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, Feb. 1
North Carolina Jazz Festival
Hotel Ballast, 301 N. Water St. • Tickets: $15 – $240
It’s year 44 for the North Carolina Jazz Festival, which brings world-renowned musicians to the greater Wilmington area. The three-day event kicks off Thursday at downtown’s Hotel Ballast and continues through Sunday. This year’s event features artists from Wilmington and across the United States.
It kicks off Thursday with a showcase of styles from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wilmington band Port City Trio opens the festival, performing a blend of jazz, blues and pop. It will be followed by the Emmet Cohen Trio. Cohen was in town last year performing with Tootie Heath at UNCW. Thursday’s event will close out with an all-star jam performance.
Friday and Saturday nights feature 15 all-star musicians, playing seven sets with seven musicians at a time, each with a different bandleader. There will be a Saturday patronage brunch as well. All musicians playing throughout the weekend can be seen here and all evening concerts begin at 7:30.Ticket ranges exist for one or two nights, as well as weekend passes; see the breakdown here.
OTHER THURSDAY EVENTS
Grown Folx Book Fair — From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hi-Wire Brewing (1012 Princess Place Drive) The Roasted Bookery is hosting a Grown Folx Book Fair, just in time for Valentine’s Day. New romance novels will be for sale, as will blind date books and an YA and adult romance collection. Local artist HP Fangs will be on hand doodling and showing his colorful works. It’s free to attend; beer, books and art individually priced.
Friday, Feb. 2
Elvis Costello and the Imposters
Wilson Center, 711 N. Third St.
Taking the stage at downtown’s Wilson Center, British troubadour Elvis Costello and his band the Imposters are performing Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Costello gained popularity in the early 70’s with his debut album “My Aim is True,” containing one of his most revered ballads, “Allison.” His music became a part of the founding of the new wave genre with followup releases recorded with his band The Attractions, including “This Year’s Model” and “Armed Forces.” They released 11 albums before disbanding.
Costello and the group — which plays an amalgamation of jazz, Tin Pan, R&B, Baroque pop, country and classical music — regularly charted in the U.K. but gained recognition in the U.S. with the hit single “Veronica” in 1989. It ranked 19 on the Billboard 100.
Perhaps one of Costello’s most popular songs came in 1979, a remake of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” originally written by Nick Lowe and recorded by Lowe’s group Brinsley Schwartz. Costello and Lowe hit the road together for joint tours, including a recent one this past spring.
Throughout his 50-year career, Costello has collaborated with musical greats, including Allen Touissant, Paul McCartney, the Roots and Burt Bacharach.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 with The Attractions — rebranded the Imposters in the mid-’90s after the original bassist departed. Costello has won two Grammys — the first in 1998 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals on “I Still Have That Other Girl” and again in 2019 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album on “Look Now.” He was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for the release of “My Aim is True” in 2007.
Costello will be joined by Steve Nieve (keyboards), Pete Thomas (drums), Charlie Sexton (guitarist) and Davey Faragher (bassist).
Tickets available here.
OTHER FRIDAY EVENTS
Brooks Wheelan — An Iowa comedian, Brooks Wheelan, performs four shows this weekend at Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St — 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. both Brooks Wheelan — An Iowa comedian, Brooks Wheelan, performs four shows this weekend at Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St. — 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. A former writer for “SNL,” Wheelan has appeared on HBO’s “Girls,” Comedy Central’s “The Half House,” TBS’ “CONAN” and others. He was lauded in the top 10 comics to watch in 2012 from Comedy Central and performed festivals and stand up clubs nationwide since. His stand up album, “This is Cool, Right?” in 2015 hit the top spot on iTunes charts. On it he talks about drugs, New York, youth and more. One of the bits, “Internet and Brothers,” talks about the beginnings of the internet. “I remember everyone had it and I wanted it,” he said. “I was like, ‘Dad, we gotta get the internet. He said, ‘F**k it, you got the Oregon Trail.’” Tickets are $20 to $30.
Saturday, Feb. 3
Bellamy Mansion Ghost Hunt
503 Market St. • Tickets: $109
Are ghosts hiding in the southwest bedroom of Wilmington’s 1859 antebelum home on Market Street?
Go on a ghost hunt in Bellamy Mansion with Haunted Rooms America to find out. The event is taking place from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., welcoming guests to explore the paranormal of the Victorian mansion.
Built by enslaved and free Black artisans and carpenters between 1859 and 1861, the Bellamy Mansion has become a hotbed of stories from visitors hearing unexplained footsteps or keys on the piano tickling, and feeling cold gusts sweeping through the house. Some witnesses have claimed to see a black-dressed apparition, believed to be a Union Army officer.
Bellamy Mansion was used as the Army’s headquarters during the Union’s advance during the Civil War, after Dr. Bellamy, who built the home, and his family were forced out of Wilmington due to the war and a yellow fever outbreak.
The southwest bedroom is where one of the Bellamy children, Ellen, lived her whole life and fell ill. Visitors claim her spirit still resides there, often lurking near the children’s nursery.
The night will include a paranormal investigation class for beginners, tour of the location, ghost hunting with Haunted Rooms America, snacks and refreshments.
OTHER SATURDAY EVENTS
Cape Fear Conversations — Housing continues to be one of the most important topics the region faces as prices escalate. WHQR is hosting a series of conversations tackling the topic at Waterline Brewing Company, 721 Surry St. It kicks off with “Development,” and welcomes a panel of specialists, such as McKay Siegel of East West Partners, Kemp Burdette of Cape Fear Riverkeeper, Pastor Rob Campbell of East Carolina Community Development, Glenn Harbeck, a former Wilmington City planning director and consultant, JC Lyle of of WARM and planning commission chair, and Terri Burhans, network officer at New Hanover Community Endowment. The event is free to the public and starts at 1 p.m.
National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day — Boombalatti’s is celebrating a one-of-a-kind day by opening its doors at its two locations earlier than normal. At 9 a.m., customers can line up for National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day with special brunchy flavors: Raspberry blintz, blueberry muffin (vegan option also available), and maple and candied bacon. Plus, they’ll serve cereal milk milkshakes in flavors of Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Honey Nut Cheerios and have fresh Belgian waffle sundaes. PJs and slippers and morning paper encouraged.
After Hours Punk Show — Crofton Pretzels on 17th Street is turning its kitchen and lounge area into a music venue Saturday evening. Three punk outfits — Emergency Nothing, Bat Asterisks, and Nervous Systems — will be performing at 1620 Market St. The doors are at 8 p.m. and music starts at 8:45 p.m. There is also a $5 cover; Immersed Zine will be on hand — plus food and drinks, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase.
Queen Esther Teas DIY Workshop — If tea is your jam, local connoisseur Queen Esther, a.k.a. Adrienne Arrington-Kenion, has just the workshop for you this weekend. She’s leading a tea blending class at Ellipsis — the new event space from the folks at True Blue — located at 1502 S. Third St. in the South Front District. Guests will be able to personalize tea flavors, while learning about the various types and profiles and what makes a balanced concoction. There will be base teas, herbs, flowers, and spices available to utilize. A goody bag will also be available for guests to take home including their personalized blend. It takes place from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets are $25.
Will Overman — Live at Ted’s (2 Castle St.) will have singer-songwriter Will Overman in the house, performing his brand of country-Americana. Originally from Virginia Beach, Overman has played music since high school and after college formed the Will Overman Band. Two albums were born of the Southern rock outfit, as the group performed everywhere from Merlefest to up and down the East Coast. After the group disbanded, Overman went solo and released the 2017 EP “Crossroads,” followed by 2019’s “The Winemaker’s Daughter,” and “Heart Pine” in 2022. The latter is focused more on personal struggles with mental health. Tickets to his show are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Sunday, Feb. 4
Bright Lights: African Americans and the Arts
814 Market St. • Free
It’s Black History Month and Cape Fear Museum is commemorating it with an event centered on the arts and Black creators. The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County’s executive director, Rhonda Bellamy, will host an event that discusses historic and modern-day contributions by African Americans on Wilmington’s scene.
One is Minnie Evans, the former gatekeeper of Airlie Gardens, who illustrated and painted intricate, colorful mandalas. The artist’s faith steered many of her drawings and paintings, all inspired by her surroundings in Airlie Gardens.
Born in 1892 in Long Creek in Pender County, Evans’ lineage traces back to Trinidad, as her great-grandmother was transported to the states and sold in the South as a slave. At 2 months old, Evans and her 13-year-old mother moved in with Grandmother Mary Croom Jones at Wrightsville Sound.
Evans married Julius Caesar, had three sons, and the family worked for Pembroke Jones and lived on his hunting estate (now Landfall). Her story is only one of many to illuminate the long-lasting impact of Black works left on the greater Wilmington region.
The talk is free and open to the public and takes place at 2:30 p.m. at the museum, 814 Market St.
OTHER SUNDAY EVENTS
Wilmington Symphony Orchestra — The local symphony is hosting a concert titled “River Rhapsody” at the Wilson Center at 7:30 p.m. It features Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish,” Robert Schumann’s final symphony, inspired by the Rhine River. The concert also showcases the talent of the 48th annual Richard R. Deas Concerto Competition. Tickets are $25 here.
Tips or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.