This weekend marks my 3rd week in Pinehurst, NC!
At the start of the year, I moved out here from Washington state to take a social media marketing apprenticeship with a company called Classical Conversations (they are absolutely fantastic to work with and will get their own dedicated post soon!).
In celebration of surviving my first three weeks of living in my own place, I decided it was time to get acquainted with the art and history culture of my new town.
Armed with a GPS and an advertisement for a folk music show at a little place called The Rooster’s Wife at the Poplar Knight Spot, I headed out for a Friday night adventure. I was not disappointed.
I arrived at my location and discovered it to be a cozy little venue filled with a mishmash of vintage seating and paintings of roosters and jazz musicians. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that they serve a homemade dinner at their shows; this week it was vegan chili, BBQ pulled pork, beans, and rice. A lovely surprise, as I came straight from work and hadn’t had time to grab but a small snack.
Then it came time for the show: it consisted of a duo from Seattle named Ben and Joe.
They performed a wide array of songs from various time periods and locations across the United States. They specialize in folk music, ragtime, and acoustic blues music and came on stage with a couple of mandolins, a fiddle, a banjo, a guitar, bones, a harmonica, and two very harmonious singing voices.
I expected to enjoy the music (and I did!), but these two gave me a lot more than I’d bargained for. Not only did they give the audience two hours worth of great tunes, they peppered their performance with fascinating historical tidbits, comedic banter, and a lot of fun short stories. Between their humor, their expressions, and the fact that I so thoroughly enjoyed their songs, I ended the evening with a face slightly sore from smiling.
Not only did Ben and Joe have a great connection with each other and their music, they had a connection with us in the audience like I’ve not seen before at a show.
Granted, I know the smallness of the venue helped with that (and they later said as much themselves). Occasionally they’d make remarks toward us, or us to them. As they said during the show, though they did the majority of the vocal work, it was a conversation between us and them- not just a performance.
Their audience connection continued long after the show, however. When they were through, they came and hung out with us in the common area. One lady made a remark about how skillfully they played the bones. Ben pulled out a few extra sets and handed them to us and said, “Here, I’ll show you how it’s done!” and several of us had a grand time and many laughs as we attempted to learn the deceptively simple-seeming rhythm instrument.
Another attendee brought her fiddle and asked Joe if he would play it, as she believed that every time a new performer played it, their strokes on the strings exercised the instrument and made it’s sound improve over time. He gladly played several more songs as three or four of us stood around enjoying the impromptu encore.
Hanging out with Ben & Joe at The Rooster’s Wife was a load of fun.
Not only did we have a great time chatting with the guys, those of us who stuck around ended up talking with each other, too. It’s special when performers can have a connection with their audience, but it’s even more special when they can help that connection spread between audience members.
If you have a small local music venue, I strongly suggest you look into attending some shows and supporting it. It’s people who make a community, and places like that are what bring us together! I also must say, if you find out that Ben and Joe are doing a show in your neck of the woods, don’t hesitate to attend! Until then, go check them out on the web at www.benjoemusic.com or on Facebook.