By: ANDREA STOCKARD
We have all seen the music hall at 527 W. Main St. change names over the past few decades, from the original Main Street Music Emporium and 527 Main Street on to Main Street Live, Gilligan’s, Bongo Johnny’s, Sweetwater, Inferno Bar and more. There have been many different music genres featured within its walls in that time, from rock ’n’ roll to electronic music to country.
Some favorite acts that locals have seen here include Faith No More, Firehouse, Hocus Pocus, Hank III, Great White, The Codetalkers, Bad Brains, Doc Watson, Vanilla Ice, EOTO, Saliva, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rev. Horton Heat, Candlebox and many, many more. As it is one of the only large music halls in Murfreesboro, it is highly unusual for a concert-attending local resident to have not been to a show at the 527 W. Main St. venue at least once.
Phillip Austin, owner of Austin Audio Visual Design, opened a music venue at 527 W. Main St. in 1980, then known as Main Street Music Emporium. He eventually purchased the building from Joe Swanson after a devastating fire, and hosted acts including Widespread Panic, Blue Oyster Cult and Faith No More during his time there, which lasted through 1998.
“I was a musician and I was tired of having no place to really play in Murfreesboro,” Austin said. “During that whole decade (the 1980s), it was actually the biggest club in Nashville. We’d draw touring bands, and people from Nashville would come down to the club.”
Ownership of the longstanding Main Street venue (which is currently unnamed) now belongs to Murfreesboro native Chris Highers, who purchased the property at auction this past December.
“Chris Highers has the concept of bringing back a live-sound venue,” Austin explained. “He says he wants to bring it back to the way it was when I had it.”
The new place, as of this writing, will not be hosting a five-night-a-week bar/music hall, but rather a place where big-name acts are presented a few times a month or so, Highers says.
Highers plans to have a large beer selection with a possible “bring your own liquor” policy, as the venue is planned to cater to a 21-and-older clientele. The upstairs stage will most likely be used for band openers and possible VIP opportunities such as catered food and private events. Both stages will be available for rent.
The opening for the new music hall is predicted for late spring. The likely first show will be Cold Truth’s album release party. The new Main Street will have a full kitchen, lots of open room for guests to mingle, couches downstairs, pool tables upstairs, audio by Austin Audio Visual Design and an outdoor patio. The venue will hold lots of rock/country shows and is open to other types of music. Local bands with a large following and national bands are likely to play at Main Street. For the first few months of operation, Highers plans to have many giveaways featuring prizes such as guitars and other fun things to keep people coming back.
“I want a place where people can come hear good-quality music with a good sound system and plenty of room to move,” said Highers. “I have always liked music, and I have been coming to this place since Austin was running the place. I am really excited to see how it turns out.”
It’s safe to say that Murfreesboro is growing in the realm of live music, no matter what type of music you like. As Murfreesboro grows, so will the range of musical acts and listeners coming to the area. The gap between great music in Nashville and Murfreesboro continues to get smaller, and that is something we can all be excited about. Stay tuned to the Pulse for more information on Murfreesboro venues and concerts.