Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member Garth Brooks previewed his Nov. 24 soft-opening three-story Lower Broadway venue Friends In Low Places, while also discussing other developments
On Monday morning, Garth Brooks stood in the middle of downtown Nashville’s Lower Broadway and rechristened the area the “Neon Neighborhood.”
He did so while onstage on the entry-level floor of his soon-to-soft-open, three-story, 40,000-plus square foot space, Friends In Low Places, at 411 Broadway. The Country Music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member has been onsite daily for the past month as final touches were being put on the space before his Dive Bar concert soft opening on Black Friday, Nov. 24. , which will air at 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT.
The concert will be a Black Friday Amazon Music Live (AML) special featuring Ronnie Dunn, his collaborator on his current country radio single “Rodeo Man” and “many other celebrities.” It will air live immediately after Amazon’s exclusive Prime Video broadcast of the National Football League’s first-ever Black Friday game featuring the Miami Dolphins vs. The New York Jets on Prime Video.
He stood onstage amid an incredibly busy moment in what is evolving into the third significant chapter in his storied career.
Heading into 2024, the Oklahoma native and Nashville resident’s ties to Nashville and his Nashville-made acclaim are significant.
For Brooks, he’s deeply motivated by wanting to “give back” to a community that continues to serve as his foundation as both an artist and now a businessperson.
Announcements included those surrounding his bar and honky-tonk, plus he discussed the global relaunch of his “Garth Channel” radio station via his continued partnership with the TuneIn service, just-released 14th studio album “Time Traveler” (which contains both “Rodeo Man” and a song entitled “Neon Neighborhood”) and the announcement of Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation asking Brooks to add 18 new 2024 dates for his Garth Brooks/Plus ONE residency at Las Vegas’ The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
“I never expected this at all. It’s a gift. It’s not my job to say how long it lasts. I just keep running,” he said, crediting his “good karma” for four decades of mainstream success.
Tickets for Brooks’ just-added Las Vegas shows will be available to the general public starting on Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. PT for the first nine shows and noon PT for the remaining nine shows.
The Garth Channel joins other Brooks stations, The Big 615 and Tailgate Radio, as currently streaming on TuneIn for free on his Sevens Radio Network.
“Whether you like me or don’t, you love ‘Friends in Low Places'”
Brooks’ new venue will open only two floors on weekends through either New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day 2024, the seller of over 100 million records offered.
He’s eyeing March 2024 as a potential opening date for the venue in full.
The artist who played for an estimated crowd of one million people in New York City’s Central Park a quarter-century ago offered a self-effacing answer about the venue’s name.
“The song outlives the artist. Whether you like me or don’t, you love “Friends in Low Places.”
Brooks could be right.
Released 33 years ago as the lead single from his album “No Fences,” the song spent a month at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and won 1990’s Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards for Single of the Year.
Appropriately, two palm trees growing on the venue’s second floor — which has all three levels open to looking down on the first floor’s retractable stage — are named for Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell, the song’s co-writers.
Beyond his soft-opening concert, Brooks may not appear frequently on the venue’s stage.
“It’s too nice! No honky tonk I was raised in looked like this,” Brooks joked.
The statement he made following offers much to describing the evolution of who plays Lower Broadway’s bars, when and why.
Early in his artistic development, Brooks fondly recalled traveling with seven people in an eight-passenger van to play rowdy honky-tonk venues for four consecutive hours. These spaces were the type where cedar posts held up the roof and baling wire tethered inexpensive Radio Shack speakers to those posts. Bands ate boxes of sandwiches provided by event promoters that a more popular act had not eaten the day before.
Brooks intends to see the next wave of top Nashville acts advance to play in venues that were decidedly not like the ones where he cut his teeth.
“[Friends In Low Places will be an] inclusive welcoming bar that is clean, loving, safe and [hopefully] where nothing bad happens,” he stated.
“Friends In Low Places” and noise concerns
Doubling down on his 2022 statement that it will be “the Chick-Fil-A of honky-tonks,” he also cited that he would prefer to see the bar close at 2 a.m. most nights, plus not feature live music past midnight.
The announcement of no live music after midnight comes following the Aug. 2023 passage of speaker direction ordinances by Nashville’s Metro Council that downtown Nashville honky tonks, bars and music venues must now face their music inward. This follows ordinances requiring venues in Nashville’s downtown district to orient interior speakers within 10 feet of an open window or door toward the center of the venue.
The ordinance’s lead sponsor, representative Jeff Syracuse, told The Tennessean that the main concern being addressed by the legislation was police officers on Lower Broadway reporting being unable to hear radio communications and in some cases, gunshots over the combined sound of interior speakers turned toward the street.
“Great music and loving people”
The police-friendly nature of Friends In Low Places extends to, as previously noted, a Nashville Metro Police substation — aimed, as Metro Police representatives indicated in March 2023 — at “reducing traffic congestion and keeping the cities’ busiest few blocks secure” — is scheduled to finish construction and open at some point soon following Friends’ Nov. 24 soft opening concert.
Brooks added that the police substation “was a little bit behind [in construction,” but cities that the space’s contractors have donated labor and materials for construction. He continued that the substation eliminates a potentially dangerous downtown alley and expands space where Metro Police already corralled horses for mounted patrol to now include spaces for parking police vehicles.
Also, an elevated vantage point will be erected for police officers to have increased visibility from Lower Broadway’s 5th to 1st Avenue intersections.
When asked about other fondly-held personal highlights of the bar’s development, he was keen on highlighting that, concerning the song “Friends In Low Places,” his honky-tonk sharing the song’s name would have a rooftop space called “The Oasis.”
That rooftop is important to Brooks because when it was formerly known as the Paradise Park Trailer Resort, Brooks celebrated his seventh Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year award there in 2019.
Insofar as mirroring other artists with their names on Lower Broadway bars, Brooks will not have much of his memorabilia available there for viewing. Instead, he wants fans to highlight their love of the “No Fences” artist with their license plates and other materials celebrating their fandom on the venue’s walls. Also, an effort will be made to highlight his appreciation for the United States Armed Forces and rodeo communities alongside the slightly-weathered, tropical-style motif befitting “Friends In Low Places” lyrics.
When asked to summarize the new venue’s appeal without it having yet even opened, Brooks thought for a second, smiled and offered the following:
“Friends In Low Places will be all about great music and people loving people.”