May 9, 2010

Nashville and Dead Weather, in more ways than one

Now that other things are out of my system, it's necessary to talk about another element that made The Dead Weather's live album preview performance so exceptional.  In the midst of figuring out how to get off from work and how to arrange the timing of my flights there and back, I was made aware of an additional potential complication--  the catastrophic flooding of Nashville and much of Tennessee.

  Photo borrowed from

The weather was absolutely gorgeous when I was in Nashville on Thursday of my road trip.  By Saturday night, when I was simultaneously in the Third Man Records Vault chat room and on Expedia, Nashvillians in the chat were telling me to think twice about coming.  The highways were being shut down, and there were already news reports of one or two people being swept away and killed in the flood waters.  

   Photo from a May 3rd blog post at Bear Creek Ledger.

It sounded scary as hell.  How on earth could it have happened so quickly?  There was talk that the band wouldn't be able to make it into town from Louisiana, but no official word from their website.  So I charged ahead and made my plans.  The show was two nights away, things had to get better by then, hadn't they?  

It's obvious by now that both the band and I, and over a hundred other fans, all made it.  Not everyone was so lucky-- One Vault member's wife was still stuck in Texas as of Monday, after American Airlines canceled all of their flights to Nashville on Saturday night.  But knowing what we'd all gone through to get there made the bonding easier.  While no one in attendance that I know of was severely affected, some of us had flown in not knowing what we'd be dealing with, and some had come despite having no power in their homes.  It created a shared experience.  

And, in the midst of all the excitement, my heart went out to The Dead Weather and the staff at Third Man Records.  Jack White and his people live in and around Nashville and there was no telling how they might have been impacted by the disaster.  They seemed to be thinking only of us fans and putting on an incredibly electric show for us.  Knowing this added an emotional impact to the performance that made it doubly special beyond it's exclusivity.  I read one message board comment the next day that mentioned how quickly Jack left after the show was over, as if implying that he should've stuck around to sign autographs or something.  And yet this is what was going on in the town where he apparently lives:

Franklin TN Flood 05-02-10 May 2010 from Jonathan Melton on Vimeo.

Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't bolt directly from the stage to his car.

So forgive me for proselytizing, but this event has moved me.  Between the fact that it's Jack's chosen base of operations and that I was able to connect with a bunch of lovely people there, I've been touched by this part of the country and am eager to see it get through this.  

More importantly, Nashville is a beautiful city that figures prominently in Americana through both its history and music.  Much like New Orleans, it's been through hell and deserves our support.  The Grand Ole Opry House is closed indefinitely for repairs, though the heart of the Opry, the treasured section of stage salvaged from the previously destroyed historic Ryman Auditorium, was fortunately not severely damaged.  Many people lost everything they had because they never expected to need flood insurance.  And a friend in the Vault chat room told me last night of how his little girl's softball games are being re-scheduled to other fields because the local one is still under multiple feet of water.  Just because you don't see this in the news does not mean it's gone away.  The people of Nashville will be living with it for a long while, though their heart and determination are sure to get them through it.  That's something to respect.   

   Photo borrowed from

   My own photo, taken from the opposite side of the river from the one above, standing next to a restaurant that was trying to pump water back out into the street.  Seemed a losing battle, what with the river at the same level as that street. 

Ways to help, if you can and want to:

So Nashville is Flooded... How Can I Help? is probably the best source out there, with an extensive list of options for donations and volunteering.

Nashville Flood Tees, also available at Render Apparel    

-  And, if you're curious, here's what Jack's doing:  Jack White lending profit, hand to flood relief.


Anonymous said...

Awesome article!

KaliDurga said...

Well, thank you very much, whoever you are. Did you get a t-shirt?

human being said...

sometimes i do a bit of biking on our rooftop... with my daughter's bike... very funny... just imagine me going in a circle... not a very large one... the diameter is 9-10 meters...
and as i'm spinning!!! i think of all things and people and memories related to bikes... you one of them... yesterday i was thinking of you and the paths you bike on... now i'm reading this post... when i was finished... i sat just for some time... feeling very strange... as if i was in that city... in the flood... with my bike... spiraling...

always love the way you write... when we are on a bike and observe things... the world is perceived differently... your perspective is unique... even when you are not on your bike...

love to you

KaliDurga said...

Thank you for spinning this way, my friend. I'm glad that you're able to spend any time at all pedaling around on a bicycle, it's such a wonderful way to think about things.

Namaste to you...

birds fly said...