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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Full-on Entertainment Parlor:

The Grotto
Halloween grand opening and MixGrotto one-year anniversary celebration
Friday – Sunday, October 29th – 31st
Corner of Princess and Front streets

“We’re all intelligent people who love to share!”

Ben Jameison, one-seventh of the MixGrotto cooperative, once stated the notion to his comrades, a group of young folks who have come together to create music, promote local talent and give back to charities all in one. Consisting of Aaron Harvey, James Bibo, Trevor Brown, Oliver Mellan, Annie Segrest and Will Wharton, along with Jameison, MixGrotto (MG) holds mixtape parties once a month, where  they release a new collection of music made from local bands, at varying music venues. Said bands play, audiences members get free CDs, and a charity benefits from the proceeds at the door. The collective has promoted local acts like Justin Lacy and the Swimming Machine, Libraries, Charlie the Horse, Renouncer and Coup de Grace, as well as helped charities such as Through Our Eyes and Houston Moore After-School Program. Now, their zeal for crafting a unique, philanthropic path just got a little more exciting.

This weekend MixGrotto, as well as owners Jason Godwin and Dino Psilos of The Eat Spot (in the old Sue-Ann Shoes building, downtown) will open The Grotto on the second and third floors above the restaurant. Located on the corner of Princess and Front streets, it’s a prime spot for a music venue and film house.

“It all happened so fast,” Harvey explained last week in regards to opening shop. “It was late July, and Jason and Dino wanted to do something with the space since Rize was [no longer there.] They recognized the potential and were throwing out great ideas about a music venue. So, I proposed that they let MixGrotto go to work. ”

Harvey—who is also employed by The Eat Spot, while interning at local office cooperative BuenaSpace—set off with his MixGrotto cronies, and after much research, consideration and many discussions, the idea merged into a full-on entertainment parlor. The second floor will host a music venue, while the third offers a film house, with The Eat Spot, located on the ground floor, serving food to all levels above. MixGrotto will ultimately work as in-house booking agents for the space, bringing in their knowledge of great local, regional and national bands and performers.

“We want to bring in music that appeals to everyone, of all ages,” Harvey noted, “not just the youth. We are looking to book jazz, rock, electronic—all bands. We want to keep it eclectic and accessible to an expanding demographic.”

The film house will host movie nights, featuring old favorites and locally shot films, such as “The Crow.”  They also plan to host Dinner and a Movie, of course with food served from below. “We will show traditional films,” Harvey said, “as well as films aimed toward raising awareness of particular charities, organizations or movements.”

Nothing is off limits here. In fact, they’ll also offer the space for premiere productions, hoping to elevate local support for filmmakers.

And like the out-of-box thinking the MGs so aggressively indulge, they plan on introducing YouTube playlists on the big screen.

“We also intend to give back to the community in greater ways,” Harvey noted, not only referencing MixGrotto’s consistent handout of mixtapes to help spread support for local music but with nonprofits as well. Working in a “micro-gism of a gift economy,” as Harvey called it, the hope is that while MG offers free music, it will catch on and prompt others to give as well—especially to charity. Though not every event at The Grotto will be philanthropic, many will, including the November 13th family fund-raiser, Fight for Zack’s Life, taking place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The benefit will help 12-year-old Zack Mayo, who’s suffering from hepatoblastona, child liver cancer.

“Over the summer, Zack was playing outdoors, fell on the scooter and bumped his head,” Jason Godwin said, also revealing his appeal to the story, since his wife’s a school teacher and knows the family. “A trip to the hospital revealed the diagnosis, and treatment in Chapel Hill followed, along with his current treatment taking place at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”

Though Zack’s parents, Wendy and Ernie, and his brother, Nick, have had a great deal of support from the local community—Zack’s school sold wristbands to help fund the medical bills—they continue fighting day in, day out. Thus, proceeds from The Grotto event will help the family. Patrons will be admitted for only a buck, and $2 raffle tickets will be sold, offering prizes from local businesses. Live entertainment will be determined in coming weeks.

To kick off The Grotto’s promise of being all entertainment all the time—at least Thursday through Sunday, when it’s opened—Halloween weekend debuts a grand gala and birthday celebration for MixGrotto. On Friday night, they’ll show “Edward Scissorhands” and “Evil Dead” in the film house, while music from Cement Stars, DJ David Adusei and Buck Master plays on the second floor. On Saturday they will show “Silence of the Lambs” and “Evil Dead II,” while music from The Hufton Brothers and Charlie the Horse plays. On Sunday, All Hallow’s Eve, they have a costume parade planned, as well as music from Bete Tete and DJ Guy Fox; two classics will play on the big screen upstairs, including “Ghost Busters” and “Army of Darkness.”

“It’ll be a weekend of debauchery!” Harvey promised. Make plans to celebrate with the creative, the giving and the newest kids on the downtown block.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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