When I walked into the office on Monday morning, May 3, I wasn’t expecting the images out of central Tennessee. I follow the news, and I knew there were torrential rains. But Opryland under 12 feet of water, with 1,500 guests moved to a nearby school? Residents swept away from the roofs of their cars? Then Mix technical editor Kevin Becka sent me an image of Soundcheck Nashville, sent to him by Lynn Fuston. Whoa.
Water three-quarters of the way up the semis in the parking lot. The Cumberland River indistinguishable from Cowan Street. And all reports said the water was still rising, with best estimates of cresting still a day away. Inside, I knew, were offices for Meyer Sound, Shure, Digital Console Rentals, Fender and Tour Supply Inc. Lockers in the 50,000 square feet held guitars and amps and backline and much of what makes Nashville touring life run, along with a ton of studio gear. Reports came in about Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Ben Folds and others losing their rigs and their collections and only guessing at what else.
We heard about Michael Wagener’s floors and walls, though PSN editor Frank Wells tells me Michael got his gear to higher ground. Carl Tatz sent in pictures of mastering house Yes Master and its floating couch and half-submerged producers desk in the low part of Berry Hill. And Robbie Clyne sent a Twitter pic of Dierks Bentley in boots, mopping up his floor. Music Row was spared, as was most of Berry Hill, but there are countless tough stories, from Bellevue to Franklin to Hendersonville and all points in between.
In my office is a blowup of my favorite Mix cover in my 22 years here. It’s the May 2008 issue featuring many of Nashville’s finest, all together on one afternoon at the McBrides’ Blackbird Studio. A rare assemblage of incredible talent. Not pictured are the hundreds of engineers, producers, songwriters, assistants, interns, studio managers, label heads, club owners, artist reps, marketing and PR professionals, and tour crew that make Music City the most close-knit and, arguably, vital music production community in the country.
That cover also marked the launch of Mix Nashville, an annual event near and dear to our hearts here at Mix. We hold it at Soundcheck Nashville and time it each year to coincide with the Audio Masters Golf Tournament, a benefit put on by the local AES chapter to support the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund. We will be postponing Mix Nashville this year until September. We wanted to be there in May to support the Nashville audio community, but after weeks of due diligence, it just didn’t prove feasible. But we will be back, working again with Ben Jumper and his team at Soundcheck.
In the meantime, the larger pro audio community has reached out. Marty Druckman of Network Pro Marketing, one of our sponsors, told me the day after news broke that SPL, Tone Hunter, Brauner and others in his line authorized deep discounts to Nashville residents. Sweetwater sent in $10k to the relief effort and was negotiating discounts. GC Pro, another of our sponsors, set up a recovery plan for full packages and assistance, including emergency leasing, to private and commercial studios. The Recording Academy was in early with MusiCares relief efforts. There are tons of individual stories of assistance, from amp repair and guitar restoration, to hard drive recovery and plain old hammer-wielding. This is the music industry, the recording industry. Once the telethons are over, we get down to business and help each other out. You can bet on Nashville.