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Cannery Row Music Venues Renovated And Renamed For 2023

Cannery Hall
Courtesy of Cannery Hall
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The former Mercy Lounge building is being rebranded Cannery Hall with a 2023 opening forecast.

The historic music venues in the 140-year-old brick building at 1 Cannery Row have been silent since the spring as they undergo extensive renovations, but yesterday new owners DZL Management unveiled its plans to open its four spaces under new names in 2023. The multi-genre music complex will be called Cannery Hall.

The former Cannery Ballroom, the largest space, will be dubbed The Mainstage with a stated capacity of 1,200. The former Mercy Lounge, capacity 625, will be called The Mil. The intimate former High Watt will be the Row 1 Stage with room for up to 325, according to a release from the new owners. On the building’s top floor, the private event space formerly known as One will be called Amaranth, with space for 380.

“Prior to opening, Cannery Hall will complete significant renovations to create the best show experience possible for music lovers and artists,” said the announcement. “For fans, Cannery Hall will have new state-of- the-art lighting and sound systems, improved sightlines, better overall venue flow, new bathrooms, ample parking, enhanced back-of-house facilities, and new food and beverage options.” It promises to be “the most artist-friendly venue in Nashville.”

The announcement comes at a time when Nashville’s music venues are under unprecedented pressure from rising real estate values and the hangover from the business-crushing Covid pandemic. The 50-year old Exit/In is in limbo with new owners signaling a continuation of music there but with no concrete plans. 3rd & Lindsley is in the last couple of years of its current lease and is expecting to move. At the same time, new venues have opened, including the Brooklyn Bowl and the Wash at East Side Bowl.

Of note is the Cannery Hall’s general manager Brent Hyams, whose background includes leadership roles at the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. “This is a legacy opportunity for me as someone who has both been a fan of the Cannery and worked within Nashville’s music industry,” Hyams said in a statement when his role was announced earlier this year. “We all have great memories from these venues — we’re here to keep the unforgettable moments going and carry on a part of what makes Music City authentic and special.”

Project head Zach Liff, a multi-generational Nashvillian, said: “Our intent is to carry forward the musical legacy of the Cannery and Music City with shows and experiences that build on those legacies and by helping to launch the next generation of musicians whose creativity thrives in independent music venues like the Cannery.”

One Cannery Row was a flour mill and a coffee mill long before it became a home for live music, as early as 1981. Its first hall was a regular setting for live shows broadcast on TNN in the 80s. The Mercy Lounge opened in 2003 and established itself as the hub of four venues that featured countless local and international acts over a nearly 20 year run. Liff’s DZL Management purchased the property in 2019 for $32 million. There are plans to build new towers in the lot between the Cannery and Cummins Station, which DZL also owns.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst.