How will Nashville remember the spring of 2020?

Posted at 4:42 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 22:13:33-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With multiple severe storms, deadly tornadoes and a COVID-19 shutdown that's paralyzed the city, how with the people of Nashville remember the Spring of 2020?

Certainly, the visuals will be one of the first parts of the tale future generations will hear. Nashville's downtown area is eerily silent. Few if any people can be found strolling the sidewalks as the state's leaders and doctors urge people to keep their distance from one another.

Broadway's streets may never look this way again. It's why one Nashville filmmaker decided to document it.

Stephen Byrum owns Youngblood Films and has documented both the Tornado, and now Nashville in quarantine.

“I would say that there’s only so much that a city can take. Obviously, you’ve got a tornado and a pandemic like a week later. I was sorry to see that,” said Byrum.

His four-minute film documents downtown Nashville's most popular streets. Many with no people on them at all. Areas that, without a pandemic, would normally be bustling.

“I’ve shot multiple videos in downtown Nashville. Some of them on the weekends, I’ve had to wade through people," said Byrum. "To see this city shut down like’s very very haunting.”

The shutdown has also changed the way police operate. While bar fights are down, break ins at shut down bars are up. Also, even though he doesn't have the statistics to show it, Metro Nashville Police Commander Gordon Howey said he thinks suicides are up.

“For us in downtown, if you go around and you see, we have a lot of displaced citizens," he said. "We have a lot of folks that are homeless. During this period of time that’s kind of one of the things that we’ve seen that’s upticked is what’s been going on with the displaced.”

The quarantine has a profound impact on Music City's musicians. Some are trying to scrape together money by doing live streams, but miss their live performances.

“My first thought is look at all of the parking. That’s mainly because if you’re a musician downtown you know how much parking costs for every gig that you go to," said Ryan Fowler.

Fowler decided to create a video in quarantine including many of the musicians a person could find playing downtown. It's a remake of Lady Antebellum's "Downtown" and features 30 different musicians.
“Everybody is hungry to perform and create and be a part of music. So, it was just an outpouring into this video even though it wasn’t a country sounding song. Everyone just kind of came together and I just started getting videos sent from all over the place of different people that had played downtown,” he said.

Fowler said he's excited to take the stage again, but hesitant to reopen with coronavirus still spreading.

However, he feels like the city should be able to recover from this economic downturn.

“The less people that I see, the more humanity that I witness and the more people are willing to reach out to help other people because they understand that it’s not just them.”

A sentiment that Commander Howey agrees with.

“I think a year or two from now, we’ll look back and it will be a memory for some it will be. Oh yeah, I remember when that happened. But I do think it will bounce back. I think Nashville has way too many things to offer,” he said.