Many of the world's greatest performers forged their way to the big time via North Carolina's live listening spots. Juke bars and blues dives pepper the state, with a sonic epicenter in Raleigh.
Legendary music magazine <em>Rolling Stone </em>has dubbed The Orange Peel one of the nation's greatest rock clubs. With a longstanding history as an R&B club, The Orange Peel has changed a lot since the fifties. Headliners have included Lauryn Hill, the Beastie Boys, the Killers, and Jack White. Icons such as the Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Dylan, and Blondie have also famously peeled the Orange.
Emblematic of Raleigh's renowned music scene, which boasts no fewer than 80 live music venues, the Lincoln is the best place to tune into the dynamic local frequency. Crowds queue by a mural of Honest Abe, which adorns the venue's face. Once an African-American cinema, the Lincoln is now a diverse community center.
For the ultimate dive bar experience, head to Wilmington. The venue oozes bluesy soulfulness and has been in business since 1957. An authentic joint that will capture the heart of any aficionado, this blues bar offers great beer and supreme sounds to its patrons.
Have yourself a hootenanny at the most exciting venues for new artists. Cat's Cradle is a crucible of new talent, while the Evening Muse stitches together the local music scene.
Situated just a mile from the University of North Carolina, Cat's Cradle has fostered new talents throughout its 40-year history. An intimate setting, yet large enough to generate a buzz, Cat's Cradle's 750-fan capacity is optimal for garnering interest in the latest sounds. Headliners over the years have included big (yet still rebellious) acts such as Iggy Pop, Nirvana, and Public Enemy.
Once a 100-year-old bakery, the Backstreet now spills blues sounds onto the beach. Funk, rock, and blues bands jam pleasingly at this historic haven. Wednesday Hoot Nite sees local musicians assemble for improv sessions in the atmospheric courtyard.
While Asheville is known as the craft beer capital of the state, it's also home to the Grey Eagle, a celebrated career catalyst. Ensconced in the culture-packed surrounds of the River Arts District, the venue is a center for the local community, where eclectic live music is enjoyed along with Mexican cuisine and cocktails.
Grassroots musical acts find a spiritual home at The Evening Muse in Charlotte's NoDa neighborhood, which inspires all comers by showcasing dynamic local music stars. The Muse's owner, Joe Kuhlman, may have achieved his ambition to establish the city's best local music venue – come see for yourself.
With jamming and jambalaya, North Carolina is a sonic feast that children can't help but indulge in. Go on a family foray through the state's most entertaining festivals and live performances.
Founded as an arts center promoting the heritage of Durham's African-American community, the center showcases the rich musical traditions of North Carolina. With local family gospel groups and Jambalaya Soul Spoken Word, its eclectic program ranges from special concerts to annual festivals.
Attendees of the Mush, Music & Mutts Festival are a mash-up of foodies, music fans, and pet lovers. Children compete for the best costume, run in an inflatable hamster wheel, and meet a veritable Noah's Ark of animals. Live music pays homage to the bluegrass history of Shelby, and the whole event is polished off with a chili competition washed down with craft brew.
Art meets nature at Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), which is free for children under nine. The celebration of folk art features live performances and exciting interactive exhibitions at various villages near the site. Catch theatrical and musical performances at Elfhaven Village, play sports at the World Wide Playfield, and make old-world crafts at Barn Village: there's something for young and old alike.