I can’t decide if Little Harpeth Brewing is one of my favorite music venues or one of my favorite craft breweries in Nashville—

With Diarrhea Planet on the bill for Friday night (7/14, and a free show, at that!), LHB hit a home run in Music City.

Beyond its setup for brewing and an enticing selection of full-bodied craft beers, their calendar for hosting live music is equally impressive. I spoke with Matt Hearn, who is behind marketing and special events about how they brought together great music into a space whose focal point is producing craft beer.

Diarrhea Planet headlined an evening of live music, including Third Man Records’ Craig Brown Band at Little Harpeth Brewing on Friday, July 14, 2017.

“Initially we were just a production facility for beer, and we wanted to be as centrally located as we could so that people who came into town and downtown could get to us. But really, the whole venue was an afterthought.”

A portrait of a beautifully-maintained craft brewery serves as the backdrop to a stage set in front of an intriguing mural as you walk into LHB. Posters for upcoming indie-rock shows line the left-hand wall of the corridor leading up to the bar and entertainment area, comfortably equipped with tables, chairs and a lot of standing/dancing room. And if you’d like to step outside, there is a large, gravel backyard facing downtown Nashville, in continuum with the brewery’s open layout, so you don’t have to miss the music. In fact, LHB’s area out back is so picturesque, this year, they hosted a sold-out night of celebration for July 4th with a special dinner menu and beverage pairings, and most importantly, a clear view of the fireworks shows. Centrally located in the city — right off Oldham Street (clear of traffic) — parking is plentiful and a breeze, too.

Stage at Little Harpeth Brewing (Nashville, TN).

But Hearn assured me that Little Harpeth Brewing did not always look like it does today. Only a year ago, they were in the middle of demolition for a different idea for production that never came to fruition. “A lot of people who haven’t been here in a year don’t realize what it is.”

Production, Little Harpeth Brewing (Nashville, TN)

So, when did music join the mix? After filling in the demo work, Hearn said they stepped back and said, “We’ve got half of the building utilized; now what do we do with it?”

Albeit a giant warehouse when considering acoustics, LHB is a seriously fun space in downtown Nashville for live entertainment and special events. He continued, “We started putting on shows, just as a way to get people in the door, just to hang out because we had a taproom, and we just wanted to sell more beer. We started off (by) putting on random shows.”

And Hearn has a solid grip on booking. As a touring musician for the last seven years, he was also remotely working on branding and graphic design for Little Harpeth Brewing. Having played in acclaimed indie-rock bands like
Turbo Fruits for the past six years, as well as Bully for the last year, Hearn, as an artist, himself brought a refreshing perspective to booking for the space.

Later in the evening, the couple I sat next to while waiting for the music to start told me that they’d never been to LHB, either, but they’d been meaning to check it out. They said since they were fans of both of the bands on the night’s lineup (
Craig Brown Band and Diarrhea Planet) but had never heard either live, they decided those shows were the perfect excuse to head on down to LHB.

“And so once I gave up the touring, I just kind of transferred that knowledge and those relationships into this venue. Diarrhea Planet and Turbo Fruits had played shows together in the past.” He shared stories of how they’ve had each other’s backs throughout the years.

“I’ve just known some really good people in the indie-rock scene. Everybody is real tight, and a lot of the same bands have been touring together for the past eight years, so I’ve enjoyed kind of transitioning and taking care of bands on the venue end of it. Me and Corey O’Brien book the shows. I booked this one, and we just kind of tag team on the others.”

And of course, the beer at Little Harpeth Brewing pairs well with the live music it hosts. I enjoyed an Oldham Street Alt, which is a Düsseldorf-style altbier with a fresh yet malty fullness, as well as an Upstream, which was hoppier and heartier (a San Francisco lager).

Little Harpeth’s Düsseldorf-style altbier, the Oldham Street Alt

“It’s always going to be a wrestling (match) between production and the taproom, but we’re hoping to expand production capacity in the next year or two. We’re hoping to retain 40 to 50% of the room for these kinds of things — we’re also doing private events and stuff, but mainly, right now, it’s been rock shows.”

The Little Harpeth brewery’s appeal is quality production from a great community, and you can taste it in each carefully brewed batch of their beer, just like you can feel the energy on a night with great live music on site. Kudos to Matt, Corey and the entire LHB team. It’s a marvelous space in Music City that’s sure to keep us hangin’ on.

Article written by: Pratishtha Singh