Locals on the music scene know the name Anna Mann—not because she’s in a band but because she tends to put bands in front of Wilmington audiences. She is behind local festivals like Alt-Zalea and the Carolina Pines Music Festival, which she started with Will Daube and bluesman Randy McQuay in May 2015. It began as a one-day event at Satellite and featured nine bands.
“It was our trial run to see if we thought we could manage a three-day event—and it worked,” she reflects. “I remember being completely overwhelmed by the audience turnout—in a good way. I had never done anything quite like it before.”
After a few years of organizing the multi-day music fest, Mann (along with Carolina Pines) took a hiatus not long after Daube moved on to pursue other dreams. “I got too overwhelmed trying to do it alone,” she admits.
Fast-forward three years later with a new team of players, Mann is planning to hold two Carolina Pines Festivals a year, with the first being November 8-10. Carolina Pines will have an official comeback party ($5 cover) on Saturday at Waterline Brewing, featuring live music at 5 p.m., artist vendors and announcements of how the festivals will continue to grow.
One of Saturday’s featured bands is Dirty White Rags. Lead songstress Callan Trippe has known Mann for years before Carolina Pines became a reality. Mann helped her band book shows and develop a marketing strategy where none previously existed. In fact, Trippe once told encore they had the “capabilities of a potato” when it came to promotion before Mann came along. Dirty White Rags also played the original festival.
“I fell in love with it and was so excited when she brought it back,” Trippe says. She is now playing on the administrative side of the festival, overseeing food, beverages and vendors. For this weekend, folks can expect the same enthusiasm and passion from Trippe’s enormous vocals set to whimsical, off-beat jazz stylings of David Vaughn’s piano, Matthew Tryon’s guitar, Stuart Currin on drums, and Samantha Lynn’s bass.
“One of our newest songs in the original set list is a song simply called ‘Blues Man,’” Trippe says. “It’s straight four-bar blues, with ever-changing and evolving lyrics, including some scat and back and forth between vocalists.”
Wilmington Tech Foundary’s Hannah Funderburke is the festival’s production and funding director. She also is the friend who gave (multiple) pushes to reignite Carolina Pines and is Mann’s very vocal “Yes, Woman.”
“I saw Anna making a place for musicians, and was truly inspired by her drive,” she says. “During her hiatus I mentioned several times, if she wanted to try it again, I wanted to help.”
Funderburke is bringing 17 years of technical production to the table, along with sponsors who want to see live music thrive in ILM. While previous iterations of Carolina Pines were successful in their own right, no funding and a dwindling team by the end didn’t help its survival. Funderburke’s mission was to find out what they could do with some money backing it.
“I would love to see Carolina Pines Fest takes its place as one of Wilmington’s truest and most original festivals for music and arts,” Funderburke adds. “If we can see local and regional musicians able to perform and be compensated for their amazing talents, then that would thrill me. . . . It’s been a healthy challenge for me to seek out businesses and organizations that would be as inspired by Anna’s vision as I was.”
Funderburke (along with many artists) would like to see fewer “exposure shows” and more monetary support to allow musicians and bands to keep doing what they love right here in Wilmington.
“Musicians and artists have long been under-compensated and that leads to under-appreciation,” she explains. “If we don’t nurture the place for musicians in Wilmington, then they go away.”
Fellow festival organizer Kathy Lindenmayer agrees. Lindenmayer also wants to see more women and people-of-color represented in music. “Carolina Pines is committed to supporting a diverse, supported and connected music community,” she adds, “so it felt like a great fit.”
Lindenmayer is taking lead on house shows in association with Carolina Pines. She had been organizing music events in Seattle and happened upon Alt-Zalea as she was exploring the East Coast for her move. She knew she was home right away.
“I totally fell in love with the spirit of the event and the community of musicians and artists who wanted to do something by, for and about locals,” she remembers. “I wanted to get plugged in to the music community here and do my part in support of scene-building.”
“Even now what we are doing is just a slice of the pie,” Funderburke adds. “[Anna’s] ideas and dreams carry so much altruism and love for her home. Wilmington has a wonderfully organic music scene for local musicians and Carolina Pines Festival is how we can really show the community how rich it actually here.”
Alongside her new team, Mann says they’ve created exciting new plans for a bigger and better Carolina Pines while holding on to the original supportive, local vibe from times before. The team work made the dream work, so to speak, from behind the scenes to the musicians who played and donated time.”They were instrumental in helping us get a good start,” Mann tells. “We strived to promote local, original music, and that is something we will continue to do moving forward.”