American Legion Post 82 emerges as a top Nashville honky-tonk
The American Legion Post 82 isn't situated on iconic lower Broadway and it isn't a regular stop on any party bus tour, but it's become one of Music City's best honky-tonks.
Driving the news: Located off Gallatin Pike in the Inglewood neighborhood, Post 82 holds weekly honky-tonk nights each Tuesday.
- Word is out about the authentic experience. Post 82 claimed third place in the most recent Nashville Scene readers' poll for best honky-tonk.
- At this week's gathering, about 600 people showed up for a night of line dancing, no-frills drinks and community, soundtracked by the country stylings of the Cowpokes.
Why it matters: The club's popularity is an important music industry win at a time when longstanding venues are closing, operators are losing their leases and new venues seem aimed at tourists instead of locals.
- The success of Post 82 has especially great significance since the American Legion's mission is to provide community and support to veterans.
Between the lines: Post 82 is in the early stages of a revitalization following an abrupt change in leadership over the summer. About 30 volunteers banded together to run the operation and expand its programming.
- Shannon Rasmussen, one of the core volunteers who stepped up to help, tells Axios Post 82 is probably the only venue in Nashville almost entirely run by volunteers.
- "It really is a community effort. To me, that's the cool part of the story. We took over as of July, and we are drinking from a firehose learning how to run this thing. Everybody has pitched in and gotten their hands dirty."
What she's saying: Rasmussen says military service creates tight bonds and family-like friendships. One of the biggest challenges for veterans is filling that void. Revenue generated from the programming goes to help veterans.
- "Veterans spend their whole careers serving others. It's in their DNA. When you walk away from the military, it's this massive loss. Even if it's a wonderful career, you suffer this loss because it's gone."
- "I think we've discovered that being up there and helping to run this venue, and working to build community and welcome people in, has become a form of service that's filling that void of emptiness we all had when we left the military."
Rasmussen emphasized that Post 82 is about more than just honky-tonk night. On the music side, the venue also has a bluegrass night, a karaoke night and a songwriters night. They hope to book more non-country concerts, she says.
- The Legion, which is open Tuesday through Friday, also hosts a weekly target practice "turkey shoot" and an array of volunteer opportunities.
- There's a $10 cover for honky-tonk Tuesdays, but veterans get in free.
Zoom out: Several weeks ago, the group asked concert industry veteran Ron Brice, who owns the 3rd and Lindsley music venue, to tour Post 82. The volunteers wanted Brice's thoughts on what he would change or improve.
- "Absolutely nothing," Brice told them. He said he was blown away by the simple and authentic layout of the venue, including the stage's American flag backdrop. Brice plans to refer artists to Post 82 for possible bookings.
- "I told them, 'Just tell the story and be what you are. There is enough neighborhood talent to create a scene. The best part is all the profits go to vets and vet projects.'"
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