Live music combines so many elements integral to the human experience: fellowship, food, and the pleasing under current of rhythm. These events come in many shapes and sizes and the cities and establishments adopting them soon realize the grounds become far more than just havens for commercial enterprise.
By Craven Inions
Wilmington’s not missing out on its bit of music action either, as the Port City keeps booking larger acts each year, with artists routinely returning. So far, the likes of Rainbow Kitten Surprise, The Infamous Stringdusters and Railroad Earth have graced Cape Fear’s bended ears. From outdoor amphitheaters to the smaller intimate venues, music lovers in Wilmington will be spoilt for choice this summer. Here’s a look at some music events on summer’s horizon.
Greenfield Lake Summer Shows:
Greenfield Lake recently hosted BIG Something’s bi-annual BIG What? Festival. The BIG What? took place over two days and combined several musical stylings into a family-friendly outing at the lake. All the music is really putting Wilmington on the map. For instance, John Burke lives in Asheville but was visiting town for The BIG What? and remarked on how he’s been a fan of the band for years. “Yeah, I’m a frequent flyer at these sorts of things,” says Burke, “but getting to top off a beach weekend trip with music like this can’t be beat.”
Fans aren’t the only ones enjoying Wilmington’s emerging music scene. The musicians are equally as excited about Port City prospects. Earlier this year, an NC-based band, The Mantras, played a two-night run at the Whiskey. The keyboardist, Julian Sizemore, said of Wilmington, “It’s my second home in my home state. Whether I’m playing with The Mantras, The Comrades or another of the many projects I’m blessed to be a part of, you can be sure I’ll be putting my heart heavy into the music. It gets sweaty down in Dub Town…but that’s how we like it,” quips the musician.
Not all music happens overnight, and it hardly conforms to expectations. Hometown bluegrass and folk group Massive Grass peppers a summer calendar with numerous concerts beginning in early June. Bassist Kyle Groce says most people don’t really think about bluegrass music when they think about Wilmington, but he acknowledges, “We have found that people here can’t get enough of it. There’s actually a pretty strong bluegrass scene in Wilmington, ranging from traditional and old-time pickers to more newgrass style like Massive Grass.”
The group performs weekly at venues like Salty Dog’s Tavern, Ogden Tap Room and the American Fish Company.
July 18: Greensky Bluegrass
July 19 – 21: Michael Franti and Spearhead
Aug. 3: Gin Blossoms
Aug. 8: Dawes
Sept. 9: Dr. Dog
Sept. 15: Lettuce
Downtown Sundown Concert Series:
Wilmington’s signature summertime concert series returns for its 14th season in Downtown Wilmington. The Downtown Sundown Concert Series will run each Friday night through until August 30, 2019. The free concerts are from 6:30 to 10pm and feature both local performers and touring bands. The Downtown Sundown Concert Series is a free, family friendly event. The concerts are designed to provide interesting and fun entertainment for attendees, spur interest and activity to Downtown during the early evening hours and to raise funds for WDI’s downtown development programs. Last year, over 26,000 people attended the concerts.
Cape Fear Blues Music Festival:
The Cape Fear Blues Music Festival is another mainstay in the Port City. Recurring daily shows populate a three-day lineup for the Port City Blues lover. In addition to the concerts, visitors can peruse workshops, club shows and even impromptu jam sessions.
Bands that have already been confirmed include the Scott Ellison Band, the Rhythm Bones, Catesby Jones and the Fat Bastard Blues Band.
Stages are set at popular blues music venues like the Rusty Nail Saloon and Finkelstein’s Music.
June 21 – 23
WECT Sounds of Summer Series:
This recurring weekly musical event creates a welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere for listeners of all ages to take in some tunes. Wrightsville Beach Park sets the stage for these afternoons on the lawn.
July 11 – Jack Jack 180
July 18 – Uptown Easy
July 25 – Bantam Rooster
Aug. 1 – Overtyme
Aug. 8 – The Imitations
Fireworks by the Sea and Boardwalk Blast
Commemorate Independence Day at Carolina Beach with this free fireworks display and concert by the Polar Bear Blues Band. A crowd favorite for over 40 years, the band combines rhythm and blues into an eventful evening. This show and subsequent summer shows will take place on the gazebo, so arrive early to claim your seat.
July 11 – The Cut
July 18 – Zion Roots
July 25 – Justin Cody Fox
Aug. 8 – Billy Walton Band
Aug. 15 – Rivermist
Reggae Festivus Sundays
Every Sunday over the summer, the Lazy Pirate Sports Grill presents Sunday Reggae Festivus: Guardian of the Vibe concerts.
July 7 – Pure Fiyah
July 14 – Strange Rootz
July 21 – Zion Rootz
July 28 – Adwela & the Uprising
Aug. 4 – Amani Smith & The Give Thanks Band
Aug. 11 – Foundation Stone
Aug. 18 – Crucial Fiya
Aug. 25 – JahSon & the Natty Vibez
Sept. 1 – Signal Fire
The Wilson Center
Cape Fear Community College’s auditorium presents all sorts of shows from concerts to Broadway plays and musicals. This summer, a couple of dates to keep in mind include June 29th for Don Mclean, of “American Pie” acclaim, and July 7th for the Stars and Stripes Cel- ebration. Join the NC Symphony for an ol’ fashioned salute to the Red, White and Blue. Patriotic anthems and other classics will be played to honor America’s Independence Day.
Then on August 3rd, the eternally touted, highly influential and diverse brother duo the Isley Brothers will play at the Wilson Center. Bringing 60 years of musical experience to the show, the Isley Brothers will showcase their unique blend of soul, funk, rhythm and blues like no one else can.
Brooklyn Arts Center
July 12 – Rhythm of the River featuring Striking Copper, Jake Newman, and Travis Shallow & the Deep End
Summer Tiki Shows
The Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, Carolina Beach
This palatable music menu ranges from rock to country. Shows start at 7 p.m.
July 11 – Flash Car
July 18 – Dex Romweber with Shark Quest
July 25 – The Beau Rikkis
Aug. 1 – Open Field
Aug. 8 – Feather
Aug. 15 – Onward, Soldiers
Aug. 22 – Seeking Madras
Aug. 29 – The Phantom Playboys
Oceanic Summer Music Series
Every Friday night and Sunday afternoon in the summer months, the Oceanic in Wrightsville is bringing live music to complement guests experience.
Fort Fisher Summer Concert Series
Fort Fisher Recreation Area, Kure Beach
These bi-monthly concerts offer viewers a casual music filled event, in which you can lounge on a chair or blanket, take in the salty sea air, and enjoy the tunes.
June 28 – Handsome Al & The Lookers
July 12 – The British Invaders Band
July 26 – Sam Frazier & The Side Effects
Aug. 9 – Rivermist