Eric Church Previews His Upcoming Residency, Michael Jordan & Peyton Manning Attend Star-Studded Grand Opening Of His Nashville Bar, Chief’s

Eric Church Michael Jordan

A lot of artists have their own bars on Broadway these days.

From Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean to Kid Rock, John Rich and Miranda Lambert, downtown Nashville is an endless stream of bars named after some of the biggest artists in country music.

But from the time Eric Church announced his bar, Chief’s, you knew it was going to be different.

Church has always been different. He’s never really followed the crowd, whether that’s in his music or just the way he does things in a music industry that rewards people who play the game. But Church doesn’t play the game. He never has. So it’s no surprise that he wasn’t going to start when it came to bringing his vision for Chief’s to life alongside his friend Ben Weprin, founder of boutique real estate management firm AJ Capital.

That vision finally became a reality earlier this week when Chief’s opened their doors for the first time for a star-studded grand opening.

And as soon as you walk in, it’s not hard to see that Church’s bar is different from the dozens of others that surround it – in the best possible way.

Eric Church has never really been one to half-ass anything. If you’ve seen him live, that’s obvious from the first note to the last. And there’s nothing about Chief’s that was half-assed.

The entire first floor is covered in tour posters from his 15+ year career. And when I say the floor, I mean the floor…and the ceiling, and the walls, and the bar top, and even the chairs at the bar. In a building that Church has said was built “brick by brick,” each step of his journey is on full display as soon as you walk in the bar.

The backdrop for the stage on the first floor is the sign from Cotton Eyed Joe, a tribute to the history of the building that now serves as home for Church and his fans.

And in the Neon Steeple music venue on the third and fourth floors, another sign hangs above the stage, this one from the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar. It’s a sign that holds special meaning for Church, who got his start playing at the since-closed bar in Printer’s Alley when, as he told the crowd at the opening, Broadway didn’t want him.

There are stories like that in every inch of Chief’s – little Easter eggs that come together to paint a picture of the man behind the aviators. On the second floor there’s the flag from his sold-out Nissan Stadium show here in Nashville, which at the time was the largest crowd in the stadium’s history. Even the pews in the music venue each have special meaning for Church, and they’re backlit by stained glass windows featuring some of his biggest inspirations.

Church himself will be playing at the bar with his 19-date To Beat the Devil residency, with performances that will be unlike anything his fans have ever seen before. But unlike the sounds of the cover bands that escape the windows of the surrounding bars and fill the streets of Broadway, Church is also bringing in singers and songwriters to play their own music inside the Neon Steeple.

This is an artist’s bar, built for artists by an artist.

So when Church took the stage to play at Chief’s for the first time, as he stepped onto the aviators that are laid into the center of the stage, it was clear that this was a home game in the tiny 350-seat venue for the man who’s used to packing out stadiums and amphitheaters.

But even in a room full of people who know him well, Church still managed to surprise everybody with what he had in store. I won’t give too much away about the performance so I don’t ruin it for the folks who are going to his residency, but let’s just say you never really know what Eric Church has up his sleeve – or standing right beside you in the crowd.

It was just that kind of night as Chief’s opened their doors for the first time. Full of surprises, yet entirely familiar. There were dueling pianos on the second floor, and downstairs a DJ hosted a star-studded dance party that at one point featured Michael Jordan dancing on stage alongside Weprin as Peyton Manning raised his glass from the crowd.

Michael Jordan

Cincoro tequila, which is Michael Jordan’s tequila brand, was on the menu for the opening night. But Church’s own Whiskey Jypsi was also behind the bar – just another personal touch in a bar that has them everywhere you turn.

And speaking of the menu, famed pitmaster Rodney Scott’s barbeque serves as a welcome change from the burgers and bar food that you’ll find up and down Broadway. (Try the brisket. Just trust me on this one).

Overall, Chief’s is as complex as the man whose name is on the front door, yet as simple as putting a drink in your hand on Friday at 5. It’s a place for his Church Choir fan club to “gather again.” A place where every corner holds a story, every wall a memory. A place that Eric put his “Heart & Soul” into. And a place that’s different from anything else in Nashville.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock