If youre content with seeing the offerings at the big outdoor amphitheaters and indoor arenas, youll find plenty of shows to keep you busy. Off in the margins, however, North Carolina also has a lot of intimate listening spaces that convey an unmistakable sense of place. Here are five of the most notable.
Marsh Woodwinds Upstairs
The upstairs performance space of this funky instrument store is easily the coolest listening room in the Triangle, with antique furniture and oddball artifacts conjuring up a vibe that is both comfortable and a bit strange. Capacity is around 80, with bookings trending toward jazz and acoustic folk. Even if thats not your bag, however, its a great hangout spot. There usually is a cover charge of around $10.
WKBC Hometown Opry
The second Friday of each month, this pawn shop in North Wilkesboro is the site of a live-radio broadcast on country station WKBC, 800 AM, 7-9 a.m. Yes, you read right, it happens in the morning and its a great jam session with national as well as local talent. Admission is free, but its a small room (less than 100 capacity), so show up early.
Info: Main Street Music & Loan, 302 Main St., North Wilkesboro. 336-667-2274 or north-wilkesboro.com/HometownOpry/
Bluegrass Jam at Zuma Coffee
Thursday evenings, this health-food and coffee establishment becomes the setting for one of the hottest bluegrass hoedowns in the state. One of the regular hosts is Bobby Hicks, a fiddler who made his reputation backing up the late, great Bill Monroe. Capacity is maybe 80 and the jam is open to all, but bring your A-game. No cover.
Info: 7 N. Main St., Marshall. 828-649-1617 or zumacoffee.blogspot.com
R.A. Fountain General Store and Internet Cafe
Yes, this is a general store in a building that dates back to the early 20th century, and it sells all manner of goods with a North Carolina focus. Its also a concert venue that holds around 125 people and does shows most weekends, primarily gospel, bluegrass, folk and blues. Cover charge is generally in the $8-$10 range.
Info:6754 E. Wilson St., Fountain. 252-749-3228 or rafountain.com
Don Gibson Theatre
The late, great Shelby native Gibson wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Patsy Cline and other luminaries. Named in his honor, this lovely Depression-era theater seats 400, with a schedule that includes everything from Ricky Skaggs to Smashmouth. Most shows have prices starting in the mid-20s.
Info: 318 S. Washington St., Shelby. 704-487-8114 or dgshelby.com
Staff Writer David Menconi