SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Li’l Friday is a weekly roundup of events in art, music, theater, comedy, pop-up markets and more.
All events featured were scheduled as of Thursday; however, it’s wise to check in ahead of attending any one. Inclement weather, changes in schedules and unforeseen circumstances may shift for organizers at the last minute.
Thursday, Sept. 14
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheatre Drive • Tickets: $25-$32.50
Grammy-nominated reggae group, The Wailers, will return to Greenfield Lake Amphitheater Thursday night.
Originally formed by the late Bob Marley, with other members including reggae stalwarts Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the group embodies the spirits of the ‘70s reggae movement.
Under the guidance of drummer Aston Barrett Jr., the band now consists of seven members — Mitchell Brunings, Wendel Ferraro, Owen Reid, Andres Lopez, Alecia Marie, and Teena Barnes. They carry forth and play Bob Marley’s biggest hits and more to ensure the music and message of peace, love, and unity never dies.
In 2020, The Wailers released a new album titled “One World,” which earned a Grammy nomination for best reggae album. This was the group’s first recording in 25 years.
The show will get underway at 6 p.m. The four-piece Dry Reef will open the show, performing a mix of reggae, pop and jammy tunes.
OTHER THURSDAY EVENTS
Poplar Grove Plantation Ghost Tours — Ghost hunters are welcome to take part in a guided tour of a more than century-old manor house at historic Poplar Grove Plantation, located at line of Pender and New Hanover counties. Lots of true stories are to be told of the deceased members of the Foy family who started the plantation. Built around 1850, the plantation was used for growing sweet potatoes and producing peanuts. It’s expected that haunts still pop up on the grounds, from the Colonial period through the 20th century around the manor house, tenant house, and across the grounds. Cameras and other paranormal equipment are welcome. Tickets are $25; tours begin at 7 p.m.
Summer Jazz Series at the Mansion — Jazz lovers are welcome to the penultimate Bellamy Mansion jazz concert of the 2023 series on Thursday night. El Jaye Johnson Quartet will perform on the historical museum lawn in front of the mansion (503 Market St.) at 6:30 p.m. El Jaye Johnson Quartet, which performs smooth jazz, funk and R&B, has been on the local scene for more than three decades. All ages are welcome and encouraged to bring blankets, chairs, and snacks to enjoy a night of smooth tunes. Tickets are $25 at the door with proceeds supporting the musicians, Cape Fear Jazz Society, and the Bellamy Mansion.
Cape Fear Rising — This local reggae band is set to take the stage at Greenfield Lake Yacht Club (1756 Carolina Beach Road) from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Described as a mix of West Coast reggae and soulful East Coast sounds, Cape Fear Rising plans to keep the positive energy flowing after The Wailers concert at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater (the yacht club is located within walking distance of the amphitheater). The band consists of lead singer Nate Lorenz, keyboardist Landon McClellan, bassist Coleman Daly, drummer Hugh Mallard, and guitarist Marc Siegel, and the show is free.
Friday, Sept. 15
Live Oak Bank Pavilion, 10 Cowan St. • Tickets: $50
Athens, Georgia-based jam band Widespread Panic is heading back to the Port City for the third year in a row to play Live Oak Bank Pavilion along the Riverfront.
The band will perform two nights, Sept. 15 and 16, playing across its 12 studio released albums, as well as covers the group has become known for throughout its career.
Consisting of front man John Bell (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Herring (guitar), John Hermann (keyboards, vocals), Domingo Ortiz (percussion, vocals), Dave Schools (bass, vocals), and Duane Trucks (drums), WP has been touring together for three decades. The band’s vast following has broken attendance records all over the country, including 60 consecutive sold out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater and 18 sold-out shows at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
The band’s music blends Southern rock with blues and improvisation, heralded among fans of the jamband community.
The group is set to take the stage at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are still available to Wilmington’s show here, starting at $49.50.
OTHER FRIDAY EVENTS
American Craft Walk Wilmington — Upward of 100 artists will line the streets of downtown Wilmington this weekend for the American Craft Walk. Front Street will be closed off as vendors sell their wares, featuring arts of all media — ceramics, jewelry, paintings, photography, wood and more. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Orange and Walnut streets and is free to attend.
Joey Avery — Dead Crow Comedy Room is welcoming Joey Avery to the stage on Friday and Saturday this weekend, with showtimes at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Avery has toured with Andrew Schulz, Mark Normand, Trevor Wallace and others, and has performed on Season 10 of Comedy Central’s “Featuring.” He blends improvised standup with precise bits and is best known as host of “Pier 69 Podcast” with comedians Mark Smalls, Dauood Naimyar and Andrew Orolfo — the latter of whom performed at Dead Crow a few weeks ago. Avery takes on a bevy of relatable topics, such as age — “it’s a weird age, I feel like at 30, I have a weird, irresistible hankering to acquire real estate.” Tickets are $18 to $28 here.
‘The Prom’ — It’s Opera House Theater Company’s final weekend showcasing the musical, “The Prom.” The show debuted on Broadway in 2018 and thereafter moved into the hands of film and TV writer Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “Pose”), where it aired on Netflix in 2020. “The Prom,” a Drama Desk winner in 2019, also comes with a message of inclusion. It follows four Broadway actors who travel to Indiana to offer advocacy and help to a lesbian student who is banned from bringing her girlfriend to the high school rite of passage. The local PTA members cancel the prom when they hear a same-sex couple wants to attend. “The story is funny and touching,” local actor Jeff Phillips told PCD earlier in the year. He stars in the show with a cast including Sydney Smith Martin, Heather Setzler, Erin Sullivan, and Jon Tyler Berry. “The music is great and the dancing, awesome.” It will be staged through Sept. 17; times vary and tickets are $35, both available here.
Jon Shain & FJ Ventre — Blues will permeate Wilmington’s quaint listening room, Live at Ted’s, as Jon Shain and FJ Venture from Chapel Hill perform Friday evening. In 2019, Shain won the International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category. The two released an album, “Never Found a Way to Tame the Blues,” in 2021 and performed most of the instruments on it; though they did receive help from friends, including British drummer Dave Mattacks (Nick Drake, Paul McCartney, Jethro Tull), as well as Philadelphia-based Bob Beach on blues harmonica, and Boston-based pianist Doug Hamme. Tickets are $15 to the show, which starts at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16
HaHa Davis and Friends
Wilson Center, 703 N 3rd St. Tickets: $40-$145
A group of comedians led by Detroit Native HaHa Davis, is set to bring lots of laughs to the Wilson Center this weekend.
The comedian began his career posting funny videos to social media platforms in 2013 and has since amassed just under 8 million followers on Instagram.
In 2018 and 2019, Davis embarked on his “Big Fellas Tour,” selling out shows countrywide.
Davis’ style of comedy has gained the attention of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Chance the Rapper. Both rap artists have featured Davis on previous albums, who also can be seen recently in an episode of “Detroiters” on Comedy Central. He also was featured in promos for TBS’s “Drop the Mic,” in Forbes Magazine, and as a character in NBA2k18 video game.
Davis performs various skits, acting out characters, such as an armed cop pulling over his elder pop for a stolen vehicle.
The show is set to get underway at 8 p.m.
OTHER SUNDAY EVENTS
Relay Relay — Formerly known as Stray Local, Jamie and Hannah Rowan have rebranded into Relay Relay — an indie-pop outfit that tours the country. Originally from Wilmington, the husband-and-wife team relocated to Raleigh during the pandemic. The duo’s sound is packed with punch, as Jamie performs on multiple guitars, with Hannah on vocals and playing keyboard, glockenspiel, electronic drum pads and various percussion instruments. They dropped their first single, “Back to Light,” in March and plan to release an album of originals and a cover EP in 2023. They’re performing at Live at Ted’s at 8 p.m.; tickets are $7.
Jack and Oak-tober Fest — The Cargo District’s Bull City Ciderworks (615 S. 17th St.) is already getting into the spirit of fall with a new cider release of its Jack and Oak cider on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. It’s Bull City’s pumpkin pie sipper, backed by hints of warm oak. There will be German-style games and Keith’s Memphis Style Food Truck (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.). Performing live will be Wilmington blues band The Papa Midnight Band from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s free to attend and guests are encouraged to wear lederhosen or a dirndl in honor of Oktoberfests getting underway worldwide.
Downtown Wilmington Treasure Hunt — Teams receive clues to crack codes and solve puzzles in order to unlock a treasure chest for a grand prize. Port City Treasure Hunt will have a Friday night walkabout starting at New Anthem Beer Project (116 Dock St.) at 6 p.m. Tickets are priced from $12 to $20 for a 2-mile scavenger hunt that takes around 60 minutes to complete.
Back to the Beach Car Show — Fort Fisher Air Force recreation area in Kure Beach will be aligned with cars from Sun Coast Cruisers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a $20 pre-registration fee, which increases by $5 the day of show for participating hot rodders. Registration is open from 8 a.m. to noon, and dash plaques are given to the first 100, with various top awards given in categories 1986 and earlier or 1988 to 2009, and 2010 to present. There will be raffles and door prizes, commercial and craft vendors, food and refreshments. The night before, on Sept. 15, there will be a cruise-in at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Carolina Beach. A Cruise-In Parade is also planned with participants meeting at the Fort Fisher Rec Area at 3 p.m. Check out more information here.
Native Plant Sale — The New Hanover County Arboretum is hosting its annual Native Plant Sale, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 6206 Oleander Drive. With a mission to educate the public about the benefits of native plants and local ecosystems, the festival will have hands-on activities from educational exhibitors. A speaker series will feature Matt Collogan of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, “Nature at Home” at 11 a.m.; keynote speaker Justin Robinson, N.C. Natural Heritage Program, “A Botanical History of the United States,” at noon; Amy Mead, N.C. Cooperative Extension, “Plant This Instead! Eco-friendly Alternatives to Harmful Ornamental Plants,” at 1 p.m.; Dru Harrison, New Hanover Soil and Water Conservation District, “Stormwater 101” at 2 p.m. Docents will be available in the Arboretum’s Native Plant Garden about how visitors can garden with native plants and the support it offers insects and wildlife. There will also be a seed swap booth with free seeds.
Sunday Sept. 17
Wilson Center, 703 N 3rd St. • Tickets: $43.50
Recognizable on shows like “Impractical Jokers” and “The Misery Index,” Staten Island comedian Joe Gatto will perform in downtown Wilmington at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Gatto helped found The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe with James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn, and Sal Vulcano, all of whom are featured on both TV shows as well. In 2020, the team released “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.”
The same year Gatto published his first book, “The Dogfather: My Love for Dogs, Dessert and Growing Up Italian.” By 2022, he began hosting the podcast “Two Cool Moms” with comedian Steve Byrne.
Gatto’s standup, complete with animated impersonations, features quips from daily life and encounters with friends and strangers. He also often brings his real-life experiences of where he visits to the mic.
“So, Alaska, here’s my take, day one,” he began from Anchorage a year ago. “I’m talking to my guy and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of getting a cup of coffee.’ He says, ‘Yeah, there are a couple of streets here for you to get a cup of coffee downtown — you should be fine.’”
Gatto continues it wasn’t until later he realized “should be” was in air quotes.
“I go outside,” he continued. “I look to the left; there are two homeless gentlemen in a full-blown fist fight and they’re yelling at a third one who’s not there. I look [the other] way, no road, nothing else, just a f***ing moose.”
Tickets to the show start at $43.50.
OTHER SUNDAY EVENTS
Mike Blair and the Stonewalls — The local Americana band that derives its sound from an inspiration of ‘70s rock and folk will perform at Live at Ted’s at 4 p.m. The band consists of Mike Blair (vocalist/guitarist), David Graham (bass, vocals), Michael Graham (electric guitar, vocals), Nathan Purifoy (keys) and Keith Butler Jr. (drums). The band released a nine-track LP, “Almanac County,” in 2021. Tickets to the show are $15.
Morning Bliss Yoga — Open to all levels of yogis, a morning class will be hosted at the Holiday Inn Resort Lumina on Wrightsville Beach at 9 a.m. It costs $10 to participate or interested parties can sign up for multiple classes, as another will be hosted Sunday, Sept. 24. Yoga attendees can park at the hotel even if they aren’t staying there; just let the attendant know it’s for the class. The practice will be held overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, bring yoga mats and dress appropriately.
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