Monday, December 4, 2023

Li’l Friday: Sylvan Esso, Cape Fear Arts Fest, Lake Fest

Cape Fear Arts Fest performed by Forward Motion Dance Company will take place Thursday and Friday evenings at Thalian Hall. (Courtesy photo)

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. 21

Cape Fear Arts Fest 
Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St. • Tickets: $25 

Forward Motion Dance Company is preparing for two nights of its annual performance, Cape Fear Arts in Motion: Film, Fire, and Fusion at Thalian Hall. 

This production is more than just a dance show. It is a dynamic blend of art forms, joining choreographers, dancers, musical and visual artists to showcase the talents of Forward Motion Dance Company director Tracey Varga.

Varga founded Forward Motion Dance company with a mission of providing the community with quality modern contemporary dance and education in the art of dance.  

The event will feature a film by Patrick Ogelvie, graphic stage design by local set designer Randy Davis, live music composed by pianist Barbara Gallagher with flutists Mary Gheen and Deborah Phillips, and a jazz-funk piece by local dancer and choreographer Qaadir Hicks. 

The show takes place from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. both Thursday and Friday nights. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $22 for seniors, students, military, and children under 12, plus taxes and fees.

Ramblin Rocks the Rusty Nail — The Connecticut-based blues musician is bringing his unique style to the Rusty Nail at 8 p.m. Dan Stevens has been a full-time musician since 1991, touring the East Coast, U.S. Virgin Islands, U.K., Canada, and Germany. Stevens is known for using his homemade three-string cigar-box guitar featuring bottleneck slide playing. He covers songs from blues legends, as well as performs many originals. Named “Connecticut’s hardest working bluesman” by the New York Times in 2002, Stevens plays more than 200 shows a year. Tickets are $8 at the door, 1310 S. Fifth Ave. 

ARTFall — Thalian Association is hosting an annual art show and sale at the Community Arts Center, 120 S. Second St., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s free admission as folks can peruse the juried exhibition, featuring the work of new and established artists. A dessert reception takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday evening, with sweet treats from Nothing Bundt Cakes and Apple Annie’s Bake Shop. Live music will be provided by Susan Savia, who performs jazz, pop, country and other styles. The art show, featuring more than 100 works, will be on display through Sept. 30 in the lobby of the arts center. Cash prizes are awarded to artists for first through third place, with a People’s Choice also crowned.

Friday, Sept. 22

Jay Larson
Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St. • Tickets: $18-$28 

Los Angeles-based comedian Jay Larson will be stopping by Dead Crow Comedy Room for four shows this weekend. 

Having grown up in Massachusetts, Larson focuses his bits on life experiences, animated in delivery, with impersonations. He’s talked about his run-in with a blind man on the streets of New York City. 

“I’m walking down the street and about 15 feet from me is an old blind guy and he screams, ‘Is anybody there?’ It’s New York, there’s a good chance that someone’s there,” Larson said in a Comedy Central standup. “The comedian in me kicked in, and I thought about tiptoeing up to him and whispering in his ear, ‘I’m everywhere,’ and then take off running.”

Appearing on a number of podcasts — Bad Friends, Your Mom’s House, Bertcast, You Made It Weird and more — Larson has been making waves in the world of comedy. He released his second hour-long special this year, “Sounds like Bruce,” and has been seen on many late night shows.

Tickets to this weekend’s performances are available here

Queen’s Giant will perform at Bourgie Nights Friday. Interview here with lead singer Brendon Jacobsen.

Other Friday Events
Queen’s Giant — Local rock ‘n’ rollers Queen’s Giant will bring its brand of gritty rock to Bourgie Nights Friday for a single release party. Playing both originals and covers, Queen’s Giant fuses elements of rock, blues, country, and electronica to bring plenty of high-energy sounds. Formed in 2021, Queen’s Giant consists of members Brendon Jacobsen (guitar and vocals), Christopher Rocca (keyboard), Austin Redwine (bass), and Will Walter (drums). Local band Blue Karma will open the show, making its live debut. Show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $10, available here.

‘Sound of Music’ Youth Theatre Production — The famed musical featuring the story of the von Trapp family and its singing interludes is being performed by Thalian Association Community Theatre youth wing on Sept. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. The famed Rodgers and Hammerstein classic features songs such as, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and the title number, “The Sound of Music.” It won multiple Tony and Oscar awards and is based on the story and memoir of Maria Augusta Trapp. The governess leaves her calling to become a nun to look over the seven children of Captain von Trapp, as Nazis rise to power in Austria. Tickets are $15 and the show takes place at the Community Arts Center, 120 S. Second St.

‘Three Visions’ — An art show featuring a trifecta of talent will take place at the Burgwin-Wright House at 6 p.m. Metal, paper and glass artworks will be on display by local artists Sarah Sheffield, Lois Watson, and Elena Wright. A meet-and-greet takes place at 6 p.m. as part of Fourth Friday Gallery Night, with free admission and refreshments served. Sheffield’s wall art is made of copper and aluminum, while Watson utilizes specialty-cut papers to create collages. Wright works in glass, combining intricate mosaics with vivid glass beads. The exhibit is on display through Oct. 21. 

Saturday, Sept. 23

Paper Stars + Summer Set 
Bourgie Nights, 127 Princess St. • Tickets: $15

Two local bands with more than two decades performing locally will join a bill at local venue Bourgie Nights in downtown Wilmington at 10 p.m.

Summer Set consists of founders Brian Weeks and Robert Rogan, who have had a Rolodex of well-known local players — Jeff Reardon (Rodeo Boy), Seth Moody (The NoSeRiDeRs), Jonathan Bass (The Rosebuds), Tripp Cox (Onward, Soldier) — join them since starting in the early aughts. Rogan and Weeks remain and have played together in other bands, including De La Noche with Ivan Howard (The Rosebuds).

The indie-rockers are preparing to release their first self-titled LP, “Summer Set,” in November. It blends pop melodies with Americana rhythms as heard on “Center of Attention,” and incorporates ethereal and experimental soundscapes (“The Jetty,” “The Invitation”) across the 10 tracks. 

The Paper Stars, coming off its 2022 release “Far Away,” are also on the bill. Frontman and guitarist Tres Altman, drummer Kevin Rhodes, guitarist Coleman Corzine, guitarist Sam Kennedy and vocalist Amanda King have a gritty blues bend, also steeped in Americana, backed by dreamy soundscapes, wailing steel-pedal guitars, textural strings, and grounded by driving guitar rhythms.

Doors open at 9 p.m.

Sylvan Esso plays Greenfield Lake Amphitheater Saturday. (Photo by Brian Karlsson)

Sylvan Esso — Durham-based band Sylvan Esso is coming to Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, bringing its electronic-pop rhythms to concertgoers. The duo consists of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, who were nominated for a Grammy for their 2020 release “Free Love,” as well as 2017’s “What Now.” In 2022, the husband-and-wife team put forth their fourth studio album, “No Rules Sandy.” Their No Rules Tour also features opening act With Grrl. The show is sold-out; however, verified resale tickets are available here for $65.

Castle Street Block Party — More than 40 vendors will align Castle Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday for a block party celebrating area businesses and offerings. Live music will be played throughout the day and there will be tarot card readings, Henna tattoos and more offered. It’s free and takes place from Fifth and Castle streets up.

Wilmington Record Show — Waterline Brewing welcomes vinyl enthusiasts to the foot of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge at 721 Surry St. for Wilmington Record Show, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 20 vendors will be set up on the premises. DJ Rob Starr will spin tunes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Da Howlies will perform their Hawaiian swingabilly live from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Food trucks 2Bros Coastal Cuisine and Sea Level City Vegan will be onsite. It’s free to attend, though food, beer and records will be for sale.

Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta — Annually, local rowers get together to celebrate the art and sportsmanship of the Dragon Boat Regatta in Carolina Beach. The race and boat championship takes place Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m., at the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin. The competition has multiple teams going head to head on 45-foot boats (awards take place at 4 p.m.). The event is hosted by local organization The Island Men, with proceeds going to various nonprofits including Ocean Cure, as well as children’s civic, education and athletic activities. On Friday night, a kickoff party takes place at the Seawitch Cafe & Tiki Bar at 6 p.m., where competing teams are announced and live music takes place.

Eastbound and Downtown Tour — Beer fans can hop aboard the Port City Brew Bus this weekend to travel to three local breweries and learn more about the craft-beer process. It’s hosted by Wilmington NC Brewery Tours and gets underway at 1 p.m., with tourists meeting at Fermental (600 S. 17th St.) ahead of departure. Tickets are $65 and include “liberal” samples. The tour is for guests 21 and older; no refunds will be given for underage buyers. 

Lake Fest will take place Sunday at Greenfield Lake Park, featuring games, live animals on site, face painting, activities and more. (Courtesy photo)

Sunday, Sept. 24

Lake Fest
Greenfield Lake Park, 298 Park St. • Free

Hosted annually by Cape Fear River Watch and Wilmington Parks and Recreation, Lake Fest welcomes families to learn more about Greenfield Lake and enjoy nature.

The event, celebrating science and wildlife, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will have games, live animals on site, face painting, activities and paddle-boat rides. Plus, there will be nature tours. 

There also will be various nonprofit and government organizations onsite, such as Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, Cape Fear’s Going Green Magazine, Carolina Beach State Park, City of Wilmington Stormwater Services, Children’s Museum of Wilmington and others.

Sean Thomas Gerard — Local musician Sean Thomas Gerard will perform at Flytrap Brewing on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There is no cover to enjoy the show. Gerard, founder of local indie band Onward, Soldiers, is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who released “Finally Found a Paradise” on Fort Lowell Records in 2021. He is currently working on a new release and has performed at multiple well-known festivals, such as SXSW in Austin and Raleigh’s Hopscotch. 

Comic Book Road Show — Fans of graphic novels and comic books will be able to enjoy a show just for them Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hampton Inn (124 Old Eastwood Road). The group travels the nation looking for collectibles to purchase. They’re specifically interested in items printed in 1980, as well as toys, video games and more. Details about the group can be found here.

Have events for consideration? Email

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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