Although The Station Inn has been Nashville’s go-to venue for the best of bluegrass picking since 1974, it only moved to its present home at 402 12th Avenue South in The Gulch in 1978; before that it occupied a coffee shop-setting near the city’s Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University and thus was a popular venue with students garnering an interest in bluegrass. The entertainment in the early days was mostly provided by the owners, a group of six bluegrass pickers and singers — Red Smith, Bird Lee Smith, Jim Bornstein, Bob Fowler (with wife Ingrid), Charmaine Lanham and Marty Lanham — who by opening the venue realised their ambition of creating a city space for getting together to jam (former Kentucky Colonel and Blue Grass Boy Roland White was also a part of the original Station Inn family, not to mention a great supporter over the years).
– Station Inn owner J.T. Gray on his 1981 purchase of The Gulch venue.
As the @StationInn1974 solidified its status as #Nashville’s #bluegrass hub, big-name acts – #BillMonroe #TheOsborneBrothers & #JimmyMartin etc. – would drop in after their #GrandOleOpry performance. | #bluegrassmusic #StationInn #bluegrasshistory
– IBMA tipping their cap to J.T. Gray for his contribution to the bluegrass community on the occasion of his induction into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, September 2020.
New Monday Band
Carl Jackson with the New Monday band – ‘Fireball Mail’ (4 minutes 23 seconds) | Drums, keyboard and banjo. Well I never! There are a few versions of this doing the rounds, Carl Jackson on the banjo leading the way on a well-received rendition of ‘Fireball Mail’; it seems to be something of a New Monday party piece. This is the version we captured from the front row seats right under Aubrey Haynie‘s nose. Awesome stuff.
#CarlJackson on #banjo leads the #NewMondayBand on a rendition of #FireballMail on a typical @StationInn1974 #Nashville Monday night. | #bluegrass #bluegrassmusic #StationInn #LarryCordle #ValStorey #MikeBub #AubreyHaynie
Elsewhere | VIDEO
NPT (Nashville Public Television) (5 minutes 5 seconds, The Station Inn featured for the first 2 minutes 30 seconds) | A portion of this 2012 You Ought To Know Nashville NPT video introduces The Station Inn, including a chat with owner J.T. Gray who gives insights into the history of the venue, its unique decor, and the bluegrass behemoths who have graced its stage over the years.
Alan Jackson ‘Blacktop’ (3 minutes 34 seconds) | Country juggernaut Alan Jackson cut a bluegrass album, 2013’s ingeniously titled The Bluegrass Album. Honestly. It’s worth a listen (honestly), if only to hear one of the most decorated pure ( = real, not Nashville pop crap) country artists of the last few decades try his hand at (writing and singing) bluegrass. The album launch party was held in a sold-out, packed to the rafters Station Inn on August 27 of 2013, footage from which (inside and out) was used for the video of the Jackson-penned single release from the album, ‘Blacktop’, one of two music videos recorded for the album (‘Blue Ridge Mountain Song‘, featuring Jackson’s daughter, Ali, as the lead role, was the other). As you might imagine, there’s an abundance of Station Inn amateur footage on YouTube, but not a whole lot of professional footage. That’s why we like this video, that and the fact that it includes the likes of Ronnie Bowman and Don Rigsby (harmony vocals), Tim Crouch (fiddle), Tim Dishman (bass), Rob Ickes (dobro), Sammy Shelor (banjo), and Adam Steffey (mandolin), the all-star ensemble Jackson wisely took into the studio to help him cut the album (and to help him promote it thereafter). Whether or not you agree Jackson pulled it (a bluegrass album) off, he certainty put his best bluegrass foot forward with his choice of supporting posse, not to mention his choice of venue from which to release it to the bluegrass world.
The launch party was covered in this August 2013 Bluegrass Today article by John Curtis Goad. It’s well worth a read.
Alan Jackson The Bluegrass Album launch party | ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ (5 minutes 17 seconds) | Here’s some of that aforementioned amateur footage from The Station Inn, and from the same event too, with MC Eddie Stubbs soliciting from Jackson the reason for choosing the venue for his album launch party. Jackson then closes out the event, as he does the album, with a rendition of Bill Monroe’s ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ in which he requests the crowd to sing along, something he does not do on the album (he instead thanks all the pickers who help him out on the project).
Elsewhere | ONLINE
The Station Inn‘s own home on the internet received something of a revamp to facilitate the launch of its online live streaming subscription offering, Station Inn TV. Check out the site to sign up (they broadcast, on average, 10-20 shows per month), to see who has played the Inn, who’s scheduled to play, and a whole lot more besides (The Station Inn merch, history, venue rental info etc.).
– The Station Inn commenting on Station Inn TV