THE STORY BEHIND DOWNTOWN FRANKLIN’S FAVORITE MUSICIANS
Strolling through the streets of downtown Franklin, particularly in the later hours of the day, there’s bound to be a melodic tune laced through the hustle and bustle that you cannot miss. The source? That would be local musicians and entrepreneurs Isaiah Mitchell and Jerome Eulentrop.
They are stationed on the corner of 4th Avenue and Main Street, and locals and tourists alike, can’t get enough of these two. Not only do they provide background music to an already picturesque scene in downtown, but not a person goes by that doesn’t also get a friendly smile or hello from them. While you may not see them playing together often, they are certainly a team. You’ll find at least one of them playing in downtown Monday through Friday between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. and practically all day on Saturdays.
It should come as no surprise that it was music that forged Franklin’s favorite buskers onto the same path. Though you’d never know it by listening to him play, Isaiah got what industry professionals would call a “late start” to playing violin. In fact, it wasn’t until about four years ago that he felt he started getting instruction that lead him to where he is today. After a year at college studying mechanical engineering, Isaiah quickly realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. With the encouragement and guidance from a mentor, he moved to the Nashville area to work at a music management company, all the while growing his skill set with the violin through his studies. It was during this time that he first met Jerome, who had been immersed
“Franklin didn’t choose us, but we kind of now have to represent Franklin to the best of what Franklin can be. They are so gracious and so loving in that way and so receptive of our love and the love we try to give them, and we’re really grateful.” in the music world since he was five years old. In fact, he says he barely remembers a time when he wasn’t playing violin. Growing up in St. Louis, Jerome was introduced to Nashville in 2013 when he visited to attend a music camp at Lipscomb Academy. He continued to participate in the program each summer and even started taking private lessons from the conservatory in 2015. That same conservatory had a touring band, and in 2018, Jerome joined them for their Christmas tour, and again for the fall and Christmas tour of 2019.
Isaiah and Jerome really connected when Jerome moved to Nashville in February of this year. He’d planned to work as a musician full time while also busking for extra income. Just a few months prior, Isaiah had left his music management job to busk more regularly and invest more time in his entrepreneurial ventures.
They had just gotten into a steady routine of performing in downtown Franklin when the pandemic hit full throttle in March. Even though there was barely a soul to be seen out and about at the time, those who ventured out can tell you of two people who were: these two. “We were out there when there weren’t even people walking,” shared Jerome. “I had a lady pull over in her car, she gave me a $10 bill and was just crying telling me how much it meant to her that somebody smiled at her as she passed. That was a big indicator of, ‘okay, I’m doing the right thing here, I’m where the Lord wants me to be.”
At the height of the pandemic, Isaiah and Jerome continued to play as consistently as the weather allowed them to. By the time businesses started to reopen and more people started venturing out, they had become a staple to the downtown Franklin area and a consistent highlight for the locals.
“There was nobody around, but somehow collectively the locals and everyone that drove around decided, ‘oh hey, we’re going to help them get through too,’” said Isaiah. “We made enough to live, and that was almost exclusively thanks to the locals who decided it was cool and appreciated it.”
Since then, Isaiah and Jerome have continued to be present in downtown Franklin. On evenings and weekends, you can hear them playing gentle notes of classics and crowd favorites such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Phantom of the Opera or even the main theme from Disney Pixar’s Up. But what makes them so good at what they do isn’t just the music, and anyone who has interacted with them can attest to that. Instead, it’s the way they go above and beyond to connect with each and every person that walks by.
“Half of it is about the music and half of it is about the connection with another person, another human,” said Isaiah. “There’s something very natural about someone walking by and you’re in their life for thirty seconds or even three minutes as they walk by you and you can interact with them as a person and make eye contact or make small talk, wish them a good day. I really like people and the opportunity to get to interact with and have three- minute friendships with people of all ages and all perspectives, all cultures and personalities; it’s really fascinating to me.”
Truth be told, that kind of outgoing, friendly nature is just who they are, and all in all, their favorite part of getting to do what they do. It’s also what makes them such perfect embodiments of the Franklin community. “We’re so blessed to be accepted into the community as much as we have been,” said Jerome. “Franklin didn’t choose us, but we kind of now have to represent Franklin to the best of what Franklin can be. They are so gracious and so loving in that way and so receptive of our love and the love we try to give them, and we’re really grateful.”
If you see Isaiah or Jerome in downtown, stop by and say hello! In the meantime, you can learn more about them and what they do by following them on Instagram at @the.chronicles.of.saiah and @fire_spittin_fiddler.