Eric Church transforms hardship into harmony at new Nashville hotspot where he hosts his residency
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Country star Eric Church has officially launched Chief’s, a six-story venue that combines a bar, restaurant and music hall, right in the heart of Nashville’s iconic Broadway. The “Record Year” singer is currently hosting a 19-show residency at this intimate 400-seat location.

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

“I didn’t know anybody,” he said. “I didn’t even know where Nashville started and ended. I just knew that I came to the center of it.”

Despite his ambitions, the beginning was fraught with rejections, he said he couldn’t even get a bartending job 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 country music’s most respected figures, often described as Nashville’s renegade. But he admits, even now, after all this success, he sometimes still sees himself as an outsider. 

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

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

The significance of Chief’s as a safe space has been covered by personal tragedies that Church faced, including his near-death experience from a blood clot in June of 2017. He had emergency surgery, and it took months to recover. One of his first shows back that fall was at a festival in Las Vegas. Two days after he performed, a gunman opened fire on the crowd, killing 60 people.

“I watched those people that night, hold up boots and, and sing at the top of their lungs,” he said. “And then two days later, you know, deadliest mass shoot in U.S. history. Had a lot of fans that had stayed over for the weekend to see all the shows that got killed. I don’t know what it was, something about it just kind of broke me,” he said.

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

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

Chief’s provides a platform for him 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 the residency here is it was really the songwriting and the songs that nobody’s heard that I’ve never put on a record,” he said. “Cause it was too personal, was too close. I’m gonna play those. I’m gonna say, this is what got me through.”

Beyond the music, Church wanted Chief’s to feel personal. The stained-glass windows feature those who have inspired him. He’s covered a bar with about 4,000 of his concert posters. There are nods everywhere to his life and music that is now a distinctive part of the Nashville sound.

Despite his continued self-view as an outsider, Church feels a sense of redemption in being able to establish such a personal stake on Broadway, where he once faced rejection. 

“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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