Local yokels are fortunate enough to be able to venture downtown each and every weekend, grab a brew, converse with friends and became enamored with the sounds of surrounding-area bands. Whether it’s Wilmington Wine, Folk’s Cafe or Costello’s, genres and venue ambiance range greatly, catering to all kinds of people. In January 2014, Anna Mann, a CFCC film student, and childhood friend Will Daube—who had just moved back to Wilmington after earning a degree in music theory at UNC-Asheville—realized there was an untapped medium to get these talented acts the exposure they deserved. Their efforts resulted in a YouTube channel, called the “Carolina Pine Music Series,” that has hosted the stylings of over 10 local artists. As the web series has grown, so has its fan base. Now, it’s evolved into a full-fledged, inaugural Carolina Pines Music Festival that will take hold of Satellite Bar and Lounge come this Saturday, May 16.
Initially, the idea came about via a discussion between Daube and Mann regarding combing their practices to create music videos. Both grew up in music-filled, hippie households, and Mann’s affinity toward film is matched by Daube’s deep-seated interest in music and photography. It wasn’t long before the conversation mushroomed into much more, as they began to note the much-needed attention for local musicians who volunteer their time and talent around town every week.
“I don’t remember most of the conversation now, but I remember it was long—hours long,” Mann reports, “and that we couldn’t stop talking about how many amazing bands there are in Wilmington that no one really knows about. These people play in bars late at night to five or 10 people for little or no pay, but their voices can shake your soul. We followed the styles of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, Sideshow Alley and Humboldt Sessions for the web series. The idea is that local musicians play live in locally owned businesses; we record it, and it’s on a volunteer basis. It’s all for the sake of sharing and motivating local talent.”
In February 2014 they recorded Coy in their garage and interviewed him in Mann’s backyard shed, thus catapulting the series into creation. Since, their efforts have culled a collection of performances and interviews from local acts, like Stray Local, D&D Sluggers, Randy McQuay, Emma Nelson, Eli Yetter-Bowman, L Shape Lot, and Margot Louisa Beberaggi. It started with garage or shed recording sessions. Eventually, it grew to showcase venues like Folk’s Cafe and The Art Factory, as well as businesses like Lady Pilot Letterpress. Poetry by Gary Gulliksen even has been thrown into the mix.
“The festival has definitely garnered attention, and I think people are genuinely interested in what we’re doing,” Mann expresses. “We’ve never had a musician or business turn us down due to lack of interest or support, I’ll just say that. It’s been wonderful. “
It was only natural for the music series evolve into a live event. Discussions began a few months ago after Randy McQuay finished a recorded set at Folk’s Cafe.
“I leaked my festival ideas, and he immediately supported us and has been a huge part of this first run,” Mann tells. “I think support from the community has been our biggest success so far. We would not be able to do what we’re doing without a lot of help and people are very willing to take part.”
McQuay’s interest in musicianship spans back to when he was a kid. Whether it was singing along to songs or trying his hand at any and all instruments, or joining the perscurssion section of the school band when he was 13, his success is long in the making. In fact, he’s even worked with famed bluesman Lee Oskar and was invited to teach harmonica lessons on his website (www.leeoskarquickguide.com). Similarly, he reached out to Pete and Kate Farmer (of www.footdrums.com) after he used their Farmer Deluxe Footdrum with Phonoptic Media at LowTide Studios. Since, they’ve had a back-and-forth regarding products, promotion and potentially having the Farmers sell their drums here in Wilmington. As well, he’s shared the stage with artists like JJ Grey, Tim Reynolds, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Digital Underground, Corey Smith, and Bob Margolin over the years.
Most recently, McQuay won the 2015 International Blues Challange as a solo/duo performer. Aside from his upcoming gig with the Carolina Pine Music Festival, other projects slated for 2015 include touring around 20 states at various festivals and venues.
“I will be performing aboard The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise in October,” he divulges. “I recently released ‘Solo,’ my debut solo album apart from RootSoul Project.”
The self-produced album was engineered by Tommy Brothers in Wilmington and Brandon Henegar in Nashville, TN. “Solo” was released on CDbaby.com on March 20. Later, it made its way to iTunes on March 27.
“Currently, I am working on a 30-song acoustic-blues album, featuring new originals and some traditional material,” McQuay continues. “This may possibly be released on one of a few interested blues labels.”
McQuay became involved with Carolina Pines after encountering Mann at Duck and Dive Pub. There, she asked if he would be interested in being part of the series.
“I loved the idea,” McQuay says. “After shooting my song, we shared ideas and immediately started working on bringing the idea [of a festival] to fruition. I kind of figured that many of the musicians would be willing to play as Carolina Pine had already rendered some favors around town. The folks behind ‘The Pine’ are a bunch of active go-getters that take pride in their craft as well as their community.”
McQuay most looks forward to the diversity of the festival. He enthuses that a stellar lineup will be in tow at Satellite Bar and Lounge. Among the other performers will be Americana outfit Stray Local. The band became involved after seeing an application for the music series. The series’ goals of connecting artists to a local fan base immediately spoke to Stray Local’s sensibilities as an up-and-coming act. They performed for the series in June 2014.
“We were fairly new as a band when we began working with Carolina Pine and did not have very many quality YouTube videos,” Hannah Lomas, vocalist, mandolin player and keyboardist for Stray Local, says. “We were very grateful to have the high-quality video the series produced and used it to help secure potential shows by posting it in our electronic press kit.”
Filled out by vocalist, guitar and banjo player Jamie Rowen and percussion and washtub bass player Nick Simon, Stray Local has an upcoming new album, “Lonesome Road,” set to drop in July. The recording was created in Wilmington’s Hourglass Studios, and a sneak peek of a song from the album, “Cripple Creek,” can be seen during their Carolina Pines performance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYY4_qCsFnI). In the coming months, they’ll continue touring the East Coast, but first they’ll make an appearance at the upcoming festival.
“We are excited to hear and meet other bands that have been a part of the series,” Lomas says. “We love festivals like this, because it is a time when fans are exposed to so many new bands. They come in support of one band and leave being a fan of many more. It will be a great night for bands and fans alike. This, I believe, was the mission of the Carolina Pine Music Series all along.”
The Carolina Pine Music Festival will begin at noon on May 16. Folks 21 and older can get in for $5; those under 21 will be admitted for $7. The lineup also includes Taqasim Tribe, Margot in the Night Box, Astro Cowboy, Elli Yetter-Bowman, The Umphs, Chris Frisina, Max Levy and the Hawaiian Shirts.
Musicians and poets looking to become a part of the online series can e-mail email@example.com or send a message to their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CarolinaPineMusicSeries?fref=ts).
Carolina Pine Music Festival
Satellite Bar and Lounge
120 Greenfield St.
Saturday, May 16, noon-9 p.m.