Go one block further east and you’re at the doorstep of 3rd & Lindsley.
The new bridge makes all of these venues suddenly “neighbors” of Music Row. It’s also a shortcut to City Winery, if you turn left onto Lafayette when you come down off the ramp.
The divine Ronna Rubin tub thumped for the grand opening of The Listening Room. Lightning 100’s Rev. Keith Coes and Gary Kraen schmoozed. Jennifer Bohler, Lisa Konicki and Fred Pierson mingled.
So did Channel 5’s Jesse Knutson, The Recording Academy’s Nathan Pyle, singer-songwriter Electra Mustaine (daughter of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, who is also a Nashville resident), Craig Campbell, Neal Spielberg, Tom Roland, Nikki Boon, Heather Middleton, Chase Armstrong, April Macri and Lesley Albert.
While the music wafted, we snacked on pulled-pork crostini with cranberries, bacon-wrapped apple wedges, veggie skewers and flatbreads with buffalo and/or spinach-artichoke dip. There’s a smoker out back, so the restaurant menu is full of fresh, tasty stuff.
Did I mention that there’s a cheap parking lot next to the new venue? And valet service?