Performances to Tune Into
From the Small Band Circuit to the Carolina Philharmonic
By Aimee Moody
You can travel the world looking for Culture like I have, or you can step out of your front door and appreciate all there is around you. To give you a little context, I’m a recent graduate from a small music conservatory in London, England. There I participated in the underground music scene, performing in quiet cafés and boisterous pubs. I got to witness top tier performances at places like Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and the Brixton Academy. When my studies ended, I was heartbroken to leave that illustrious place, the city of my dreams. I reluctantly returned home and was amazed to find that there’s a remarkable music scene here, where I never thought to look. There are places where eager artists can test out their new material, where seasoned entertainers can serenade casual listeners, and where you can find “New York quality” performances without breaking the bank. I’m proud to illuminate the creative culture of this county by harping on its happenings, and a lot is happening!
The local music scene is built around the hotspots of Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and Aberdeen. This “small band circuit”, as I like to call it, is the arena for area talent. Supporting it is another great reason to get out of the house, to experience something new each time you do. There’s a unique atmosphere to every place we go, and music fills the space in a way that nothing else can. We can choose to pay attention or let it blend into the background, soothing our unconscious minds. The Jefferson Inn, Neville’s, The Bell Tree Tavern, O’Donnell’s, Dugan’s Pub, and The Drum & Quill are the main places where live music can be found. The Weymouth Center is hopping on the bandwagon, hosting “Open Jam Sessions” on the last Tuesday of every month from 6pm to 9pm, and “Classical Music Concerts” on the first Sunday of every month starting at 2pm.
The Jefferson Inn, in Southern Pines, is a distinguished venue and has been the recipient of the Local’s Choice Award for the area’s “Best Live Entertainment” for the last four years. It’s relaxed and yet refined. Their outdoor patio transforms every Friday and Saturday, as they host live music from 9pm to midnight. It’s neighbor, Neville’s Club, has a unique and eclectic scene of its own. Every Tuesday, they have karaoke which attracts a multitude of personalities to its stage. As a singer, I was pleased to find that Dugan’s Pub, in the Village of Pinehurst, has an Open Mic Night every Thursday at 8pm. They took their karaoke night to the next level and created a platform for local talent to thrive. It’s an open invitation for anyone who wants to briefly bask in the spotlight. Check out these venues’ websites for more information!
One place in particular that stands out to me is The Rooster’s Wife because it’s primarily a music venue, though they do serve food and beverages. When you walk in, you’ll see people reclining in an assortment of armchairs and couches. It feels intimate and exclusive, like watching a band perform in your living room. You will see a wide variety of musical acts here, as this is a popular pitstop for many groups on tour.
Their upcoming events can always be viewed on their website, but here are a couple of recommendations for February and March:
Sunday, February 23rd, 6:45pm- 9pm
Thomas’s music is bold and takes us back to a time when songs were anthems. She passionately expresses herself with her unique style, a blend of Soul and Folk Rock. It’s inspiring to hear and somehow reminds me of the iconic music from the 1960s.
Miss Tess and the Talkbacks
Friday, March 6th, 6:45pm - 9pm
This is a sophisticated quartet, delivering Tess’s sweet and sultry vocals over warm jazz chords and rhythmic double bass. The group creates an easy-listening environment, one that soothes the soul and mellows the mood.
The Maestro at the Piano
Founded only in 2009, the Carolina Philharmonic has become one of the leading orchestras in North Carolina. A vital anchor in the music culture of the region, The Phil, shortened to suit the local vernacular, engages while educating, creating a stimulating environment for learning. Music empowers and advances the youth, sharpening their minds and interpersonal skills. As the Arts get less and less funding, The Phil, a non-profit organization, is bridging the gap to help thousands of children by providing opportunities like joining their Junior Orchestra.
While conducting, Maestro David Michael Wolff aims to provide an “experience”, not just a show. “He approaches the audience conversationally,” Kathleen Wilford on the Board of Directors explains to me, “blurring the line between stage and audience.” On February 22nd Maestro Wolff will be giving a recital called Painted Piano, “celebrating the links between great works of art and music, with a glimpse into the lives of the creators”. The recital will be held in Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College. Tickets may be purchased online at carolinaphil.org.
These types of performances are one of the many ingredients that make living in this area so special. As someone who’s grown accustomed to the nightlife of London, I can honestly say we are fortunate to have such a vibrant music and arts scene on our doorstep. And if you are only visiting, let me tell you, you have come to the right place.