At 7:50 p.m. there are about six people in the room and I’m wondering if I had made a mistake. A young woman greets me at the front door and introduces herself as Sephra.
At 8 p.m. a young man shakes my hand and introduces himself as John Gilkes. He is the guitarist for the Christian band Root Road, who will perform later in the evening.
At 8:05 p.m. a woman comes out from behind the coffee bar and introduces herself as Debbie Haxton. She is running the event for the evening and asks me if I am the third act. I answer no.
Between 8:10 and 8:25 p.m. people flow through the door. Fraternity jackets, leather jackets, ski jackets, scarves, fedoras, baggy jeans, skinny jeans and Titans’ hats. There is no definite crowd or scene. They are either here for the music or the free coffee, but the reason is not important.
At 8:30 p.m. all the seats are taken and a line starts to form at the coffee bar. Sephra takes the stage and begins to strum and sing.
At 8:45 p.m. people line the walls. I can no longer see the coffee bar, and I am thoroughly impressed with the music coming from the tiny girl on stage in the back room of a church a few blocks from the MTSU campus.
Live music and alcohol have been in a dysfunctional relationship for quite some time. If you are going out to see a live show then the probability of it being set in an establishment that sells booze is pretty high.
Bars, lounges and clubs have used live music as a way to drive patrons to their establishments since what seems the beginning of time.
For about five years, Bonhoeffers in Murfreesboro has been doing its best to change that trend, at least on Thursday nights.
Bonhoeffers is a ministry of The Church @ Cross Point and is located at 610 Dill Lane. It is organized and run by Cross Point Minister Rodney Edwards and his wife Gayla.
“We would like to reach some of the kids so that they come on Sundays as well, but we understand that a lot of these kids have their own church homes,” said evening supervisor Debbie Haxton. “This is just a good place for them to come hang out with no pressures or anything.”
Every Thursday at 8 p.m. The Church @ Cross Point opens its doors to aspiring musicians and music lovers. There is never a cover charge, and they offer free coffee, cookies and wi-fi.
The musical genres at Bonhoeffers are as varied as their clientele. All they ask is that the artists keep the performances clean, or as they say on their website, “keep it PG.”
“It is a church, but they don’t shove it in your face. I like that about it,” said Sephra.
Sephra opens this particular night’s performances with a soft folksy sound reminiscent of Meiko and a voice like Zoey Deschanel. Her songs are about broken romance and rediscovered hope.
“I am a Christian and I am really into that. It comes through in my music when it comes through, but it’s definitely not Christian-style music,” Sephra said about her songwriting.
The second act of the evening is Root Road. They are a trio of brothers that have recently moved to Middle Tennessee from northern Ohio and are trying to spread their sound along with the word.
“In a place like this that is accepting of all styles of music, it was really a good experience for us to see how we would do in front of a college crowd,” said John, the guitarist.
Root Road is one of the few strictly Christian bands to play at Bonhoeffers. The band sees performing at Bonhoeffers as a way to branch out and reach new audiences.
“I’m really happy that people were able to open up and receive what we had to say, whether they believe it or not,” said Root Road vocalist Anthony Gilkes.
The overall goal of Bonhoeffer organizers is to give people an alternative to the bar scene. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy music, coffee and cookies for free. This is a place to meet new people, be exposed to new music and just relax.
If you go:
610 Dill Lane
Doors open every Thursday at 8 p.m. and the music starts at 8:30 p.m.
No cover charge.
Free coffee, cookies and wi-fi.