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Arts night returns to Café Makai 

From left to right: Slowmo Franklin, Dyllan Plemon and Liz Moss perform at Café Makai. Photo courtesy of Anna Tiberi (Instagram: @breakfast.mood)

The smell of coffee beans turning into lattes greets the customer while natural light spills through the windows and onto the plants.

The tapping of students’ keyboards and laughter of the guests fill the air and locally sourced food is being brought out from the kitchen.

Café Makai is a neighborhood coffee shop, just a 10-minute walk from the center of Belmont’s campus.

But something has been missing from the shop for the past three years, until now.

Dyllan Plemon and Liz Moss, Belmont songwriting students and baristas, collaborated on the idea of once again having an arts night at the café.

Café Makai was established in the summer of 2019 full of music, art and life, but unfortunately was hit by COVID-19 and had to adapt to this world with a pandemic.

“We kind of missed that fusion of art and music and community in one event,” Moss said.

General manager Eva Johnston aided the initiative to bring artwork back to the shop.

“So far, we’ve got some local artists up there. Every month we want to start putting new art up,” Johnston said.

This rotating visual art gallery will be accompanied by live performances on the first Thursday of the month.

Plemon and Moss’s main goal in this initiative was to create a comfortable space for people to create and show their art in a way that benefits the whole community.

As a songwriter, Plemon often feels like she is forced to self-promote and network at every event – she wanted a space where she felt safe and included, she said.

“A lot of times it can feel like really intimidating, almost pretentious,” Plemon said.

That's why she created a night full of peaceful community surrounded by music. Plemon and Moss acknowledged the struggles of balancing being a student while trying to define yourself in the music industry.

“We talked a lot about being a full-on student, being a songwriter, musician and being kind of intimidated by a lot of the options that already exist to show your original music,” Plemon said.

Due to Café Makai’s proximity to campus, Plemon and Moss are focusing on creating a safe environment for Belmont students and artists. They aim to create an inclusive space for Belmont students who have never played before or people who are simply tired of the networking hustle.

“The mission behind it, just to kind of take some pressure off of performing and give people opportunities and just kind of just create a community around mutual love of art and music,” Moss said.

This writer’s round will eventually become a monthly staple with the intention of raising money for local Nashville non-profits. They will theme the whole night around a charity and bring people a creative, comfortable space to listen to music and support a worthy cause.

Julia Mitchell, an attendee of the event, sat at the back of the café surrounded by twinkling lights tapping her foot to the original music. She spoke highly of the singers and songwriters that were featured that night, but also of the intentions behind the event.

“This atmosphere was great because the biggest thing that they made a point about saying at the beginning was that this is an event to hang out, but it’s not networking based. You’re literally just here to exist and that feels great,” Mitchell said.

Café Makai’s night of unique music, sweet pastries and local art is not an isolated event: on Feb. 2, a whole new set of artists will take the showcase their talent inside Café Makai.

This article was written by Maya Burney

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