For the past two decades, venues on Cannery Row have collectively been a pillar of Nashville’s music scene. Now, word has come via Twitter and Instagram that Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom and their younger sibling The High Watt will relocate once their lease is up in May 2022.
Though a lightning strike and a burglary threatened to derail the opening of their 500-person venue, bar and pool hall Mercy Lounge in 2003, original owners Chark Kinsolving (now a co-owner of Eastside Bowl) and Brent Woodard persevered. They even remodeled a former venue and soundstage space on the ground floor of the onetime Dale Foods cannery and opened the 1,500-capacity Cannery Ballroom shortly thereafter.
As the city’s music scene evolved, the family of venues grew to include 250-cap The High Watt, which opened in 2012. By the time of the venues’ 10th anniversary in 2013, plans were in motion to open the top floor of the building into a venue called ONE, which has occasionally opened to the public but most often served as a private event space.
It will be a challenge to replicate the spaces — where it’s generally easy to find a place to get away from the music for a bit — and impossible to replicate the memories. The rooms have hosted hundreds upon hundreds of live performances, from Charlie Louvin and Charli XCX, to Snoop Dogg, The White Stripes, Lizzo and wave upon wave of local bands and songwriters on the rise. Some of them played Mercy’s 8 off 8th no-cover showcase night a few times and were never heard from again, while others have become known far and wide (see: Those Darlins, JEFF the Brotherhood, R.LUM.R, Natalie Prass and too many more to name).
In October 2019, New York-based real estate company Thor Equities Group and local investor Zach Liff completed a deal to purchase the entire site, on which several other businesses reside, for $32 million. Liff later bought out Thor's interest and is now the owner of the property. At the time, current venue owner Todd Ohlhauser said that the venues would remain operational under their then-current long-term lease. A few months later, the pandemic shut down most live entertainment venues for more than a year.