The Electric Jane: One Part Nostalgia, One Part Discovery, All Parts Magical [Interview]
Tucked away right outside the heart of Music City, perfectly housed between the Gulch and iconic Music Row, sits one of Nashville’s newest and most mystical entertainment spots: The Electric Jane.
Taking inspiration from the once-popular supper clubs of the 80s, which offered patrons dinner and a show, the Electric Jane is the product of a decade of friendship between its owners Jason Scoppa and Sam Bakhshandehpour.
Scoppa got his start in event promotions, eventually leading him to music programming at clubs in and around Hollywood. “I needed to find a way to be passionate about it so I started adding live music,” he shares with MusicRow. “There were a lot of jazz artists in the beginning. That was a catalyst to begin a rock night, which led to us [starting] another venue called Bardot.”
Hosting a slew of artists from Bruno Mars and Young the Giant, to Jane’s Addiction and even Prince, the success of Bardot led Scoppa to create the famed Sayers Club in Hollywood, which is where the pair’s paths crossed. At the time, Bakhshandehpour was serving as CEO of SBE, a leading hospitality company based in LA.
Launched in May of 2012, the Sayers Club was a venue all its own. As a hub for artist discovery, the spot featured performances from an array of big acts, such as The Black Keys, Fitz & the Tantrums, Lady A, Stevie Wonder and countless others, all for intimate audiences of less than 300 people.
“Night in and night out we experienced people of all walks of life coming together around this love for music. We didn’t even have a sign out front, yet people found this little hole in the wall in Hollywood, made memories, and walked away. It went viral,” Bakhshandehpour reflects. “There was a certain privacy and intimacy about it, and occasionally you would have the surprise of major artists popping on stage.
“The irony is, despite the big names, it was always the acts that you hadn’t heard of that would make the hair on your arms stand up straight. It was that element of discovery and the beauty of bringing people together around music that really blew my mind.”
That promise of discovery is what led the pair to turn their eyes towards Nashville, a city drenched in both untapped and well established talent.
With hopes of growing what they had already started at the Sayers Club, the pair decided to add a food component to its Nashville location, allowing guests to be treated to worldly food such as their “Cheese on Fire” dish or their cannoli-topped espresso martinis, coupled with world-class entertainment from some of Music City’s brightest musicians.
“When Sam and I were working on what this thing was going to become, we felt like we were either rediscovering or inventing a category that didn’t really exist at the time in terms of hospitality,” Scoppa explains. “It’s an intimate, living room type feel that can’t hold more than about 300 people at a time, but you get big production and big acts in a small space.”
Officially opening its doors in February of 2022, the Electric Jane gets its name from Scoppa’s grandmother, whom he was born exactly 50 years apart from. From the electric blue of Jane’s eyes, the birds that she often drew represented in the logo, the bright red floors that resemble her iconic lipstick and the almost exclusively velvet furniture, Jane’s influence can be felt and seen throughout the venue.
However, one cannot overlook the obvious Prince inspiration within the venue, as well. Decked out with his signature purple in place of the traditional green room, and the notable mural of the groundbreaking entertainer on the side of the building, Scoppa credits Prince as a massive influence on his career.
“I don’t know that I’d necessarily be doing this if I hadn’t met him along the way,” Scoppa admits. “I started getting addicted to him playing at my venues because he wasn’t just playing in anybody’s room. My whole hook from venue to venue was to design a space that he would play from a sonic, ambiance, and audience standpoint. I knew that if he would play it, then anybody on planet Earth would too.”
When it comes to their programming, the guys are always in the mindset of trying to facilitate discovery. Starting with a slate of some of Nashville’s impressive session players, Scoppa mixes and matches members together until he finds the right band to create the perfect showcase for the Electric Jane.
“There’s no exact map to it, it’s more of a feeling,” Scoppa explains. “Our programming is still evolving and we’re quality biased, not genre biased. We’re learning more and more every day about the emerging artists and how to approach each night individually with its own character.”
Currently, the venue boasts quite the slate of weekly shows, including Women Wednesdays that celebrate a variety of Nashville’s women in music, Thursday residencies with Golden West and the Spazzmatics, Kyndle Wyld on Fridays, local superstar-in-the-making Gyasi taking over the stage on Saturdays nights, and plenty of brunch-time entertainment for weekend “Rue De Brunches.”
The space has already taken up its spot as one of Music Row’s new go-to locations for industry events as well, with rising Sony singer-songwriter Nate Smith taking his turn at the mic for a pair of shows, Scotty McCreery celebrating his recent No. 1 hits on the venue’s stage, and plenty more in the works.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many businesses in the music industry have already gravitated to us as an event space. That’s a part of our business that we always knew would be there. We launched in this location with an eye towards Music Row,” Bakhshandehpour notes. “We developed this space with Jason’s aesthetic and eye towards events, and I’ve been blown away by the reception of people wanting to throw special events here, like album release parties, corporate functions and happy hours.”
While they continue to evolve and create a global menu, as well as fully tap into the room’s potential, the Electric Jane and its two seasoned leaders are well on their way to becoming a foothold in Nashville that offers an entertainment and dining experience unlike any other the city has seen before.
“Cities all across this country are hungry for discovery and new places to experience hospitality in a new way. At the end of the day, it’s all built around bringing people together.” Scoppa sums, “We’re really proud that we’re bringing all the arts together and letting the venue make everybody feel important, regardless of your status. I think we need to bring people together now more than ever.”
“We’re bringing something that’s a little differentiated. We wanted to slot ourselves in and fill a space that we saw, while also paying respect to all of the amazing venues that are around us,” Bakhshandehpour adds. “Nashville already has such an incredible culture and community of music lovers, artists, and people that come here with a dream. It’s a community that brings everyone together and allows that dream to come to fruition. We want to be the venue where the music industry comes together and makes magic happen.”
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