Updated Wed, Mar 26, 2014 3:55 pm
The music scene is alive and well in central Ohio, and Jim Morris, owner of Columbus' Mug & Brush Barber Shop, is doing his part to support and promote local artists.
Although it's a barber shop by day, at night his North High Street location becomes the setting for The Mug & Brush Sessions, a video series featuring area musicians.
Morris said that music has always played a role in his life.
"Having six older siblings, I listened to all of their music as we grew up," he explained. "I’m a self-taught guitar hack, and have had fun with that throughout the years."
Morris came up with the idea for The Mug and Brush Sessions four years ago, but it didn’t come to fruition until last August. That’s when a friend of his, Keith Hanlon, stopped by the shop for a haircut.
Morris mentioned his idea for the series to Hanlon, who is an active figure in the Columbus music scene. The two joined forces, organized a production team, and Morris’ dream was realized.
When it comes to selecting musicians to record, Hanlon, who is now the series' producer and sound engineer, said that focusing on the diverse styles of local musicians in the Columbus region is a priority.
The series has spotlighted artists from several genres, such as Black Swans front man Jerry David DeCicca, experimental composer Brian Harnetty, Brett Burleson and his jazz quartet, reggae artist Mark Hunter from The Ark Band, and Brazilian-Jazz artist Maggie Green.
On days when a video shoot is happening, the production team gets to work at about 7 p.m., after the barber shop closes for the evening. They set up, shoot two songs with the artist and tear down, a process that usually only takes a few hours.
"We have some great people shooting the sessions," Hanlon said, referencing his production team of Kevin McIntyre, Kevin Sturdevant, Josh Fitzwater and Craig Wilson. "Combined, they have an impressive resume, and I'm really lucky to be working with professionals of their caliber."
The video then goes into post-production, which includes mixing, editing and mastering.
"It always amazes me to see the final product," claimed Morris.
The live quality of the performances, enhanced by the unique atmosphere of the barber shop, creates a piece of art that is authentic and profound.
"That's what I love about The Mug & Brush Sessions," Hanlon said. "What the artist brings to the barber shop is what is captured. I think music has gotten away from that idea in the last decade, and I'm really proud that we're focusing on the intimacy of human performance."
The shop has gained exposure from the videos, and Morris hopes it will continue to increase awareness of the Mug & Brush and other local sponsors of the series, such as the Four Strings Brewing Company and Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza.
But while attracting business is desirable, it’s not what drives Morris’ ambitions for the series. The most rewarding aspect, in his estimate, is the opportunity he has to help promote the great talents of the Columbus area and produce lasting works of art to share with others.
As he puts it, "Music is a special magic that has brought me much joy."