How Do You Afford Your Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle?

Here are some of my tried-and-true methods for keeping my entertainment budget under control in Music City.

(Apologies to Cake!)

Up until now, I’ve tried to write about Nashville activities and events that are free or very inexpensive. The truth is that attending concerts and live shows in Nashville is very fun – and can be very expensive. In a typical year, I attend between 20-25 concerts – and a similar number of live shows. Here are some of my tried-and-true methods for keeping my entertainment budget under control in Music City:

First, acknowledge that you can’t go to every concert of every band you’ve ever liked. Before I make a ticket purchase, I generally have to answer “Yes” to two or more of the following questions.

  • Is the concert on a weekend, or at least not on a night where I have an early meeting the next morning?
  • Would this be the first time I have seen the artist/group in concert?
  • Can I get decent tickets for less than $50?
  • Do I know someone that would enjoy accompanying me to the concert?
  • Do I enjoy the concert venue?

Once I’ve made the commitment to go to a concert, I often wait to make a decision about buying t-shirts, posters or other stuff until the end of the show. If I didn’t enjoy the show enough to have an enthusiastic conversation with a stranger about it, I’ll pass on the merchandise. (I’m looking at you, Ray LaMontagne.)

There are a lot of smaller venues and events around Nashville that book surprisingly popular artists. A few years ago, I was one of only a handful of people watching The Georgia Satellites perform live at the Tennessee State Fair – free with the price of Fair admission. Last year, I got to see Hozier in concert at the Exit/In for $25 a ticket. And, though I missed it, last night Garth Brooks played a surprise concert at Marathon Music Works. Many of these smaller venues send out periodic event calendars to email subscribers, and artists will announce events like this if you follow them on Facebook.

Nashville is chock-full of great musicians, and many of our best artists/groups have a devoted local following, even though they don’t play the larger venues. The following events at 3rd & Lindsley are coming up in March and worth checking out. The Jack Pearson Band (that’s THE Jack Pearson, former guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band) is playing on March 4 – tickets are just $10. The Long Players (a group of talented session musicians who specialize in selecting and recreating an entire album) are performing Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” on March 13 – $20. And among my personal favorites, the Pat McLaughlin Band will be there on March 17  – $10. It’s not an elegant place, but you can get table seating and even eat some pretty good bar food at this club near downtown.

Another great idea for catching good music is to pick a dining establishment that features live music, and time your dinner so that you can get a free show! Case in Point: Soulshine Pizza Factory in Midtown (near the Vandy campus) has good pizza, and on Saturday, March 14, The 1969 Band will be playing there. (No cover!) This is bigger-than-your-average-band (Horns and vocals and keyboards! Oh my!) and their combination of spot-on classics and new music makes for great dancing, or just fun listening while enjoying pizza and beer.

I’m only getting started, folks – watch for future posts featuring other favorite spots for entertainment in Nashville. And in the meantime – enjoy!