When a bearded man with a saw blade and bow meanders into a church sanctuary unannounced, you should probably be alarmed. Unless that sanctuary is at City Presbyterian in Midtown- because it’s probably just the doing of local musician/esquire/man of Mesta Tyler Hopkins.
A couple weeks back, we met up with Hopkins to get a preview of the next installment of Midtown Songwriter Series, a showcase that celebrates its first birthday at City Pres on Friday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m. We were not that surprised when the first musician, Cody Ingram, moseyed into the building wielding a saw and bow. Throughout the last year, Hopkins’ partnership with City Pres and Pastor Bobby Griffith has brought a unique listening atmosphere to the Oklahoma City music scene and given a slightly different meaning to entertainment within the confines of a church.
The one-year anniversary lineup will feature Hopkins himself, Cody Ingram and Sherree Chamberlain. For a mere $10, you’ll support local musicians (all proceeds go directly to them) and enjoy free beer (if you’re of age, of course).
Q: For those unfamiliar with Midtown Songwriter Series, can you give us the background on why you wanted to start the series?
Hopkins: I wanted to start the Midtown Songwriter Series because I believed both songwriters and music lovers needed an alternative to playing late night shows at smoky bars. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most fun I’ve had playing music has been in hazy, packed barrooms. But this show gives songwriters the ability to connect with an audience without having to drown out the noise of a crowd.
Q: How have you seen the series evolve?
Hopkins: One thing that I’ve enjoyed is seeing the artists collaborate together on stage. That is something that I never planned on, but has happened at every show. But the Oklahoma music scene is so small and we’ve all played so many shows together that this seems like a natural byproduct.
Q: There’s no shortage of church space in the city- why Midtown/City Pres?
Hopkins: I’ve lived in Mesta Park for the last 10 years and it’s been encouraging to see Midtown grow from an area full of abandoned buildings to a thriving entertainment district. But it also has to do with the fact that City Pres moved into a beautiful historic building on the edge of Midtown and offered to let me use their sanctuary as a venue. Midtown and the surrounding areas have become the place to go for arts and entertainment. I’m happy we can be a part of that.
Q: To date, what musicians have graced the City Pres stage?
Hopkins: Beau Jennings, Chase Kerby, Sam Crain, Cameron Neal, Tim Miser, Jose Hernandez, Kierston White, John Calvin Abney, Kyle Reid, Rachel Brashear and Levi Parham.
Q: This has been a quarterly event since its start in September last year- why? Do you have plans for it continue, and will the frequency change?
Hopkins: This is a quarterly series because I want each show to be a quality lineup, which takes time. I want to create a bill each time where the artists will work well together. And like I said, there has been quite a bit of collaboration between artists, so I think there has been a good chemistry present each time. I don’t really see the series becoming a monthly event any time soon, but I do hope to start occasionally booking special shows with touring acts as they come through town.