The walls of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge are layered with yellowed customer snapshots that are God-only-knows how old. Needless to say, Tootsie’s doesn’t have the glitz of some of the newer honky-tonks, and that’s precisely why it’s so great. Purchased in 1960 by a Tennessee native named Tootsie Bess, the establishment (which backs up to the Ryman Auditorium on Lower Broadway) was originally named “Mom’s,” but was renamed after the façade was painted an “orchid” color.
Back in the day, folks like Kris Kristofferson, Patsy Kline and Waylon Jennings made it a point to stop in and visit Tootsie, and Willie Nelson famously earned his first songwriting gig after performing here. Opry annoncer Grant Turner once said, “You could leave Tootsie’s at 7:58 and still be on stage at the Opry at 8 o’clock.” Tootsie died of cancer in 1978, but her old place is still booming. Definitely a must-see destination in Nashville, and a consistent source of great guitar music.
Check out this unusual combination of Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney, and The Wailers, jamming to a Bob Marley classic at Tootsie’s a few years back! Yah Mon! Nashville Reggae at Tootsie’s!