Published on November 4th, 2013 | by TLV News0
Music In The Hall Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary at The Lyric on Wednesday, November 6
Intro and Interview with Daniel Morrow by Rebecca Long
Daniel Morrow introduced the first Music in the Hall (MITH) show on November 6, 2007. In the ensuing five years he has produced sixty-one MITH shows, including five “Music in the Hall Presents: Out for Lunch” shows, two Water Valley shows, and three shows in Morrow’s new town, Chicago—where he moved this Summer.
The regular venue for MITH is upstairs is in an office space in one of the oldest buildings on the Square. Morrow said he chose this location because while he had been working there for the previous seven or so years, it had become his “favorite place to listen to a new album” because the acoustics are just so good there. The new Chicago location is, Morrow says, “a really gorgeous space with this really nice backdrop of the city behind.” He has lots of new ideas for MITH and is planning for the future.
Morrow has also had a hand in a few other Oxford projects—he helped Marie Antoon book and produce a few of the Oxford Sounds shows which will be televised in November on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and with some help he started the Oxford Music Festival in 2009. He said genuinely “the more, the merrier” when speaking about other projects in the area like Oxford Sessions and Thacker Mountain Radio—he has worked with the TMR staff on booking on many occasions. “One good thing about Oxford,” Morrow says, “is that everyone in the music world works together pretty well.” Music in the Hall has had an undeniable impact on the amount of web exposure via video Oxford bands have received in the past five years.
How did you get the idea to start Music in the Hall? I know you were doing “Oxford Music Snob”—did that start with The Local Voice?
No, I started it just as a blog. At that time I was single and a lot of my friends were married with kids; when they’d get out they’d always ask me what to go see, because I was always going to see music. So, I eventually was just like, “This is what’s going on.” I put it in a blog and basically just talked about the local scene. That was when bands were just starting to put videos on YouTube, and I featured a lot of videos [of out-of-town bands coming through Oxford] on the blog. A lot of them were starting to put up really great video, but none of the Oxford bands really had good, high-quality video. We have great resources. There were a lot of good filmmakers in town that could help. But there’s also the need for more early shows, you know – 7, 7:30, for those who don’t want to go out necessarily at 10. And also just the need for more sit-down-shut-up-listen-to-the-show type shows, too. I’d been to a couple of house concerts, and going to Thacker Mountain Radio… Just kind of being exposed to those type shows, it all kind of came together for the idea. Let’s clear out the hall, put down some chairs, have a band, and shoot video of it.
How did the decision for “invitation-only” shows come about?
We do lots of public shows now, but originally it kind of had to be invitation-only. I was in an office space with all these other people’s offices. I had to have a trust factor with anybody that was coming up there. I had to trust that they were going to be quiet and not talk. And, really, it’s just that it was an office space with private documents and offices and I needed it to be friends, and friends of friends, and have some control over that. Mostly, if it can be a public show, we do that now. People that have supported the show over the years—“Sustaining Backers” —they get priority seating, but we try to make it as public as possible now. I’ve had this system where people could pay [either] $5 a month or $15 every three months, and they get a DVD of every show. [Now] there’s this great new system, and I just put up the option, called Patreon [patreon.com] where people can actually pledge per video that you put up, so it’s an incentive for me to do editing that week and get three new videos up. People can actually say, “I’ll give 25¢ for every video you put up,” and you can set [limits], like, “I don’t want to give any more than $3 for the month.” My goal is to try to get to 250 people by January and 500 by next May. The artists will get a portion of that as well.
Who has filmed the Music in the Hall sessions?
Joe York helped with the first twelve or so. Each show, I have three or four cameramen, but Mike Stanton helps with a lot of shows. Matthew Graves has helped a lot for the last twenty or so shows. Thad Lee has helped a lot over the years. Until we bought lighting, Greg Gray would bring lighting. And now, what’s great is: I can have my lighting in Chicago and as a member of the Oxford Film Society, I can use [their] lighting. So I don’t necessarily have to bring lighting to Oxford—it’s very cool. It’s nice to have Oxford Film Society here now.
At first glance, it seems like you’ve covered all the bases of the Oxford music scene over the years. You’ve gotten the people who play acoustically, and you’ve taken some people who play electric most of the time and they toned it down, but there are other bands it seems like you might have overlooked or excluded. The Cooters are a good example – Oxford Sessions did a good set with them last year wherein they showed they’re just all-around talented musicians. Some others that come to mind are Kill The Ego (when they were still a band), Stork & Nick B., if there was a Pithecanfunkus Erectus video I’ve never seen it, Balance, Tyler Keith. What would you say to anyone who might feel your choices in booking acts have been exclusionary?
I think I definitely didn’t get some acts in there as fast as I should have. I finally got Tyler [Keith], and we had actually tried a few months earlier but he got sick. For one thing, I didn’t do loud electric until the twentieth show when we did Young Buffalo. Then I started realizing that we could actually do this in here and it doesn’t blow everybody away. I definitely want to not exclude acts that should be featured. Newt [Rayburn] and I have been talking, actually, about The Cooters doing next year, with their twentieth anniversary coming up, and a new album. I definitely want to have them in there. I think at first I was just piecing together shows. They usually included a touring act that was coming through and playing somewhere else, and I tried to pair them up with a local act that would fit well. I definitely failed in some ways, including some acts that needed to get in sooner.
What’s your favorite bygone band?
That’s a good question. It might be Mayhem String Band. All those guys were in two or three bands each, so we didn’t just lose them, we lost all their side project bands, too. They were great guys to have around. I love Chimney Choir, the band Kevin [Larkin] is doing now, that’s why I had them on one of our first Chicago shows.
Do you have a favorite Music in the Hall session?
I don’t know, that’s a tough one. That show where we had South Memphis String Band and Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, and we had Luther Dickinson doing a solo set…that was a pretty strong show. And Young Buffalo.
What are your favorite new bands in Oxford, in the past few years?
Water Liars and The Red Thangs.
Anything you want us to know about the anniversary show that’s not covered on Facebook?
Admission is $10 at the door. There will be a limited menu from Proud Larrys’ to order from. There are going to be tables and chairs, so it’s going to be a smaller capacity than normal. So if you want a table, it might be a good idea to get an advance ticket, because it is going to be a smaller, more intimate kind of setting. We won’t be using the main stage, either; we’ll have the screen down the whole time and we’ll have a smaller stage set up.
Wednesday Night’s Schedule:
5:30 – Doors
6:00 – Highlights from MITH, Oxford Sounds, and Oxford Sessions
7:00 – The Red Thangs
8:00 – Julie Lee
8:40 – Hinge Dance Company
9:00 – Rocket 88
The show is scheduled to end by 10:00
Tickets are $10, and you can purchase those now at one of the following links: