Photos and story by Haley Smith / Contributing Writer
On Saturday, a new music venue called The Laundry Room opened in Murfreesboro with performances from several MTSU students.
Owners Jacob Keener and Christian Hannah hosted their debut show at the venue on Bradyville Pike with much success. Five artists performed individual sets, and the turnout was a fully packed room. Keener and Hannah, both of whom are third-year graduate students at Middle Tennessee State University, have owned the house for about a year now and have finally fulfilled their dream of turning it into a venue and recording space for MTSU students to take advantage of.
Hannah says the main room that makes up the performance space was originally a two-car garage but is now decorated wall to wall with tapestries and blankets, string lights and audio equipment. Immediately upon entering, the room gives off a comfortable, glowing ambiance, with plenty of couches and chairs for people to enjoy the show. Keener says the two started really transforming the space in August, now that their busy schedules have allowed them some time to make the venue a reality.
The show began with Hannah greeting everyone and giving a brief welcome, and then Kate Rose had the floor. Rose, like all of the other performers, is an MTSU student. She is in her sophomore year, majoring in music business and was the opening act for The Laundry Room’s premiere show. She started off her set with a ukulele, singing original songs about love and life, one dedicated to her boyfriend in the crowd. She switched to guitar at one point and played a couple covers, one of which was the first song she ever learned on guitar, as she explained to the audience. She was a very engaging performer with a lovely voice and even had the crowd sing along with her for a cover of Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly.”
Next to take the stage was Austin Ford. A bit of a change from Rose’s calming guitar strumming, Ford is a jazz piano major and struck up a fun, lighthearted excitement in the room. He spoke between, and sometimes during, songs, making the crowd laugh and grin. He captured everyone’s attention with his artfully played jazz riffs and his unique and original chord progressions. The room laughed along with his jokes, bobbed their heads to his songs and, as a performer, he was very well-received. Ford has played many times in front of a crowd as a keyboardist, but this set was his debut solo performance. Ford made a good impression on the crowd and kept the energy of the night alive and swinging.
Haddie Jane was the next performer, coming in with her guitar and her clear voice. Jane is a commercial songwriting major and performs twice a week on MTSU’s campus and around twice a month at other places around town. She brought a beautifully calm energy to the room, with heartfelt lyrics and incredible storytelling skills. Jane’s lyrics are engaging and meaningful, matched perfectly by her melodious voice. She also played a cover of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, which had the whole room singing along. The crowd loved her, as she brought a calming comfortableness to the show.
John Shields was next to take the stage. Shields is an audio production major at MTSU and has been writing songs ever since he can remember, he said. His set started off with a light, upbeat energy that rose and dipped through each song he played, carrying the audience along with the music. He talked to the crowd and dedicated a song to his girlfriend in the crowd. John’s lyrics and tunes were absolutely absorbing, as was evident from the crowd that followed right along with every change of key. Between mellow love songs, he rocked out on some high-energy-belting songs and acoustic guitar solos, which had the crowd shouting and clapping. He kept the energy alive as the show crept later into the night and set everything up perfectly for the closer.
The last performer of the night was Natalie Madigan, an audio production major at MTSU. Madigan brought the crowd back around to a calm ending to the night, playing some lovely piano ballads and belting out one song with ringing clarity. The crowd, now tightly packed into the room and sitting everywhere on the floor, was stunningly silent as she played a quiet piece dedicated to a good friend of hers. Madigan completely engaged the crowd with her gorgeous voice and kind stage presence, which perfectly tied off the night.
The night was a success for The Laundry Room venue’s premiere show, and the crowd was obviously pleased with all of the acts. Hannah and Keener have created an amazing venue, and they know how to find the best people to perform there. Their hard work has paid off, and as Keener was hoping, this venue will be a great place in Murfreesboro for student artists to come and show their work to an engaged crowd for years to come.
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