NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville live music venue The Basement East is receiving its first ever Academy of Country Music (ACM) Award for ACM Club of the Year just two years after its destruction by a tornado in March of 2020.
Mike Grimes and Dave Brown are co-owners of both The Basement and The Basement East. They've been running the venues for 17 years.
"It's so humbling to be honored in this fashion. It leaves me speechless," said Brown.
"Very surreal in many ways as well," added Grimes. "Our programming is very much all over the map. We book country music, we book hip hop, rock 'n' roll, DJs, everything. And to be singled out by the ACM for this award is amazing, humbling. We're grateful."
The two said they did not start out intending to run music venues — they didn't go to college for it. But they found their way into the business because of their passion for music.
"We just get up every day and dive in head first," said Brown. "That's the only way you can do it."
The Basement East's space is a 600 person maximum capacity room that boasts an abundance of sight lines and intimacy with the musicians who visit.
"You can't beat being up close with the person or the artist that means that much to you. It's being a part of the moment that, in my eyes, is so special, and that's really what makes music so powerful, is that connection with people. And to have it so up-close, I think that means a lot to not only the fan but to the artist as well," said Brown.
Among the many names to have played shows there, Brown and Grimes named Old Union as sharing a very fond business relationship with them. They also mentioned a special, secret Luke Combs gig that they've hosted.
"I pinch myself at least once or twice a week," said Grimes.
The Basement East was rebuilt and reopened after major tornado damage in 2020, demonstrating the venue's resilience and its community's investment in it.
"It's really great that we've built a home that people feel comfortable with, and our — I guess our lineage as far as running clubs in town has resonated with friends that we've had relationships for a long time," said Grimes.
The two also stressed that the venue is more than a building; it's about the people who populate it. After the hiatus caused by the tornado attack and the pandemic, Grimes said that almost all of their staff members still returned to work.
"If it wasn't for our staff, this place would not be what it was. It's the staff that comes in and works very hard, day in, day out; they're the ones that make this place go 'round," said Brown.