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Brandi Carlisle performs at the 2019 Americana Awards. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for the Americana Music Association.

Two years of COVID shutdowns brought Music City to its knees and pushed venues, performers, and executives to the brink.

The latest: Americana Fest, which begins Wednesday and spans 30 venues across the city, will be the largest music event in Nashville since the pandemic hit.

Why it matters: The region’s largest festivals, CMA Fest and Bonnaroo, were both canceled the last two years. Now, the Americana Fest represents a glimmer of hope for Nashville’s booking agencies, touring companies, and musicians.

What they're saying: Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly was overcome as he considered the high-stakes turning point coming this week.

  • "I need to take a moment, Nate, because I’m getting goosebumps," Hilly said in an interview with Axios. "I do think this is a moment for our community. I think it’s important, and my goal is to participate with everyone to prove that the new reality we live in doesn’t mean we can’t do what we do."

Details: Hilly said his team revived the Americana Fest under strict COVID-19 protocols.

  • Fans are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to attend a concert, while masks are required for all industry panels.

Be smart: Americana Fest is a fraction of the size of CMA Fest, but it’s hardly a backbench festival, having propelled artists such as The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, and Yola. Notable artists playing this year include The Mavericks, Brandy Clark, and Allison Russell.

  • The 2018 festival generated $14 million in direct visitor spending with a combined 29,000 fans, according to an internal analysis.

By the numbers: To make up for the likelihood of lower attendance this year, the cost of a wristband to attend all concerts rose from $90 in 2019 to the current price of $199.

Meanwhile: Pilgrimage Fest is also back and will take place in suburban Williamson County this weekend.

Go deeper

The DMV music industry's pandemic pivot

Jeremiah Collins operates the camera at an ONLe.ViBez Session. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Small music venues and up-and-coming artists have faced numerous challenges since the start of the pandemic. However, jam-packed concerts and music festivals are slowly returning with COVID-19 precautions in mind.

Why it matters: COVID-19 has created long-term changes in the music industry, and D.C.'s artists will have fewer opportunities in the interim to perform as a number of popular music venues closed permanently due to pandemic setbacks.

Weather warning: Half-inch of rain could lead to ACL Fest cancellation

Kaskade performs in the rain during weekend two of the Austin City Limits Festival on Oct. 11, 2013. Photo: Rick Kern/WireImage

Thunderstorms dominate this weekend’s forecast — with chances of rain topping 80% on Friday and Saturday — leaving the first weekend of the ACL Music Festival hanging in the balance.

By the numbers: The city’s contract with fest organizer C3 Presents, obtained by Axios through a public records request, says receiving "one-half inch of rain or LESS in a single day or sustained over a period of days … will likely make park grounds unusable for event purposes of any nature."

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.