Archives for category: Music Maniac

The Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters show at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre Sat. night will definitely go down as a highlight of Greater Raleigh’s summer of wall-to-wall live music. The experience of witnessing a rock legend at one of the area’s most beloved music venues was remarkable. Fans, like myself, of Robert Plant and his projects like The Sensational Space Shifters and Band of Joy took in a phenomenal concert at a phenomenal venue.

A stellar aspect of Koka Booth Amphitheatre is that you can take in some of the beauty of North Carolina’s Piedmont region and see a concert all in one night. If you’re going to a show at the venue, I highly suggest arriving several hours early. You can get a great parking space (another great thing about the venue is that it offers free parking) and scope out the scenery. The amphitheatre is situated directly next to the beautiful Symphony Lake (the name is highly appropriate as many North Carolina Symphony concerts are held at the venue), which is surrounded by a greenway that you can walk to take in the scenery and N.C. wildlife. Check out the venue’s site map to see the lay of the land!


The picturesque scenery is just as beautiful when you walk into the venue. Enter the venue through the main entrance! As seen below, you’ll walk down a shaded path engulfed by hardwoods and pines. You realize, even more, that the natural setting, the amphitheatre and the music it features blend together in perfect harmony. I’d also suggest that if you sit in the lawn area, get to the venue early so you’ll have a wide selection of seating locations to choose from (you can take your own lawn chairs and blankets)!


The night of music kicked off with Bombino, an internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger, and his band. The blend of rock, blues and world music set a great mood for the night. A truly talented and awesome musician with a truly talented and awesome band, Bombino impressed concert-goers and rocked Koka Booth Amphitheatre. The band opened with energy and kept up the energy for the entire set. I’d wanted to see Bombino (whose latest album, Nomad, was produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach), and it was great to see him at one of my favorite venues. During Bombino’s set, I made up my mind about where I wanted to stand in the lawn to take in the concert. Due to the layout of the venue, the sound is just as good from every spot on the lawn. I especially like the back-center view (pictured below) and the pine tree-covered area to the left of the stage (looking at the stage from the lawn area) where Symphony Lake can be easily viewed.


After Bombino’s set, while the stage was being set for the headliner, I scoped out the food and beverages available. A good number of craft beers were being served including Raleigh’s very own Lonerider Brewing Company‘s Sweet Josie Brown Ale at the venue’s Pine Needle Pub. Pine Needle Pub offers an outdoor pub-type setting with stand-up tables, a few bar stands including a “hut” bar and a great social atmosphere. Cocktails and wine and wine by the bottle were also being sold at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Delicious food served at Cobblestone Courtyard included gourmet sandwiches and wraps, pizza, pretzels, hot dogs and much, much more. Other food vendors included Chick-Fil-A, Z Pizza, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and the Hibachi Xpress food truck. You can also have a “Picnic in the Park!” The venue’s Virtual Café offers a variety of food items that can be ordered in advance for all events. If you purchase a table seating ticket, you also have access to the sheltered area and Crescent Cafe (area picture below).


Suddenly, I heard the crowd cheer and I made my way to my choice lawn spot to the left of the stage (facing the stage). Sensational Space Shifters guitarist Liam “Skin” Tyson (of The La’s offshoot Cast) began playing a classical-sounding number, Robert Plant’s entrance kept myself and the crowd cheering and the guitarist entered into the Led Zeppelin tune “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” The crowd erupted in more cheers, screams and claps, as concert-goers like myself were in euphoria when we began hearing Robert Plant’s famous voice in person. The tone of Robert Plant’s golden voice through Koka Booth Amphitheatre’s top-notch sound system was perfect. The overall mix of electric Delta blues, Celtic folk revival, world music, a splash of electronic music and other genres pleased concert-goers tremendously, as those who have heard many of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin’s songs heard many of the songs with tasteful, creative, entertaining and innovative twists Sat. night. Being a Led Zeppelin fan since high school, I absolutely loved hearing some of my favorite Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin tunes at a venue I love. The band played other famous Led Zeppelin songs such as “Black Dog,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and more, and closed the night with “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll.”


Another feature of the venue that always impresses me is the light show. I wanted to get another view of Robert Plant and the dramatic light show, so I made my way to the right side of the stage (facing the stage). Due to the amphitheatre’s intriguing architecture and the intensity of the lights, the stage itself is a sight to see at night. And the sound system always rocks, as its clear sound and tone is soothing and not harsh by any means, even at a high volume. The volume was great for Music Maniacs like myself who like to crank up the volume, but also great for kids and those who don’t like a booming sound system.


I highly suggest to experience a concert at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. The venue brings in a nice variety of genres, as shows coming up include Wild Card Wednesdays Music Series: Tropic Orchestra, Wild Card Wednesdays Music Series: Johnny Folsom Four And The Canady Thomas Band, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Alabama Shakes, Chris Tomlin and more! The venue also shows popular movies! Check out the schedule of events here.


The number of music events at Koka Booth Ampthitheatre along with the number of music events at Greater Raleigh’s huge collection of venues make Greater Raleigh the destination with the most live music in N.C.! Learn more about the area’s summer of wall-to-wall live music!

It’s highly likely that if you go to a summer festival in North Carolina, you’ll experience the craze that is Carolina beach music! There’s no denying that the genre is hot in the Carolinas. With the fun of the live music and easy-to-shag-to grooves, Carolina beach music concerts are great shows for visitors to hit and have a great time at. You’re bound to hear some tunes you know. Some beach music chart-topping artists include Jimmy Buffett, Alabama, Al Green, Ray Charles and Van Morrison.


And if you’re coming to Greater Raleigh this summer, catching a Carolina beach music concert is a breeze. If you haven’t experienced the craze that is Carolina beach music, you must experience a concert in the area. If you’re a fan of the genre, you must experience a concert in the area as well! Throughout the summer (until Aug. 15), North Hills is putting on beach music concerts in its town square-like Commons area every Thurs. night. This series of concerts, called the Midtown Beach Music Series, undeniably rocks the area. I hit the event last Thurs. and had a blast listening to Band of Oz, the local Raleigh band that played that night.

North Hills, on its own and even without a concert going on, is a blast to visit. The original North Hills shopping center was built in 1967 as the “first two-story mall” between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Since ’67, the shopping center has grown way beyond just a shopping center. North Hills is now a gigantic area with millions of square feet of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, residencies, offices and more. More than 130 shops and restaurants and 81 locally-owned shops and restaurants are all nestled in the stylish and classy heart of the Midtown Raleigh district.


I love The Commons, the area of North Hills where the Midtown Beach Music Series takes place, and to say, “North Hills goes all out for the concerts in the area,” is an understatement. Finding a place to park Thurs. night was a breeze with the numerous and visible parking signs around the area. Just arriving to the area alone is an experience, as the beautiful Carolina sky over the elegant buildings makes for a great sight.

I’d suggest to get to North Hills early for lunch. If you’re on vacation looking for a relaxing, care-free afternoon, dine at one of the many restaurants in the area. Mura at North Hills, Fox and Hound Pub & Grille, Five Guys Famous Burgers & Fries and many, many other restaurants offer delicious dining. Fuel up for a night of dancing! And when you’re ready for dinner after a night of dancing, give one of the other restaurants a try.

The Midtown Beach Music Series concerts start at 6pm, right when locals and families are going out and looking for a great time. So the party is really happening by that time. From families, to young professionals and more, everyone has a great time and especially when the music starts.

Band of oz

The event is truly an outdoor party and a great social event. The Commons area is roped off, so drinks are served in the outdoor area. From domestic beers to cocktails and wine, there are plenty of drink options for the adults. With Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Five Guys Famous Burgers & Fries and more right in The Commons, kids have plenty of food and beverage options as well. I definitely suggest bringing a lawn chair if you can! Get to the show early and get a great spot, so you can sit down and relax if you need a break from dancing and doing the ever-so-popular beach music dance known as the shag.

Now to the music: Band of Oz and Carolina beach music bands like North Tower, The Fantastic Shakers, The Craig Woolard Band and more are playing at the concerts. And North Hills does a great job of picking great, very talented and entertaining bands to play. Check out a concert any Thurs. during the summer and you’re set for some quality Carolina beach music. I also find the sound system to be top-notch (not too loud for the kids and not too low for Music Maniacs who love to rock). From the sounds of the horn section, to the round, clean guitar sounds, tight vocal harmonies and more, the sound system picks up the timbres to perfection.


So if you’re up for an entertaining night of music, food, drink, dancing and shagging, check out the Midtown Beach Music Series at North Hills!

Click here for the schedule of bands

The shows don’t stop this summer. With the most live music out of any destination in N.C., you’re bound to find your groove in Greater Raleigh. Take in a summer of wall-to-wall music!


The band pictured throughout this blog is Band of Oz from Raleigh!

I mentioned in a previous blog entry that a cool Carolina breeze and great live music always puts a smile on my face. So thanks to a beautiful North Carolina evening and the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration featuring Warren Haynes at Red Hat Amphitheater (500 S. McDowell St.) in downtown Raleigh, I was smiling ear to ear last night.


From the nationally-known bands the venue brings in, to the towering stage, to the scenic view of downtown Raleigh, to the selection of exquisite food and craft beers and more, Red Hat Amphitheater offers a very special and unique place to take in live music. I love all genres of music, and the venue surely brings in a wide variety of touring bands to downtown Raleigh. Bob Dylan performed earlier in June. Just several days later, Smashing Pumpkins rocked the venue. And last night, rock and blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Warren Haynes teamed up with North Carolina Symphony to put on a concert celebrating the music and life of rock legend Jerry Garcia.

I arrived at the venue gate as early as possible, eager to scope out the scene and to begin enjoying a much-anticipated night of live music. I highly suggest to go to the concerts with an appetite. Local, award-winning barbecue restaurant The Pit offers their mouthwatering barbecue sandwiches and fried chicken sandwiches. Pair up the delicious food with a selection of 13 different beers. Local beers served includes brews from Big Boss Brewing Company and Lonerider Brewing Company. The venue also has a cocktail bar where crowd favorites and other creations are served. For the kids, the venue serves up thirst-quenching Pepsi drinks, slushies, hot dogs, popcorn and other treats.

Waiting for the show to start, I took in the magnificent view of downtown Raleigh from the venue. Opposite the direction of the stage is Raleigh Convention Center with its grand Cree Shimmer Wall displaying an oak tree that shimmers with an array of vibrant colors when the sun sets. Much of downtown’s tallest buildings are visible from the amphitheater as well.


The 5,500-capacity Red Hat Amphitheater provides a spread-out space to enjoy outdoor shows comfortably. The venue provides seven seat sections, 26 boxed areas with seats and tables and a lawn area. VIP patrons had waitstaff service. For some shows, a general audience pit is sectioned off and the area will have no seats. For the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration featuring Warren Haynes, all seats were in place so concertgoers could sit back and relax right in front of the stage, and in other areas. Check out the layout of the venue here.

Closely watching the stage, on the edge of my seat waiting for the show to start, I saw the symphony slowly fill up the stage and after a few moments, Warren Haynes took to the stage. Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Warren Haynes and North Carolina Symphony fans erupted in applause, whistling and cheering. Many fans of Jerry Garcia gravitate towards the bluesy, soulful sound of Warren Haynes’s guitar playing and vocals, so the combination of Garcia’s songs and Haynes’s guitar playing and singing was magnificent.


The music began and the crowd cheered on Warren Haynes and North Carolina Symphony. The volume was perfect and the blend of the soothing symphony sounds with Haynes’s smooth, round guitar tone filled the venue beautifully. Haynes’s raspy voice was complimented by the relaxing symphony sounds. Other than Haynes and the symphony, the musicians on stage also included a drummer on a full drum kit, an electric bass player and two backup vocalists (these were musicians that play with Warren Haynes at many shows). One of the many things about that venue impresses me every time I take in a show there is the sound quality. The venue’s team of seasoned sound technicians paired with the collection of enormous speakers makes for a system with just the right amount of volume and a comfortable tone.

The show was amazing. Haynes and the symphony played their hearts out, celebrating the life of a man who wrote some of the most well-written songs in rock history and made an everlasting, everlasting mark in the world of music. Jerry Garcia’s songs rang through the downtown area where the venue sits. Some highlights from the two-and-a-half hour set included “Uncle John’s Band,” “Terrapin Station,” “Dark Star,” “Stella Blue” and more.


Throughout the show I kept wondering, “How exactly did this very unique show come to fruition?” Warren Haynes announced at the show that the Jerry Garcia estate called him and asked if he’d like to be the first vocalist/guitarist to be featured at a Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration. He mentioned that he was honored and very happy to play. I also asked North Carolina Symphony director of communications Joe Newberry how the show landed in Greater Raleigh. He explained that the stars aligned and it came together just right (the chemistry, the date, the venue; the timing of the show-planning process was perfect). Only select symphonies were chosen for the concert, and the Raleigh show was the only show in the Southeast on the tour.

The Red Hat Amphitheater was the perfect venue for a show like this. Wide open, spacious and laid back. The setting sparks a social atmosphere and I honestly didn’t see one face with a frown. After all, Jerry Garcia fans tend to be happy people. Throw in a Carolina breeze, great food, a picturesque view and you have the ingredients for a celebration. And that’s just what this concert was.


Miss the show? Don’t sweat it! Greater Raleigh has more live music that any other destination in N.C., so you know the Red Hat Amphitheater has a big lineup of shows coming up this summer. Check out the schedule here.

The North Carolina Symphony always impresses. After the show last night, the Classical Mystery Tour featuring The Beatles hits and the Symphonic Mashup: The Music of Radiohead Meets Brahms, it’s proven that the North Carolina Symphony can rock and that it can entertain all sorts of Music Maniacs.

Coming just around the corner is the Sci-Fi Spectacular event on Thurs., June 27, and Fri., June 28. George Takei, “Mr. Sulu,” of Star Trek will be in Greater Raleigh to narrate your journey through the galaxy, live, accompanied by music from E.T., Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and, of course, Star Trek. A must-see for Trekkies!

Join the orchestra for an evening of mega-hits from Broadway at NC Symphony Summerfest Series presents Broadway Blockbusters on June 22 at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Songs include “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables and “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, plus hits from The Sound of Music, Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof.


The shows don’t stop this summer in Greater Raleigh. Take in a wall-to-wall summer of music in Greater Raleigh!

There are environments and situations that make your energy tough to contain; places and events where it’s nearly impossible to keep your body still. Bringing in stellar touring and local musical acts, Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh (126 E. Cabarrus St.) happens to offer one of these environments. Especially when the venue brings in entertaining, high-energy bands like ska punk rockers Less Than Jake like they did Wed. night!


I’d seen Less Than Jake on tour a few years ago at another venue, but as we say here at visitRaleigh, “Sometimes it’s not just about what music you’re listening to, it’s about where you’re at while you’re listening.” I was pumped to see the band up close and personal at Lincoln Theatre, and especially in downtown Raleigh.

I knew the doors were officially going to open at 7pm, so I arrived at about 5:30pm. At Lincoln Theatre concerts, or general-admission concerts anywhere in Greater Raleigh, I’d always suggest that you get your ticket early and arrive early so you can land a spot in the front of the “waiting-for-the-doors-to-open line.” That way, when the venue lets you in, you have the option of snagging a great spot and getting your favorite view of the stage (at the front of the stage, middle or in the back to take in the panoramic view). If you get there even earlier, and I’m talking way before the line starts to form, fuel up with downtown restaurants right around the corner.

I arrived early and I was about number 20 to walk through the doors when they opened at 7pm. For a Music Maniac, walking through that venue door and officially being set for a night of music is a great feeling. My ticket was scanned, and I walked through the main entrance room where Less Than Jake and the two bands on tour with them (Pentimento and Hostage Calm) had merchandise displays lining the wall. The local band opening up the show, a highly entertaining punk rock band called Almost People, had a table with merchandise as well.

Looking ahead when you walk through the doors of the main entrance, you’ll see a very well-stocked bar. I noticed that a favorite for last night were the $4 16-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. An abundance of brews awaits for those who like a great variety. And then, around the corner, you’re presented with the theatre. A feature of Lincoln Theatre, adding to its many cool points, is the way it’s laid out. It’s easy to get a great view of the band, and you’re in an intimate setting to see nationally-known bands. You have four levels to choose from in the theatre, and the sound is great at every level:

  • The floor: You can get right in front of the stage and jump around with the crowd to bands like Less Than Jake.
  • Tiered levels behind the floor: You can get a wide view of the stage here, and if you’re short in height like I am, you can see above people’s heads!
  • Balcony-level: Open during select shows, this offers a really cool overhead view of the stage (and it’s pretty entertaining to look down on the floor-level crowd when dance parties break out).



Snagging my spot in front of the stage, I observed the “awesomeness” that is the sound system at Lincoln Theatre. If you’re a sound techie, you might be interested in this: check out the technical specs here! On one of the tiered levels, you can even look back and catch a glimpse of the sound booth.

When the first out of the three punk rock opening acts cranked up, you could feel the sub woofer in your chest (a feeling that’s welcomed and adored by many Music Maniacs). Being right up at the stage, I was not only able to hear the powerful sound system, but I could also hear the onstage sound. It was especially great because one of the guitarists from the band Hostage Calm had a Vox head and an Orange cabinet. The tone was crisp, crunchy and delightful. That brings me to another tip: If you check out a rock show at Lincoln Theatre, or any venue in Greater Raleigh, have some ear plugs on hand. That way, if the music is too loud for your taste, you can take in the show right up front more comfortably. And more importantly, you can protect your hearing.

So back to that environment and situation where you can’t contain your energy: As the first bands played, you could feel an urge to move. Heads bobbed and the crowd jumped higher and higher as the night went on. Almost People, Pentimento and Hostage Calm all fed the excitement of the night with high-energy punk rock originals. Hostage Calm even played a polished cover of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself,” which the crowd went crazy for. At that moment especially, there was absolutely no restraining the crowd’s urge to dance.

Finally, the moment the crowd had been waiting for came. Less Than Jake’s large band banner rose and back-lined the stage, and soon the band stormed the stage. The positivity and “fun factor” of the band lit up the room and you could tell they were truly happy to perform. This celebration sparked the crowd to cheer louder and louder. The band consists of a saxophone player, a trombone player, a vocalist/guitarist, a vocalist/bassist and drummer, and they definitely took full advantage of the spacious stage by running back and forth and jamming. With the combination of the slick tones of the horns, the round bass tones, the deep bass drum kick and tight snare and the full sound of the guitar, I couldn’t get enough of the sound. The band was truly fun and entertaining.


New and old, the songs Less Than Jake played almost forced everyone to move in the venue. Singer/guitarist Chris DeMakes said at one point, “You guys came out in droves tonight!” This was a much anticipated show for fans. Seeing the band at Lincoln Theatre was especially great. With the whole atmosphere of the venue, I really felt like I was hanging out with the band. Several times, vocalist/bassist Roger Manganelli came to the side of the stage where I was and rocked out with my side of the crowd.


After a good number of songs, I moved back to get a wide view of the stage. It was pretty fun watching the crowd going wild in the center of the floor. At one point, DeMakes requested for the flood lights at the venue to be turned on. The light engulfed the crowd and it was great to see how many people were smiling, laughing and having an exceptional night.


The night came to an end after Less Than Jake’s close-to-two-hour set, and it was such an entertaining and captivating set that it felt much longer. It’s easy to get lost in the music when its energy and sound surrounds you.

If you’ve never been able to catch a show at Lincoln Theatre, I highly recommend it. The venue hosts shows featuring different genres year round, and brings on talented local and touring bands. So if punk rock is not your favorite, there are still plenty of shows to take in. After all, Greater Raleigh does offer more live music than any other destination in North Carolina.

Check out Lincoln Theatre upcoming shows here, and enjoy a summer of wall-to-wall live music in Greater Raleigh.

When I heard that the North Carolina Symphony was putting on Symphonic Mashup: The Music of Radiohead Meets Brahms, I knew that I had to be there. A fan of all genres of music, this sounded like an awesome concert for me to take in. And I was not alone in that thinking. I was among many Music Maniacs who took in this North Carolina Symphony Special Event at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (2 E. South St., downtown Raleigh). Whether you’re an art rocker or a classical music aficionado, or both, you woulda’ loved this event.

Check out these stellar aspects of the night:

The Special Event: First of all, North Carolina Symphony wonderfully planned the opening act. Musicians Ari Picker and Emma Nadeau, of the band Lost in the Trees, opened the concert with calm, yet emotionally intense original music. The band proved to the audience that there is an abundance of undeniable musical talent surrounding the area. Check Lost in the Trees out at Hopscotch Music Festival 2013!


So to see and hear the North Carolina Symphony not only beautifully and elegantly play orchestrations by Brahms but also rock tunes off of Radiohead’s OK Computer, and then on top of that, to hear them played both together, was truly a stellar experience.


The mashup was actually created and arranged by composer, conductor, arranger and producer Steve Hackman. North Carolina Symphony vice president Martin Sher had prevously worked with Hackman, and so this helped sparked the idea of bringing Hackman’s musical creation to Greater Raleigh.

So the event came and so did the Music Maniacs. Appropriately, Hackman conducted the North Carolina Symphony and the three vocalists who sang the lyrics and melodies of the Radiohead songs. (Another cool tidbit is that the three professional vocalists have all worked with Hackman tremendously on performances of the mashup previously, so the vocals were seasoned to perfection.) Radiohead and Brahms have both elegant and chaotic sounds in their compositions, so hearing them together flowed very naturally. The performance included Radiohead songs “Paranoid Android,” “Karma Police,” “Subterranean Homesick Alien” (my favorite track on that album) and more. When the performance kicked off with a beautifully done rendition of “Airbag,” I knew I was in for a treat. Check out Hackman’s description of the mashup and the song list here.

Listening to the music was, hands down, like being on an intense roller coaster ride, but you still had enough chances to get lost and absorb the moment. At times, listening to the audience was entertaining as well. The crowd was clearly having a great time. At one point after a song, and in the dead of silence, an audience member yelled out, “Yeah!” Hackman paused, looked back and replied with delight and a smile, “Yeah?” The audience laughed, clapped and without words said, “We’re absolutely loving this and you all are putting on an amazing performance!”


This event in particular was only the beginning of North Carolina’s Symphony event schedule for the summer! So you’ll have more chances to see the symphony go beyond the bounds of traditional classical music this season.

The Venue: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts continues to prove that it’s one of the hottest venues for live music in North Carolina. The architecture of the exterior itself lends you the realization that world-class concerts happen inside of the venue. Check out the photo below. I always jump on the opportunity to take some photos of this intriguing building.


The venues inside of the building include the Memorial Auditorium, Meymandi Concert Hall, A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater and Kennedy Theatre. Meymandi Concert Hall, where this mashup concert took place, helped set the mood for the performance. This remarkable venue boasts 1,700 very comfortable seats. And the 65-ft. ceiling, shoebox shape, overall design and warm, clear sound system all worked together to give the Radiohead and Brahms mashup the absolute best sound possible. You’ve got to experience the acoustics at a concert when you’re in Greater Raleigh! Also, the lighting fueled the emotions of the pieces of music, with warm blues and purples, intense oranges and greens and more.

The Musicians in the Symphony: I couldn’t leave out a mention of the musicians in the North Carolina Symphony! As I was sitting, watching the musicians in the orchestra, I couldn’t help but notice the way they mingled with each other and talked, looking enthusiastic and thrilled about playing together. At this show in particular, the orchestra casually made their way to their seats, warming up and mingling before the show started. Seeing the positivity on stage just made the night even better. I think it goes without saying at this point that the talent of the musicians is phenomenal. The musical quality was top-notch, proving once again that the North Carolina Symphony is a symphony every Music Maniac would enjoy seeing.


The Events Surrounding the Event: North Carolina Symphony adds some really cool touches to its Special Events that make the events even more unique and “special.” At Symphonic Mashup: The Music of Radiohead Meets Brahms, the North Carolina Symphony invited food trucks to set up in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in the scenic plaza. Lots of concert-goers were hanging out, dining and mingling before the show, getting pumped for the performance. The venue also offered local craft beers, and you could have a delicious ale while watching the show!

On Friday, June 7, for the symphony’s Video Games Live event, there will be a huge before-the-show Guitar Hero competition. The winner will get to compete on stage!

At the Sci-Fi Spectacular event on Thurs., June 27, and Fri., June 28, George Takei, “Mr. Sulu,” of Star Trek will be in Greater Raleigh to narrate your journey through the galaxy, live, accompanied by music from E.T., Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and, of course, Star Trek. A must-see for Trekkies!

As Greater Raleigh has the most live music of any destination in N.C., you know there are more North Carolina Symphony Special Events coming up this summer!


On Sat., June 8, the North Carolina Symphony will head to Koka Booth Amphitheatre for its Summerfest Series Classical Mystery Tour concert. The orchestra is going kick out The Beatles tunes such as “Eleanor Rigby,” “Penny Lane,” “Yesterday” and much more. This concert celebrates the 45th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ White Album. Get some sun and feel the awesome N.C. summer weather while you listen to music from one of the greatest bands in history.

Don’t miss the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration featuring Warren Haynes on Thurs., June 20. Greater Raleigh is the only spot in the Southeast where this tour will stop! This ground-breaking orchestral adventure will feature Garcia’s original compositions and classical interpretations of timeless standards that were hallmarks of Garcia and the Grateful Dead’s concerts. A blend of Warren Haynes’s critically-acclaimed guitar playing, the sounds of the North Carolina Symphony and the music of Jerry Garcia is sure to have Music Maniacs talking.

Click here for a complete calendar that lists every live music event in Greater Raleigh this summer!

North Carolina Symphony’s official website

A cool Carolina breeze and great live music always puts a smile on my face. And I was grinning ear to ear when I went to the first Oak City 7 event of the summer this Thurs. (it happens every other Thurs. of the summer until Aug. 22). The organizers of the event call the event “Downtown Raleigh’s Free Summer Concert Series.”


When I initially heard about the series, four parts of that phrase stuck out to me:

Downtown Raleigh: The downtown area of North Carolina’s capital city is a hot place to catch live music. City Plaza is where the event is held, and the area screams art and creativity with its public art and super-nice layout. The view up and down Fayetteville St. rocks, as you really feel and know that you’re in the center of a place alive with activity and charm.

Free: Those looking for a night out on a small budget can enjoy great live music with no admission cost.

Summer: The summer of music in Greater Raleigh (Music Mania) has the best of music events, and this is one of them. I know, personally, that I’ll be attending as many of these as I can! N.C.’s summer weather allows for cool evenings where you can catch some of the best local talent. If you break a sweat while dancing, you can always cool off with local brews and refuel with food from downtown restaurants and food trucks.

Concert: When I hear the word my ears perk up. The killer lineup alone is great. I immediately recognized some local bands on the list that I’ve heard, seen live and have a tremendous amount of respect for as a musician.

Not only do you get a great show with some really talented musicians, but you get the opportunity to try delicious local beer and food from local food trucks.

ImageA beer truck serves brews from local breweries Aviator Brewing Company, Big Boss Brewing Company, Lonerider Brewing Company and more. Food trucks also serve cuisine from Carolina barbecue, pizza, ice cream and more. I definitely recommend to go with an appetite and, if you’re a craft beer lover, a mindset to taste some great brews!

ImageBeing a true Music Maniac myself, seeing a vinyl record vendor at the event was super cool. The Record Exchange & Swap, normally located at Deep South The Bar, had a nice collection of records for sale at the event, including records ranging from Fleetwood Mac, to Lou Reed, to Living Colour and more. Also, obviously being a true fan of Raleigh, the House of Swank! vendor caught my attention with Raleigh t-shirts, N.C. t-shirts and other merchandise sporting the name of N.C.’s capital city.

Most of all, the live music itself was outstanding! The sound system is nice and loud with a crisp and clear overall tone. It’s definitely a sound system any musician would want to play through. The lineup Thurs. night, May 30, featured a great mix of genres from city blues to Latin dance, indie rock and country rock; music that influenced the crowd to start dancing and jamming with the music!

ImageA great lineup is in store for the Oak City 7 series. Check it out here! This is definitely an event you won’t want to miss.

This entry was written by Derek Chase Allman, Music Maniac, musician, songwriter and Internet marketing manager at visitRaleigh.

The great state of N.C. is divided into three distinctive regions. The Appalachian Mountains rise in the western part of the state, the Coastal Plains lie to the east and the Piedmont is right smack in the middle. The Greater Raleigh area lies almost in the exact center of that sandwiched Piedmont region.

Historically, N.C. was once a state of small-time farmers but has grown over the decades to embrace a diverse economy strengthened by agriculture, banking, manufacturing, technology and research. These industries have gathered together people from a plethora of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, thus creating a rich and unique local culture.

PineCone, the code name for Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, is a nonprofit organization based out of Raleigh that is passionate about Piedmont N.C.’s traditional art forms. PineCone embraces a mission to celebrate those art forms by preserving, presenting and promoting traditional grassroots music, dance and other folk-performance arts. From hosting concerts to jam sessions, to music camps and workshops and their very own radio show on Sunday evenings on WQDR, Pinecone aims to make traditional music interesting and accessible to everyone.

Last weekend, despite threatening icy conditions, PineCone hosted a benefit concert at Raleigh Little Theater. The headlining act was Bloomsbury, a congregation of experienced local musicians who first banded together in 1970 and have been creating harmonies together for the past 43 years. Bloomsbury is named after a park and well-known landmark that once existed in Raleigh. Wade Smith, a founding Bloomsbury band member says that the band plays the gamut of traditional music styles from our area, mainly blues, rock ‘n roll, folk, bluegrass, and gospel. Each band member plays at least three instruments – the banjo, guitar and fiddle – as their particular music style requires that you not just stick to one instrument.

Smith says that the band was enthusiastic to partner with PineCone for the first time, as the organization’s mission parallels exactly what stirs Bloomsbury’s deepest passion — bringing music to everyone and bringing people together to laugh and enjoy their down-home tunes.

“Pinecone is a friend of every band in every basement and on every street corner,” Smith said. “They encourage the arts by encouraging musicians and artists. Their work is so important in preserving the musical traditions of our region in N.C.”

Bloomsbury performing at the Pinecone fundraiser event

Bloomsbury performing at the Pinecone fundraiser event

As well as bringing in beloved local acts, PineCone also brings big-name performers to the area. Past performances include Tift Merrit, Doc Watson, Allen Toussaint, Mandolin Orange, Steve Martin, Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck and The Lumineers.

On Feb. 15, Chatham County Line, a bluegrass-pickin’ foursome with roots in Raleigh and renowned nationally, will be performing with Virginia duo The Honey Dewdrops at Fletcher Opera Theater. On Mar. 1, The Gibson Brothers, who were named International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2012 Entertainer of the Year, will also play at Fletcher.

N.C. has a rich bluegrass music history and her capital has served as a central location of that music scene since its inception. Raleigh’s music history is so rich that the Capitol City has been chosen to host the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) World of Bluegrass events over the next three years.

The World of Bluegrass programs will have all of Raleigh pluckin’ and pickin’ beginning in Sept. The World of Bluegrass includes a business conference, the IBMA Awards Show and a music festival. “Wide Open Bluegrass” will take place Sept. 24-28 this year. PineCone is working hard on through a local organizing committee to plan a city-wide extravaganza of music and will welcome dozens of bands to venues all over town.

Check out PineCone’s performance schedule and pick your event to get a much needed dose of good ol’ N.C. music.

As the capital city of the great state of N.C., Raleigh is home to a diverse group of acclaimed performing arts institutions. Raleigh’s rich cultural atmosphere has been shaped by local entities like the Carolina Ballet, the N.C. Opera, the N.C. Theatre and the N.C. Symphony.

The N.C. Symphony is truly a unique addition to our city’s strong arts presence. Founded in 1932, the N.C. Symphony is composed of more than 70 talented musicians who are dedicated to bringing quality music to patrons young and old, staging more than 175 performances per year for adults and school children all around the state. The Symphony’s home base is Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, and their outdoor summer venue is KoKa Booth Amphitheatre in the Town of Cary.

The North Carolina Symphony

The North Carolina Symphony

Let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t your Grandmother’s symphony. If Beethoven and Strauss just aren’t your thing, have no fear. There is something for everyone when it comes to the repertoire of the N.C. Symphony.

In addition to executing well-known classics by famous composers, the Symphony hosts a range of diverse modern programming and exciting collaborative performances. They have performed with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Ben Folds, Randy Newman and Idina Menzel.  Last month, the Symphony hosted a Holiday Pops concerts alongside jazzy world music group, Pink Martini. During past Summerfest series shows at the woodsy Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, the Symphony has played in company with recordings of humpback whales, performed pieces based on Shakespearean plays alongside area actors, and adapted 80’s pop hits such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.”

Something sensational is going down next weekend at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh as part of the Symphony’s Pops Series. “Wicked Divas,” features well-known showstoppers from “Wicked,” “Titanic” “Gypsy,” “Carmen” and “Spamalot.” The show will be led by the Symphony’s Resident Conductor William Henry Curry, with octave-charged vocals by Katie Rose Clark and Nicole Parker. Both singers have had lead roles in recent Broadway productions of Wicked, with Katie playing Glinda the Good and Nicole performing the part of Elphaba. With the combination of epic scores from Broadway, opera and popular music, plus the star-quality intonations of Katie Rose Clark and Nicole Parker, “Wicked Divas” is sure to be one explosive display.


“Wicked Divas” will be performed on Fri., Jan. 18, and Sat., Jan. 19. Check out the N.C. Symphony’s website to purchase tickets or check out the schedule for future performances, including next month’s “The Planets: An HD Odyssey.”

If you found yourself anywhere near downtown this weekend, chances are you experienced at least a morsel of Hopscotch Music Festival. Gigs were taking place from noon to late-night all weekend long — 175 bands, 15 venues, 3 days. That’s a lot of music and whole lot of energy.

 Hopscotch Day Parties were a huge hit, featuring an assemblage of local bands playing at hotspots around town for free. The weather was beautiful and good vibes abundant. Friday afternoon outside of the Contemporary Art Museum, The Love Language, an indie rock band straight out of Raleigh, gathered a sizeable crowd in the street between tables pushing PBR and local food trucks. The next day, in front of Raleigh Times, hip-hop group Kooley High seriously repped the City of Oaks leading a spontaneous NC State cheer and dropping songs like “Dear Raleigh”. A few minutes later, one street over in front of the Mecca, folk-rock group Megafaun pleased the crowd accompanied by Adam Granduciel from War on Drugs.

At the post-5 pm shows, wristbands were needed for entry. I tried to keep it local as much as possible, seeing Durham-based Lilac Shadows at King’s and Raleigh’s Birds of Avalon at Tir Na Nog. Other notable experiences included bigger names from more distant locales like Deerhoof, who lit up Memorial Auditorium Thursday night, Thee Oh Sees, who had a crowd going nuts late-night at CAM, and of course headliners The Roots, who braved inclement weather to play for the masses at City Plaza Saturday night.

On more than one occasion I didn’t quite make it to a show that I had sworn I would attend. More than a couple of times I needed to take a step back and re-center to keep from stressing over what I was possibly missing. At a festival jam-packed with worthy acts it is sometimes necessary to reimagine your schedule and make tradeoffs. Wander in to see a group you weren’t previously familiar with and you may just walk away with a favorite new band. That’s the beauty of Hopscotch.

After much time spent weaving through a sea of hipsters I couldn’t help but think that Raleigh had finally “made it.” Maybe it was because I was previously a Hopscotch newbie and had yet to experience such a weekend in my hometown, but I emerged on Sunday with a serious case of Raleigh pride. All weekend, one could sense the surreal bubble that had descended here as an amazing and diverse group of people fellowshipped for three straight days under a common love of music.

Warm weather and live music are a recipe for a great time, and Raleigh knows this as well as anyone. The area’s outdoor concert venues are bringing in fantastic performers this summer and providing plenty of chances to catch some tunes in the open air. Below is your guide to 100 outdoor music events for Music Maniacs this concert season.

Raleigh Amphitheater – The outdoor amphitheater in downtown Raleigh holds 5,500 people and draws major performers. This summer’s lineup includes Gavin DeGraw, Train, My Morning Jacket and Florence + The Machine.

Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek – Big crowds and big acts. Take advantage of the weather, and do some tailgating before the show. This summer take in Drake, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Jason Mraz and more.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre – Koka Booth in Cary has more than 15 jazz, symphony and bluegrass shows lined up for you, including a free July 4th show that includes fireworks.

Midtown Beach Music – Season 5 of the Midtown Beach Music Series at North Hills brings weekly free concerts on Thursday nights to the popular shopping and entertainment area.

Oak City 7 – A new, free concert series in City Plaza in downtown Raleigh with seven great acts on the schedule. Bring your friends—including pets—and grab some beer and food from the local vendors on site.

Music on the Porch – 12 family-oriented live music events—every 2nd and 4th Friday through mid-October at Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh. Just a $5 donation, BYOB.

Music off Main – Downtown Garner’s free concert series on the lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center. Bring your blankets and chairs for these rock, beach music, Southern funk bands.

Art in the Museum Park – An annual tradition at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater, which is a work of art itself, and the largest concert venue of any art museum in the country. Make sure to check out the consistently excellent and eclectic lineup here.

First Friday – A fun-filled introduction to Raleigh’s arts and music scene on the first Friday of each month in downtown. You’ll find live music and entertainment in various venues and streets, mostly free.

Sertoma Amphitheatre – Programmed by the Town of Cary and providing free concerts for the public, Sertoma has more than a handful of acts on tap this summer including Red June, the Triangle Wind Ensemble and Cool John Ferguson.

Music in the Valley – Free weekly concerts on Wednesdays at Crabtree Valley Mall. Lawn chairs welcome and happy hour specials provided by the restaurants on site.

For a complete list of Greater Raleigh’s concert schedule (indoors and out), visit


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