6-1-VIBE is a socially conscious apparel collection by clothing and lifestyle brand, Bombers and Sleeves (www.bombersandsleeves.com). The mission behind this particular collection is to help support creative and economic integrity in the city of Nashville, TN.
If you’ve lived in Nashville for at least the past five years, you’ve likely noticed some major changes. The once partially overlooked city known for it’s cowboy hats and boots suddenly got a boost of cosmopolitan street cred with the launch of “Nashville,” the hit TV show starring Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. Almost immediately after the release of season 1, the mass influx of new visitors starting making trips to the newly perceived city of dreams to catch a glimpse of the iconic Nashville establishments featured on the fictional show.
This, in many ways, was the proverbial “beginning of the end” in terms of Nashville flying under the radar as one of the best kept secrets as a safe harbor for creative artists. Perhaps its biggest advantage being low cost of living and reasonable access to some of the top players in creative industries thanks to the city’s communal values and placing an emphasis on “the art of the hang”. It wasn’t uncommon to see “A” level musicians and industry executives hanging out at local bars making networking a dream.
Ironically, just as the TV show followed the journey of one superstar hopeful as she navigated her way to the top of country music charts, Nashville was finding itself in a state of instant fame in real time – however unwanted that new fame may have been. What started out as an entertaining display of tourists providing a short term economic boost, turned into an overwhelming amount of those tourists not wanting to leave. In fact, they started buying real estate all over the city at an alarming rate, setting off a housing boom that would not be reversed spiking rent rates and creating ever increasing traffic jams, both of which never used to be an issue. Now those once easy opportunities for afternoon “hangs” disappeared in the face of mind numbing traffic starting as early as 3pm.
So long affordable housing. You were sacrificed in the name of gentrification and tall and skinny’s. But wait, you mean the city everyone moved to after developing an emotional attachment to a fictional music artist is now slowly suffocating the lifeline for the real creative artists that reside in Nashville? As Metallica would say, sad but true.
Let’s remember that a city is only as cool and edgy as it is rare and unique. That means you can’t shut down music venues or dive bars that have served as creative incubators for some of the world’s best musicians. It also means you cant shut down locally owned, iconic restaurants only to be replaced by the next hot chicken fad. And it sure as shit doesn’t mean you can just blindly slap on a “NASH” hat and think you inherit the right to mold our city into a sub-par version of wherever you moved here from.
Now, I am not anti-establishment or against economic progress in any way. There are just as many great things that come along with it as there are bad. However, when it’s starting to feel like Nashville’s overly conservative parents came to visit it at college and tore down it’s proverbial Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix and Willie Nelson posters in place of Kenny G and Jazzercise memorabilia, it starts to be a bit concerning. Boxing out the individuals that create and provide one of the largest attractions of our city ultimately ruins the investment return many of the new Nashville crowd hope for. It has the potential to be a lose-lose scenario. Only, if the developers lose, they’re on to the next place. If artists lose, it’s not so easy.
So what’s the solution? Honestly, I don’t know. There’s a lot of power and money behind the new development of our city, and it’s likely they’ll win. One by one, every neighborhood music venue, record store, local restaurant and affordable bar will be wiped out and replaced by apartment buildings or corporate backed coffee houses trying to mimic an artsy feel. I laugh when I imagine places like that developing employee handbooks on how to look authentically tortured and how to curate the proper “starving artist flare.” Let’s not allow that nightmare.
Here’s what I do know, the more we can raise our voice as a community and actually do something to help ourselves out, the better will all be (including tall and skinny house developers). The vision for 6-1-VIBE is simple: HELP support creative and economic integrity in the city of Nashville. Not solve, not prevent, just help. Here’s what I imagine that help looking like: preserve the last remaining Nashville staples like Exit/in and Grimey’s (to name a few), build more awareness around local businesses and support local live music, partner with an organization committed to affordable housing for artists and other creative citizens, showcase the fact that Nashville is not Nashville if it loses the artists that help create it, and ultimately turn 6-1-VIBE into a non-profit organization that has scholarship and endorsement opportunity’s for artists in our area that need support, and develop some type of outreach center that provides a place for creating and networking.
If this sounds like something you’d like to support, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you know of anyone that would like to help make this vision come to life, please send them our way too. Otherwise, please check out our 6-1-VIBE collection at http://www.bombersandsleeves.com and help spread the word. The more successful that collection is, the closer we get to building this end vision. Let’s protect our vibe and fight for what’s real!