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Nashville’s Rebound has musicians eager to return to Music City

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Posted at 8:33 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 21:33:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Musicians were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and while some moved away for more stability elsewhere, artists like Lucas John are planning their long-awaited comebacks.

Like the prodigal son, there was always some hope that this day would come. John had been away for more than a year, but he’s always had his sights on returning to a stage in Nashville.

On this day, we found him during a quick trip down memory lane. John arranged to play a couple of songs at Cerveza Jacks where he was a regular.

“It’s the same, but it’s different. I walk through the doors and I feel like home,” John said.

Thinking back to 2020, John remembers how his life came to a screeching halt at the beginning of the pandemic. The record deal he had worked so hard for was now dust in the wind after the record company filed for bankruptcy. Gigs dried up and the apartment he planned on moving into was now out of reach.

John moved in with family in Virginia instead and before long got a job at a distillery as a handyman. It was only the third job of his life other than music.

“I’m their flex person, so I do a little bit of everything. I distill the whiskey, I work in the bar, I shovel the grain and I paint buildings,” John said.

He’s now working a “normal” job with "normal" hours, but still plays gigs at night and on the weekends. John said he was making six times as much as he made playing gigs on Broadway. That said, there’s something about playing where he knows his dreams began.

“You know for so long you hammer it out and you work towards the dream and once you’ve got a hold of it, then you understand more of what you’re capable of. It’s not so far out of reach anymore,” John said.

John hopes to use his newfound skills to land another job in Nashville and play part-time for now. Just until he can manage to save enough money for a new place and studio time, which he’s now paying for out of pocket.

Landing gigs may be easier for someone like himself who’s well known on the Broadway circuits, but John says bars are looking for the people they know they can trust. Some of whom may have left for other opportunities like and haven’t returned.

“So when I say there’s a musician shortage, that means when someone needs a sub there’s no one,” John said.

John has always had a running list of at least 12-13 drummers, bassists, and guitar players. If someone called out, the next person was up.

It’s different, but it’s still Music City and that's what John is counting on. That more people will follow in his steps and return to the place where music is more than a job. It’s a way of life.