Coping with the unknown: Nashville music industry suffers without work

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Live Nation Drive in concerts

This artist rendering released by Live Nation shows the set up for Live Nation’s “Live from the Drive-In,” concert series taking place July 10-12. (Live Nation via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The COVID-19 pandemic has left tours cancelled, concerts cut off and production crews without work.

“A lot of waiting by the phone, waiting by the computer,” Crew One Productions Business Manager Michelle Miller said.

Miller said furloughs have been an unfortunate necessity in order to keep companies afloat. But as soon as concerts come back, those crews will be hired once again.

But without music in Music City, how do those on stage and those behind it survive?

Musically Fed, a non-profit organization, hosted a food drive on Monday to provide meals to 100 families struggling because of the music industry shutdown.

“I think for a lot of us we’ve all come to the acceptance that it’s a career change at least for a year,” Operations Manager for Rhino Productions Luke Lowes said.

Miller says a lot of her crew members have resorted to picking up construction jobs or working for Amazon to make ends meet during this uncertain time.

“We’re in the business of large groups of people in one area. And I don’t see that happening in 2020 at all,” Lowes said.

Lowes said this weekend’s drive-in shows at Nissan Stadium were a huge step forward, but it’s not enough to survive.

“We’ve just got to hang on, you know, hang onto the tube while we’re floating down the stream right now,” Lowes said.

Bon Jovi Bassist Hugh McDonald’s wife, Kelli, says that’s exactly what her family of musicians is trying to do.

“He’s a bass player, he just wants to go out there and do gigs and they’re not there,” McDonald said.

McDonald, who’s son is also a musician, worries for her family without the ability to play music for crowds.

“I don’t know what to say to them, I don’t know how to make them feel better,” McDonald said.

McDonald says her husband, who was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, doesn’t know what his career will look like after COVID-19 clears. But she’d be sad to see it end if concerts are cancelled indefinitely.

“They don’t make the money the big guys do. But now it’s like are we okay? How are we going to make it?” McDonald said.

McDonald’s son returned to Broadway to play gigs during Nashville’s phase two. She said while it scares her to have him potentially exposed, she understands his passion for music.

McDonald has tried to offer her son money to do housework instead of going out to perform during COVID-19, but it hasn’t kept him at home so far.

Lowes estimating it may be as far out as middle 2021 before major concerts and tours would be cleared to return.

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