Setting the Stage: Brasher’s Lil’ Nashville Open Mic Party Attracts Budding Musicians and Singers | Characteristics

When Andy Brasher, musician and co-owner of Brasher’s Lil’ Nashville at 123 W. Second St., returned to his hometown in 2006 from Nashville, he expected to return to some routine and normality.

But he didn’t expect it would lead to him becoming the host of a long open-mic night and possibly hosting one in his own room from 6-9pm on Thursday.

“…I’ve been there (in Nashville) for several years, working with songwriters and kind of building my career. And I came back to town and I was just hanging out and I was with family and friends. stuff like that,” Brasher said. “I got a job at a place called Heavy’s and I was playing music there, but I was also helping out behind the bar, cooking food…. It was basically the only place in town where I played (at).”

While working at Heavy’s, Brasher received a call from a manager at The Boiler Room – a place Brasher already had a history with.

“…I’ve been playing The Boiler Room since I was, well, probably too young to play,” Brasher said.

The manager called Brasher and asked if he was interested in hosting a weekly open mic.

“…I went to a ton of open mics when I lived in (Nashville),” Brasher said. “I would go to Douglas Corner (Cafe), Bluebird Cafe, … 3rd and Lindsley – those kind of places.”

Although Brasher had experience attending and performing at open mics, he had some initial concerns.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, I think that would be great. I don’t know if it’s going to be okay,’ Brasher said. “‘So I think we can do it. I can just play. I’ve never done it before, but I’ve seen it done; I think I can do it.”

Brasher told management to give the open mic night, which takes place on Tuesday nights, a two-week trial to see how it goes.

Brasher said it was “slow, very slow at first” but still having fun.

“…There were many nights where … it was me, security, a few bartenders — sometimes that was it,” Brasher said. “…But the main thing is that I liked it. Even when no one was around, I liked doing it.

But news of the event spread and gradually saw an increase in the number of attendees and members of the public, reaching its peak between 2009 and 2012.

The musicians who would grace the open mic stage included local staples Josh Merritt, Jarred Green and Drew Aud who had just tasted the exhibit.

“It just exploded at one point,” Brasher said. “There for a long time the open mics got as busy and sometimes busier as their weekend nights…. He became very popular there for a while. … There were a lot of great talents coming up at that time.

Brasher ended up hosting the open mic at The Boiler Room for 13 years before the venue closed in 2019. He then began hosting the event at Taylor’s Bar & Grill before announcing its closure in 2020.

When Brasher opened Brasher’s Lil’ Nashville with his fiancée Tamarra Miller, he knew he wanted to continue the legacy, but wanted to focus on setting up his weekly shows with featured numbers before reintroducing the open mic concept. .

“…I didn’t want to try to immediately think about open mic…” Brasher said. “It was on the back burner for me.”

Brasher finally introduced open mic to its weekly scheduled events on December 14. Although he organized the event earlier than his previous efforts, Brasher currently considers it a good move.

“We had pretty, decent crowds,” Brasher said. “We had a handful of participants who showed up.”

While Brasher notes that his welcome to The Boiler Room was “loose” in terms of structure, his new open mic has onstage performers who can present three songs or up to 15 minutes of material, depending on the number of attendees. Brasher is also looking to introduce a more “formal” approach by having a sign-up sheet for people who want to play – something it didn’t do before.

“I think we have a very posh joint and I just want it…to have a posh experience or a posh vibe,” Brasher said.

Brasher will also usually start the night off by playing a few tunes to warm up the crowd.

Brasher wanted to bring the opportunity back to the masses because of the importance that open mics offer to emerging artists who want to try and get their feet wet on their first foray into the music industry.

“I think it’s an outlet…for creators, for songwriters, or just for musicians,” Brasher said. “Especially young people, because you get to a point where playing in your bedroom or in your garage… it’s just not enough anymore and you’re ready to see, ‘Do I really have what it takes?’ For a lot of them, it’s a dream. It’s something (they) want to do, and you need to test that with real live waters and real live audiences. And I think a open mic is a great place to do it.

Brasher wants the event to present itself as a “non-judgmental zone” and a place where fellow musicians can hug.

“You come and show people your music, but then you find other musicians who look like you,” Brasher said. “And then you build this community around that. So you get to know other people. It’s a networking type time, it’s a community building type thing….

“The open mic is such a living, breathing creature. It is just as alive as the musicians who fill it.

And Brasher hopes to see some new faces in the weeks to come.

“Talents are meant to be shared,” Brasher said. “If God gave you the talent for music, he wants you to share it with your brothers and sisters, and I think that should be motivation enough to get out of it.” Plus, you’re going to meet people who feel the same way you do about music, and that can be a really rewarding experience. I think, for me,… when I started playing, I think music was really my mistress – it was all about that and I was completely consumed. But I think now it’s the people I know through the music and the connections and the bonds I’ve made through the music that are really the most important.

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