The beat moves on: Loud bands to relocate for Night Out

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

By Emily Ford
Loud bands that once performed on Fisher Street during the popular downtown Night Out events have moved to a new location to avoid bothering playgoers.
While quieter acoustic musicians will continue to perform on Fisher Street for the monthly Night Out events, noisier bands have relocated to the city’s East Innes Street parking lot.
“Inside the Meroney, it was as loud as standing outside,” said Reid Leonard, director for Piedmont Players Theatre, who complained about the noise two years ago.
With not one but two theaters now downtown — the Meroney on South Main Street and the Norvell on East Fisher Street — it’s become nearly impossible for Downtown Salisbury Inc. to host Night Out without conflicting with a play, executive director Randy Hemann said.
“Fisher Street is a fantastic location,” said Betz McKeown, marketing and promotions manager for Downtown Salisbury.
“But we are also happy to compromise,” McKeown said.
The city renovated the 100 block of East Fisher Street several years ago to serve as Salisbury’s entertainment district. Downtown Salisbury routinely closed the street for Night Out, featuring a band in the parking lot behind Thread Shed, food vendors and tables for dining and community groups.
Louder bands draw bigger crowds, McKeown said.
In July, Night Out took place on Fisher Street. But August’s event featured a loud band, which performed on East Innes Street instead. The September Night Out was held on South Main Street in conjunction with the United Way kick off, and the Oct. 7 Night Out’s noisy band will play on East Innes Street.
Since Leonard’s complaint, “we made a point of hiring quieter, more acoustic music when an event of ours coincided with a play,”McKeown said. “Unfortunately, acoustic music just doesn’t generate the same energy or draw the same size audience.”
Once the Norvell opened last year, conflict with Piedmont Players’ schedule was unavoidable, she said.
“Because we want to draw people downtown — and we now know that louder, more energetic music draws more people — and because we don’t want to interfere with the PPT performances, we have chosen to move our bands to the parking lot on East Innes Street those nights our events conflict with plays,” McKeown said.
According to the Piedmont Players schedule through July 2012, there isn’t a Night Out scheduled where there isn’t also a play in either the Norvell or Meroney.
“I understand that PPT has tight scheduling constraints, and the dates of our events have been consistent for years,” McKeown said. “This seems the best, most congenial way to address all issues.”
Night Out still will use Fisher Street in some way, possibly moving children’s activities to that area, she said. The Promotions Committee meets next week to discuss the issue.
Leonard said he supports Night Out, as well as Brick Street Live, which also moved some events away from Fisher Street this year.
“More, we need more,” he said. “More of everything. More people, more festivities.”
But loud music on Fisher Street made it impossible to enjoy a play in the Meroney, despite heavy insulation, he said. The Norvell is also heavily insulated.
The buildings and brick pavers behind Thread Shed amplify music and “shoots” the sound up the alley behind Benchwarmer’s and into the Meroney, Leonard said.
“We didn’t know it was going to be a problem until the first time it happened,” he said.
Leonard said he appreciates Downtown Salisbury’s compromise and looks forward to even more activity on Fisher Street with the opening of Cooper’s restaurant and soon, Bangkok Garden.
“Growing pains were expected, as we have more and more activities in this area,” Hemann said.
Night Out will end Nov. 25 and then ramp back up in April 2012.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

The wrong Salisbury
SALISBURY, N.C. and SALISBURY, Md. — Thinking the event sounded like fun, a group of hospital employees and their families went downtown in July for the Summer Night Out event they’d read about in an email blast at work.
When they arrived, they found no Hap’s hotdogs.
No bouncy house and balloons for the kids.
And no bands, noisy or otherwise.
Turns out, while the wannabe partygoers were walking around Salisbury, Md., the party was going on in Salisbury, N.C.
They were “quite disappointed when there was no event,” said Randy Hemann, executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc.
An employee of the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md., called Hemann to tell him about the mix-up.
Someone at the hospital sends out email notices to employees telling them about family-friendly events.
“It says a lot about how news travels in the electronic age,” Hemann said.
Night Out sponsors in Salisbury, N.C., might not realize their involvement is opening up new markets, Hemann joked.