Archives for posts with tag: live music

1a8a3857The Hibernian Restaurant and Pub has two locations in Wake County: one location in North Raleigh and another in Cary. Both locations have events and live music during the week. I took a trip to the Cary location to take in live music in the warm, cozy atmosphere that the venue offers. The venue is a comfortable place to sit down, enjoy great food and beverages and listen to fantastic local bands, and especially in the fall and in the winter to warm up.

1a8a3851Check out live music at the Cary location on the weekends, featuring music from talented local bands (playing covers and originals). The layout has an intimate feel with private booths, tables around corners and plenty of seats to enjoy the live music from. Wherever you sit, the music is always at a comfortable volume. Be sure to check out the “library” section with a fireplace while you’re there!

1a8a3845The Hibernian Restaurant and Pub has a large variety of draft brews to choose from and specials every day, along with a late night menu to attend to your late night cravings. Lonerider Brewing Company and Aviator Brewing Company brews have been spotted on draft at the pub! The dinner menu features Irish fare that includes corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash and more. The late-night food menu features mouthwatering items such as “cattleman’s nachos,” a pub burger, black bean burger, bacon cheddar pub chips and more. See full menus here.

1a8a38251a8a3834Both locations have many events every month, which you can find here! For a full schedule of Greater Raleigh live music events, check out the music calendar at! With so many events going on at so many music venues, Greater Raleigh has the most live music out of any destination in North Carolina.

All photos in this post contributed by Kristen Hill of Kristen Abigail Photography.

Tir na nOg Irish Pub
in Moore Square hosts diverse crowds as it offers different events everyday. Sun. is the PineCone Irish Jam Session, Mon. is comedy night, Fri. and Sat. nights offer local Celtic and Irish music and/or local DJ’s. Local Band-Local Beer is every Thurs. night, starting at 9:30pm. WKNC 88.1 and Younger Brother Productions book North Carolina musicians to play on the Tir na nOg Irish Pub stage as music lovers enjoy N.C. craft beers. Big Boss Brewing Company and Aviator Brewing Company are among the large selection of draft and craft beers the venue has on tap. The bar is in the center of the pub with friendly and knowledgeable bartenders awaiting beer lovers.

Tir na nOg Irish Pub’s layout was thoughtfully planned out as the stage area is separated from the restaurant seating so that you can also enjoy the delicious Irish- and European-style food on the pub’s menu.

This past Thurs. Eddie Taylor from the band Cousins, Jews and Catholics and Octopus Jones all shared the Tir na nOg Irish Pub stage.

Octopus Jones
is a four-piece band from Raleigh. They like to call themselves a psychedelic, boogie rock band. Their instruments, including synthesizers and electric guitars, create a sound that gets their audience dancing as much as the band.

Octopus Jones has been together since 2010 and is made up of Danny Martin on lead vocals and guitar, Tyler Morris on guitar and vocals, Clay Carlisle on bass and Darrin Cripe on drums. Their first album was released in 2011 and is called “Treat Yourself.” They’re releasing their new album in the next few months! Danny’s outgoing personality encourages the audience to cheer with “spirit fingers” and excites them enough to want an encore. They perform about once a month in Raleigh, so if you’re looking for a different music experience, be sure to check them out! You can find their live schedule here.

Tir na nOg Irish Pub has different musicians and you can find their event schedule here. For a full schedule of Greater Raleigh live music events, check out Music Mania on!

Written by Kristen Hill. All photos in this post contributed by Kristen Hill of Kristen Abigail Photography.

1A8A8011Southland Ballroom, in the Glenwood South downtown Raleigh district, welcomes Music Maniacs looking for live music. The venue is located right behind ComedyWorx off of N. West Str. and holds about 350 people.

When I walked into the venue I felt like I was walking into a warehouse. Once you pass through admission, you enter into a large room with a bar lining a long wall and a few booths for comfortable seating around a table to enjoy drinks from the bar. The bar features craft beers from Carolina Brewing Company, Lonerider Brewing Company and Big Boss Brewing Company and a large selection of mixed drinks. The venue also has some outdoor patio seating.

1A8A7996The venue has a rustic but casual feel with intimate lighting and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. And the stage is lit up with many colorful lights to spotlight the musicians perfectly.


1A8A8002Southland Ballroom mainly hosts touring bands of the electronic, folk, bluegrass and punk genres. On Thurs. they welcomed Gaelic Storm to their stage, which stopped in Greater Raleigh on their current U.S. tour.

1A8A7960Gaelic Storm is a Celtic-rock band that consists of Patrick Murphy on lead vocals, Steve Twigger on lead guitar and vocals, Ryan Lacey on percussion, Pete Purvis on bagpipes and Kiana Weber on violin.

1A8A7983Gaelic Storm originated in Santa Monica, Cali., when Patrick and Steve collaborated starting in 1995. They started their music career by playing for friends, but then appeared in the movie Titanic (1997) as a Celtic party band, which increased their popularity, triggering them to start recording their music.

1A8A7989Gaelic Storm has produced nine records containing ballads and anthems that tell stories about their memories of their homes in Ireland. The group has diverse backgrounds in music which has lead them to incorporate different instruments in their shows such as mandolin, Irish whistle and accordion. The band highly encouraged their listeners to sing and clap along with their songs during their show. Southland Ballroom was an excellent venue to experience Gaelic Storm, with its laid back feel, top-notch sound and entertaining lighting.

Southland Ballroom has music almost every night of the week and hosts many great bands like Gaelic Storm. You can check out their schedule here. For a full schedule of Greater Raleigh live music events, check out Music Mania on!

Written by Kristen Hill. All photos in this post contributed by Kristen Hill of Kristen Abigail Photography.

ImageThere’s no doubt that Taylor Swift is one of today’s most popular and talked-about pop, rock and country music stars. And there’s no doubt that PNC Arena has hosted many of the hottest musicians in history, and has also impressed thousands of Music Maniacs with its superior design and sound. Fri. night, six-time Grammy-award winner Taylor Swift’s “wow”-factor Red Tour, her fans and the 20,000-seat PNC Arena collided. The connection produced an unforgettable night of live music that will go down as an exceptional highlight in Greater Raleigh’s live music history.

Taylor Swift 6(See more of our Taylor Swift with special guest Ed Sheeran PNC Arena concert photos below)

I’ve seen stellar concerts at PNC Arena from Billy Joel to Katy Perry, and there’s no experience like seeing your favorite artists fill a 700,000-sq.-ft. venue with their stellar live shows. On top of the massive setting and big sound, even as Taylor Swift said herself Fri. night, crowds at shows in N.C. are some of the loudest, craziest and most wonderful. There’s no concert experience like a concert experience in N.C. and in Greater Raleigh.


Photo courtesy of PNC Arena

Fri. evening, I made my way to PNC Arena as early as possible to soak in the scene. I saw that crowds of Taylor Swift’s fans had already arrived donning red clothes, in spirit of the Red Tour’s red theme. And since the arena permits tailgating, I heard fans blasting Taylor Swift’s tunes from their vehicles and I could smell grilled hot dogs and hamburgers in sections of the parking lot (see PNC Arena’s policies for more information on tailgating at the venue). But as the show’s 7pm starting time drew nearer, Taylor time drew nearer. The arena filled with fans.

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I love the arena’s design as even at sold-out shows, like Fri. night’s, the concourses never feel cramped. There’s plenty of space to shop for tour merchandise and to grab a bite to eat. A nice variety of food and beverage is offered with more than 50 outlets to choose from. Fine dining is offered at the Arena Club Restaurant, perfect for dates, celebrations and more and casual dining is offered at outlets including N.C. BBQ Company, Fire It Up! Grill Stands, Market Place and more. Fuel up with delicious food and drink for a night of dancing and singing!

Concessions 1Tour merchandise is always fun to shop, and sometimes tours even have special displays. Taylor Swift’s Red Tour had displays showing off many of her outfits worn on awards shows, previous tours and music videos (her dress from the 2012 ACM Awards, her dress from the 2012 AMA Awards and the outfit she wore in the “Mean” music video and also during the Speak Now World Tour).

When I made my way to my seat, friendly ushers and staff pointed me in the right direction. I’m always impressed by the Southern hospitality and helpful nature of the staff at PNC Arena. And the noticeable camaraderie between its staff creates an even more positive, family-like atmosphere where you can easily feel at home.

The concert kicked off right at 7pm with Casey James, known for his American Idol days and for his singles including “Crying on a Suitcase” and “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night.” Casey James’s voice and his deep, warm Fender Stratocaster sounds rang through the arena along with the sounds of his full band, which included a pedal steel player on a Mullen pedal steel, a drummer, a keyboardist and a bassist. Being the Music Maniac that I am, I was intrigued by Casey’s slide guitar playing when he rocked his electric resonator guitar for his song “Drive.”

Casey JamesAfter Casey James’s set, the stage was set for singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran, known popularly for his hit “The A Team” and virtuoso songwriting skills. No band or accompaniment was present for the set—just Mr. Sheeran, his guitar and a loop pedal.

Ed Sheeran 1With the acoustics in the arena and the fullness of his playing and sound, Ed Sheeran filled the entire venue with his full voice and guitar, playing on his Martin LX1E electric acoustic.

Ed Sheeran 3Ed Sheeran laid out percussion parts and beats on his guitar and used his Boss loop pedal to loop the beats, which made it sound like there was a full band on stage. With the arena’s enormous sub-woofers and sound system, when he hit his guitar in the right place, it sounded like he hit a bass drum. At one point, he explained to the audience how his loop pedal worked. He connected greatly with the audience so when he urged the audience to sing along, the fans followed and the audience became a chorus, which sounded beautiful throughout the arena.

Ed Sheeran 2He also mentioned the great time he was having in Raleigh! Ed Sheeran played songs including “Give Me Love,” “Lego House” and “The A Team.”

Ed Sheeran 4Soon after Ed Sheeran’s satisfying and entertaining set, the moment came that the Taylor Swift fans had been waiting for. The massive stage was completely set for Taylor Swift’s production and energy was buzzing with everyone’s eyes fixated on the stage. Lenny Kravitz’s rendition of The Guess Who’s “American Woman” began to blast through the venue’s sound system (appropriate as Tom Petty’s “American Girl” was the song played right before the 2011 Speak Now World Tour shows) and upon ending, in capital, red letters, the word “RED” appeared on the screens on the stage. The crowd erupted in screams and cheers. The screens lifted into the air and Taylor’s silhouette could be seen on a massive red drape hiding the majority of the stage. The drape fell and the cheers grew louder as Taylor appeared. The first song started and she made her way down the stage and to the catwalk that extended into the middle of the arena floor.

Taylor Swift 1Taylor Swift kicked off the night with her song “State of Grace” and went into hit after hit, the crowd screaming and singing along to each song.

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Taylor Swift 5Her production filled the entire arena, with a main stage with the catwalk, a stage she performed several songs near the back of the arena (including a duet with Ed Sheeran on their hit single “Everything Has Changed”), a “floating” stage that “flew” through the arena and more. PNC Arena was the perfect fit for a production like this, with its four-level seating making every one of Taylor’s stages easy to see.

Throughout the night, Taylor went from full band, to solo, to parts where she explained the meaning of the songs she was about to play. Throughout it all, she created an intimate setting where she could connect with her fans. She would reach into the audience to shake her fans’ hands and give Red Tour guitar picks to them. And before one of her songs, she sat at her red piano and explained to the audience her passion for writing lyrics that she genuinely feels, and that she’ll sometimes writes songs between the hours of 2am and 5am about deep emotions and thoughts.

Each song featured a theatrical, visual theme, with one song having almost a “Nutcracker” theme with the dancers dressed as life-size, wind-up toys that entered the stage from a giant, old-fashioned toy box. Another song featured a masquerade ball theme.

The concert ended with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as Taylor Swift, her band and her dancers rocked circus-themed costumes with Taylor appropriately dressed as the ring master. Confetti flew threw the air, dancers walked about on stilts, Taylor wailed with beautiful vocal runs and high notes and the song was even extended as the closing number came to an end. The arena, the concert, the artists, the fans, the atmosphere and the sound all created an unforgettable night of live music.

PNC Arena is a place where you can experience artists bringing their theatrical visions and dreams to life all while filling the arena with their music. And you’ll always feel the Greater Raleigh vibe at concerts at the arena with the staff’s Southern hospitality, N.C. barbecue to dine on, fun Southern energy and North Carolina State University and Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team visuals throughout the venue.

Check out the upcoming shows and events coming to PNC Arena here, including Michael Bublé, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake and more.

Music-mania-web-header-2With the tremendous amount of live music events going on, Greater Raleigh has the most live music out of any destination in N.C. Check out the live music calendar at to start planning your music-filled getaway.

1a8a6973The Pour House Music Hall, located in the Moore Square Art District in downtown Raleigh, has brought together great musicians from all over N.C. and the U.S. over the past fifteen years. If you’re a Music Maniac catching live music in Greater Raleigh, this venue is definitely a “must-experience” for visitors.

The Pour House Music Hall is known not only for its large amount of support for local bands, but also local breweries. The venue offers local brews that they regularly have on tap, such as beers from Big Boss Brewing Company, White Street Brewing Company and Lonerider Brewing Company. There are usually one or two bartenders available to refill your glass as you listen to bands in all kinds of genres.

1a8a6971Last Sun., The Pour House Music Hall hosted a few of the many musicians that came to Raleigh for Hopscotch Music Festival 2013. The venue held an after-party that brought together area bands like The Chit Nasty Band and Nuclear Honey to rock the stage.

1a8a6848Gray Henderson, one of the lead vocalists and guitarists of Nuclear Honey, describes The Pour House Music Hall as being a centrally located venue in downtown Raleigh with a dive bar feel. The environment is friendly and suits about 100 fans. On the first floor, it has some bench seating and a few tables and barstools arranged closer to the bar area.

1a8a6867The venue also has some standing room around the stage for a different view of the band and for easy access to the second floor, which features an open view of the first floor and stage and two pool tables to entertain in between sets.


1a8a6901Gray also mentioned that Nuclear Honey has performed about five or six times at The Pour House Music Hall because of the staff, the stage, the sound and the atmosphere. He also explained, “Adam Lindstaedt, the owner, is attentive to bands that he hosts in his venue and Jac Cain, the production manager and sound engineer, provides great sound for bands that play and for concertgoers.” The venue rocks a loud sound system, but the tones are not harsh to the ear, making it a great venue for music fans take in the musical textures and musical colors that many of the bands offer.

1a8a6952Nuclear Honey has been together since the fall of 2011 when Gray Henderson and Reaves Greer, the other lead guitarist and vocalist, brought their talents together as a duo. They recorded their first album in 2012 but decided to bring on a more full sound with Michael Day on keyboard, Kenan Jernigan on drums and Webb Bostic on bass, making up the band they recorded their first full-length album with, which is titled “Nobody Panic.”

1a8a6926The band is intriguing to listen to and entertains throughout the entire set with a good variety of Southern rock and rock sounds and moods. The band features soothing instrumental solos throughout the set and the albums. The energy is very upbeat and you’re likely to be enticed to dance with their infectious rhythms.

1a8a6908Nuclear Honey mainly performs in Raleigh, so I’d highly recommend catching them at their next show! And The Pour House Music Hall hosts many bands of different genres almost every day of the week! You can check out its schedule here.

For a full schedule of Greater Raleigh live music events, check out Music Mania on!

Written by Kristen Hill. All photos in this post contributed by Kristen Hill of Kristen Abigail Photography.

Kings Barcade in downtown Raleigh is recognized for being a melting pot for entertainers: musicians and comedians combined. Kings Barcade is located on the top floor of a three-story building at 14 W. Martin St. The venue is partnered with Neptunes Parlour, which is an underground bar that features a different DJ every night. And on the second floor, Garland just recently opened to give you an outdoor place to eat before you enjoy the show up at Kings Barcade.

The crowd that Kings Barcade attracts is a quirky mix, which coincides with the way that the venue is set up. The venue has a lot of fun decorations and paintings on the walls that give the venue an artistic, creative feel.


Fans have a chance to experience a more personal setting with the artists because the venue has a capacity of 100. The stage has hosted well-known artists such as Rob Delaney, The Avett Brothers, The Felice Brothers and many local musicians since Kings Barcade opened back in 1999. Kings Barcade also has a small corner when you walk through the doors where you can purchase merchandise and interact with the musicians.


While enjoying the live music, the Kings Barcade bar holds about 20 seats around it and offers a variety of mixed drinks and craft beers, including brews from Fuquay-Varina’s Aviator Brewing Company. The bartenders are very friendly and are knowledgeable about the beers that they have on tap!


Sat. night, Raleigh artists Saints Apollo released their album “We Are Ghosts.” Chris Hendricks, also from Raleigh, opened the evening and got the crowd ready to hear the new sounds that Saints Apollo had prepared. Together, Kings Barcade and Saints Apollo packed the house with all the promoting that both the venue and the musicians did by posting eye-catching posters around town and by publicizing the performance on Facebook and Twitter.


Chris Hendricks is a pop and rock artist and usually performs with a five-piece band, but Sat. night he performed an acoustic set with Calin Nanney, who is also another local musician. You may recognize Chris’s voice as his song “Noise” was the theme song for the Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team during their 2011-2012 season. Earlier this year, Chris released his most recent album “Meant to Survive,” and at the show he performed all the songs from that album, plus a few other songs. During a brief interview with Chris, I asked him if he is planning on recording a new album soon, and he explained that right now he is writing a lot of music but has no plans to record again in the near future. Although, he did say that he loves performing for live audiences, and especially in Raleigh because he gets to share the stage with other bands that are supportive of his music.


Saints Apollo contains five people: Jonathan Koo on lead vocals and guitar, Autumn Brand on violin and vocals, Kaitlin Grady on cello and vocals, Rachel Broadbent on keyboard and vocals and Andrew Fetch on drums. The group was formed in Raleigh and has been together since 2011. The band collaborates to write all of the songs they perform and they primarily fall into the indie, pop and folk genres, much like Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band or Mount Moriah. Sat. night, the band invited a few of their closest fans and friends up on stage for their first song “Hashin’ it Out” to dance in the background and to get the rest of their fans to put on their dancing shoes. Jonathan carries a strong folk tone throughout all of their songs while Autumn, Kaitlin and Rachel bring in lush harmonies with their voices and instruments, and Andrew adds the catchy beat that will keep your feet tapping along with the songs.


Kaitlin Grady, their cellist and one of the vocalists, mentioned that she loves performing at Kings Barcade because of the intimate setting and it allows her to be on the same stage as a lot of her favorite indie bands.


The last time that Saints Apollo performed was in Mar. as they wanted to dedicate their free time to recording this past spring and summer, but they are very excited to be booking more shows for the rest of this year. Saints Apollo will be performing during Hopscotch Music Festival 2013 next Sat. at Tir Na NOg Irish Pub. The energy that the band gives out really invites the crowd to join in with clapping and singing along, and it is something you do not want to miss out on.

Check out other bands like Saints Apollo and more at Kings Barcade, with its intimate and energetic atmosphere. You can check out their calendar here.

Written by Kristen Hill. All photos in this post contributed by Kristen Hill with Kristen Abigail Photography.

North Carolina Museum of Art is known for displaying the highest quality of art in its world-class collection, including more than 30 Rodin sculptures. It’s also known for presenting some of the highest quality concerts and events in its Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Museum Park. Mix an outdoor theater with an excellent artistic landscape and design, delicious food and drinks, live music and a film screening, and you have a setting that will intrigue both Music Maniacs and Creative Geniuses. Sat. night’s Summer Concert at North Carolina Museum of Art included a performance by the Cajun music-influence rock band Lost Bayou Ramblers and a screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild. And the tie-in between the band and the movie was perfect: Lost Bayou Ramblers recorded a song called “The Bathtub” for the film’s official soundtrack and included the song in their set! The event was exceptionally visually and sonically entertaining for myself and the entire audience! The whole experience, from start to finish, offered a wide array of visual and audible art.

ImageI arrived at the museum early so I could take in the scene. Walking down the pathway into the theater, you can get some great views of the Museum Park at North Carolina Museum of Art, a 164-acre park with a trail system with outdoor art along the way. I highly suggest to get to the venue about an hour early to walk through some of Museum Park!

ImageAs you make your way through the entrance of the theater area, you can see the gigantic museum building that’s full of galleries to your left and the amphitheater and outdoor movie screen (pictured below) straight ahead. Right when I walked in, my stomach starting growling as I took in the aroma of food cooking at the Iris, the Museum Restaurant, catering tent nearby. I took a peek at the food and beverages being offered. The venue offered house wines, craft beer, soft drinks and gourmet fare including grilled chicken sandwiches, white cheddar bacon burgers, catch of the day soft tacos and more. And since the night was New Orleans-themed, due to the Beasts of the Southern Wild screening later and the Cajun music-influence band about to play, the venue’s food special was shrimp po’ boys. Many attendees either purchased food or brought in their own food (the venue lets you take in your own picnic).

I made my way around the theater to take in the different views of the stage and the film screen. The lawn was full of blankets and portable outdoor chairs as the museum also welcomes you to bring in seating for comfort if you’re sitting on the lawn. The seats in front of the stage were also full of attendees who wanted to be close to the stage.

ImageThe concert started at 7pm sharp. Lost Bayou Ramblers cranked up and broke into a rocking song that influenced much of the crowd to start dancing. The constant pulse and Cajun music-influenced grooves caused more and more of the audience to move throughout the night, and by the time the show was coming to an end the area immediately in front of the stage was a complete dance floor. The infectious fiddle sound, mixed with swinging vocals, accordion, an electric bass, a full drum set, occasional lap steel and very well-written originals and traditional songs, kept the crowd glued to the performance all evening. Cheers and applause erupted throughout the night.



I absolutely loved the mix of this band’s sound and the venue. The amphitheater stage is a work of art in itself. The lighting also made the stage a sight to see. The volume was perfect. It wasn’t too loud and not too quiet, and the wailing violin and lap steel tones came through very smoothly. And due to the size and space of the amphitheater, you could be right at the front of the stage and still hear every detail in the musical arrangements clearly (which was important for Lost Bayou Ramblers with their textured arrangements). The venue was naturally a good fit for the show and the showing of Beasts of the Southern Wild as vegetation and greenery can be seen throughout the venue. Not to mention, the weather couldn’t have been better. With the fall coming soon, there was a cooling breeze and a clear sky.


ImageLost Bayou Ramblers played until about 8:20pm, and the crowd cheered for the band! The museum then announced that the film would begin at 9pm and the crowd made its way to the massive outdoor screen. The film began and the crowd became lost in the film.

ImageNorth Carolina Museum of Art presents concerts throughout the summer, and the next concert will feature the genre-crossing “little orchestra” Pink Martini. The Lost Bayou Ramblers and Southern Beasts of the Wild event was the last concert-plus-film-screening event of the summer, but be sure to check out the upcoming Pink Martini show to experience this excellent venue! Click here for more upcoming events. The museum also announced at the event that the museum will be showing classic car-related films like The French Connection and even Car Wash during the time that the Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed exhibition is on display, Oct. 12, 2013-Jan. 20, 2014.

Music-mania-web-header-2Greater Raleigh is full of great concerts and music events this summer. In the month ahead, visit the area for Hopscotch Music Festival 2013, SPARKcon 2013, International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass including PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass, Bluegrass Ramble and more and hot concerts at area venues.

With all of the events that are going on, it may come as no surprise that Greater Raleigh has more live music than any other destination in N.C.! Check out a full calendar of events at!

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!

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!

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.


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