Garth Brooks has always had a reputation for caring about his fans, and that’s definitely evident as he opened his Friends in Low Places Bar & Honky-Tonk in Nashville. Located on Broadway, Garth Brooks’ long-awaited bar is nestled in the popular tourist mecca of Nashville where Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Kid Rock, Dierks Bentley, John Rich and other entertainers have already established thriving night spots.
“I don’t know how you have a Lower Broadway without Friends in Low Places,” Brooks told Woman’s World as he looked around the his bar and smiled. “We’re part of the neon neighborhood down here and we just want to help it out. I want this to be a good thing for Lower Broadway but we’ll only know after a while. Hopefully good things will happen.”
Safety is a top priority for Garth Brooks’ bar
Garth Brooks admits keeping both patrons and employees safe was top of mind as they planned for the new bar in Nashville. “The best thing is this police substation next door. That was an alley and you can ask any government official, an alley in downtown is not a good thing,” Brooks said of the space where the police substation is being built right next to Friends in Low Places. “The first thing was to try to omit the alley, so we go to the city and say, ‘Hey can we do something? Give us that alley, we’ll build you a police substation.’”
Even though the station isn’t open yet, Brooks said other business owners in the area have expressed how appreciative they are of his efforts. “It’s already a sigh of relief down here. This is a beautiful place, and this is where we want people to come. We just want them to know they have a presence there,” Brooks says of police being nearby to keep an eye on the bustling area. “It doesn’t mean anything bad is going to happen.”
A community coming together
Garth Brooks is also appreciative of the help he’s received in getting the police substation built next the the bar. “My job was to fund that. They need a kitchen. They need stuff like you regularly would. None of the contractors are charging for this,” Brooks said. “They are donating materials and labor because it’s for the Nashville Police Department. That speaks volumes about Nashville when we think about our men and women in blue here, but it also speaks volumes about this community which I love.”
Creating a space for all to enjoy
Friends in Low Places is a state-of-the-art entertainment venue, but beyond the stage, sound system and décor, Brooks says security and cleanliness were two priorities. “You want your bar to be inclusive. You want everybody to walk in here and feel welcomed, so the things you spend your money are on security. You want people to feel safe,” Brooks said. “So you work on your security. That’s where you spend your money, and on cleanliness. Make sure that the people that are cleaning this building feel they are respected as well. So up their pay. Pay them more than if they were to clean somewhere else because that’s what it’s all about.”
Brooks also wants to make Friends in Low Places a good environment for musicians, so he plans to close the bar earlier than some of the others on Broadway in Nashville. “Some bands here play hours with no breaks. That’s not going to happen. We’re just not going to do that. We also want to get them out of here earlier. A lot of bars are open until 3am. We’ll close at 2am at the latest, but there’ll be no live music here past midnight because a lot of those [performers] are females, so you just want to do things that [are] thoughtful,” he said, once again citing safety as a consideration.
Giving performers the space they deserve
Brooks performed at Friends in Low Places during a special Black Friday concert on Amazon Music Live, giving viewers a front row seat to one of his beloved “Dive Bar” shows. However, Brooks has said he doesn’t plan to perform regularly at his club. “This is for the next wave. This is for those next guys to come here and play,” he says of Nashville’s up and coming artists.
He’s understandably proud of the venue and says it’s a far cry from the rough and tumble places he honed his skills as a young performer. “There was no green room. There was no backstage, no retractable stage,” he said, pointing to the Friends in Low Places stage. “This thing could go all the way into the wall in case you just want a DJ in here and open up the dance floor. It’s crazy. The sound system is amazing!”
His early days on the road weren’t glamorous, but Brooks has fond memories. He even laughs when recalling a promoter bringing him and his band a tray of day-old sandwiches. “We were at a fair in Ohio. He came in and we were like, ‘Alright, who said music wouldn’t pay for your lunch, right?’ And as he’s walking out he goes, ‘Hope you enjoy them. They are the sandwiches that Travis Tritt’s bunch didn’t eat yesterday.’ That was how life on the road was and I’ve got to tell you, I loved it. I love cramming seven guys and all your gear in an eight-passenger van, just being stinky and all that stuff. I just loved it. This doesn’t feel stinky,” he says smiling as he looks around his new bar.
Giving the establishment a proper name
For now, Friends in Low Places is open on weekends and will expand to seven days a week next spring. For those wondering why Brooks named the club after one of his big hits instead of putting his name on it, he addressed that at a recent press conference in Nashville.
“This town has been amazing to me. I know my bank account when I got here. I know where I was in my life when I got here and I know where I’m at now… Does Garth Brooks owe Nashville? You bet Garth Brooks owes Nashville, so I’m looking at Broadway going, it’s not the fact that Garth Brooks is missing, but ‘Friends in Low Places’ is missing down here,” he said.
Brooks shared how his longtime manager, Bob Doyle, recently spoke at a college and asked the students how many people knew who Garth Brooks was. “Three or four hands go up out of 40,” Brooks relates. “Then he goes, ‘How many people know the song “Friends in Low Places,” all 40 [hands] go up. I think what you do, hopefully, as an artist is you realize that the song outlives the artist, so that’s why it’s not the Garth Bar. It’s Friends in Low Places because I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, you can like Garth Brooks. You cannot like Garth Brooks. Either way, chances are you’ve probably sang ‘Friends in Low Places’ with everybody else, so I think that’s why.”
What else is Garth Brooks up to?
In addition to opening Friends in Low Places, Brooks has been busy with several other endeavors including the re-launch of the Garth Channel on his SEVENS Radio Network on TuneIn. The Garth Channel previously aired on SiriusXM from 2016 to 2022.
Brooks has also added 18 new shows to his Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in 2024. Brooks will finish up the sold-out 2023 dates on Dec. 16 and tickets are already on sale for the 2024 concerts. “My experience working with the family and crew at Caesars and the audiences of the residency has been next level. I couldn’t have picked a better place to play or better people to play for,” Brooks shared in a statement.
The seven-time CMA Entertainer of the Year has also released a Garth Brooks Live Live, a special boxed set commemorating his Las Vegas residency. The set contains a 92-page book filled with photos and five discs with more than 50 songs. Garth Brooks Live Live is available at Caesar’s Entertainment, TalkShopLive and Amazon Music.
Brooks’ new music
Brooks also recently released his 14th studio album, Time Traveler, which is included in his new seven disc boxed set The Limited Series, available at Bass Pro Shops. In addition to the new album, the boxed set will include Man Against Machine, Gunslinger, Fun and the three-disc Triple Live. This marks the final release of The Limited Series. The previous two were released in 1998 and 2005.
Time Traveler features 10 songs, including the single “Rodeo Man,” a duet with Ronnie Dunn. Brooks says the new album is a snapshot of where he is now in life. “You always just try to reveal who you are at that time,” he tells WW of the new album. “‘Me Without You,’ that is totally Miss Yearwood and me, but it’s also my dad. My dad drove to the cemetery twice a day for 11 years, never missed a day [visiting mom]. It’s about two people that love each other.”
“‘Rodeo Man’ is fun because it describes today, but that record could have been back in the ’90s or ’80s. I like that, and that’s why the name Time Traveler because you get to go through all the different sounds. ‘The Ride’ sounds like something out of the ’70s, but it’s got that Brothers Osborne kind of big feel in it which I love. And then ‘St. Paul/Minneapolis’, that could have been ‘Every Now and Then’ off The Chase [album in 1992]. It feels like the same kind of feel on it, so I like the title Time Traveler.” Whatever endeavor Garth Brooks takes on next, we know he’s going to do it well!
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