Visit Franklin: A Music Lover's Dream

Words by McKenna Neville

Why Franklin, Tennessee should be on every music lover's bucket list.

South of Nashville, tucked in the back roads of Tennessee, sits a town with hidden gems for music lovers far and wide.

With a population of just over 70,000, Franklin, Tennessee has charm for miles. It’s not unusual to see festivals of all kind, eat some of the best food in the South, experience different cultures, and hang out at locally-owned boutiques in the city.  

Matthew Maxey, the Public Relations Manager at Visit Franklin, talks about the charisma that a place like Franklin brings.

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“Franklin is a place where you can take a breath,” he said. “To use music terms, it’s a little more acoustic than electric.”

It’s true, Franklin is full of endearing festivals and people, but this town is also filled with, as Matthew puts it, “more acoustic” musical treats. Franklin has unique venues and festivals that you can’t find anywhere else, and many of the songs that you hear on the radio every day were inspired and even written in the town.

Little Big Town connected with their fourth member at the Starbucks on bustling Main Street. Lady Antebellum got their name from the antebellum-style homes that are sprinkled throughout Franklin. Thomas Rhett’s song ‘Star of the Show’ was inspired while he was at a songwriter’s round at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant of Leiper’s Fork. Country music is not the only thing that can be found here. Justin Bieber's music video for ‘Under the Mistletoe’ features him walking down festive Main Street during Christmas time, and the band New Found Glory filmed the music video for ‘The Power of Love’ in this music-loving town. To say Franklin is a hub for musicians would be an understatement.

Kevin Griffin, Co-Founder of The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, loves the culture that the music industry brings to the town.

“Music is in our DNA as a community and brings people together,” Kevin said. “Franklin and the Nashville area at large are filled with music business professionals, and if you are not in the biz personally someone in your circle probably is.”

In Franklin, music is everywhere. You can find live music any day of the week, but not your normal, run-of-the-mill live music.

The woman playing in a locally-owned bar at lunch hour might be traveling with a huge name in music the next week. The man playing piano on the street could be a month away from signing with a huge record label. The guy performing on the corner of Main Street could have a Grammy on the shelf at home.

This all happens regularly in Franklin. Being that writers, producers, musicians, and performers of all kinds live and perform in Franklin, there are unique places all over to hear great music. The ability to walk into a restaurant and get a high-class meal with an equally high-class performer on stage– you don’t see that other places around the country.

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Whether you’re at an open mic night at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant of Leiper’s Fork, seeing a show at The Franklin Theatre, grabbing some drinks at Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor, or walking down Franklin’s Main Street, you’re bound to find good music in unique venues.

Dan Hayes, Executive Director of The Franklin Theatre, talks about what makes a venue like The Franklin Theatre exceptional. “The Franklin Theatre is unique for its high-quality production, intimacy, and attention to making every experience special,” Dan said. “In saving the theater (it reopened in 2011), the community invested heavily in making sure the sound in the room is studio quality and, at only 300 seats, patrons feel as though they’re at a living room concert for some of the most notable touring artists of our time.”

Whether you’re at The Franklin Theatre or around the corner eating lunch, music is influencing people all around Franklin.

“The sounds and words and interpretation of songs all combine to have a unique power in shaping us... possibly with a tear in our eye, a laugh, or the special way it provokes us to think,” Dan said. “Whether the ripples created by music are small or huge…they’re very real and inform the culture of who we are.”

Because Franklin is full of people who love music, music festivals are also a prominent part of the town. Every June, BreakFEST comes to Franklin. People come to BreakFEST to listen to punk rock music while eating a variety of breakfast foods at The Factory. A couple months later in October, Porchfest hits the streets. You can walk around downtown Franklin and hear live music straight from front porches.

Then there’s the biggest music festival in Franklin - Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival. Kevin Griffin talked about how unique this festival is.

“It is the only festival that showcases all that middle Tennessee has to offer… all genres of music from pop to country, rock to southern gospel plus the best artisans and makers and incredible cuisine all in a family-friendly atmosphere that end at 8pm each night,” Kevin said. “I grew up going to Jazz Fest and nothing like that existed here. We are so proud to create an environment that showcases cutting edge and fun music and families can exist in the same atmosphere.”

Whether you want to go to a family friendly music festival, hear punk rock music while eating muffins, stumble upon a star, or listen to an up and coming musicians, you can find it all in Franklin.

Upcoming music events in Franklin, TN

BreakFEST - June 2

Porchfest - October 5

Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival - September 21 & 22