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Americana Band Stand

Founding players reunite for event's final jam


There's a familiar saying having to do with how everything in life comes full circle. On Tuesday, March 5, the long-standing Americana Night Showcase at the Double Door Inn will be doing just that. The night will not only serve as a celebration for the showcase's fifth anniversary, which will feature four of its founding acts, but ironically it will also be a farewell to an event that has reshaped the landscape of the Charlotte music scene. Faced with having to relocate to Rhode Island due to his "day job," MaxxMusic promoter Gregg McCraw has announced that he will no longer continue to organize the weekly showcases dedicated to Americana acts. McCraw, who sincerely didn't want to draw any extra attention to his departure, says he doesn't really consider the situation as an end, by any means, just another step in the evolution of Charlotte's Americana music scene.

A little more than five years ago, a group of musicians and a few non-musicians (including McCraw) came together and decided to promote the Americana bands in this town. McCraw explains, "We started it with the idea that it would be a forum for six bands to alternate playing on Tuesday nights, and we wanted to use the income from the door to record a compilation CD."

The six founding acts McCraw adamantly credits throughout our conversation were The Doubting Thomas Band (who he especially noted time after time for generously giving up their mainstay of Tuesdays at the Double Door), Lenny Federal, The Rank Outsiders, Michael Reno Harrell, David Childers and, at the time, a brand new band called Lou Ford.

Within its first year, the showcase raised enough money to record a compilation, Known On The Underground, and also expand its forum to include regional acts in addition to the local "host" bands. Early on, however, the career paths of both Lou Ford and The Doubting Thomas Band had taken them on another course, but other local acts like Big Al and Willy Evans were brought on board.

Shortly into the first year, national touring acts were added as well. "Over the course of the next year, it developed into one of our host bands and one national/regional band coming in to play," he explains. "It sort of stayed that way through the beginning of this year, when we decided to make it just one band. Whoever it was got the whole night, and that was just part of the evolution.

"The showcase became a way for [national] touring bands that were on the club circuit to come in and have a place to play in Charlotte when they really weren't able to get shows at other places. It's always worked out well because Tuesday nights are off nights for most bands, so they were glad to have some place to play and we were certainly happy to have them. I mean, I could give you a list -- we've had some great bands come in over the years."

McCraw's list would contain the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, The Derailers, Steve Forbert, Dave Alvin, Mark Olson and Victoria Williams, and Peter Case, just to name a few. Many of these acts have also gone on to play Neighborhood Theatre shows with MaxxMusic, which McCraw says he will continue to do. "The Neighborhood Theatre shows that I do are still going to go on. I will be down here from time to time, plus I have people helping me. That's not going to go away; it's just with being out of state, I just can't keep every Tuesday night going. It's just too much to organize."

Nick Karres, owner of the Double Door Inn, says he will of course continue to bring Americana acts to the club and on any given night when it makes good business sense, but the weekly Americana showcases as we know them will officially end on March 5.

"I'm personally going to miss the hell out of it," laments McCraw. "It's been a great five years. A lot of people have put a lot of effort into it -- not just me -- and that's why the final official Americana showcase will be the founding bands. I want the guys who have put five years into this to finish it up."

David Childers, Lenny Federal, Michael Reno Harrell and The Rank Outsiders will perform at the Americana 5th Anniversary Party and Final Showcase on Tuesday, March 5, at the Double Door Inn. Call the club at 704-376-1446 for more details. *

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