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For 13 years now the Fayetteville After Five concert series has been a part of the local music landscape and summer time festivities. The first 10 years, events were held on the Fayetteville Museum of Art property. Then Festival Park opened. The performances were moved to downtown, and each year has been better than the last. The crowds average between 2,500 and 4,000 each month, but there is still room to grow, and that is exactly what the museum is hoping for.
“I think what has been really great about the opening of Festival Park three years ago has been that it is one central location for our community as a whole, not just the downtown crowd, not just museum goers. This is a very large music venue that is a real gem for our community and I think as popular as it is, there is still a very large part of our community that doesn’t know that festival park exists and that there are free concerts in our community every month in our downtown,” said Michele Horn, Fayetteville Museum of Art assistant director/curator. “I’ve lived in many other ares and certainly I’ve never been in a place where there are so many free events for a community and I think we take that for granted sometimes. That is what is great about Fayetteville and what is great about bringing these people together for Fayetteville After Five. It is a free concert and our community really needs to take advantage of that. Other communities aren’t blessed with such a venue.”
While there are still great regional and national bands lined up to entertain the community, this year local talent will be a part of the festivities, too.
“This season we’ve got opening acts from the local area,” said Horn. “They will start around 5:45 (p.m.) and open and then the large acts that have been brought in will start closer to 6:45(p.m.).”
This year’s Fayetteville After Five kicks-off with the Chairman of the Board. Group members General Johnson, Ken Knox and Danny Woods have been performing together since the 1970s.
Originally, billed as an R&B act in Detroit with hits like “Patches” and “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” things slowed down considerably for them in the ’80s, on a national level at least. Thankfully, for lovers of Carolina Beach Music, the band relocated and found great success performing their brand of music on the shores of the southeastern states. They’ll be performing on May 21 in Festival Park. Bring your lawn chair, or blanket (no coolers please) and enjoy an evening getting into the summer frame of mind.
“We’ve always been the third Thursday of the month. ... We are getting you up for the weekend,” said Horn. “We know you have one more day of work but it is a great way to enjoy Fayetteville for those people that pack up and go to the beach for the weekend or travel on the weekend. Thursday is a great night to come out and enjoy the concert while you are still in town.”
While the music is what makes it a concert, watching the audience delight in the atmosphere and let their hair down is what makes it a joy for the event organizer and sponsors.
“I think the best part is after we’ve set everything up and the main act is on. That is a chance for us to step back and watch the crowd and see their enjoyment,” said Horn. “It is great when I see a family or young children or even ladies in their ’50s, ’60s, ’70s get up on the promenade and just start dancing to the music and really enjoy themselves and kind of brush off that hard work week or whatever has troubled them through the week. They just get up there and enjoy the music and enjoy themselves and have a great time.”