Turning 25 In Nashville

Nashville’s  may seem like just another nightclub but it has something unique going on. Not only is the club celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, but it’s had the same owner, head chef and doorman since opening and who else can boast that Vince Gill is part of its house band?

Owner Ron Brice also has plans to open a new concept this fall. Name an artist and odds are they’ve played at 3rd & Lindsley at some point, which is impressive considering the club started as a fluke. It was previously a Mexican restaurant that Brice and friend JC Carver would frequent after work.

Photo: Getty Images for Americana Music
Lee Ann Womack performs during the 16th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference at 3rd & Lindsley Sept. 18, 2015 in Nashville. 

One day, as the duo approached their usual hangout, they noticed the door was padlocked and a sign stating there would be a silent bid auction. They made a bid with “no real intentions to really do a music venue,” Brice told Pollstar. Later they received notice that the place was theirs and were given the keys thinking that they would auction off the contents for profit.

But because the place was ready to go, stocked with beer, liquor and the necessary supplies, they decided to take a chance and turn it into a music venue with lunch and dinner service and Brice became the sole owner a couple of years after opening in 1991.

Opening night, The Bobby Bradford Blues Band played and sold out. Second night, Deford Bailey Jr. performed and sold out as well.

“So we thought we had something there,” Brice said. That laid-back, genuine attitude has worked well for Brice. “We’re the discovery point, for the most part, of a lot of new and upcoming artists and over time they’re gone,” Brice said. “They graduate and they’re out playing arenas and what not.” The venue is tiered with balconies and can be modified to fit a capacity of 500-800 people.

The Time Jumpers featuring Vince Gill are Monday night regulars, with a rotating ensemble of up to 14 pieces. Other artists that have performed at 3rd & Lindsley include Bernie TaupinLucinda WilliamsChris StapletonLukas GrahamJewelLoCashCharlie Puth, Cat Power, and Børns to name just a few.

The diversity of acts is key.

“We do everything,” Brice said. “We have the ability to do any kind of music in any fashion … we’re very production heavy, it sounds really good in here and we make sure that it does. All of our engineers are great. We’re artist friendly.”

Considering the violent outbreaks at clubs around the nation, Pollstar asked Brice about security measures.

“We just had a meeting on that,” Brice said. “We went through our basic list of things, back door is locked, bags checked at the door, just our normal protocol, just to be tight, headsets for security. … Based on what we’ve been hearing and what’s been happening, is there a lot we can really do to improve, past putting in metal detectors or patting people down, which I don’t want to do. We’re about as secure as I think we can get for a venue this size in our location …We haven’t had any kind of real weirdness in here in 25 years – nothing. It’s been pretty hassle free, no robberies, no fights.”

With that kind of luck, it’s no wonder he’s taking on a new venture with partner Richard King, who builds studios and has created locations for Jack White and .

The two have plans to create an artisan community in east Nashville. They own 35 acres with an 800-foot peak above the city and plan to develop the bottom 14 acres into 98 lots for housing.

At the top, an indoor/outdoor 200-capacity event space will be developed with room to expand and feature plug-and-play entertainment with fire pits and plenty of greenway to walk. It’s the highest elevation point in Davidson County and only four miles from the city’s center.

“A place where musicians can live and hang out and create,” Brice said. Asked if Brice had any words of advice for future club owners he said, “Be there yourself … pay attention to details … be what you are, it’s not a party … it’s your job and it’s a business, you treat it like that. There’s still times when we’re firing on all cylinders and a band is playing and the heads are bobbing and it’s like magic. … That’s what keeps you going.”