Nashville, 2020 – The Pandemic

On March 23rd, 2020, less than three weeks after the Nashville tornado (see my gallery), a “safer at home” order was put in place by Mayor John Cooper to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nobody knew how long it would last, but within a few weeks it became clear that 2020 was going to be a long, hard year. That turned out to be a mild assessment, considering shortages at the grocery stores, protests demanding racial justice, sudden unemployment, and an insane election season.

The first photo in the gallery below, taken March 29th, is of Lower Broadway suddenly devoid of tourists. This was a catastrophic blow to what had been a booming economy. Music venues, restaurants, and hotels shut down. I saw more than a few musicians performing in parking lots as a way to pick up some extra money, and also just to find an audience. I started taking drives into the countryside, and experimented with nature photography around my house to keep my sanity. Then, in the summer, I started going downtown to get back to street photography, and continued those trips into the fall. I was picking up on sense of isolation and despair that was palpable, and I felt it needed to be documented.

Now winter is coming, and Lower Broadway has become packed with tourists again, as if the pandemic is over. Mask mandates are being ignored, and Tennessee now has the world’s highest daily rate of ¬†infections per million people. It’s madness. But one bright spot for me – I recently participated in an event at Chauvet Arts, and the last photo is of the wonderful Kalie Shorr and Candi Carpenter performing in the gallery. The vaccines can’t come soon enough – we’ve got to bring the music back to Nashville.

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