Despite All Obstacles, Our Music Industry Continues to Step Up for Relief, Rebuilding

The night of March 3, 2020, just 18 hours or so after devastating tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee, a typically Nashville thing happened at the subterranean nightclub on Eighth Avenue South called The Basement.

As has been the case most every Tuesday night for many years, charismatic co-owner Mike “Grimey” Grimes showed up to man the soundboard, carry guitars and amps, and introduce the bands for New Faces Night.

The night turned into a benefit for Grimes’ sister venue, The Basement East, which was leveled by a tornado that left two dead, both hospitality industry workers. The deadly East Nashville tornado left wreckage in its wake that also included Dualtone Records, label home of the arena-headlining band The Lumineers. Fitting that the only exterior wall remaining at The Basement East still displayed its distinctive I Believe In Nashville mural.

By the end of that Tuesday night, the undaunted Grimes had come up with a catch phrase for reconstruction:

“We will rise.”

Within days The Basement East collected donation on its website for the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund, established by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee just hours after the tornadoes struck.

The Basement East soon announced its plans to rebuild and reopen.

I Believe In Nashville - Basement East
Nearly two months after a tornado destroyed much of The Basement East nightclub building on Woodland Street in East Nashville, its distinctive I Believe in Nashville mural thankfully remains. Photo by Morgan Yingling/The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

We WILL rise. In the meantime, though, Nashville’s pro sports, music and entertainment industries — including the songwriters, singers, musicians, sound engineers, music bookers, bartenders, and the like who put the music in Music City — have been hit particularly hard by the triple disasters of tornadoes, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, and subsequent economic shutdown that threatens to alter our lives for years to come.

And yet the industry continues to show its incredibly giving nature. Philanthropy is in its DNA.

More than 250 entertainment individuals and organizations have engaged thus far with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in response to the tornadoes, to the tune of more than $4 million in contributions to date. The gifts range from $1 million donations by superstar Taylor Swift and the Tennessee Titans organization to nightclub shows netting a few hundred dollars.

Within a week of the devastating storm, a sold-out, multi-artist, star-studded event at Marathon Music Works — appropriately named “To Nashville, With Love” — was organized by William Morris Endeavor Agency executive Jay Williams, a CFMT board member as well as Country Music Association board member.

The benefit raised more than $500,000 for tornado relief. It also was one of the very last concerts in Nashville before the pandemic hit and Mayor John Cooper shut down much of the city on March 16.

At one point in those first few days after the tornado, CFMT’s Rondal Richardson counted well over 120 events that were being scheduled and planned. There were special cause-related concert shirts and guitars and album debuts and artist catalogs, with proceeds coming to the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund.

Old Crow Medicine Show even wrote a song called “Nashville Rising,” with all proceeds going to the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund, to commemorate the fact that we will rise as community more bravely and more connected than ever before.

We will indeed rise. What our music industry looks like in the aftermath is an unanswered question

“All of those things go into the economics of when we reopen, how we reopen, and what it looks like,” Erika Wollam Nichols, president and general manager of the Green Hills-based, world-famous Bluebird Cafe, told Rolling Stone magazine recently.

“I’ve seen the mayor’s phase plan, and we have a lot to learn over the next couple of weeks with what’s going to happen with the economies and the virus in all of these different cities that are relaxing their guidelines,” she continued. “It’s still such an unknown for all of us.

“In many ways, it’s like opening a new business,” Nichols said. “It’s great that we have a brand to reopen this new business with, but what does it look like with all of the guidelines and restrictions?

“We’re kind of back at square one.”

Entertainment (Sports and Music) Industry Engagement for CFMT Tornado Relief

(Through June 1, 2020)

Academy of Country MusicTerry McBride
AEGAshley McBryde
All Hour EntertainmentJohn McCauley
All Our Favorite People PodcastTim McCrea
Amazon MusicScotty McCreery
American Songwriter MagazineLori McKenna
Kasey AndersonThe Mavericks
Ingrid AndressJon Meacham
Atlantic RecordsMetro Nashville Softball Association
Dan AuerbachMidland
Bad Branch House ConcertsBuddy Miller
The Barefoot MovementRhett Miller
Gabby BarrettMinnesota Wild
Basement EastMississippi State University
Marc BeesonBuddy Mondlock
Belmont BruinsAllison Moorer
Dierks BentleyKacey Musgraves
Justin BieberMy Morning Jacket
Bloodshot RecordsNashville Blue Jean Baseball Club
Bluebird CaféNashville Predators Alumni Association
Bruce BoutonNashville Predators
Scott BradleeNashville Soccer Club
Bristol Motor SpeedwayNashville Spurs
Brooklyn Basement RecordsNFL Foundation
Brothers OsborneAoife O’Donovan
Cadillac 3OH BOY Records
Brandi CarlileOhio Valley Conference
Vanessa CarltonOld Crow Medicine Show
Troy CartwrightOld Dominion
John Carter CashIan O’Neil
CFL MusicOpry Circle TV
Chicken Ranch RecordsOrlando Solar Bears Hockey
Brandy ClarkOrthodox
Terri ClarkSam Outlaw
Dave CobbJake Owen
Luke CombsWhitney Pastorek
Concord MusicStephen Paul
Ross CooperJerry Pentecost
Country Music AssociationGrant Lee Phillips
Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumPlowboy Records
Creative Artists AgencySteve Poltz
Critical RoleRon Pope
Crom Tidwell MerchandisingPortland Timbers
Sheryl CrowPotomac Patriots Hockey
Cumulus RadioMargo Price
Billy CurringtonJohn Prine
Miley CyrusProperty Brothers
Dan & ShayKatie Pruitt
Anthony D’AmatoPunk Rock Community of Nashville
Ben DanaherMichael Ray
Dashboard ConfessionalRedneck Nation Records
Michael DavesRed Light Management
David Lipscomb AthleticsJosh Rennie-Hynes
Dominic DavisThe Revivalists
Jordan DavisJohn Rich
Rachael DavisLily Rose
Devin DawsonJosh Rouse
The Dead DeadRyman Hospitality Partners
Maya DeVitryDon Schlitz
Leslie DiPieroThe Scott Hamilton Band
Cale DoddsBlake Shelton
Dualtone Music GroupKalie Shorr
Mike DunganSophie Sinclair
800 Pound Gorilla RecordsThe Slow Drag
Brett EldredgeSmack Songs
End of All MusicSoccer Mommy
Kristen EnglenzSony Music Nashville
Mallory ErvinSoundstripe
Morgan EvansSoundwaves Arts Foundation
Sara EvansSoutheastern Conference
EventbriteSoutheastern Records
Ezra EntertainmentSoutherland
Fitz and The TantrumsSpazmatics
Flying BuffaloesCaroline Spence
Ruby ForceSpotify
Kristen FordCaitlyn Smith
Future CribGranger Smith
Mary GauthierSplice
Amerigo GazawayMorgan and Chris Stapleton
Gibson GuitarsStation Inn
Ryan GriffinLelan Statom
Mike “Grimey” GrimesJeffrey Steele
Great PeacockRay Stevens
GZM ProductionsStreet Theatre Company
H-B Woodlawn Music DepartmentBilly Strings
Jenna Bush HagerEmma Swift
Trent HarmonTaylor Swift
Emmylou HarrisCole Swindell
Jaimee HarrisBrian Sutherland
Roger HarveyRyan Tannehill
Craig HavighurstAaron Lee Tasjan
Hunter HayesTedeschi Trucks Band
Trey HensleyTedX Nashville
Hibbett SportsTennessee Golf Foundation
Taylor HicksTennessee Performing Arts Center
Faith HillTennessee Tickets
Robyn HitchcockTennessee Titans
Home FreeTennessee Warblers Band
Jake HootThe Texas Playboys
Houston TexansThem Vibes
John HuieTheory 8 Records
Sierra HullChris Thile
Rob IckesThird Coast Comedy Club
Indianapolis ColtsMel Tillis, Jr.
Jason IsbellThrust Magazine
Jacksonville JaguarsThunderdome East Nashville Hockey
Jillian JacquelineThursday Night Troubadours
Adam JamesTootsie’s
Chris JansonTriple 8 Management
Sarah JaroszTroy Gentry Foundation
Joey Green BandMolly Tuttle
Cody JohnsonUnderground Music Collective
Jamey JohnsonUniversal Music Group Nashville
Naomi JuddSadler Vaden
Josh KearWynn Varble
Kentucky DownsThe View
KHS MusicVintage Ice Hockey
Kid RockWalker County
The Keifer Sutherland Comedy HourWarner Music Nashville
Randall KingBryan Wayne
Brett KissellBob Weir
Lady CouchWestern New York Musicians
Trea LandonWhiskey Riff
Chris LaneWhiskey Wolves of the West
Langhorne SlimDee White
The Last BandolerosEmma White
Lightning 100John Paul White
Live NationStacy Widelitz
Lindsay LouWiles and Taylor
Tony LuccaWilliam Morris Endeavor Agency
Madison MaloneMark Wills
Marathon Music WorksReese Witherspoon
Tegan MarieAlicia Witt
Kendell MarvelIndia Wolf
Shane McAnallyAlex Wong
Martina McBrideThe Wood Brothers
Charlie Worsham