Anyone who knows bluegrass knows the name Station Inn. The club and restaurant has been the home for bluegrass in Nashville since its founding in 1974 by a group of pickers who recognized that Music City needed a place for grassers to hang out, play, and hear good bluegrass. Now in a new location in Nashville’s fashionable Gulch district, on 12th Avenue S. and with a new owner since 1981, the Station Inn has an international presence, thanks to tourist visits to the city, and their online TV network, Station Inn TV.
Over the past forty plus years, everyone who has mattered in our music has graced that stage, from Bill Monroe and Mac Wiseman to Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, and Molly Tuttle. Live music is typically offered seven nights a week, though seating is limited at present owing to COVID-19 restrictions. But everything from the stage is also available at home with a Station Inn TV subscription.
Its importance to bluegrass music can hardly be overstated, something recognized by the International Bluegrass Music Association last year when current owner J.T. Gray was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
Later this month, the significance of the Station Inn will be further noted by a special exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Entitled Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon, the exhibit opens on January 15 and will remain open through January 2, 2022. In it, the history of this iconic bluegrass venue is told through a collection of items and text, right from the earliest days of operation.
Among the items to be on display are:
- Seats from a tour bus used by Lester Flatt—now serving as seating in the venue
- A wooden box used for many years to collect admission fees at the club entrance
- A fiddle played extensively by Tammy Rogers with the SteelDrivers
- The 1927 Gibson A-Jr. model mandolin used by Nashville Bluegrass Band member Mike Compton in performance, and to create his Grammy-winning contribution to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?
- Mike Bub’s Kay M-1 double bass, played with many groups at The Station Inn, including Weary Hearts, the Del McCoury Band, and the Sidemen
- A poster covered with the autographs of musicians who played the club and well-known patrons
- A sound-mixing console described by owner J.T. Gray as “”he first piece of modern sound equipment we ever bought”
Gray tells us that this exhibit has been in the works for more than a year, but was delayed in response to pandemic shutdowns last summer. He said it certainly took him aback when the Hall of Fame first reached out about this.
“It was a surprise, number one! It’s a great honor to have an exhibit down there for The Station Inn. It’s been an icon in Nashville for almost 50 years. We’re thrilled to be recognized like that, to have people see us down there, and hopefully come over here for a visit. I can’t thank the Country Music Hall of Fame enough.”
Members of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum can enjoy the exhibit starting next Friday free of charge. Tickets for non-members are offered for $25.95, and $15.95 for those six to twelve years old. Under six are admitted free.