A new venue for live music is coming to Durham’s Lakewood district

Rhythms Live Music Hall, with an over-40 target audience, is opening in Durham’s Lakewood shopping center by the Scrap Exchange.
Rhythms Live Music Hall, with an over-40 target audience, is opening in Durham’s Lakewood shopping center by the Scrap Exchange. Submitted by BrodyCo

Durham has a new live-music venue in the works, but the owners are making it clear that it’s a music hall, not a night club.

Victor and Jerre Graham plan to open Rhythms Live Music Hall in early December in a 14,000-square-foot space in Lakewood Shopping Center, a strip mall on Chapel Hill Road that is in the midst of transition.

“This is a 20-year vision, a dream,” said co-owner Victor Graham, an independent insurance broker. “What it will mainly be used for is a supper club — what the Europeans call a music hall. You sit, have dinner and drinks, see your favorite national acts and then go home.”

It’s a large room with abundant parking. Capacity will range from 600 to 1,000, depending on whether the setup is tables and chairs or just chairs.

Graham said his desired demographic is “everybody 40 and over,” with bookings to include jazz, R&B, country and classic rock. For now, Graham declined to name names. He plans to start announcing acts on the schedule next week.

“I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he said. “We plan to hit the market by storm. I have six or seven acts booked, all nationally recognized and with hits in all genres.”

Rhythms Live will be at the northern end of Lakewood Shopping Center, next to the Scrap Exchange Creative Reuse Arts Center.

This week, a developer bought 8 acres of the shopping center in foreclosure for $5.25 million with plans to redevelop it.

“That will have no effect on us and our plans,” Graham said. “I’ve been hoping somebody would come along to revitalize that part of it.”

Other businesses have moved into the area in recent years, including the County Fare food truck rodeo on the edge of the shopping center. Cocoa Cinnamon coffee shop has opened up the street, and Phoebe Lawless’ Lakewood restaurant and Scratch Bakery opened around the corner. (The restaurant and bakery closed this summer, but True Flavors Diner recently announced it would move into the spot later this year.)

Ahead of a planned Dec. 7 opening, there will be a preview opening as part of Scrap Exchange’s SmashFest on Nov. 23. While Rhythms Live is Graham’s first venture into the music-venue business, he is confident about his chances.

“The market is right for it,” he said. “We want to give something with a different feel and atmosphere from Lincoln Theatre or The Ritz, where you have to do a lot of standing. Over 40, you do not want to stand and you want more of an experience. You can have the whole date-night experience.”

For more, go to rhythmslivenc.com.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759 or @NCDavidMenconi
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