The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, long a mainstay for singer/songwriters in Music City, will kick off a year-long celebration commemorating its 25th anniversary in May through a nationwide “Bluebird on the Road” tour to 12 cities later this year, a private birthday bash for Bluebird family and friends and a “Superstars of the Bluebird” series in June.
“I set out to open a restaurant 25 years ago, but the music quickly took over,” says owner Amy Kurland. “Nothing could be more special than celebrating this milestone year with some of the same songwriters who were regulars back when we first opened the doors.”
Those original songwriters and many more will be invited to attend a private birthday bash hosted by performing rights organization BMI on May 24. Later, the festivities will be open to the public when a 10-day series titled “Superstars of the Bluebird” takes residence starting June 1. Dierks Bentley is among those slated to appear.
The show will hit the road on a 12 city songwriter tour, kicking off in New York City at Joe’s Pub on May 31 with a few of the founders of the “In The Round” format that originated at the Bluebird; Fred Knobloch, Thom Schuyler, Tony Arata and Jelly Roll Johnson. Additional songwriters, cities and dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
Garth Brooks’ record-shattering career began at the Bluebird, where a Capitol Records exec saw him substituting at the last minute for a performer who didn’t show up and promptly signed him. “In my opinion, the songwriter is the foundation of music,” Brooks once said, “and the Bluebird is the rock on which that foundation sits.”
Others who have played the Bluebird over the years include Melissa Etheridge, Steve Earle, the Cowboy Junkies, the Indigo Girls and the late Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury. Vince Gill, Janis Ian, John Prine, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Raul Malo, Radney Foster and Pam Tillis also have played the room.