Just 30 minutes south of Nashville you will find Franklin, Tennessee, a region that gave birth to nine musical genres from southern gospel to bluegrass, blues, jazz and rock and roll. It’s part of the Americana Music Triangle, which also includes hub cities of New Orleans and Memphis. The small city with a 16-block historic district that has been voted “Best Southern Town” by Garden and Gun Magazine and among the “Best Places to Live” for CNN/Money Magazine, is also home to a vibrant live music and restaurant scene. Here’s a guide to experience some of the best the city has to offer.
PLACES TO EAT: PLUS LIVE MUSIC
Being so close to Nashville, Franklin has a strong tradition of giving singer/songwriters in multiple Americana music genres a stage platform to get started on, but the town also has some excellent places to eat before checking out the latest live band.
Check out the Factory at Franklin, a complex of 12 depression-era factory buildings dating back to 1929 that have been renovated into unique shopping and dining spaces, including our favorite restaurant in the city, Saffire. One of the building’s staple restaurants, it serves food with flair: think culinary meets southern comfort. Try the black-eyed pea hummus and corn fritters to start.
At Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, a family-owned business right downtown that was founded more than a half a century ago, there is live music nightly, but also amazing southern comfort food that tastes like dining in your mother’s kitchen. Breakfast is our favorite meal here. Order the Texas Two Step, which features a cornbread waffle, slow smoked brisket, home fires and onions topped with a fried egg. Or the Southern Stack, comprised of slow smoked pulled pork over sweet potato pockets and fried apples and topped with a fried egg.
And then there is Gray’s on Main, which is located in a former pharmacy (look for the old bottles still on the shelves) built in 1876. Covering three floors, they boast one of the largest stages in the region and serve up live music Thursday through Saturday. Come on Thursday nights for no cover and up-and-coming singer/songwriters, while Friday and Saturday nights draw more established acts. Beyond the music they serve good food and some of the most talked about prohibition era cocktails in the city like the Prescription Fizz made with cognac, lemon, orange, honey and Pilsner.
OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE MUSIC:
Pilgrimage Music Festival
Franklin is also home to a burgeoning festival scene and this year welcomed the Pilgrimage Music Festival for its inaugural year. Held over a weekend in September, this first year festival managed to get an incredible line-up booked that included Weezer, Wilco, Sheryl Crow and more. And it all happened in a farm setting with rolling hills and historic buildings. Beyond listening to the bands, guests were able to explore pop-up shop booths and food vendors, plus chill in many set-up outdoor spaces.
“It’s not just music, but food too… It’s a Southern Renaissance (style festival) with southern food and southern art. There’s not a lot of places you can experience this, so it is pretty special,” said musician and performer Will Hoge.
Music City Roots
Franklin is also home to Music City Roots, which is a weekly concert and live music show broadcast from the Factory in Franklin complex. The two-hour radio show is broadcast on Wed nights from 7pm to 9pm CST and pays tribute to Nashville’s live musical radio legacy. The program showcases a few different artists each week and includes genres from Americana to country, and besides music includes short interviews with the artists featured. Best of all visitors can attend the tapings – check out the website for upcoming shows and to purchase tickets.