NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Everyone is familiar with Broadway in Music City, but do you know about the secret walkway behind the sights and sounds of the honky tonks?

The Ryman Alley is still walked by some of country music’s biggest acts.

Just beyond the shadows of the Ryman Auditorium and the sounds of Broadway, you’ll find a secret alleyway connecting the two iconic attractions.  

“I think it’s just a neat connection, you’re walking down along the length of the Ryman, so you’re seeing the historic building and just on the other side your hearing the sounds pouring out of the various honky tonks,” said Joshua Bronnenberg, Ryman Curator and Tours Manager.

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Ryman alley
(Photo: WKRN)

From live music in the Mother Church to live music on Lower Broad, it’s no coincidence these two attractions have found a home so close together.  

“Certainly we know today, that string has become Honky Tonk Central, where it’s a huge strip of bars and concert venues, they’re just adjacent to the Mother Church, right next to us,” Bronnenberg said.

But how did the alleyway become so famous? And what’s the backstory to connecting one of Nashville’s most iconic venues and most iconic streets?

Turns out, it started as a gathering place before it found it’s convenience.  

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Ryman alley
(Photo: WKRN)

Bronnenberg said before 1994, the Ryman Auditorium didn’t have any real dressing rooms backstage. There were a few restrooms and a make-up room, creating a tight environment for artists backstage. So, they found the alleyway to gather in before the show.  

“It was uncomfortable, right? So, these artist who were playing the Ryman, would go out the stage door, and they’d go out in the honky tonks, before, during, and after the show, so it started this train of musicians going back and forth to the establishments.”  

Today, it still serves the same purpose for everyone: a less crowded walk to Broadway and a chance to see a superstar along the way, from Kid Rock to Steve Miller, you never know who might have a guitar in hand.  

Ryman alley
(Photo: WKRN)

“Few examples of artist playing the Ryman and then they walk into the back door of Tootsie’s and put an impromptu show on for people there,” Bronnenberg said.

And conveniently enough, most bars on Broadway have a back entrance for those who choose this route.

And along the way, you’ll find autograph seekers and aspiring musicians hoping for the same fate some of the biggest names in country music found while walking this alley.