At first glance, it might not seem like Gavin DeGraw, Jason Aldean and Alan Jackson have much in common, but the three artists — and several others — all share at least one thing, in that they co-own bars on Nashville's Lower Broadway.
DeGraw's is Nashville Underground, a 4-level venue serving food and drinks with plenty of room to watch a live band, catch a sports game or dance on the light-up floor on the building's rooftop.
"I was excited about the town years ago," the singer told PopCulture.com during CMA Fest in Nashville. "When I first visited Nashville, it was a place that I was excited about simply because of the actual local music scene and I wanted to be a part of that."
"I came up in barrooms. When I came to this strip down here on Broadway, I saw nothing but honky-tonks. And I thought, 'Cool, this is the kind of place that I would have enjoyed being a teenage musician walking in here and being like, 'Hey, mind if I play one?'" he continued. "That really was intoxicating for me and it was really a magnet for me."
So when DeGraw and his brother were offered an opportunity to be part of a bar on Lower Broadway in Nashville, they jumped on it, though DeGraw revealed that he wouldn't consider putting his name on the venue like several other artists have now done with their own establishments.
"Here's the thing. I'd be apprehensive to put my name on the bar," he explained. "Just 'cause I don't want someone to be like, 'Gavin said such and such to me once upon a time, so I'll never go to his bar.' I'd rather they not know it's my bar."
Instead of people heading to Nashville Underground to go to Gavin DeGraw's bar, the 42-year-old wants them to go there because they know they'll have fun.
"The job is to have a good time," he said, noting that the missive applies for both his bar and his concerts. "The job is to bring a good time to people. That's what we do at our bar at the Nashville Underground. That's what we do onstage. The whole purpose is to reward people for taking the time to come out to your show with the money they've been saving to see the show."
When fans attend one of DeGraw's shows today, they'll hear the singer's new music, but they can also be confident they'll hear older tracks they fell in love with years ago, a lesson that DeGraw shares was hammered into him by country legend Garth Brooks.
"I went to see Garth do a show and he's all over the stage and he's running around and he's exciting," he recalled. "But he was talking to the audience and he said something to the effect of, 'You know, I go to shows, too, and when I go to shows and I see artists that I love, I want them to play the old stuff.'"
"It's like time travel. When you hear the song that you like from an artist from five years ago or 10 years ago or when you were 15, it takes you back to that exact moment when you heard the song for the first time," he continued. "That's the cool thing about music. It can create that sort of time travel memory for you. I like giving people that moment, but also I like to give them something fresh too, something brand new. Mix it up."
Photo Credit: Getty / Erika Goldring