Bluebird Cafe of Happiness

bluebird cafeThere are a number of places in Nashville that represent Mecca to country music stars and fans. Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Old Opry, Tootsies Purple Orchid Lounge on Broadway, and the Bluebird Cafe are always at or near the top of the list.

The newest of the three is the Bluebird Cafe and the landmark's ownership has returned to the songwriters that made it legendary. The Nashville Songwriters Association has purchased the Bluebird Cafe and promises not to change a thing.

Doubt it's legendary status? How about Garth Brooks, who was discovered there, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood honed their styles at the Bluebird. A dishwasher/bartender wrote Alan Jackson's hit "Here in the Real World."

The 5000 member organization will take control of the Bluebird Cafe on January 1, 2008. In making the announcement, Kris Kristofferson recalled that songwriters were the bottom of the food chain. "We were bugs," he said. Playing at the Bluebird may spoil a song writer because the audience is so willie nelsonknowledgeable and respectful of the performance and performers.

The Bluebird Cafe almost went the way of a lot of landmarks. The current owners turned down a million dollar offer which would have turned the area into a strip mall.

The Bluebird Cafe has another reputation. The owner says it has the worst sound system. But since it only seats 96, the bad sound hasn't kept Nashville's best from singing their hearts out. The owner said visitors come and expect the Taj Mahal and instead find "a little dive."

If visitors want to see the original cafe, they have five years to "git 'er done." After that the cafe may move to larger quarters. The Nashville Songwriters Association hopes they can leverage their marketing prowess to bring more convention business visitors to the Bluebird. An owner of a music business accounting firm estimated the Bluebird could be worth millions. The Bluebird is a home for songwriters. The current owner no doubt gave up a lot of potential income in order to keep that home available for future stars.

Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.

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