nashville

It’s hard to truly recall and inhabit the uncertainty and anxiety of March 2020 when the world changed almost overnight. Covid-19 affected everyone, but in different ways for differently situated people. Musicians know they’re not like the front-line health workers or essential food packers who took the pandemic on like a war, but they did see their industry collapse, and they had to orient themselves to a new normal.

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The special exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrating the Station Inn sat mute behind glass on Monday morning as it has since it opened in January. A trickle of masked visitors paused to look and read, most perhaps unaware that the man pictured at the center of the display, the man whose patient tenacity made the Station Inn museum-worthy in the first place, had died over the weekend.

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Well into a jovial conversation with the co-founders of Nashville’s Great Peacock, Andrew Nelson says something almost in passing that seems worth a pause and no small amount of awe. “We haven't paid ourselves in years,” he says of their aggressive touring life. Nelson and partner Blount Floyd cover their bills with day jobs at home then (in regular times) hit the road, pay their guys and sock the rest away. “That way whenever we need to record or anything we know, okay, we have money for that. It's always been saving up for the next album.”

 

Hannah Miller

In the regular cycles of our never-ending media traffic jam, most one-year-old albums have faded from attention, and the artists are often looking forward to the next thing. But every so often a record grows in relevance and we see with hindsight how the work of art met its moment. Listen, by Nashville’s Kyshona, which has its first anniversary this week, is such a project.

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America is roiling, and one of the central conflicts is over how we tell our national story. Cutting-edge race theorists propose the slavery-centric 1619 Project. Conservative Christian nationalists counter with the 1776 Project. Our school-book histories focus on leaders in politics and capitalism, protests and reform, legislation and warfare. But there's another version on the table.

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