As Oklahomans understand all too well, natural disasters don’t play favorites.
Both rich and poor in the Nashville, Tenn., metropolitan area of about 1 million have been struggling all week to recover from record flooding caused by rains of more than 13 inches that fell in 48 hours over the weekend. According to the Associated Press, the state’s 20th death from weekend storms was reported today.
Many of Nashville’s top country stars have lost homes and equipment to the floods. Kenny Chesney’s house will probably have to be condemned after water rose past the first floor, according to the AP.
“I sent a Tweet the other day that basically told people that when they come to the show just know that what you’re seeing has been fully tested under water,” Paisley (pictured left) joked in a phone interview Wednesday with the AP. “You’re talking about total cred. This is the H2O Tour. This isn’t posers acting like we know about it. We’ve done it, buddy.”
The first stop on the H20 Tour at Virginia Beach, Va., is just two weeks away, and he is determined to start the tour on time.
“My guitar tech is spending like a broker on the stock exchange floor,” Paisley told the AP.
Paisley is one of an estimated 1,000 musicians and business owners who house gear at Soundcheck Nashville, a storage rental hub in an industrial park down by the Cumberland River. Owner Ben Jumper said the 160,000 square feet of space he rents out is all flooded and the losses will be in the tens of millions. The storage facility is full of classroom-sized “lockers” used to store gear.
Keith Urban lost his gear. Friends told the AP that Oklahoma native Vince Gill may have lost most of his entire guitar collection, including irreplaceable vintage pieces of historic value. A tractor-trailer full of LeAnn Rimes’ road gear is also probably under 3 1/2 to 8 feet of water.
Oklahoma superstar Toby Keith (pictured right) also is facing a near-total loss of touring gear and stage
“Basically we are at a total loss on all of our gear except for what we took on the USO tour which is one of Toby’s guitars, a bass guitar of Chuck Goff’s and one guitar from lead guitarist Rich Eckhardt. The rest of our gear is still underwater, and we are waiting for it to recede before we can get into the storage locker at Soundcheck Nashville. Provided that the water level continues to recede at the pace it is dropping now, we are tentatively scheduled to get inside to assess damage on Saturday (May 8),” Keith’s publicist Elaine Schock wrote in an e-mail to CMT.
“We have seven production trucks that are still partially underwater that contain our stage set, all of our production cases, back drops, soft goods, etc. We only have two shows left with the current set and are hopeful that we can at least salvage that set and all of the soft goods for those two shows, but that is still not yet determined because the water is considered contaminated. We WILL NOT miss any future dates. We are securing everything we need to put on the same great shows that we always do.”
Keith, who is overseas on his eighth United Service Organization tour, has his next show scheduled for May 29 in Fort Knox, Ky. He kicks off his “America’s Toughest Tour” June 18 in Holmdel, N.J.
In a follow-up e-mail to CMT, Keith’s manager, TK Kimbrell, wrote, “I would stress that there are a lot greater concerns here in this area because people lost their loved ones, homes and belongings. We’re going to be okay, but the focus needs to be on those that lost a lot more than we did.”
Many other country stars with Oklahoma ties also have put the focus on helping their fellow Tennesseans rather than on their own losses.
Gill is hosting a telethon called “Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill & Friends” from 7 to 10 tonight on WSMV-TV Channel 4 in Nashville. The station will live stream the telethon at www.wsmv.com.
Other stars scheduled to appear include Urban, Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd, Amy Grant, Lorrie Morgan, Darius Rucker, Phil Vassar, Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry, Steve Wariner, Buddy Jewell, Lonestar, Bo Bice and Lee Roy Parnell.
All proceeds from “Working 4 You: Flood Relief with Vince Gill & Friends” will benefit the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Second Harvest Food Bank.
McEntire and many other country stars have used their Twitter, Facebook and official websites to encourage their fans to text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the flooding.
As a someone who saw the devastation record floods wrought on my parents’ farm as a kid growing up in Oklahoma, I also urge anyone who can to donate to the Red Cross or another reputable charity working in the Nashville area.
Our thoughts and prayers here at BAM’s Blog go out to all who are struggling in the aftermath of this disaster.