Shutdown follows tornado in Nashville

“I lost $2,500 in gigs in one day.”

Dennis Drummond expects that number to climb as he and all musicians wait until they can get back to playing in public.

“As a musician, what do we love more than playing for crowds of 100 or more?” the Warren native said.

Efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus have closed bars, clubs and concert venues in many states, both in Drummond’s home state of Ohio and in his adopted home in Nashville, where he has worked as a professional musician since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2012.

It’s Nashville’s second major blow this month. Tornadoes caused extensive damage and killed at least 25 people. One touched down less than a mile from his apartment.

“The Krogers near me was pretty damaged,” he said. “Right when they get up and running, get to business as usual, the shelves are cleaned out for this.”

Drummond was without power for several days but didn’t suffer any losses in the tornado. The same can’t be said about the coronavirus.

He got off of a flight last week in Jacksonville, Fla., only to discover the show was canceled. So were the other concerts that weekend in Atlanta and Raleigh, N.C. Hotels where Drummond plays weekly gigs are empty because people are afraid to travel.

“The biggest thing for me right now is to figure out how I can ride this out and not take any big hits,” he said. “Festival season is coming up. Nashville is coming out of hibernation. People are getting ready to push albums, push tours.”

In addition to the financial hit, there’s also an emotional one, Drummond said. Musicians thrive off of playing for a live audience and will miss that interaction.

He said he worries the shut down will have a lasting impact even after it’s over, in the same way the tornado did. It ripped through the city in a few minutes, but the damage remained. What once was an eight-minute drive to get to a friend’s house became a 55-minute obstacle course around downed trees and power lines.

“Keeping busy isn’t a problem. There’s always new songs to learn, things that need practicing and getting done. The bigger hit is morale and money.”

Drummond has money saved that he can rely on, and he has plenty of projects to keep him busy, including work on his own album. And if the money runs out, he said he’s not above picking up some non-music jobs.

“But I’m always going to be writing, I’m always going to be playing my guitar.”


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