There’s a Category 10 hurricane about to make landfall in Music City.
Last year, Luke Combs announced that he was partnering with Opry Entertainment Group to open a four-story bar and entertainment complex in the heart of downtown Nashville.
The venue, located at 120 Second Avenue just steps off the famous Broadway, will transform the current Wildhorse Saloon into a 67,000 square foot complex, complete with three interior floors as well as a 9,000 square foot rooftop with one of the best views in downtown Nashville, overlooking the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium.
The first floor of the venue will maintain the existing stage and dance floor (so still plenty of room for line dancing), and will have a capacity of 1,500 for ticketed events. And each of the three interior levels will feature live music experiences inspired by Luke’s music and lifestyle.
Altogether, the new venue will hold around 3,000 people between the multiple levels and the newly-planned rooftop, and in addition to all of the daily live music, sports, and a top-shelf bourbon bar, the venue plans to host a full schedule of ticketed concerts and events.
In announcing the project, the Executive Chairman of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Colin Reed, expressed his excitement at partnering with Luke and creating a bar themed around his first #1 hit, “Hurricane.”
“I knew there was something extraordinary about Luke from the first time I heard him perform ‘Hurricane.’
Even as he’s gone from filling bars to stadiums around the world, Luke has remained deeply committed to his fans and his craft.
As the downtown entertainment district continues to evolve, we view this new experience as a tremendous opportunity to position Second Avenue with a global audience of country music lovers, anchored by Luke Combs’ massive international fan base.”
And now, Luke has officially revealed the name for his upcoming venue: Category 10.
Excited to announce my new honky-tonk will be called Category 10 and open this year!
“Cat 10 is going to be a place that artists of all levels want to play downtown. We are building a spot where we can put on a high-level touring act show one night and a songwriter showcase the next. There isn’t anything like this venue, and I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.”
Reed adds that the name symbolizes the power behind an artist like Luke Combs:
“The Category 10 name symbolizes the sheer, undeniable power of Luke’s voice, songwriting, and career, and just like Luke, this venue will be an off-the-charts experience unlike anything else downtown.”
In addition to the new name, we’re also getting a glimpse at what we can expect when Category 10 opens.
The first floor will contain The Honky Tonk, as well as The Main Stage, which will feature the largest dance floor and stage in downtown Nashville fully equipped for 1,500-person capacity ticketed concert events.
The Honky Tonk
The Main Stage
Each of the bars on the main floor will also be themed after one of Luke’s songs, the Beer Never Broke My Heart Bar and the Beautiful Crazy Bar.
Beer Never Broke My Heart Bar
Beautiful Crazy Bar
And of course they will still offer the line dancing lessons that the Wildhorse Saloon was known for.
Category 10 will also include a sports bar, providing sports fans a place to catch a game with “an expansive selection of major sports playing year-round.”
The Sports Bar
And next up is The Still, which “is designed for Combs’ Bootleggers Fan Club, bourbon aficionados, songwriters, and music lovers from all walks of life.” This area will feature a wide selection of bourbon, as well as an intimate setting for performances from songwriters.
And finally is the rooftop, which will be called The Eye. The 7,000 foot outdoor deck is the largest in the Broadway area, and the rooftop will feature both indoor and outdoor space featuring views of the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium.
Talent lineups for the venue will be curated by the Opry Entertainment team, featuring a special emphasis on up-and-coming artists.
Category 10 is slated to open in the summer of 2024, with the Wildhorse Saloon closing January 1st to begin construction on the new venue. During construction, visitors can stop by a pop-up shop by the venue featuring merchandise and memorabilia from Opry Entertainment brands.
So if you’re planning on hitting up Nashville this summer, and you’re a Luke Combs fan, Category 10 is going to be a must-visit stop on your trip.
Luke Discusses His New Bar With Whiskey Riff
Luke sat down for an exclusive interview with us to talk about his excitement at opening his own music venue as a guy who came up playing honky tonks – including the Wildhorse Saloon:
“Those were the best days, really. You feel like you, at least from my experience, you’re playing these rooms that – you start out in rooms that are smaller than that. If you can put 250, 300 people in a place you’re killing it, especially when you’re starting out.
You really at that time feel like you have this upward trajectory of where your career’s going, and you’re continuing to get new opportunities. And that was so exciting for me.
Places like Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte, the Blind Horse, Iron City, here…these are all places that are, in my mind, famous spots. Places that everybody goes and plays. So it felt to me a lot like a right of passage too.
So to be able to do something here at the Wildhorse is just amazing. I just never thought I’d see the day.”
Luke’s definitely graduated from these smaller venues, currently selling out stadiums not only in the United States but around the world.
But he says the honky tonks are still his favorite places to play:
“Stadiums are unbelievable, they’re unparalleled, size and scope, the grandiose nature of it is insane, it’s just like it doesn’t even feel real.
But those honky tonks, man, that time in your career is so special, at least it was for me. It’s like, it’s all new, it’s all exciting, you’re achieving all these dreams that you’ve had.
That’s what it is, man. You put 1,500 people in a honky tonk where you might have sold 800 tickets and the rest of the people might just be in there to go there. So you have an opportunity to gain new fans.”
And Luke says that even though he’s now packing stadiums, he still sees an opportunity to gain new fans every time he goes out on stage:
“It’s crazy to me that that’s still happening. We went and played in Dallas and I remember asking the crowd how many people had been to a show with me before and I was shocked at how few people were – like man, this is the first time that 30 or 40,000 people are seeing me, which is nuts, because you just don’t think you’re playing to anybody new at that point.
You’re thinking like ‘Ok, they’ve all been to a show before. But it’s so many people.
But I love just the opportunity to play for just anybody really. It doesn’t matter if they’ve seen me 100 times or if this is their first time. I just love playing music, I really do.”
So since Luke likes playing in the honky tonks and dive bars, we asked him: Describe your perfect dive bar.
“There’s gotta be a lot of neon in there, right? I mean that has to happen.
I think of glass beer bottles, there’s a smell. You got that tacky hardwood floor going on.
Probably some taxidermy going on in there, old taxidermy.
Loud music, like bar band type of energy going on, cover band type of thing.”
And one venue specifically stands out in his mind that fits his idea of the perfect bar – and no surprise it’s in his home state of North Carolina:
“I mean, Coyote Joe’s man. That place to me is everything that I love about where country music is played best.”
It’s these ideas for a perfect bar that Luke hopes is reflected in his new venue when it opens: The space right inside the front door is going to be a small 250-person honky tonk reminiscent of the dive bars Luke grew up playing.
“There’s going to be that streetfront area that’s going to have that honky tonk feel. That’s what I wanted it to have because that’s what I love the most. And so that was really important to me to have that be part of the space too.”
But standing out in downtown Nashville is harder than ever these days. Within just a block or two of Luke’s bar are venues owned by Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, John Rich, Kid Rock, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson. And soon, one of Luke’s heroes and friends Eric Church will also be opening his new venue, Chief’s, on Broadway.
So does Luke feel any pressure to compete with these other artists’ venues?
“I don’t see it as necessarily a competition. I guess from a business standpoint it probably is. But for me it’s an opportunity to do something for my fans that’s unique. But I also think the venue element to what we’re doing here is going to set this spot apart from anywhere else.
We really want to establish this as a venue that people want to come play when they’re on tour and they come to Nashville, and really be the premiere 1500-cap room in town. I think that’s what will set us apart.
And there are different levels to this space too that we’re looking forward to unveiling that will have a little bit of something for everybody. And I think that’s also something that’s only able to be achieved in a space like this just due to the size of it. So I think that’s what will really make it unique.”
It sounds like Luke’s put a ton of thought into the new venue, and every inch of the space is going to reflect his music and his personality.
But I had one more important question for Luke: Who is he most excited to shotgun a Miller Lite with at his new bar once it opens?
“Probably just the fans, honestly. It’s cool to be able to do anything with the fans.”