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Nashville’s network of locally-owned and -operated music venues has taken it on the chin over the last few years. Indeed, between a decade of “It-City-itus,’ ” supercharged gentrification, corporate absorption, and a pandemic that put the live music industry on life support, it’s been more like a jackhammer to the breadbasket and parts south.
Although it’s true that local scene-setting music venues seldom last forever, many beloved local music loci are on shaky ground due to other than natural causes.
Making sure that local clubs and venues can still find a place to thrive and grow is the theme of this Saturday’s “Nashville Helping Nashville” benefit concert in East Park, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Music Venue Alliance Nashville (MVAN).
Founded by Chris Cobb (Exit/In), Todd Ohlhauser (the now-closed Mercy Lounge), and Ron Brice (3rd & Lindsley) in the early days of the pandemic, MVAN successfully advocated for COVID-relief legislation on behalf of venues and musicians. In recent weeks, they helped push the Metro Council and the Mayor’s office to pass legislation for a study on how to best support independent music venues as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic. This includes addressing the impact of ongoing re-development, along with Mayor John Cooper announcing the creation of an Office of Music, Film, and Entertainment to “better support our creative class and protect Music City’s future.”
To continue these advocacy efforts, a diverse slate of Nashville musicians are lending their talents for Saturday's concert. An All Star Neil Young Tribute featuring Lucinda Williams, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Nikki Lane, Dirt Reynolds, India Ramey, Jamie Rubin, Jon Latham, Kristina Murray, Lilly Winwood, Luke Schneider, Taylor Brashears, Nicki Bluhm, Katie Pruitt, and King Corduroy brings focus to the collaborative musical spirit that underpins what makes our city unique. The festivities also include band performances by Creature Comfort, DeeOh Gee with special guest Grace Bowers, the Kirk Fletcher Band, the Joey Fletcher Band with special guest Heather Gillis, and Mike Miz.
Kids attending the event will find unique fun in the kid-friendly "Silent Disco," an interactive activity designed by Silent Events where kids can dance to music on wireless headphones. All ages can commiserate with other aspects of Nashville's local music community on Record Store Row and Radio Row. Terrapin Beer Company and Pennington Distilling Company provide adult beverages for purchase, while several Nashville food trucks will be on-site for hungry attendees to patronize.