Just hearing your own footsteps while walking through the hallway of McDavid and Associates shows the corridor’s stellar acoustics.
But tonight, instead of the regular parade of attorneys’ hurried feet, the wooden planks will creak under the feet of concertgoers while the walls echo the tunes of local artist Andrew Bryant.
The Small Hall concert series, now in its third season, is slated for a return upstairs at 1109 Van Buren Ave. In a corner backdropped with bookshelves and a view of the courthouse, Bryant, a 36-year-old Water Valley native, will bring his original “indie-folk Americana” songs and stories to Oxford and might even try out some new material.
“[Small Hall] gives me the opportunity to play my songs for people in a more intimate setting, a setting where I will have the full attention of the audience, which is special in Oxford,” he said.
Bryant, who mostly plays at Proud Larry’s but has performed at most bars in Oxford over the last 13 years, plays drums, piano and guitar and will perform an acoustic set at the Hall’s Wednesday night show. Other acts that will perform this season are Tate Moore, Alex Thiel and Cody Rodgers.
What has become a monthly ritual began seven years ago when Steve McDavid had the idea to start hosting music in the hall space of his law firm, complete with a balcony featuring prime views of the Square. Thus, “Music in the Hall” was born and thrived for five years until McDavid’s associate Daniel Morrow relocated to Chicago.
“I sort of missed the music,” McDavid said.
So, he partnered up with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council to create “Small Hall,” a titular nod to the idea that started it all. Since its first show last spring, the Small Hall has played host to artists such as the Kit Thorn Band, Damien Walsh and the Yalobushwakers.
“One of the advantages is the sense that the artist is right there with you. They feel more comfortable talking and telling the story of the song and their life,” McDavid said.
He estimates anywhere from 50 to 80 people attend each concert, and the series has created somewhat of a following.
“Because it’s a small group of people, a majority come every time, so you develop a certain friendship. Some of the people you wouldn’t really know outside of it,” McDavid said.
As much as the shows create a community, they aid the Oxford community as a whole. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the $5 admission go directly to the the arts council and its partnership with the Horizons Summer Learning Camps, which help to prevent students’ learning loss during the summer break.
While local artists and philanthropy are always a draw, many feel the timing is one of the most important factors setting Small Hall apart from other Oxford shows.
“It’s targeted for someone wanting to hear live music early at night,” McDavid said. “With this being a college town, most bands don’t start until 10-11 p.m.”
Small Hall has a “bring your own beverage” policy, opens its doors at 7 p.m. and begins at 7:30. Caitlin Hopper, the operations coordinator of the arts council, said these shows have filled a niche for those with different schedules.
“This has really been appealing to everyone: younger people who want to go out dinner and people who are a little older and might have kids who don’t want to stay out too late but still want something fun to do,” she said.
Hopper also says the timing is ideal for Oxford music fans who might already have weekend plans.
“Being in the middle of the week allows it to not compete with some of the bigger shows, so if you do want to go see something on a Thursday or Friday night, you can still do that.”
If you can’t make the performance, Small Hall also streams its shows live through its Facebook page.