Boxoffice Insider: City Winery Nashville Begins Recovery With Series Of Outdoor Shows

Emmylou Harris and The Red Dirt Boys
Danielle Del Valle / Getty Images
– Emmylou Harris and The Red Dirt Boys
perform onstage for “Woofstock at the Wine Garden” at City Winery Nashville Nov. 10.

After the shutdown of the live entertainment industry last March, creativity was the key for many venues that had to find ways to ensure a safe environment for their customers. One such venue was City Winery Nashville, which created an outdoor setting for their concerts during the second half of 2020 by erecting a tent in the parking lot with a temporary stage and a lowered seating capacity.
“We’ve done our best to seat about 100 socially distant in that environment,” City Winery founder and CEO Michael Dorf told Pollstar last October. “We’ve been doing shows and we’re getting up to about five a week right now in Nashville. That’s been working really well, actually.”
And the boxoffice data reported through the end of 2020 shows it. The Music City performance venue, restaurant and winery staged 86 shows from late July to mid-December, when winter weather made it too cold for outdoor events.
With capacities varying between 100 and 125 for a concert, the number of sold tickets during that five-month span totaled 8,539, an average of about 100 per show.
The first artist to appear at the Nashville venue after the pandemic shutdown was veteran singer-songwriter John Hiatt, who headlined a three-show run on July 24-25 with his daughter Lilly Hiatt as the opening act. All three performances were sellouts, with an audience of 100 for each one. The combined gross was $17,670 from tickets priced at $55 and $75.
Another late summer event featuring a headlining performance by Keb’ Mo’ was the event that logged the highest sold ticket count among the socially distanced shows. As one of three performers with a four-show engagement, the blues artist and Nashville resident played for 400 fans at early and late shows on Aug. 29 and 30 and grossing $19,780.
Raul Malo of The Mavericks had the second-highest ticket count, with 339 sold seats during his four performances on Oct. 27 and 28 that earned $20,789 in ticket revenue, and Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr scored a $13,480 take from his four-show stint with 315 sold tickets Dec. 16-17.
Emmylou Harris appeared along with guest artists three different times during the fall for shows benefiting two Nashville dog rescue and adoption organizations including her own nonprofit, Bonaparte’s Retreat. She played shows on Sept. 29 and 30, then returned in November, with gigs on Nov. 9 and 10 followed the next week with an appearance on Nov. 16. Across the five performances, the total ticket count numbered 510 for a combined gross totaling $49,300.
Fifteen headliners played two shows at the venue, including two who appeared at two separate fall engagements with two shows booked at each.
Country music superstar Wynonna Judd had early and late shows on both Nov. 13 and Dec. 12. Her combined ticket count reached 500 at both appearances for a gross of $29,690.
Americana artist Lucinda Williams also played on two separate occasions, first with shows on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and then again on Nov. 14 and 15. She moved a total of 475 tickets at both with a combined gross of $30,270.
Currently, City Winery Nashville has dates booked through November including February shows by Jorma Kaukonen and Jon McLaughlin followed by many others including Asleep at the Wheel, Rufus Wainwright, Shaun Cassidy, Sheila E. and Sinead O’Connor later in the year.