Jason Aldean didn’t have to play the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway. He wanted to.
“I had already done the club scene in Georgia and Florida, and by the time I moved to Nashville I had a publishing deal. So I didn’t really have to do a lot of that stuff down there. I did it because I wanted to,” Aldean told CMT.com.
The street — famous for block after block of bars that have live music virtually all day and all night — is where so many country stars get their start. But when Aldean moved to town 20 years ago, he remembers Lower Broadway being a different animal.
“Back then, it was cheap little souvenir shops and cowboy hats and shot glasses, and now you go down there, and it’s legit. Everything down there is cool, and there’s more stuff going in every day,” he said.
Aldean was discovered in the early 2000s while he was playing at the Wildhorse Saloon, just off Lower Broadway. At the time, he’d been dropped by both MCA and Capitol Records, and Broken Bow’s Benny Brown had encouraged the label’s Jon Loba to come with him to see Aldean at what was considered a tourist trap. “Benny said, ’I don’t want to go where those (music) industry [expletive] are. I want to go where the fans are,’” Loba recalled. And as the story goes, Loba decided to sign Aldean a few songs into his set.
Fast forward 20 years, and Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar is opening on Lower Broadway.
“Nashville is thriving right now, and it’s just a good time to be in Nashville, a good time for businesses like that, and having a place for people to go and have fun,” he said. “If there’s one thing I like to do other than music, it is to have fun. So, if nothing else, I’ve got a cool place to go if I want to go downtown.”
Aldean will join fellow country stars John Rich, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton who have all put their names on entertainment spaces up and down Broadway.
Aldean’s eighth studio album, Rearview Town, arrives on April 13. His High Noon Neon Tour launches May 10, and he heads to the 53rd annual ACM Awards with two nominations including entertainer and male vocalist of the year.