ART

Playing it Small: Ole Miss grad student invites bands to play in Small Hall

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Jack Hall
HottyToddy.com
jfhall1@go.olemiss.edu

Oxford is nationally regarded as a center of culture and the arts. A Madison-born integrated marketing communications graduate student is at the forefront of this cultural scene with his involvement as director of the Small Hall series of bands performing at the McDavid Law Firm throughout this fall.

Zach Grossenbacher was recently named director of the Small Hall band series, which supports the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and promotes Oxford’s music culture.

Small Hall is a spinoff of the popular “Music in the Hall” series launched several years ago by Daniel Morrow. The guiding concept of Murrow’s series was to offer small, intimate shows during which the audience could hear music and build a connection with the performing artist.

Grossenbacher, not an artist himself, has much experience promoting local music. He has booked numerous bands at Cups of Oxford in the past year.

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Zack Grossenbacher, right, addresses the Small Hall audience alongside members of the Kit Thorn Band in the McDavid Law Firm Oct. 5. Photo by Jack Hall.

Grossenbacher’s duties as director include booking and organizing shows, maintaining artist relations, communicating with said artists and the board, all while promoting the shows via social media and traditional methods.

Grossenbacher graduated from Madison Central High School in 2010 before coming to the University of Mississippi. He graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English with a minor in public policy in 2014. As a current graduate student, Grossenbacher is studying for his master’s degree in IMC. He plans on using this advanced degree to continue working in the arts.

“I’m looking into a number of opportunities, but ultimately, I will have to do something in that area,” Grossenbacher said. “Not only does it allow me to work on projects that I enjoy, it allows me to grow my network.

“I’m meeting new people all the time, and more importantly, learning from them. I also am getting more experience booking and preparing shows. It’s a unique opportunity in that it is a new series, and so I’m getting to help choose the direction it is to take.”

Grossenbacher remains a fervent supporter of community involvement through the arts.

“I’ve found that I enjoy working where community and the arts intersect,” Grossenbacher said.  “Whether it’s as the director of Small Hall, or as an Innovation Fellow for the McLean Institute, where I work to use different media as a way to further the work of our community partners, I think that the arts are a vital tool for bringing people together.  I want to find a way to keep doing that, whatever that may be.”

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Mackenzie Poole and Alex Borst, volunteers with the McLean Institute, show their enthusiasm for the Small Hall Concert Series. Photo by Jack Hall.

Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, has been working with Grossenbacher over three years.

“Zach has worked to promote local artists,” Andrews said. “He has a passion for music and fostering a creative community.”

Andrews sees Grossenbacher’s commitment as a community-building project connecting the people of Lafayette County with local artists.

“His desire to be part of a creative community allows him to build programs that are supportive of both of the artist and the event,” Andrews said. “His focus is on creating a sustainable program that introduces musicians to the community that loves live music.”

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Grossenbacher (left) live-streams the Kit Thorn Band on a tablet for viewers at home. Photo by Jack Hall.

Andrews’ role as the director of YAC is to create a plan for fostering the arts in Lafayette County while working to build support for the programs that are part of the council.  The council also ensures that the programs offer both support to artists while creating opportunities for residents of all ages to engage in the arts.

The YAC supports both artist and organizer to provide the tools that allow the creation of events like Small Hall. Above all, the YAC is the resource that makes a wide range of artistic programs possible in Lafayette County and Oxford.

Small Hall, a five-band series, featured the Kit Thorn Band Oct. 5. The band, led by vocalist Kit Thorn, played bluesy, folk rock. Their influences range from B.B. King, the Beatles, and Fleetwood Mac.

Thorn recently met Grossenbacher, and said Small Hall was important for bringing artists and patrons together. “[Small Hall] is an amazing way for the artists and audience to truly connect,” Thorn said. “It’s great having it in a smaller setting so the audience can really take in the sounds and the atmosphere.”

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Patrons talk while Grossenbacher and other volunteers prepare for the show’s start. Photo by Jack Hall.

The series is hosted on the first Wednesday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the McDavid Law Firm. For more information, click here.

For anyone looking to immerse themselves in the arts while in Oxford, Grossenbacher recommends monthly Yoknapatawpha Arts Council art crawls, shows at Proud Larry’s and the Shelter, and events on the Square.

Grossenbacher sees a future for himself with media. “My dream job would be to continue to work in the nexus of media, arts and community,” Grossenbacher said. “I believe in the ability of media and the arts to bring people together in a unique way.”

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