Riding into Town Square, you might see a classic Camaro fueling up at the old school pump. A toddler stumbling down the sidewalk, jeans tucked into their new Hewlett & Dunn cowboy boots. A lawyer in a suit walking back to their office from the courthouse; maybe even Collierville high schoolers on a date outside Raven and Lily. Our Square is the embodiment of what we refer to as ‘Main & Mulberry’—a little slice of the South where inevitable growth and modernism is met with charming small-town ambience.
As both students of their influences and masters at weaving originality into their craft, artists understand this juxtaposition better than most. Some would say it’s their intention. So, it’s only fitting you could also see a local musician shutting their trunk and lugging their gear up the sidewalk to Tour Collierville.
Saloon doors greet you when stepping inside the all-wooden, shotgun style suite. Push past them and an original, 1885 Orgill Brothers & Co. bank safe occupies a corner of the room as it has for as long as anyone can remember—just another Collierville nod to its old-school charm. A walk down a meandering hall brings you to a recording studio in the back. Main & Mulberry: Sessions are recorded here. “It’s a cool, unique space for artists to record and publish intimate, acoustic covers and original songs,” shares Nicholas Cotros, who films and edits all the in-studio recordings.
“It’s a cool, unique space for artists to record and publish intimate, acoustic covers and original songs.”- Nicholas Cotros
Perhaps now more than ever, it’s possible for musicians to break-through without a big record label. Just as you can discover your new favorite band through a portable speaker from the tent next to you at Fair on the Square, an artist can make their break by an iPhone video uploaded to YouTube. And maybe those are the artists we want to hear the most.
That’s why we created Sessions. What began as an unplugged Christmas cover from local musician Adam Miles, filmed on the Square in 2019 and posted to our Facebook page, turned into 62 Sessions episodes featuring over 25 local musicians. So far.
“Growing from a small office space with one camera into our current studio and multi-camera, multi-channel audio setup has been a real journey,” says Matt Mages, the audio engineer behind-the-scenes. “We now have a very flexible setup to accommodate just about anything and we aim to make the recording process stress and pressure-free. The hardwood walls create a very nice, natural reverb that I think adds a special sonic character to the performances.”
Along the journey, we’ve hit a few milestones. “After Bailey Bigger recorded with us, we gained a lot of credibility,” says Nicholas. From there it just continued to grow. “Johnny Maestro’s ‘Heartless Valentine’ was a big milestone for us, as well as the artists. It has over 10,000 views. We knew we were doing something special then,” shares Matt. “I remember messaging Abby Frances to tell her that ‘Leave Me in the Dust’ hit 10,000 views, and she was so surprised and grateful. It has over 12k now and that’s huge for an original song by a local artist!”
Of course, the best thing about hosting local artists is that they are, well, local. Musicians might not need a big label anymore to gain a following, but that doesn’t necessarily make their path to the big stage easier. I asked Nicholas his favorite thing about recording the music series. He said, “It’s comforting to think that we may have contributed to a local, small-town artist’s success.” Like our local businesses, local musicians need our support, too. We’re just glad to play a part.
Our music series features cover songs, originals, and interviews from local artists looking for their big break or just stopping by our iconic Town Square to share their talent. We’ve recorded blues artists, former American Idol contestants, jazz musicians, and local folks who can play and sing with the best. Relive a few of our staff’s favorite Sessions episodes with a scan of your phone’s camera:
Tune-in to Sessions on Fridays at 3:00pm or watch our previous guests at mainandmulberry.com. Know someone we should feature? Send us an email!
story | Austin Essary