While social media gives fans an inside look into their favorite artists, there are a few local folks who are taking that personal connection one step further by connecting musicians and audiences in intimate settings right here in Nashville. From Bookable, a site that lets you explore artists to book for your events, to Buffalo Soul, a Music Row B&B, to Imogene + Willie’s supper + song (yes, they are back!) and Lockeland Strings, getting up close and personal with artists you love has never been easier.
Check out these unique ways to enjoy an intimate music experience in Nashville.
From the indie-pop sounds of Whoa Dakota in your living room to the singer/songwriter hits from Nick Howard in your backyard, Bookable creates an intimate concert experience designed by you. Bookable is a middleman that takes out the hassle of a middleman. The app launched last summer with early success in directly linking artists and fans. Bookable’s mission is to empower fans, value artistry and forge unforgettable moments by connecting artists and fans for unique live experiences.
Founded by husband and wife duo Katelyn Silver Howard and Nick Howard, the business was built with artists in mind. “We have a very broad lens on the music industry, from his career as an artist and my time in the event planning world,” Katelyn explains. Frustrated by taking home little or no money from shows, Katelyn and Nick dreamed up what is now Bookable. “Nick started saying to fans, ‘I will come to your backyard or living room. I will come to you.’ We found this is a win for everyone. For the fans, who we call ‘hosts,’ it is an incredible experience, and the artists can enjoy themselves and walk away with 95% of the profits.” Katelyn and Nick are not shy about sharing the pay structure. Bookable takes 8% from the artists and 8% from the host, which is built-in to the overall fee.
The focus is on what Katelyn refers to as the middle class of music, not the Taylor Swifts and Katy Perrys of the world. “The common person thinks they don’t have enough money to book an artist,” Katelyn says. “We are a trusted source and are creating a marketplace for people looking to book entertainment for a corporate event, intimate at-home concert or holiday party. There is a wide spectrum of what Bookable does.” Bookable shows have been hosted everywhere from a living room couch to the beach to weddings, where artists are booked to perform a couple’s first dance.
The pricing, of course, depends on the artist, with some starting as low as $250, and there are currently more than 35 artists on the roster, with more to come. Katelyn also suggests asking Bookable to reach out to an artist on your behalf, even if they aren’t (yet) in the Bookable family. Katelyn and Nick vet the musicians, and only partner with those of the highest quality. “We are still in our infancy, but we have big dreams,” Katelyn shares. “We are starting with music, but want to expand to anything that is live entertainment — a chef cooking dinner in your home or anyone presenting their talents in a creative way.”
“It is special to take the stigma away from classical music,” says Lydia Luce, a singer/songwriter, violist, violinist and host of Lockeland Strings, which is defined as a composer’s salon. The shows started in Lydia’s house in Lockeland Springs two years ago when she moved from L.A. to Nashville, and they now draw crowds nearing 100. “I have lived in Boston, D.C. and L.A. in two-bedroom apartments. I always wanted to host shows like this to create a cool community,” she shares. “This is something I had wanted to do for a while.”
Local composers write music for the shows and there are times the “stage” has held 11 string and wind players. “It became interesting to me to bring in people who aren’t familiar with contemporary classical music. We are making sure people know that classical music is chill, and you don’t have to buy a $150 ticket and wear your pearls.”
Lockeland Strings’ attendees include children, senior citizens and everyone in between. Lydia announces the events on her Instagram page (@lydialuce) and the shows are either donation based or $8. “Each one is an experiment,” she explains. House Beer sponsors the events with free beers, and a friend caters the shows.
In March, Lydia is partnering with The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park to host Lockeland Strings in Centennial Park (near Athena at The Parthenon). The show will feature composers and, although it will take place outside of Lydia’s house, will still have the same chill environment Lockeland Strings-goers love. “My idea is to switch it up and host Lockeland Strings at other places — I can only host so many people at my house.”
Stop by for the show at the Parthenon on March 24, and follow Lydia for information on additional Lockeland Strings shows.
“We enjoy meeting and connecting with people,” says JT Hodges, an ACM-nominated recording artist and co-founder of Buffalo Soul, a 1920s four-bedroom home located across from Belmont that serves as a hub for musicians and music lovers. “My parents and grandparents are very host-oriented, and that blended into music.”
Founders JT Hodges, Kasey Hodges and Todd Baldree created Buffalo Soul as a place to bring house concerts to life. “We curate the experience,” JT explains. “We have all this talent coming to Music City, and they don’t really have a voice. We want to convey that music is worth something.”
Each Buffalo Soul room is available for rent, but most guests are eager to rent the full house. In addition to four bedrooms, the home features a guitar-shaped patio and a basement recording studio, where local and national artists have played, written and recorded. Most recently, Hootie & the Blowfish used the space to work on their 25th anniversary album.
While the space is outfitted for musicians, it is also designed for music lovers. As a renter of the home, you can host a private house concert curated by JT. He will help select the musician that’s right for you based on your budget and musical preferences. “We are more geared towards bluegrass, rock and roll, country and American, but we could even make hip-hop work,” he tells us. A recent renter requested a musician to play covers of the A Star is Born soundtrack. “The artists get to know the people before they perform and the soul connection has been made,” JT proudly tells us.
“How cool is that you can rent out Buffalo Soul, hear an up-and-coming artist and two years later they make it big?”
imogene + willie has been the coolest kid in town since they opened their denim destination in 12South in 2009. The gold standard of custom-tailored denim for celebrities and hip kids alike, imogene + willie became a destination for more than just denim when they started hosting seasonal monthly concerts in their cozy backyard. Food trucks, local breweries and hip locals gathered to the music of Dan Auerbach, The Civil Wars, Karen Elson and more notable names. Due to noise complaints, the monthly events, known as supper + song, were put on hold, but thankfully, they’re back.
At the end of March the concerts return and, while we all want the inside scoop, the truth is … the events are intentionally a tad elusive. With announcements one week out via email and social media, the casual intimacy of the gatherings is maintained, giving little time for an enormous buzz to spread.
Those in the know convene in the backyard with kiddos and pups in tow to enjoy premium musicianship with what ultimately feels like a big group of friends. The food trucks will be back, the tunes will be ringing, and good times will be had by all. See you there!
For more Nashville happenings, check out our events calendar right here!