What would life be like without the arts? Think of creative expression being stifled, snuffed out. Often during the day we subconsciously enter monotonous assembly lines of actions and responsibilities. What pulls us back into true human experience and passions? Vibrant colors in a painting, the complex, heart-wrenching story line of a novel, the moving melody of a song, or the orchestra of flavors in a bite of a well-thought out dish. Artists teach us, through reflecting back, what life has to offer. Excitement, new experiences, passion, and thoughtful contemplation.
2020, and the beginning of this year was pivotal for most of us. Stretching our mental and creative wherewithal to its limits. Emerging from our circumstances, people astounded with their new ideas, innovations, and creativity in finding ways to love on others from a distance. Sadly along with moving forward, there were those who took this time to succumb to anger, frustration, or the like, furthering the dissonance between us.
In every culture there is: music & food. Yes, there will always be those who would find something to complain about regarding their personal preferences, but food and music brings people together. Many times, they stop speaking and experience some of the other human senses...together.
This last year has put many stipulations on restaurants & music venues, we are in danger of losing even more. In 2020 Nashville alone had a tornado, property tax hike of 34%(!!), Covid 19, and a downtown bombing. This is my city, and truly if Nashville isn’t music and food... What are we? Chef driven, innovative menus, and sultry rhythmic melodies emanating from nostalgic venues cannot be a thing of the past.
I know many whose health has declined, are high risk, or have passed away due to this virus. I take it seriously, and want to do my part to protect others. However, how can we continue to support restaurants, small businesses and musicians so they can make it through this?
Last holiday season, my older two boys and I had the privilege of serving those in the music industry, challenged by the limitations Covid has placed on venues. Through Hope 20 we were able to pass out several truck loads of food to individuals and families. I met one musician who transformed her van into a beautiful tiny house and (usually) travels across the country playing festivals. I met a young family of musicians with their new baby, barely a year old. A kind soul who shared with me one of his albums, a tribute to Fred Rogers (one of my life heroes). During these interactions, more than once, I had to turn away to hide my emotions. These dedicated, talented, and hard-working musicians couldn’t work.
I myself opened a restaurant in the Nashville area in 2020. My business partner had planned the opening before covid hit, I joined in late winter before the full force. It’s challenging opening a restaurant in the best of times, but this was even more complex. A soft opening with reservations only to control crowd interactions, shortened hours, staff training, extra disinfecting procedures, food production limitations from suppliers to name a few. Then when spiking started in our area, making sure staff was masked and healthy. For entrepreneurs, the only constant is change. And restaurant owners took a step back and accessed how customer needs could be met and their doors could remain open. Patrons, I am proud to say, in the Nashville area rallied and utilized: to go orders, delivery, gift card purchases, merch or retail items, outdoor dining, and masked, socially distanced indoor dining. To which we are all thankful.
Being that this is Nashville, and my proclivity toward music/musicians (I did come here two decades ago to be a rock star🤘🏼) my mind often wanders to how we can support artists in the same way. The nature of live music is just that, live. And with more and more restrictions it isn’t possible. I’ve watched as musicians have brilliantly pivoted to create online acoustic shows, learning experiences, or chats. True artists rarely have only one medium, so I watch them promote their paintings, books or classes.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Buddy Norris of “Buddy’s Place”, a personal labor of love he’s been doing for the past 10 years. “A unique live music experience-bringing Nashville’s best singer/songwriters to music fans up close and personal in the living room”. This amazing concept was put on hold during this covid pandemic. In March of 2020 Buddy’s Place attempted to hold an online show but with technical and lighting issues, realized it wasn’t viable. In July Mr. Norris was contacted by Shirlee Stevens, owner and operator of the Cedar Springs Ranch, whom he calls a “Buddy’s Place Hero.” She offered her Airbnb property with an open air barn event venue located in between Smyrna and Murfreesboro. The space offered a chance for supporters to listen to local, talented artists in a safe and comfortable environment. This covered, outdoor space can hold 85 patrons with 6 feet taped off areas to maintain distancing.
From the first live show in July to December, all monthly shows were sold out. Although the goal is to get back to intimate, livingroom shows, these types of events display the adaptability of a heart- based business owner, coupled with the desire to keep people safe.
Hearing Buddy’s heart to support these artists through the proceeds from Buddy’s Place, besides a small operations budget, even in these challenging times was inspiring. I asked him for ideas on how fans can continue to support musicians until live venues are able to fully open.
1. Purchase merchandise, music, and other forms of art directly from the musician’s website. This includes direct song downloads. The artist receives a larger portion of the profits. Visit buddysplacenashville.com and under the “‘Writers/Artists” tab are links to artists pages.
2. Host a “livingroom” concert. This could be at a local clubhouse or venue where fresh air and social distancing is available. Buddy’s Place motto: “Where the music is.” This could be in your own neighborhood, supporting musicians by promoting to family and friends. To inquire about hosting a living room concert, visit buddysplacenashville.com and send a message through the “Contact” tab. Or email email@example.com
What else can we do? How have you found ways to support musicians?