Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

A Celebration of North Carolina Songwriting on Nov. 14th Was a Wonderful Night of Local Music


Last Saturday night, the Cary Playwright’s Forum sponsored a wonderful night of local music, entitled A Celebration of North Carolina Songwriting. What a treat! The musicians were a group of acclaimed singer/songwriters who have all carved out impressive careers in the music industry, and they joined us to collaborate and share with a very appreciative crowd.

With a smattering of folk, rock, bluegrass, and Christmas tunes, wisecracks, and camaraderie, the group had the feel of folks who know each other well, when in reality they have only played together on a piecemeal basis. This underscored how professional these musicians truly are. They took turns sharing stories and playing songs that they wrote, some happy, some sad. They played two full sets of music, with a brief intermission for refreshments and CD sales. And with such talented performers, those CDs were selling briskly.

All the songs came from the artists’ hearts and funny bones. Laurelyn Dosset sang about her father’s death and pearls that all of his grandchildren wore at his funeral. Dean Driver sang about the horrendousness of hummingbirds. No, really! It was hysterically funny! Actually, Dean Driver came to the game late; but he had the audience in stitches with his funny stories and lyrics. One of his funniest songs was called “Do the Minimum,” about how men dance these days. It was a riot. He was joined on stage several times by his daughter, who has lovely voice in her own right. The harmonies on these songs were great.

Headliners at the Cary Playwright's Forum's <em>Celebration of North Carolina Songwriting</em> included (from left) Joe Newberry, Laurelyn Dosset, Dean Driver, Nancy Middleton, and Kirk Ridge (photo by Dave Brainard)

Headliners at the Cary Playwright’s Forum’s Celebration of North Carolina Songwriting included (from left) Joe Newberry, Laurelyn Dosset, Dean Driver, Nancy Middleton, and Kirk Ridge (photo by Dave Brainard)

The other artists were tremendously talented, too. Nancy Middleton has been a folk rock artist in Nashville for over a decade, and her strong guitar and vocal combination showed her experience. Her hard-driving tunes and lyrics had everyone’s toes tapping.

Joe Newberry received an award for the best gospel recorded performance at the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for his song “Singing As We Rise.” He was also co-writer of the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year “They Called It Music.” His banjo playing was effortless.

Kirk Ridge is a friend of Cary Playwright’s Forum. He has written song after song for the troupe’s productions, and he has won many prizes over the years for his Celtic music and songwriting. His music has even been featured on a favorite radio show of ours, NPR’s “Car Talk.” Ridge’s stories paint pictures for the audience, like the one about an old man driving around town in his classic car stuffed with his belongings.

All of this talent was backed up by the drum rhythms of John Hanks and Bobb Head on bass. They tied the group together. After each song, we could see the artists beam with joy — and as we left The Cary Theater, we did too!

A CELEBRATION OF NORTH CAROLINA SONGWRITING (Cary Playwrights’ Forum, Nov. 14 at The Cary Theater in Cary).

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Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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