Last month’s flooding in Nashville claimed 31 lives, and caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damage. Along with the devastation that rained down on the population, many venerable country music venues were damaged, including instrument warehouses where a lot of touring musicians stored their road gear.
Music stars, of course, are doing what they can to raise the dough to rebuild and repair. A telethon last week, hosted by Brad Paisley and featuring Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and others, raised nearly $2 million (Urban’s wife, Nicole Kidman, was among those manning the phones banks at the Ryman Auditorium).
Dolly Parton donated all of last weekend’s admission fees from the Dollywood theme park. Carrie Underwood and the soon–to–retire Brooks & Dunn kicked in, too.
That’s all well and good, but the effects of the Cumberland River’s rapid rise are being felt all over the country, and musicians with ties to Nashville are banding together to do what they can.
That’s why Jan Spillane, who’s one of Savannah’s premier singer/songwriters, has put together a three–concert series, “Save Nashville,” at the Indigo Arts Center.
The first performance, with the Train Wrecks and Liquid Ginger (both playing stripped–down “unplugged” shows) is this Sunday.
“I have a lot of friends up there, people that I consider family and a lot of friends,” says Spillane, a Chatham County native who’s done a considerable amount of recording in Nashville.
“I’ve been in a flood before, in a third–world country, and basically there wasn’t a lot of help except for the people there.”
Spillane and Stan Ray, another local singer/songwriter with numerous ties to Music City, organized the three Indigo benefits, with all proceeds earmarked for the MusicCares and Hands on Nashville charities.
One of the reasons she got involved, Spillane explains, was the timing of the tragedy.
“Nashville kind of got swept under the rug, considering the oil spill, and the bomber in Times Square,” she says. “You didn’t really hear much about the whole thing.
“We thought it was necessary. It could happen to anybody.”
Between them, Spillane and Ray had enough contacts to get a couple of relatively high–profile performers here for the shows, including John Brannen (a legendary “underground” songwriter whose songs have been covered by the Eagles) and Vix (a well–known Nashville percussionist, singer and songwriter).
Both Ray and Spillane will perform, along with Savannah acoustic marvel Lauren Lapointe and local singer/songwriter Mark Carter.
Cha Bella’s is catering each event. None of the musicians are getting paid; everybody’s doing it for the cause.
“The way I look at it is,” Spillane says, “you can’t do everything, but if you can help – and the people locally seem to be on board – I think we can make a difference in helping out.”
Spillane writes deeply personal songs that somehow resonate with every listener on a different wavelength. With her soulful, expressive voice, she literally sounds like no one else, and is equally proficient on guitar and piano.
Music, she says, “is just as important to me as my family and God. I think it’s a gift that I was given. Some people are born with something, and they don’t utilize the skills. But I’ve luckily been in a musical family and they’ve been real supportive, and they recognized the talent when I was 5 years old.
“They didn’t force it on me. Although I will say the piano lessons were forced! They kinda knew that I walked to the beat of my own drum.”
Save Nashville Summer Series
Where: Indigo Arts Center, 703D Louisville Road
Admission: $20 for each concert (by check only), includes catering
June 6: Mark Carter, the Train Wrecks. Liquid Ginger
June 13: Lauren Lapointe, Stan Ray and Eliot Houser, Vinx
June 20: Luke Mitchell, Jan Spillane and Ben Wells, John Brannan
Info/tickets: (912) 713–1137
Artist’s website: www.janspillane.com