As Tennessee continues to assess the devastation of several tornadoes that hit the city Tuesday morning, killing at least 25 people and destroying 140 buildings, concert venues and music businesses are beginning to rebuild. While popular concert venue the Basement East saw major damage, many other East Nashville-based music companies are also grappling with the aftermath of the destruction.
Collective Artist Management (whose clients include Clint Black, Sara Evans and Edwin McCain) and Dualtone Records (the label home to the Lumineers, the Lone Bellow, Shovels & Rope and Amos Lee) both witnessed extreme loss. Craig Dunn, vp Collective Artist Management, shared news of the damage with several harrowing pictures on Facebook Tuesday evening.
“Our Collective Artist Management office in East Nashville was in the direct path of the Tornado that hit last night,” he wrote on Facebook. “I was overwhelmed when I saw the devastation and damage to this beloved neighborhood in our great city. My sadness and dismay were quickly replaced by hope and optimism as hordes of volunteers showed up with snacks, water, and two hands willing to help clear debris. I DEFINITELY Believe in Nashville.”
Dualtone, meanwhile, alerted those on social media that the tornado “tore through our East Nashville home.” The label reported, “Our office is totaled but our staff is safe, and even our trusty mascot Bob is safe. Our hearts go out to all our neighbors that lost property, and to the families of those folks who tragically lost their lives. We are #NashvilleStrong and we’ll get through this.”
Dualtone senior vp radio promotion Lori Kampa told Billboard in an email their office “suffered a tremendous amount of damage” and they’re now “looking ahead to what will undoubtedly be a significant rebuilding process in the coming months.” Currently, staff is working remotely and the company is establishing a temporary work space to resume business.
“It’s been an emotional time seeing so much devastation all around us in our neighborhood,” she continued. “Truly, the only description one can find to detail the horrific scenes around us is that of a war zone. But we stand proudly amongst our neighbors here in East Nashville, grateful to call this community home as we’ve watched so many come by to lend a helping hand and offer a kind word or hug. And most importantly, we’re thankful that everyone from Dualtone is safe — many of us not only work in East Nashville but live here as well. We came to learn that two people tragically lost their lives just steps from our parking lot. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and our hearts go out to those who lost their loved ones. That’s when things quickly shift back into focus, realizing that all of the stuff can be replaced, and the structure can eventually be rebuilt — that it’s the safety of the people that make up this company that truly matters.
“Further, we’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that we’ve received from so many people within the music community. It’s been a humbling experience, for sure. We saw it back in 2010 with the floods, and we’re seeing it again now — there’s a whole lot of love here within the music community, especially right here in Nashville, and we’re so grateful to see everyone coming together to help each other during these great times of need. So there’s much sadness seeing the loss of our current structure standing at 3 McFerrin where so many great memories were made; but we optimistically look ahead to the future with plans to rebuild and we’ll hopefully come through it all stronger than ever.”
This was a point reiterated by John Peets, founder of Q Prime South who manages the Black Keys, Brothers Osborne, and Eric Church. His Q Prime South office on South 11th Street saw extensive damage including lost chimneys that caused a breach in the roof and a handful of shattered windows.
“Overall we were extremely lucky,” he told Billboard by e-mail. “Neighbors on all sides of us were effected much more drastically. We have another construction project in progress at 17th and Fatherland, a turn of the century church that took some damage too, but fortunately we had stacks of plywood and 2 x 4’s that we were able to load up and donate to our neighbors that needed to board up doors and windows.
“I was blown away by the community coming together and helping any way they could … people were passing out water and food … picking up debris, cutting trees … anything that was needed. It was a wonderful example of a community working selflessly together. A nice thing to experience on Super Tuesday.”
The 5 Spot, a popular venue that hosts live bands and dance parties located on Forrest Ave. in the Five Points area of East Nashville, saw minimal damage. The manager told Billboard they were “incredibly fortunate” after losing power. “The tornado snapped some utility poles in our back lot like toothpicks, but our property does not seem to have sustained any major damage,” he said. “We did ask our insurance carrier to take a look at our roof given all the debris in the air. We are closed at least until power is restored.”
Germantown was another area of Nashville that took a hit and a publicist for Brooklyn Bowl Nashville said, despite the venue having “minimal damage” in the heart of such a devastated area, construction crews are working diligently to have the venue ready for its March 14 opening.
Fanny’s House of Music, named after the all-female band Fanny, is a full-service music store that offers used and vintage guitars and amps as well as lessons and repair. Located on Holly Street in East Nashville — one of the hardest hit areas — the business is officially closed following the storm as they are without power and sustained major damage to its premises.
Co-owners Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples told Billboard they are currently cleaning up glass from having their doors and windows blown out. The building also suffered roof damage while an interior wall is cracked and bulging inward.
“Miraculously not a guitar was damaged. Across the street buildings [and] homes are completely destroyed,” they explain via email, while marveling at those who have turned up to help their neighbors. “There has been an outpouring by the hundreds of people showing up with gloves, chainsaws, brooms, wagon, food, water… and lots of hugs too! This is a close-knit community and the people that live here as well as the folks who shop in our community are showing up to help clear debris and anything else needed. We are getting emails from customers all over the world and another music store in town offered to store our guitars if we needed.”
East Nashville is a small community with small businesses and Cole and Maples stress the importance that these businesses survive the aftermath of the tornadoes.
“If they don’t they’ll be replaced with boutique hotels, more bars and not necessarily community-driven spaces,” they added. “The priority right now is to make sure the community and the small businesses get reopened…. We’re not going to let a tornado, an election or a virus stop us from helping more kids, more young girls and more musicians experience the power and healing of music.”
Live Nation took over booking the Basement East last year and released a statement following the venue’s tornado hit. “Our thoughts are with our community of Nashville and all of those affected. We are thankful to have safely accounted for all our local staff and are working diligently to provide support however they need. We believe in the strength and spirit of the city of Nashville and will support however we can.”
On Wednesday morning Basement East, often referred to as The Beast, shared its plans to rebuild via social media: “We are overwhelmed with the support and love from the community! We will make an official statement on when we are ready for the helpful clean up offers.”
The venue’s website adds that its “goal is to rebuild” and its team is “diligently working on each show to either relocate or cancel.”
We are overwhelmed with the support and love from the community! We will make an official statement on when we are ready for the helpful clean up offers. PLEASE DO NOT ENTER THE BASEMENT EAST PROPERTY OR TOUCH ANYTHING. This is for your safety & to ensure we are able to rebuild.
— The Basement East (@BasementEast) March 4, 2020
Hailey Whitters, who was scheduled to perform at the Beast on March 10 as part of her album release show has since moved her concert to Exit/In and will be donating all proceeds from the show to tornado relief.
“I was thousands of miles away on tour when the tornado hit, but I live in East Nashville and I am heartbroken over the destruction,” Whitters told Billboard. “Some of my favorite places in all of Nashville are in that neighborhood; they are independently owned and were tragically leveled to the ground by the storm. I believe in the power and strength of our community and trust that we will rise up together to restore our neighborhood to the vibrant place it was prior to this disaster.”
Other acts scheduled to play the venue have been moved to different locations while some shows have been cancelled. Katie Toupin was scheduled to perform on Friday, but that show has since been moved to Third Man Records on Friday (March 6) . Toupin describes the Basement East as a great room and “a staple of Nashville.”
“There was always an atmosphere of people that love music and want to have a good time no matter what is happening on stage,” she said of her previous sets at the Basement East. “The staff was always super friendly and professional. It always sounded great. It was just a great room. Everyone looked forward to playing there.”
Toupin’s bandmates lived in the area the tornadoes hit and all survived the storm. She said she is extremely grateful they’re all safe. Since the tornadoes hit on Tuesday, she’s been hearing stories of the Nashville community stepping up and helping those in need.
“The community is incredibly supportive. I was just speaking to my agent, Dan Kuklinski on the phone, who spent yesterday helping a friend whose house was hit. He said he showed up in normal clothes, thinking maybe he’s be sweeping but when he showed up and saw people’s houses ripped in half, windows gone, roofs gone, trees everywhere, second story homes without a second story, he was shocked,” she adds. “People are all going into the effected areas helping. There’s no asking if people need help, people just step in and help. If someone has a chainsaw and sees a tree down, they just get to work. There are shelters and supplies being donated. It’s amazing how much the community has banded together. You want to just help everyone..”
Several benefit shows for the venue have also been revealed while many acts in the area continue to rally around its community, donating money to Tennessee relief.
For those wanting to offer assistance, a centralized GoFundMe page has been created to help provide relief to those impacted by the Nashville tornadoes.