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Eric Church Turns Hardship Into Harmony at New Nashville Hotspot Where He Holds Residency

Country star Eric Church has officially launched Chief’s, a six-story venue combining a bar, restaurant and music hall, right in the heart of Nashville’s iconic Broadway. The “Record Year” singer is currently organizing a 19-concert residency in this intimate 400-seat venue.

Reflecting on his early days in Nashville, Church said that upon leaving his small North Carolina town, all he had was dreams of stardom.

“I didn’t know anyone,” he said. “I didn’t even know where Nashville started and ended. I just knew I was in the center of it all.”

Despite his ambitions, the early days were fraught with rejections; he said he couldn’t even get a job as a bartender on Broadway.

“Broadway didn’t want me at all,” he said. “I couldn’t get a gig on Broadway.”

Today, Church is revered as one of the most respected figures in country music, often described as the renegade from Nashville. But he admits that even today, after all his success, he still sometimes considers himself an outsider.

Chief’s is more than just a place. It’s a heartfelt project that offers Church a way to deeply connect with his fans.

“I wanted a place where I could show up, no cell phones, no recorders, where I could be in a living room and I could play songs that didn’t make an album,” Church said.

The importance of Chief’s as a safe space was highlighted by the personal tragedies Church faced, including his near-death experience from a blood clot in June 2017. He underwent an intervention emergency surgery and it took him months to recover. One of his first shows this fall was at a festival in Las Vegas. Two days after his performance, a gunman opened fire on the crowd, killing 60 people.

“I watched those people that night, holding up their boots and singing at the top of their lungs,” he said. “And then two days later, you know, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. A lot of fans had stayed over the weekend to see all the shows that were killed. I don’t know not what it was, something about it just kind of broke me,” he said.

The unexpected death of his younger brother Brandon – who died of a seizure less than a year later – plunged him into eight months of “darkness”.

“I overcame like everything I’ve been through in my life. I turned to the one thing I know I can do. I wrote songs,” he said.

Chief’s gives him a platform to perform the songs born from these personal trials – songs too personal for albums, but therapeutic for his healing process.

“What I’m trying to show with this residency here is that this is really the writing and the songs that no one has heard and that I’ve never put on a record,” he said. he declares. “Because it was too personal, too close. I’m going to play them. I’m going to say, that’s what got me through it.”

Beyond the music, Church wanted Chief’s to be personal. The stained glass windows feature those who inspired him. He covered a bar with about 4,000 of his concert posters. There are nods throughout to his life and music that has become an integral part of the Nashville sound.

Despite his continued view of himself as an outsider, Church experiences a sense of redemption in being able to establish such a personal stake on Broadway, where he has previously been rejected.

“I started here, you know, they didn’t want me here. I’m here. They can’t kick me out now.”

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