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the mulehouse

It’s a church. Well, it was a church. The pews and parishioners that once filled the place are long gone. But if you spend any time there, you’ll still feel the holy spirit in the place.

Our little town is like most towns. We've got a coffee shop and barber shop on the square. Some good restaurants dot the landscape, though nothing yet considered ‘upscale’ of any sort. After years of redirecting traffic from downtown to the ‘bypass’ so they can do all their shopping in big box stores like Walmart, Big Lots, Lowes, etc… the traffic has slowly begun to filter back to town. Back to the smaller businesses and owners. As someone who’s lived here in this community for more than twenty years, it’s been so good to see.

Part of the reason for the positive change is people. Over the last ten years or so, we’ve had some new folks move to our town who never knew it as it was and only know it as it could be. Who believe that the town’s glory days are ahead of it. One of those is my good friend Matt Johnson who started Muletown Coffee on a few beans and a dream about ten years ago. In my opinion, he and his buddy Chris have more to do with the new life that’s been breathed into Columbia than just about anybody. And a few years after that, it was Matt who told me that I needed to check a new venue that someone was creating called the Mulehouse. He said you’re not going to believe what they’re doing there. Soon after, I parked my Olds at the curb and stepped inside for the first time.

Originally a First Baptist Church… about twenty years ago when they closed the doors and moved to a new location, the big old original building began gathering dust and falling into disrepair.

Thankfully, well-known country music DJ and personality Blair Garner purchased the building a couple of years ago and since has poured all of his time, and I would say, a good portion of his money into it. And it’s absolutely gorgeous. It looks like the Ryman auditorium, only in our little town. ‘

Since the doors opened in May of 2021, they’ve held lots of big concerts, filmed multiple tv specials, and done a number of incredible charity events in the space. And one of them this past December, I was part of.

When the folks from the Columbia Miracle League reached out to me about being part of a special evening of music to benefit the League, and of course, I said yes. And when they said it was going to be at The Mulehouse, I thought ‘even better.’ I’d never played there and I thought ‘what a good reason to get to.’

The night of the event, the square was filled with holiday shoppers. It was a perfect evening to gather for a good cause. We were the opening act for an all-girl group called ‘Runaway June,’ whose fiddle player Natalie Stovall grew up in Columbia and so the event was close to her heart too.

I say ‘we’ were the opening act, because this wasn’t just a show that I was going to be playing. They asked if Indy could come and sing with me too. Because Indy loves baseball and there were going to be a few other kids there. She was excited about it, so she came along and we sang a special song on the big stage with a couple of the kiddos right by our side. Here are a few minutes from that evening…

It was great fun to be on that beautiful stage for a beautiful cause. And though it was way past Indy’s bedtime by the time we were done singing, we stayed long enough to hear a couple of wonderful songs from Natalie and her group. Indy was sound asleep in the car before I even got out of the parking lot.

What Blair and Eric are doing there at The Mulehouse is inspiring, even for a big dreamer like me. I hope to get to come back again one day soon and be part of, or just get to watch and listen to, another show.

Hopefully, before long, The League will have all they need to get started. If you’d like to find out more about the Miracle League of Columbia, they have lots of helpful info on their website…

If you'd like to see what's going on at The Mulehouse, visit their website...

- rory



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