By Clive Young.
Nashville (May 7, 2010)—As Nashville continues to dry out from this week’s disastrous flooding, the regional offices of national SR providers Sound Image and Clair are already on the move.
Sound Image narrowly escaped flood damage. “It was an unscheduled load-out and load-in,” said Everett Lybolt, general manager of Sound Image’s Nashville Touring division. Speakers and lighter equipment are kept on two mezzanines above the shop floor, but when flood waters began rising last weekend, the SR provider used four semis to take ground-level gear, like console and amp racks, off-site before sandbagging the doors.
“Water came as close as it could get–literally thousandths of an inch away on the dock plate–and it never came into the building,” Lybolt reported. With no water damage—and no gear on the floor for the first time since moving in four years ago—he took advantage of the situation: “We’ve made some modifications, done our spring cleaning, implemented some new systems, and we’re rock and rolling again.”
Across town at Clair’s Nashville office, things are likewise looking up. “Luckily, we’re far enough away from the major flooding, so we had no damage here at the shop,” said Roger Gibbons, account manager for Clair. “It’s been kind of crazy. Trucks were struggling to get here over the weekend and quite often we’re running tight schedules on turning gear around, so it made for a very busy week.
“Also, we’re trying to help out wherever possible. The Grand Ole Opry is completely flooded, but they wanted to continue the tradition of keeping their shows going, so we got a system out to them for Tuesday night’s show at the War Memorial Auditorium. This weekend, they’ll be holding it at the Ryman Auditorium [which has its own installed system], and next week, if they need gear, we’ll help them out again.”
While Sound Image now has its equipment back in-house, the next step is to get it out on the road. Brad Paisley, a longtime client, starts his next tour in two weeks, but all his band’s gear, plus sets and props, was in a rehearsal room at Soundcheck Nashville. That facility has been underwater—and declared off-limits by police–since last weekend, though its staff is expected to be allowed back in today, with tenant load-outs tentatively scheduled to begin Saturday.
Clair, too, was affected by the Soundcheck situation, as Gibbons related: “A lot of our clients had equipment in Soundcheck and we had some gear there, too. One of our acts was in there rehearsing–lost everything. We got them another rig up and running, and got them back into rehearsals yesterday.”
Paisley isn’t the only Sound Image client to be hit by Soundcheck’s submergence. “Toby Keith, the only instruments he has are the ones he went overseas with to play for the USO,” said Lybolt. “Vince Gill, I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of classic guitars and amplifiers he’s lost. Dave Graff, he’s a guitar aficionado and guitar tech who works for Rascal Flatts; he probably lost a quarter of a million dollars in guitars and amps. It’s sad. People had their collections over there in storage, and when they get in there, it’s not going to be pretty. I’ve seen some buildings that have taken on water and it’s ugly; there’s a shelf residue, the water has chemicals in it. Some stuff might be able to dry out and be useable again, but I don’t know.”
It’s an old saw that collections are just a form of nostalgia, but after the events of the past week, Nashville’s pro audio community is determined to look forward.
“Nashville will bounce back,” said Gibbons. “The death toll could have been a lot worse; gear? It’s only stuff and you can replace it. So it’s a horrible thing, but there’s a very good spirit here. People are pulling together to help each other and try to make things work. Everyone’s pitching in; Nashville is that kind of town.”