Wilmington is well known for its film sets, restaurants and area beaches, but there is a movement to make it better known for its music scene. Each week there are a variety of opportunities to see what the city has to offer for your listening pleasure.
Singer and songwriters CB Johnson and Emily Burdette have made a space for artists to showcase their original songs and have made it available to those near and far via YouTube.
The Voice and the Pen songwriters’ series allows handpicked artists to share their original songs with audiences every Wednesday night at either Waterline Brewing Co. or Live at Ted’s.
Burdette, having gone to college in Nashville, said it “was all about music all the time there” and wanted to bring some of that energy to Wilmington.
At Waterline, Burdette said six artists play in a “listening room atmosphere where people are coming together to really listen to the music.” On the first Wednesday of each month, at Live at Ted’s, four artists perform “in a different setting at a different level,” according to Burdette.
The Voice and the Pen YouTube channel allows artists to reach a wider audience including friends and family who may not live close enough to come see them play live.
“We want people who are interested in music to see this as a creative town and we’d like the creatives in town to hear this, as well as get it out there to the general public and people who enjoy listening to local people’s creative projects,” Burdette said.
Networking opportunities among the artists is a main focus of the series. Johnson and Burdette hope that by shining a light on local talent it will foster relationships among musicians for collaboration as well as connect musicians with area artists, filmmakers, and playwrights.
“I really want to have this grow into a staple for Wilmington and something we are known for as a place to go hear music,” Burdette explained. “The big goal is, hopefully, that these artists get their music out to more people.”
Find the Voice and the Pen at Live at Ted’s, 2 Castle St., on the first Wednesday of every month, at Waterline Brewing Co., 721 Surry St., the following Wednesdays and on YouTube.
At Bottega Art and Wine, artists are invited to open mic nights Wednesdays and Fridays. The events are an opportunity for musicians, as well as poets and other artists, to share their work with the community.
“A lot of artists have a lot to share and have a lot of talent, so it is amazing what you’ll see because we have so many talented musicians and artists,” Addie Wuensch, Bottega owner, said. “The audience loves it, and we see a lot of networking happening at these open mics. A lot of musicians meet at Bottega and form bands, and it gives artists a chance to test out a new song they’ve never played before.”
These open mics are in addition to the live music bands that Bottega hosts, usually on weekend nights, and the drum circles that are held every Thursday evening.
“The drum circles are very chill and very friendly,” Wuensch described. “If you are not good at drumming or don’t know how, people always bring extra drums to share. We have belly dancers too.”
Bottega Art and Wine Bar is located at 723 N. Fourth St. in downtown Wilmington.
Across town, musicians play at the CAM Cafe in the Cameron Art Museum on Thursdays during dinner service and Sundays during brunch.
“They are a backdrop during dinner and brunch service. Their music varies from singer-songwriter evenings to some with folk or Latin inspiration,” said September Krueger, director of lifelong learning. “Folks can listen during a meal, or they can grab a seat at the bar and listen with a cocktail.”
For those who prefer jazz, but are open to all its forms, the Cameron Art Museum’s 2022-2023 season of Jazz at CAM starts in September.
Beginning on the Thursday before Labor Day, Sept. 1, and running every Thursday through April, concerts will be held in the CAM’s reception hall.
A wide variety of jazz artists, including cellists, Latin quintets, pianists, drummers and jazz ensembles will take the stage to educate as well as entertain.
For example, Lenora Helm of the Lenora Zenzalai Helm & Trio featuring Kobie Watkins who will take the CAM stage has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, yet her educational accomplishments are equally as impressive.
Lenora Z. Helm Hammonds is a Durham-based, Chicago native, former U.S. Jazz Ambassador, two-time Fulbright Senior Music Specialist and a tenured associate professor in the Department of Music and Jazz Studies Program at North Carolina Central University, according to CAM’s website.
“Education is a major part of what the museum wants to do, especially with our exhibitions and part of our programming like this Jazz at CAM series,” Krueger said. “Many of our artists go to the root of jazz which speaks to a certain music of our nation.”
Krueger explained that Jazz, at CAM is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, and North Carolina Arts Council.
Tickets can be purchased individually for $55 a ticket with season pass holders getting a steep discount at $35 a ticket.
“Members get an excellent discount. It is a great way to create the museum experience in its entirety and immediately see benefits in the ticket price,” Krueger said.
The Cameron Art Museum is located at 3201 S. 17th St. in Wilmington.