Fire marshal shuts down Nashville music collective operating out - WSMV Channel 4

Fire marshal shuts down Nashville music collective operating out of barbershop

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Nashville Fire Marshal Office’s shut down a place where Nashville artists would collaborate—a move that could have possibly saved lives, according to Metro’s top zoning official.

The barbershop at 4003 Indiana Avenue wasn’t designed to be a music venue, but it was being used as one.

The Fire Marshal’s Office started investigating after a concerned parent contacted the Channel 4 I-Team and Metro Codes.

The parent said she sent the complaint after a warehouse caught fire in Oakland, killing 36 people. That structure housed an artists’ collective.

Less than 12 hours after receiving the complaint, the fire marshal cited the Nashville collective known as DrkMttr.

“It was never inspected to be safe for that kind of operation,” said Bill Herbert, the director for Metro Zoning.

DrkMttr hosted an event Monday night, charging admission to members of the public.

In a report, investigators noted approximately 120 people going in and out of the small neighborhood barbershop.

“The patrons were observed outside the building, drinking assorted alcoholic beverages and standing around a 55-gallon burn barrel,” wrote Kevin Neville, assistant fire marshal.

Both structures on either side of the property are apparently vacant. Neville also noticed loud music from a live band could be heard from the street.

Herbert said the property was neither zoned nor permitted to be used as a music venue, a night club or a private club. That means it never received a proper inspection.

“If we get that type of situation open to the public, we need to make sure that building is safe,” Herbert said.

Metro Codes director Terry Cobb said an inspector’s top priority would be ensuring adequate and accessible exits in the case of an emergency.

In Music City, house shows are nothing new. The same goes for creative music venues.

But Billy Deering, Nashville’s deputy fire marshal, said he’s recently seen a shift in these events taking place in residential homes.

The I-Team identified two other collectives in places zoned as residential homes.

The Glass Ménage and the Squatch House are both musical collectives that have held recent events during which guests were charged admission.

Both collectives also openly advertised the events on Facebook.

But according to Herbert, neither property possessed the proper permits nor zoning to hold musical, commercial events.

At the Glass Ménage, no one answered the door. Requests for comment were not returned by deadline.

But a next-door neighbor said the manager generally acts responsibly.

“Everyone in the neighborhood has his number, so if anything goes down we can be like, ‘Hey man,’” said John Shearer, who is a musician. “But for the most part, it’s been pretty amicable.”

In Bellevue, college students run the Squatch House, a collective that’s been operating for nearly six months.

The I-Team spoke with its manager, Blake, who declined to provide his last name and agree to an on-camera interview.

“We are not operating within the proper zoning and permitting laws of Davidson County,” Blake told the I-Team during a phone interview. “We are attempting to get those permits.”

Blake added the Squatch House will continue to operate, saying it’s getting tougher to book shows in town.

Creative venues will always be part of Nashville’s music scene, but even some musicians, like John Shearer, said some oversight is needed.

“I think there’s a healthy balance that could be struck, for sure,” Shearer said.

DrkMttr did not answer any questions from the I-Team. Instead they released a statement that read:

We look forward to working with the fire marshal to correct any discrepancies. We will keep our community informed about our progress.

The I-Team learned DrkMttr submitted a permit application for a property on 3rd Avenue South several weeks ago.

Herbert said the application is still under review.

Bill Herbert said if anyone has information about potentially-dangerous venues, they should contact Metro Codes or the Fire Marshal’s Office immediately.

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