East Nashville might not be the most famous musical zip code in Nashville — that’d probably be 37203, comprising Music Row and its surrounding environs — but it’s arguably had just as many column inches dedicated to it over the last five years. The east side of the river might not have much to do with contemporary country music, but its devil-may-care, freak-flag-flying, all-are-welcome ethos has not only made for interesting, diverse neighborhoods, but also an interesting, diverse music scene.
This kind of dashed-off cool — musical and otherwise — is attractive to people, especially younger, more affluent people, which means with each new transplant, the demographics of East Nashville are slowly changing. More money is entering East Nashville, and with it, as Biggie Smalls warned us, comes more problems, or, at the very least, some
Newly elected District 6 Council Member Brett Withers tells The East Nashvillian that he’s heard from a wide swath of his constituency in the month or so since he was sworn in. There are the usual queries about traffic and crime and development, he says, but the most noise he’s been hearing is about . . . noise. To be more specific, it’s the kind of “noise” that comes out of amplifiers and P.A. monitors.
Whether it’s aural waves floating away from community, park-held events like East Side Social, or larger, more venue-centric sonic booms emanating from the likes of the new Ascend Amphitheatre, there is a subsection of our community who aren’t at peace with their perceived lack of quiet. Withers says that the situation has gotten so heated so quickly that residents’ complaints have begun to bypass Metro Parks and Recreation, and instead are now forwarded straight to the mayor’s office.
Nothing is imminent in a legislative sense, Withers notes. But he says that Parks has urged council members to open a dialogue with the residents of their districts, to better define guidelines for the types of events the Parks system holds the power to approve. Other council members in areas with a strong live music/community activity presence (12 South, Sylvan Park, etc.) are looking to East Nashville for answers, Withers says, at a time when many are not even sure what the questions are.
Is this a case of a few squeaky wheels looking for some legislative grease, or could it be symptomatic of a larger issue? How do residents new to the area, perhaps boastful of the area’s vaunted musical reputation in theory more so than in practice, play into the issue? How late is too late for an amplified community event in an area rife with school-age children? How much of the blame lies with corporate-run entities like the Ascend Amphitheater, whose location is such that East Nashville receives the majority of its bass-laden blowback? (Withers notes that most other non-Parks-overseen venues, including the Amphitheater, are closed venues already covered by existing ordinances — much to the chagrin of some residents, including those in Edgefield, upset about the new Basement East location on Woodland Street.)
And what of Airbnb parties, a relatively new development? Or community events like the Shelby Park Picture Show? If restrictions are to be placed on these sorts of nontraditional events, where does it all end?
Perhaps a better question — one that we as a community must answer — is: Where do we even begin?