A lot can change in 19 months. This is abundantly clear for the artists featured on Main Street Tapes, a January 21, 2017, live recording of 13 local singer-songwriters released Aug. 3. Some of them have gotten married, some have released new music and others have been on national TV shows like The Voice.
The performances took place in the rustic American Beauty Mills Loft in Dallas. The place belonged to Thomas Lightfoot at the time, a performer and the recording engineer for Main Street Tapes.
“I guess the guy that lived in that unit before me built like a little extension to one of the bedrooms, and it just kind of worked out as a stage,” Lightfoot says.
Having studied audio engineering in college, Lightfoot jumped at the opportunity to record the performers’ sets. The recordings would later be mastered by another artist in the showcase, Ty McAllister.
Though the concrete walls that make up the loft did not make it easy, the duo produced a crisp and clean release of the recordings, which include Bayleigh Cheek’s "Ransom St." and Cameron Ray’s "Rooftops."
One reason the tracks took so long to come out was the contractual agreements between Paul Adrian, an artist featured on Main Street Tapes, and The Voice. He was not allowed to release any music six months after his appearance on the show. Additionally, others included in the recordings have upcoming TV appearances and are bound by similar contracts.
“We had a window of time to release it, or just let it sit again,” Ray, another musician on Main Street Tapes, says.
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Before the decline of Drugstore Cowboy, a now-closed Deep Ellum coffee shop on Main Street, the space attracted a group who would all show up on Tuesday night for open mic. It was almost the perfect atmosphere for songwriters to express themselves with no more than the intimate sounds of an acoustic guitar and their voices.
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“By the time 11 or 12 rolls around, the bar or coffee shop is just filled with drunk people," Lightfoot says. "It’s getting loud and all this stuff. I think in our hearts we just wanted to create an environment where people came and supported us and wanted to hear the sounds of Dallas.”
With this in mind, Ray had the idea to pull a bunch of people together from Drugstore Cowboy and put on a showcase. He got 13 people locked down to perform and scheduled the show for two months later.
After the two months of promoting, the showcase brought about 75 to 80 people to Lightfoot’s loft. The original idea was to use the proceeds made off the show and the recordings to help fund future projects. However, the group decided to release what they captured that night for free on Soundcloud and NoiseTrade.
While it would be costly, one big plan for the release is to get it pressed on vinyl or put on tape. In the meantime, the idea of a Main Street Tapes Volume 2 is being tossed around. Lightfoot, who also helps with Tunes and Tacos, a local concert series, says they hardly ever run out of artists to showcase.