Chris Lisle wasn't in Las Vegas the night of Oct. 1, 2017, but like so many others in Nashville, the touring-industry veteran was devastated by the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. “I wanted to throw up,” he says about first hearing the news. “I felt like I got shot at.” A 45-year-old lighting and production designer who’s designed stages for headliner Jason Aldean, the fourth-generation Nashvillian had many close friends and colleagues working at the show. After months of listening to what they witnessed, Lisle says, “I feel like I’ve lived it. It crosses my mind every day.”
The Nevada attack took place 1,800 miles and six states west, but the tragedy was deeply personal to Nashville. Launched in 2014 as Vegas’ first country music festival, Route 91 Harvest was a Sin City showcase of Music City’s top artists, co-founded and shepherded by Live Nation’s Nashville-based president of country touring, Brian O’Connell. The evening of the shooting, the closing main-stage performers -- Aldean, Jake Owen, Big & Rich -- were acts who, along with many of their band and crew members, hailed from Nashville. Sonny Melton, a 29-year-old concertgoer who died shielding his wife Heather, was Tennessee’s sole fatality, but reports put at least 150 others from the state on the ground during the bloodshed.
“People outside our world underestimate how tight our community is, but when something happens to a few of us, it happens to all of us,” says Miles Adcox, CEO/owner of Tennessee-based therapeutic retreat center Onsite and a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. In Route 91’s immediate aftermath, Adcox says he and his network of trauma experts debriefed hundreds over the phone or in person shaken by the mass shooting, including many artists, managers and crew members who weren’t in Vegas. “Trauma has a ripple effect, and it rocked our community pretty hard.”