Axios Nashville

Picture of the Nashville skyline.
December 08, 2021

Hello Wednesday, let's get right to it.

🌤 Today's weather: 58 degrees for a high with both sun and clouds.

Situational awareness: Metro Council approved Mayor John Cooper's capital spending plan, but rejected his proposal to dedicate funds for an interstate cap over Jefferson Street.

Today's newsletter is 914 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Jefferson St. museum needs help

Lorenzo Washington, founder of the Jefferson Street Sound Museum, posing in front of a tree with yellowing leaves.
Lorenzo Washington, founder of the Jefferson Street Sound Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

Jefferson Street Sound, the museum that set up shop a decade ago to preserve the street's proud history, has fallen on hard financial times due to the pandemic.

  • Founder Lorenzo Washington is holding a book signing and donor drive on Saturday at the museum to help raise funds and keep his small self-curated museum running.

Why it matters: Jefferson Street is Nashville's original Music Row with an influence that rivals Lower Broadway. About a dozen clubs once lined Jefferson Street, providing touring opportunities for Black musicians and entertainment options for Nashville residents.

  • Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Ray Charles were among the superstar musicians who played at clubs on Jefferson Street.
  • Future icons Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix cut their teeth on Jefferson Street.
  • Local legends Marion James, Clifford Curry, Herbert Hunter and others served as the foundation for Nashville's rock, soul, blues, and jazz scene.

What he's saying: Washington tells Axios that the financial challenge hasn't reached the point that "if we don't get money this week we'll have to close."

  • But the pandemic forced the nonprofit museum — which has annual revenues of less than $50,000 according to public tax documents — to close down for much of the last two years.
  • "When I first came here (in 2010), my mission was to preserve the legacy of the musicians and artists that actually played on Jefferson Street," Washington says. "The local musicians were not getting any kind of publicity, or anything in terms of support from the community. And their legacy was just slowly going away."

Flashback: The construction of the I-40 interstate ripped through the road, leading to clubs closing in the 1970s and derailing Jefferson Street.

  • "I want people when they come into the building to feel like they've stepped back in time and to really appreciate what this (street) meant to Nashville," Washington says.

If you go: The Saturday event from 5 to 8pm will feature Washington signing his book "Rising Above," as well as live music performances and a rally in support of the museum. Tickets are $40.

2. Nathan Bedford Forrest statue removed

A statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest grinning and riding a horse is splattered with pink paint
The statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest after it was splattered with pink paint in 2017. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

A controversial statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on private land overlooking Interstate 65 was removed Tuesday after standing for more than two decades.

  • Local leaders were fiercely critical of the statue, which showed the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader with a wide grin riding a horse.
  • It has been vandalized several times over the years. In 2017, it was doused with bright pink paint.

What they're saying: "This has been a national embarrassment," state Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, told the Tennessean. "I’m so excited. This is great news.

  • "It's just so hurtful to people, not to mention it's heinously ugly."

Why it matters: The removal comes amid an ongoing reckoning over racism and symbols of the Confederacy. Forrest has become emblematic of those debates in Tennessee.

  • His bust was removed from the State Capitol earlier this year, a move Gov. Bill Lee supported by saying Forrest "represents pain and suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans."

Driving the news: Bill Dorris owned the land and the statue. He defended its historic value until his death last year.

  • Dorris' will names the Battle of Nashville Trust as a beneficiary and the recipient of much of his property. The decision to remove the statue was made by the trust in consultation with the executor of Dorris' will, according to a statement from both parties.
  • It called the statue "ugly and a blight on Nashville," adding that it distracted from the trust's mission. No decision has been about what will happen to the statue in the future, according to the statement.

3. The Setlist

Illustration of a neon sign in the shape of an arrow reading "THE SETLIST."
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tennessee Democrats are upset about the redistricting process, although proposed maps aren't out yet. (Tennessee Lookout)

Nashville activists are pushing for better workplace protections for immigrants. (WPLN)

Monday morning's wicked storms brought five tornadoes to Middle Tennessee. (The Tennessean)

A group of investors led by Nashville-based Rubicon Founders purchased a controlling stake in U.S. Medical Management. (PR Newswire)

4. What overturning Roe v. Wade could mean in TN

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios
Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Many Tennessee residents could have to travel hundreds of miles to reach an abortion provider if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, according to the Myers Abortion Facility database.

Driving the news: The nation's highest court heard oral arguments last week in a case involving a Mississippi law seeking to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Mississippi's attorney general has asked justices to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.

Why it matters: Tennessee is one of several states where most abortions would become illegal if the high court sides with Mississippi.

  • Gov. Bill Lee signed a so-called "trigger law" in 2019 that would largely ban the procedure after such a ruling.
  • Multiple bordering states, including Kentucky and Mississippi, have similar laws, while others could seek to revive their own restrictive laws.

5. Your favorite Titans game day traditions

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan crouches on a football field.
Titans tackle Taylor Lewan gets set during a game against the New England Patriots. Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

👋 Nate here. Adam and I have a theory that when it comes to football, Nashville is more of a "watch the Titans at home" kind of town than a sports bar town.

  • With that in mind, we have two questions for Axios readers: What is your Titans game day food ritual — where do you get takeout and what's your favorite order?
  • And if you do have a favorite sports bar for watching football, please let us know.

📬 Just reply to this email with your answers and we'll include them in upcoming coverage.

💭 For me, one sports bar is head and shoulders above the rest: Situated behind a Bellevue shopping center is Alley Pub, where there are discount wings and 2-for-1 drafts on Sundays.

💿 Nate is loving all of the year-end lists, especially this one of the best indie albums by Uproxx.

🏡 Adam can't stop watching Selling Sunset on Netflix.