“Ever since I was a little girl, Nashville was somewhere I wanted to be,” enthuses Kalie Shorr, the singer-songwriter who released her new album Open Book in September, “I heard ‘Long Time Gone’ by the Chicks and knew I had to go to Nashville, just like the person in the song. From the offices on Music Row to the bars in East Nashville, music is everywhere in Nashville.”
Shorr’s love of the city inspired her to participate in Music City Bandwidth, a local initiative that offers worldwide music fans the chance to enjoy free virtual concerts directly from some of the most iconic, independent spots in Nashville. It began in September and will continue through the month of October. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp partnered with Nashville’s Music Venue Alliance to create Music City Bandwidth presented by Jack Daniel’s. The idea is simple. They aim to help independent music venues and Nashville-based musicians thrive in the face of the severe setbacks they may be facing during the pandemic. Also, hopefully, enjoying this slice of musical life from Nashville will inspire people to once again visit the city when it is safe to travel again in the future.
Kalie Shorr recorded her performance in September at The Listening Room Café. She shares, “I had to reschedule so many tour dates this year. Before COVID-19, I didn’t truly realize how much I not only love performing, but I need it, too. Getting the opportunity to play in a show in a venue I love so much was so special. I’ve been playing at the Listening Room for six years now and it’s where I really got my start here in Nashville, so I couldn’t have imagined a better place.”
“This city, and especially the musicians, love these local venues so much. Obviously we are in a tough position, but we would have no shows to get back to if there are no venues left. I love this initiative to support the small businesses that truly need it most, and I’m honored to be a part.”
The other artists who are participating have included such superstars as Taylor Swift, Mickey Guyton, and Keith Urban. Swift performed “Betty” from her latest album Folklore at the Grand Ole Opry for the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards on September 16, 2020. That night, the award show took place in Nashville for the first time in its history, and it highlighted local venues such as the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe where Swift was discovered.
For Music City Bandwidth, fifteen independent Nashville music venues are hosting over 100 Nashville-based musicians who perform in a wide variety of genres. Because of physical distancing and crowd size limitations to protect people during the pandemic, no live audiences will be at the shows, so the online audience will be truly a part of the show as its sole audience.
The Shindellas, a band formed under the belief that powerful things can happen when women come together, will be joining the illustrious line-up of performers. They share, “Nashville is Music City, not only because of its incredible history, but also because of how it embraces new and diverse sounds and artists. This city values good music no matter who takes the stage, and that’s something you have to appreciate!”
“Participating in Music City Bandwidth is particularly meaningful for us because the independent stages on the Rock Block and all over Nashville are literally the heart and soul of the city. These are the stages that gave us (and so many others) our first opportunities to perform as a group, and we want to keep the music playing on them for years to come,” they explain. “People should expect to feel deeply moved by the authenticity and diversity of these powerful musical performances.”
The Shindellas will be performing live from Exit/In in Nashville on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 7 p.m. CDT.
Steve Gorman, the drummer of Trigger Hippy and former member of The Black Crowes, performed at The Basement in September as part of the initiative. He says,“Trigger Hippy itself is an easy representation of why Nashville is Music City: two Minnesotans, a Kentuckian, a Brit, and a dude from Massachusetts all met here and found that we love playing music together. With unique motivations and different goals in mind, we all found ourselves in the same place. For musicians, all roads lead to Nashville eventually.”
“Music City Bandwidth is a way to hopefully give something back to the venues that, in ‘normal times,’ offer musicians safe refuge to find themselves. To find their path. To find their audience. These venues are the very lifeblood of what makes Nashville so special. Anything we can do to help them survive is our privilege, our duty, and an honor. We are all in this together. I think across the board, more than anything else, viewers can expect to feel a lot of love. Love for the venues who’ve always been there for us, love for the folks who are missing live music, and especially love for each other.”
Music City Bandwidth will continue offering free virtual concerts directly from Nashville’s iconic music venues to viewers around the world during the month of October. All shows air at 7 p.m. CDT on several dates in October. Future shows include Devon Gilfillian at The 5 Spot on October 8, The Wild Feathers at Mercy Lounge on October 11, and Here Come The Mummies on Halloween, October 31 at Exit/In. Each performance is a one-time livestream.
Donations to a relief fund for the local venues can be made at the Music City Bandwidth website. Also, t-shirts can be purchased with all proceeds going to the Nashville venues.
Beyond this series of concerts, many different artists are also coming out in support of the city they love so much. Beloved mural artist Kelsey Montague previously made a splash in Nashville when Taylor Swift revealed one of her murals to announce her single “ME!” in the city’s Gulch neighborhood. This fall, Montague returned to Nashville and painted a gorgeous, colorful mural on a Nashville Publix.
Montague shares, “This mural is meant to honor the front-line workers during this pandemic for all of their sacrifice and for keeping our country going. It also is designed to be hopeful. Rainbows, to me, have a spiritual component and mean there will come a day when this pandemic no longer haunts us – a new beginning is coming. We just need to hang on.”