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This Week in Music: Places to go, people to see… sounds to hear!

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Few songs in the contemporary pop-music canon epitomize a pub scene so well as Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” Few bars in Wilmington capture such a similar ambiance as Costello’s Piano Bar. Locally considered both a hub and home for musicians, the bar is proud to announce its third mashup event this Friday.

Costello’s made a name for itself by providing a regular space for musicians to showcase their talents in an intimate setting when they opened in 2001. Situated comfortably in Wilmington’s downtown, Costello’s overall appealing factor is that it doesn’t have an agenda. It’s not oversaturated by a certain group of musicians, ideals or mindset.

“One guy might play country and then the next will play jazz piano,” Clay Whittington, entertainment manager,  says. “The diversity draws a big crowd.”

donna merritt

A HARDCORE PHOTO: Donna Merritt, tickling the ivories at Costello’s. Courtesy photo

Around 12 or 15 regular performers make up the monthly entertainment calendar at Costello’s. Last August Whittington launched what he calls “mashup,” which takes place every fifth Friday. Multiple musicians are on the bill for one night only. Costello’s next one is scheduled on January 30, 10 p.m.

Donna Merritt and Kim Dicso, both regular performers at Costello’s, were in attendance. Merritt, a musician since the age of 3, performs extensively. “Costello’s is a safe-haven for musicians,” she says. “I started playing there in 2001; it hadn’t been open long. I played on one of their gay nights. I’ve played almost every weekend for the last six years. It has been an eye-opening experience.”

Dicso, a local songwriter with a style similar to that of Sheryl Crow, also has played Costello’s for about five years now. “A friend who knew the owner asked if I would be interested in playing for Ladies Night on Mondays, which they were just getting started at the time,” Dicso says. “From there I gained a pretty good following.”

Both ladies will play the mashup this Friday. Other musicians performing a set include Tom Noonan, Griffin Limerick, Dave Tyson and Dave BiMuro, and Jamie Eggleston. The event is free.

—Zachary Painter

Chase Bryant
Ziggy’s by the Sea • 208 Market Street
January 20, 9 p.m. • Tickets $10-$15

Up-and-coming country music star Chase Bryant will be showcasing his twangy talents at Ziggy’s by the Sea this Friday, January 30. The 22-year-old Texan has a knack for pickin’ the guitar. Musicality clearly runs in his bloodline, as his grandfather played piano in Roy Orbison’s early bands and later alongside outlaw-in-command Waylon Jennings.

Bryant’s interest in music was piqued when he first heard Jerry Lee Lewis on his grandfather’s record player. Bryant was a toddler at the time, but even then he knew his destiny was to become a musician. An oddball in his formative years, he recalls there being 20 guitars in his hometown of Orange Grove, Texas—and he owned them all.

Armed with the influence of Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Tom Petty, Vince Gill, Bob Wills, Steve Wariner, and Bryan Adams, among others, Bryant quickly made a name for himself. Keith Urban’s “Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Thing,” along with recordings by Sarah Buxton and Jedd Hughes, too, became pivotal impetuses for his work in the music biz. His prowess for songwriting can be attributed to heartbreak he experienced when he was 11 or 12. From there, the words began pouring out, and Bryant never looked back.

He signed with Red Bow Records in August 2013—a connection he acquired thanks to Roy Orbison’s wife. Bryant was the last signing she undertook before she passed and has led Bryant to Red Bow. Founder Benny Brown heard the musicians demos and asked where he cut the recordings. When Bryant informed the producer they were made in his closet, Brown allowed the wise-beyond-his-years songwriter to co-produce his first self-titled EP, which was released in September of 2014.

Bryant’s debut single, “Take It On Back” (released in July of 2014), comes coated in all the country mainstays: a humming banjo, a romance about a stunning woman, and growling vocals and lyrics that capture the essence of Small Town, USA. The entirety of his first EP contains a similar admiration of mainstream country—from the low-reaching chords of “Change Your Name” to the upbeat melody of “Jet Black Pontiac.”

Currently, Bryant is touring the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. with his Take It On Back tour. His upcoming Wilmington show is sure bringout the 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots. Tickets, which can be purchased at, are $10 to $15, and the show starts at 9 p.m.

—Christian Podgaysky

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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, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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