Love of Music Leads to New Music Venue in Downtown Batesville

Love of Music Leads to New Music Venue in Downtown Batesville

Live music has become synonymous with downtown Batesville since the launching of the 2nd Friday Downtown Wander and Wonder Walks.  The Pocket Park, Randy’s Music, MorningSide Coffeehouse, the Healing Grounds Coffeehouse, and Elizabeth’s Restaurant have all participated in hosting musical performances for the monthly event, in most cases free to the public.  The historic district’s newest live music venue, the Simply Southern Playhouse Music Theater, at the corner of Main and Broad streets, adds a new dimension to what is already developing as an exciting new direction for downtown as an entertainment center.

The “music theater” concept was embraced by building owners Debbie and Elmer Cochran when Debbie noticed the 2nd Friday turn-away crowds at Randy’s Music each month.  Inspired by the community’s enthusiastic response to homegrown live music, the couple added a stage, a sound system, a refreshment stand, and comfortable seating for about 130 and the meticulously maintained Simply Southern building, vacant for several years, became a concert hall.  The space has the same intimate feel as some of venues in the storied “District” in Nashville, complete with album covers on the wall, and will feature a similar mix of country and western, gospel, and bluegrass. The Cochrans are aided in their enterprise by Concert Manager Forrest Faulkner and his wife Sandra, as well as family members David and Marion Street.  Main Street Batesville executive director Paula Grimes calls the Cochran’s project “a dramatic signal that Main Street is rapidly developing a new identity as an entertainment center.  She also points out that “music lovers will now have two very different choices every Friday; alternative rock and folk by young area singer/songwriters is featured at the Healing Grounds coffeehouse, just up the street from Simply Southern.”

Music is no stranger to Debbie Cochran.  She sings both country and gospel, plays guitar and bass, and earned a Master’s certificate in music online from the acclaimed Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Expect to see Debbie on stage often, especially with the Randy and Stephanie Wade Band.  Debbie also has the community in mind as she looks ahead; among her many outstanding ideas for the future are offering lessons for young musicians, adding a mural to the back of the building, and inviting areas non-profits to operate and receive the profit from the concessions operation.

Simply Southern plans to be open on Fridays only, at least for a while.  Music starts at 7:00 p.m. With her characteristic generosity, Debbie explains that she is limiting music to Fridays because she does not want to draw people away from a regular Saturday music event in nearby Newark.  Simply Southern will charge a modest admission fee of $5, $2 for children twelve and under, for most of its concerts.  Concessions include soft drinks, fresh popcorn, and bottled water—all priced at only $1.00.

The Simply Southern Playhouse Music Theater has the potential to become a major regional music attraction, thanks to strong local ownership and management, a near-perfect location in the heart of the historic district, and a circa 1880 building that is itself an attraction.  The owners’ commitment to booking local musicians, maintaining a family environment, and participating in ongoing initiatives like 2nd Friday also promise a bright future.  As the sign in the front window proudly proclaims, “Batesville’s Got Talent.”

Musical groups interested in performing should contact Concert Manager Forrest Faulkner at 870-612-0050.