Flooding Music City

Life in Nashville this past week has been a bit surreal. For me, it started on Saturday (5/1/10) afternoon when the power went out at the movie theater. After leaving there, we had to turn around twice to get home, due to a massive tree across the road and then a car accident.

Little did we know what we were about to get in to.

There is still plenty of standing flood water, but a good portion of it has gone down and recovery efforts are fully under way. I just heard Brian Williams of Hands on Nashville tell Lightning 100 that there have been 15,000(!) volunteers so far.

That is remarkable, and makes me very proud to be a Nashvillian.

As the rest of the country and the world begins to catch up with the horrendous situation here in Music City, the details that continue to emerge are staggering.

Since this is a music blog, and this is Music City, I want to point out some of the impact the flood is having on our music community.

  • The Grand Ole Opry House was hit hard, including water on the stage where there’s a 6-foot wooden circle taken from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry prior to 1974.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has been shut down since the weekend. It received water in the basement. So far they’re saying none of the museum items have been impacted, and I hope that’s the case. I’ve been through the storage areas, and I can not begin to detail the priceless treasures housed in that building.
  • Soundcheck is a 160,000 square foot storage and rehearsal facility for musicians on the banks of the Cumberland River. If you’ve seen any aerial shots of downtown Nashville, it’s one of the large, industrial buildings just north of downtown. It’s had standing water for days. Artists such as Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill have sustained significant loss and/or damage to their gear that was being housed there. It is estimated that 1,000 musicians have gear stored at Soundcheck, according to an AP Report.
  • Water reached the floor of the Gibson Factory.
  • The elegant Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville nearly had water reach its main floor, and did sustain damage in its basement.

Physical locations matter, and countless, precious memories are nearly impossible to create at “new” locations, but it is important to keep in mind that the spirit of the music is what truly matters here. That’s the power of music to start with: it travels with us everywhere we go, and through all of time.

Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Opry, told the Tennessean‘s Peter Cooper earlier this week:

“The Opry is a show, not a building.”

It is important to remember that at times like these.

May the circle be unbroken.

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*If you’re a musician in need of help, or want to help the music community, visit MusiCares’ Nashville Flood Relief page.

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