Home sweet home? Artist experiences reveal mixed bag playing for familiar faces

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

SALISBURY — Playing in front of your hometown crowd might seem like a dream come true, but talking to two Salisbury-raised artists that performed at Bell Tower Green last weekend revealed conflicting experiences.

Jessica Yates, Angel Paez and Marcus Clonts opened for the Sunny Day Markets Food + Brews Festival on Aug. 5.

After the show, Yates called the experience “amazing.”

“It’s a dream come true,” Yates said. “It’s something I always dreamed about, and it’s finally happening. I have worked really hard just to get where I am at right now.”

Yates is 25 and has started to see an uptick in gigs.

“We started playing around 2020, but COVID happened, so we didn’t pick up doing it all the time until about 2022,” Yates said. “We have been going strong for about two years.”

Yates describes her sound and influence as soul country.

“I try to play a little bit of everything,” Yates said. “I have always enjoyed country because I grew up on country, but I have always been an Aretha Franklin fan, so it’s like trying to find the middle ground and mush those two things together.

I love the beat behind an Aretha Franklin song. Getting that funky sound going and that soul sound going and mixing that with the country twang that I grew up on. I love that.”

Later that day, Yates played another show in Rowan County for an anniversary celebration at Cauble Creek Vineyard.

Following Yates on the stage at Bell Tower Green was 9daytrip.

The six-piece band performs a cohesion of country, blues and rock-n-roll combined with psychedelic improvisation that forms an Americana sound.

“When people ask me what kind of music I play, I just say yes,” bandmate Shelby Stover said.
Although originally from Ohio, Stover would split his time between Salisbury and the Buckeye State as a kid.

“I got some midwest and southern upbringing,” Stover said.

Stover and Chad Butler, who also grew up in Rowan County, got involved with a few other instrumentalists in 2013. They would play their first live gig together in 2015.

According to Stover, during those first couple of years, the band learned how to play together, especially when it comes to improvising on stage, a hallmark of their current performances.

“We may cover a Pink Floyd song, and halfway through the song, the drummer starts playing reggae,” Stover said.

That didn’t happen overnight as the bandmates would rehearse the same amount each week that many people work full-time jobs.

While Stover acknowledges that Salisbury is where he “cut his teeth,” hometown crowds can skew toward apathy.

“These people have been watching you since you started,” Stover said.

After a show is announced, like the one on Saturday, people who have seen them play numerous times or who watched them grow might say, “We’ll catch you next time.”

Stover remains grateful for the launchpad that Rowan County gave him. He and Butler played countless shows in coffee shops and dive bars around the area.

9daytrip has obtained a level of acclaim and success from touring. Since 2015, the band has more than 250 shows in music halls and festivals across five states on its resumé, in addition to a Carolina Music Award in 2017 for Americana bands.

When they go to play venues out of town and the state, Stover said fans are eager to see them again, but that when they perform in Rowan County, many spectators just see them as Shelby and Chad’s band.

“The questions that come to mind are why do Scott and Seth Avett not play Kannapolis, or Fred Durst not play Gastonia,” Stover said.

Could that familiarity be the culprit?

“You just get a little weathered and worn,” Stover said.

Perhaps, the connection wears off the sheen.