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Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a renowned honky-tonk bar located behind the iconic Ryman Auditorium. The lounge, featuring three stages, hosts a variety of live musical performances every night by local artists. Located on Broadway in downtown, Tootsie’s nurtured the careers of several country music legends. According to local lore, Willie Nelson received his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsie’s. The interior walls are decorated with memorabilia from numerous famous and not-so famous artists who have performed on an Orchid Lounge stage. The bar, formerly known as Mom’s, acquired its name when the exterior was accidentally painted purple.
The Ultimate Guide to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
Around the world, Nashville, Tennessee is known as Music City. Walk two minutes, two blocks or two miles and you’ll hear something coming out of somewhere. For whatever you’re in the mood to listen – there’s a place to find it playing. But through it all – Nashville has always been home to country music. Filled with colorful characters, honky-tonks, tourist trinketcouns and southern charm, Nashville invites visitors to listen, learn and enjoy. Filled with all the southern comforts you can imagine, through every venue and down every street, Nashville oozes music, style and life. Music is the heart and soul of this city. Whether you’re hanging with royalty at The Ryman, checking out the stories of legends at the Country Music Hall of Fame or wandering Broadway to take your pick of where to go and hang next, Nashville welcomes you with its heartfelt sounds.
Broadway sits in the heart of downtown. Grab a coffee, get your fill of fried green tomatoes, and check out the waterfront sights or the suburban charm of traditional plantation life – enjoy your stay in Tennessee – we already can’t wait for you to return. If you’re up for a stop at a part of country music history – get over to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway. Here you’ll be sitting amidst the bar stools of monstrous talent and sharing oxygen, space and elbowroom with legends in the making. If you’re in the mood to clap your hands, stomp your boots, and sing from the rooftops – head on over to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (hub of country music) for a quintessential taste of southern comfort Nashville style.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a Nashville institution. Situated across the way from the Ryman Auditorium (which used to be the only home of the Grand Ole Opry) since 1960, Tootsie’s has been home to country music and its legends. The first name of the joint was called “Mom’s.” Hattie Louise ‘Tootsie” Bess bought the place in 1960, named it after herself and owned it until her passing in 1978. Tootsie got her start as a singer/comedienne in “Big Jeff and The Radio Playboys” (her husband was the bandleader). According to legendary stories and traditions, after hiring a painter, she came in one morning and found the place painted purple. She never changed it and it later became known as the signature color of Tootsie’s.
Known for more than her love of music, Tootsie herself exuded kindness and generosity towards struggling artists, writers and up and coming musicians. Throughout the decades she acted as banker, booker and psychologist to many newcomers and legends of today. She hung with the likes of legends that each started out as novices like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline. History tells us Willie Nelson got his first songwriting gig after singing at the famed lounge. Without question, Tootsie made her mark on the country music community! She collected photos and memorabilia, lined the walls with them and it’s still known today as “Tootsie’s Wall of Fame.”
An evening at Tootsie’s was an epic performance of passion, talent and character. Summer shows and movies were filmed at Tootsies as well as having many articles written about the epic establishment. From early 1960 through 1974 (when the Opry moved out of its original home at The Ryman), Tootsie’s had it made. Accommodating the newest up and comers at The Ryman and being visited between sets by legends, Tootsie’s was a highly visible stop along the road to country music fame. When the Grand Ole Opry moved to its own spot in the Opryland Complex, a piece of the heart of downtown disappeared and Tootsie’s suffered the loss. It took over two decades, but eventually Steve Smith bought the lounge and the rights to Tootsie’s and revitalized its original spirit to the icon it is today.
Many affectionately call Tootsie’s, ‘Honky Tonk Boot camp’, since for many it’s the first stop on the road to country music stardom. Newcomers ride into town, meet songwriters and compatriots at Tootsie’s and at that very moment, their career takes flight. Many of those up and coming stars are the legends we know today. In 2011, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored Tootsie’s with their own eponymous photo exhibit. Moments of music, magic and mementos were captured in the exhibit that showcased the magnificent contribution of Tootsie’s to the genre of country music.
Tootsie’s is located at 422 Broadway in the heart of downtown Nashville. Open from Monday through Sunday from 10am – 3am, Tootsie’s offers continuous live music without a cover charge.
For any further questions, please call 615.726.0463.
Spend the morning, the afternoon, the evening or the entire day at Tootsie’s and you’ll hob nob with strangers, musicians, locals, travelers, tourists, artists and visitors of all kinds. Some pop in for the music while others spend their time taking a walk down memory lane while enjoying Tootsie’s “Wall of Fame.” Some tend towards all three floors of entertainment while others plop themselves on a bar stool to order up some chili and the most popular drink, Tootsie’s Apple Pie Shine. No matter what reason draws you in, the music of Tootsie’s community might be the one to make you stay.
In town for a few hours, days or weeks? Nashville has something for everyone. Fill your bellies with the nearby spicy goodness of Paradise Park Trailer Resort and Food Stand. Continue your evening’s enjoyment wandering in and out of Robert’s Western World, Layla’s Bluegrass Inn and The Stage on Broadway. Put your feet up for awhile and get back out there to enjoy the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum or the magical, mystical, musical melodies emanating from The Ryman Auditorium.
There’s heaps of enjoyment right in the center of downtown. Hop on over to shop for treats at The Ryman’s gift shop. By standing in front of Tootsie’s, you’re surrounded by live music establishments and smack dab in the middle of honky-tonk heaven. Grab your coffee fix at downtown’s Frothy Monkey or Dunn Bros. Coffee. Get your fill of southern comfort soul food at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant or delight your taste buds at Jack’s Bar-B-Que. For a fancy flair, head over to Merchants or get your lush-fill of the five-star lifestyle at The Hermitage Hotel. Whatever your reason for coming to Nashville, you’ll be glad you came!