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August 19, 2015

Nashville’s music scene is legendary, but those really in the know will send visitors an hour and a half away to an underground club in Tennessee’s small town of McMinnville. Bluegrass Underground is quite literally underground—more than 333 feet below the streets of McMinnville.

The Bluegrass Underground sits in the Volcano Room at Tennessee’s landmark Cumberland Caverns. Every few weeks, the venue plays host to some of the best bluegrass and country music in the region. The atmosphere is primo: the whole venue is a natural limestone cavern sited near rock formations, underground waterfalls, and pools. The venue is just big enough for an audience of 600, members of which perch on rocks beneath the stalagmite-studded ceiling.

Artists like Jason Isbell, Shovels & Rope, and Leon Russell have all played the Bluegrass Underground. And that’s no small feat; crew members must schlep instruments and equipment into the hall. It’s worth it, though. The natural acoustics are difficult to recreate by even the most savvy of sound engineers, according to NPR.

Visitors can either come just to the show or by a combo ticket, which includes the Cumberland Caverns’ Daily Walking Tour along with a concert ticket.

Upcoming shows include performances by Steve Earle & The Dukes, Mountain Heart, and a December show by Grammy-winning artists Riders in the Sky doing “Christmas the Cowboy Way.” If you can’t make it to Tennessee, the Bluegrass Underground has teamed up with PBS Arts to record the performances, meaning you can enjoy the sets without climbing into a cave. 

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