FEATURE: The Underestimation of Local Arts


FEATURE STORY: LOCAL BANDS IN NCScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.55.56 PM

Written and photographed By Noah McCormick and Sophie Vazquez


Every day, humans listen to more than 5 billion hours of music. Music is more than just something we listen to as a result of the culture we are born into, it’s an expression; a way to seek out, create, dwell and celebrate over our feelings.

Many claim they need it to survive as others rely on it to complete work and cope with their “quarter-life crises.” But the artists who create these inspirational moments are without a doubt the true leaders of us all.

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In the relatively suburban town of Greensboro, North Carolina, it won’t take you long to figure out that it’s not Hollywood. They’re no stretch limos, red carpets or celebrities in thousand-dollar dresses. However, that doesn’t mean that the musical talent in this town of ours is nonexistent. In fact, we have a whole radio station dedicated to the songs and albums created by our town’s very own.90.9 WQFS, stationed right here in Greensboro has been shining the spotlight on local bands for years. Why do this as opposed to playing the regular loop of today’s hit-or-miss tracks? Not only does this promote the talent of several bands you’ve probably never heard of, but it gives the station’s listeners one convenient location for hearing some of their favorite local tunes.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.02.55 PM“Music is a big part of North Carolina,” radio host Amie Salem says.

Clearly these neighboring music groups aren’t credited enough fame to have their faces slapped across billboards, but we must as the question: are local bands given enough admiration for the original entertainment they provide? Many feel that this is determined through location.

Initially, one may think the larger the city, the more likelihood for success. This statement is more or less accurate. For instance, out of North Carolina’s 100 counties, a local band may be only able to play a steady number of gigs in about 15 of them.  This being due to their population and diverse cultures.

This goes for not just music, but the arts as a whole, since some areas are more subject to these artistic trends than others.

“Greensboro does a great job supporting the arts, some counties just don’t get as lucky…” -Amie Salem

Nonetheless, not only is Greensboro a valued area to showcase local talent with its several venues and promotion for the arts, but the variety of music expands across a wide field of genres. One of these being jazz. Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.05.06 PM

Being in the 21st century, the easiest word we can use to describe jazz is “rare.” Jazz is often considered one of the hardest forms of music to create and perform, especially live, thus making its appearance in modern-day music sparse.

photo 1But that’s not keeping the Doug Largent Trio from keeping it alive.

The Doug Largent Trio, featuring guitarist Brad Maiani, Organist Doug Largent, and drummers Dan Davis and Tyler Leak, has been playing across venues in North Carolina for five years.

Playing a style of smooth, free-formed jazz, all members are practically virtuosos at their instruments.

In fact, guitarist Brad Maiani has worked on his skill for over 45 years.

It’s the only thing I know how to do that makes any genuine sense to me at all. The rest is trivia.”

Bands like these don’t all do it for the money. They perform to escape from their boring day jobs, to tell a story and take us along for the ride.

When asked how much money the trio regularly makes, Brad responded by saying that it “varies wildly.” Each band member made it clear that this hobbie would never be sustainable enough to replace their full time jobs, as much as they’d like it to.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.01.19 PM“Sometimes we play for free; sometimes we play for just enough money to pay the drummer and Doug and I drink for free; sometimes we make $500 a man (weddings),” Brad said. “My expenses would never be covered by gig money, but Doug is a full time musician and is making enough to pay his.”

However, as musicians could all dwell over the underestimation of local bands day by day, we must be thankful for the support our community provides for the arts alone. Not every county has a radio station dedicated to their municipal bands or dozens of venues that provide live entertainment; but at the end of the day, it is we the people who are uninformed about local arts.