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Rolling Stone: Todd Mayo, the Steadfast Venue Owner Who Steered Through Covid — Future 25

Photo By: Michael Weintrob

This story appears in Rolling Stone‘s 2021 Future of Music issue, a special project delving into the next era of the multibillion-dollar hitmaking business. Read the other stories here.

When the pandemic shut down the live-concert industry last year, Todd Mayo, the founder and operator of the Caverns, a subterranean performance space outside Nashville, faced a concert calendar as empty as his hole in the ground.

Since opening in 2017, the Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee, has become a music destination — an underground, albeit smaller, version of Colorado’s Red Rocks — known for its pristine natural beauty and striking acoustics. It typically bustles with 75 live performances a year, but fell quiet in 2020 after just three shows in its 1,200-capacity Big Mouth Cave. At the same time, filming for the new season of Bluegrass Underground, the Emmy-winning PBS music series that Mayo co-created and tapes at the Caverns, was also scrapped.


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