The Garage #thegaragews

Good evening, and Happy 2018! I apologise for not blogging on here in a while, but at this time, I would like to salute the Garage, a club that was located at 110 West Seventh Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that has just closed its doors after 17 years in business. 

From 2007 through 2012, I had the pleasure of playing at the open mic nights at the Garage. It was held on Wednesday nights, and my friend, fellow singer-songwriter Country Dan Collins, hosted the event. During my time as one of the performers, I met (and reconnected) with a lot of other great musicians like Matt Weiser, Patrick Ferguson, Drew Hofmann, and bass guitar extraordinare Johnny “Hootie” Hoots. I also heard a lot of great music by local acts like Mitchell Snow (who has since moved to Toronto), the Feral Souls (whose drummer, Karrie Sheehan, went on to join Patrick’s group, Vel Indica), and Matt’s band, GoRyanGo. My favourite part of the open mic night was when the bands went on to perform after the solo acts on the bill had played, and Drew’s band, White Light, was (and still is) one of my favourite bands because of their incredible three-part harmony and the awesome songwriting of guitarists Tim Webb and Phillip “Peacetrain” Peace.

The Garage is one of several places where I have enjoyed playing during these past 14 years of participating in open mic nights, and it was one of my favourite places in Winston-Salem to play because when once I approached the stage there, I felt at home. For this reason, I will miss the Garage. The Winston-Salem music scene will not be the same without this club, but the memories that I made there will forever be treasurable.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to extend thanks to Richard Emmett for founding the Garage and to Tucker Tharpe for continuing to operate it until the very end. God bless everyone associated with this legendary club.

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George Michael #RIPGeorgeMichael

Hello, everyone! How are you doing? I am doing OK considering that this is my first blog entry in a few months.

As I am pretty sure you were, I was shocked to learn about the death of George Michael this past Christmas Day, which wrapped up a terrible year in which we had already lost a lot of hugely talented musicians such as David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, and Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns. Sadly, his passing seems to have been prophesied by his holiday classic, Last Christmas, which he wrote and recorded as a member of Wham!

As someone who grew up in North Carolina during the 80’s, my first memory of hearing George was when Wham’s breakthrough hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, was playing on the radio. Little did I know then that this record and its follow-up, Careless Whisper, would lead to a successful solo career after the duo, which also included guitarist Andrew Ridgeley, split up in 1986. From the controversial I Want Your Sex to soulful covers of Sir Elton John’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me and Queen’s Somebody To Love, George’s stream of hits continued well into the 90’s despite legal issues and his 1998 outing as a homosexual (as it had been previously rumoured).

I still remain as huge of a fan of George Michael’s music today as I was when his albums Faith and Listen Without Prejudice were on the radio. To close this blog entry, I want to quote a line from Hard Day, a deep cut on Faith, in which he sings, “Would you gimme a break? Somebody gimme a break now!” Sadly, on 25th December 2016, the artist formerly known as Georgios Panayiotou did get his break when he became a casualty of heart failure. Along the other music legends who passed on last year and in the years before, George Michael’s music will continue to live on, to use a lyric from another one of his songs, Mother’s Pride (from Listen Without Prejudice), ’til kingdom come.

Kristen Leigh

Eversince I played at my first open mic night 13 years ago, I have met a lot of other fine musicians, and almost none has been as wonderfully talented as the beautiful Kristen Leigh. During the open mic nights at the Flatiron in Greensboro, NC, I was among the many who have witnessed her plaintive guitar work, on-point songwriting, and unique mezzo soprano voice. Her folksy musical style is reminiscent of the Beatles, Sarah McLachlan, and Joni Mitchell. Click on the link below to check out her music.

http://kristenleighmusic.wixsite.com/kristenleigh