Nashville's Exit/In 'originals' reminisce on memories as owners step aside

Posted at 3:27 PM, Nov 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-25 20:42:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Exit/In legacy hangs in the balance, and now artists are reminiscing on memories at the venue.

Dianne Davidson is what you'd call an Exit/In "original."

"It was this tiny little piece here, and of course, the entrance was in the back, hence the Exit/In,” Davidson said.” (There was) a bank vault, and that was where the business went on and people went in to get high, and I’ve heard tales that sex was involved in there, but I didn’t personally do that — I was on stage."

Along with Jimmy Buffet, she was one of the first people to ever play there more than 50 years ago.

"My memory is that I was the first one to play, and that’s Buffet’s memory too, and the funny thing I was thinking on the way in was I was the name, and Buffet was totally unknown. (The) irony on that," Davidson said.

Back then, it was more of a singer-songwriter spot.

"We were known to imbibe in some substances back then, and we essentially worked for beer, and I think every now and then we got a couple of bucks, but it was mainly for beer, so the memories are difficult."

On Thanksgiving, the former owners called it quits. "It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also — it’s life," Davidson said.

The property is now owned by developer AJ Capital. The former owners and current developer are in the middle of court proceedings regarding the Exit/In trademark. That will likely determine what happens next. AJ Capital has not responded to our requests for comment.

"I know change is inevitable, but we need to keep some of the institutional things that make Nashville — Nashville," concertgoer Bennie Perkins said,

Perkins stopped by on Friday to take photos — fearing what will happen next.

“I didn’t want to come over to take pictures and there be a crane and a bulldozer," Perkins said.

Moving onward, Dianne said the Exit/In '"riginals" still get together.

"We do the sold-out shows with the old folks, get the walkers up on the stage, and the music’s beautiful,” Davidson said.

She'll play next for her 70th birthday celebration at 3rd & Lindsley.

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