Music with Friends Featured on News Channel 36
Concert Review: Earth, Wind and Fire Turned Charleston into a Boogie Wonderland
Local Venture Gets You Up Close and Personal with Music Legends
CHARLOTTE NEWSWorld Class Acts do Private Shows for 'Friends' Only
Posted November 30, 2012 Music with Friends Featured on News Channel 36
Posted November 5, 2010
CHARLESTON NEWSDoobie Brothers Takin' it to the Dock Street
Posted March 13, 2013 Concert Review: Earth, Wind and Fire Turned Charleston into a Boogie Wonderland
Posted September 23, 2011 Local Venture Gets You Up Close and Personal with Music Legends
Posted September 15, 2011
Doobie Brothers takin' it to the Dock Street
Only The Eagles’ path compares to the Doobie Brothers’ immense early success, significant changes in lineup, considerable shift in style and sound, a second peak of success, a breakup then reunion and makeup, new studio music and ongoing touring.
But even The Eagles never had four guitarists and four drummers — at the same time.
The Doobie Brothers were influenced by more than just other musicians, such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. Founder, singer, guitarist and songwriter Tom Johnston reflected on the northern California scene from the Summer of Love through the mid-’70s that brought about dramatic cultural and social change.
“The reintroduction of the blues to a wide audience brought many new sounds and types of music. All this converging at the same time won’t be repeated and is so different from now,” Johnston said.
The most well-known line from the Doobie Brothers’ appearance on the “What’s Happening” television show in 1978, “Which Doobie you be?,” reflected what was happening in the band.
With a constantly changing lineup, the biggest change came in 1975 when Johnston had to leave the band because of health reasons.
With a record contract requiring an album release, Michael McDonald was brought in on keyboards and vocals to supplement singer, guitarist, songwriter and original member Patrick Simmons.
As longtime band producer Ted Templeton was “blown away” with McDonald’s demo of “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the band radically changed its sound from guitar-centric rock to softer, bluesy rock with the keyboards front and center.
The band’s second peak of popularity came with its 1978’s Grammy-winning “Minute by Minute” album and the single “What a Fool Believes,” but constant touring and stylistic conflict caused the band to disband in 1982.
This was not the Doobie Brothers’ end, though, as drummer Keith Knudsen brought them back together for a Vietnam Veterans benefit.
Johnston said, “No doubt, it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
With this successful reunion, Templeton suggested the “new old” group cut another album. This generated a Top 10 single: “The Doctor.”
With numerous hits at or approaching 40 years, Johnston is proud that “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “Long Train Running,” “Black Water” and “Take Me in Your Arms,” among other songs, have stood the test of time.
“I won’t lie,” Johnston said. “While skill is involved, so is blind luck.”
His rhythmic chord structure and distinctive strumming style led to songs that were instantly recognizable.
“Back then, radio was all-powerful and made the bands and the hit songs. You needed a hook such as, ‘Wo, oh, listen to the music.’ ” Now it’s many more people trying to jam through a much smaller door and it’s so much harder to stand out,” Johnston said.
Not all is in the distant past, as Johnston added, “We have some great newer stuff, too.”
On its most recent album, 2010’s “World Gone Crazy,” the band evokes earlier sounds with lush harmonies, including the first single from the album, “Nobody.”
The video, which can be seen at www.doobiebros.com, impeccably blends the band playing the song in the studio with clips from its earlier years.
Johnston said everyone takes pride in playing, but the key difference is basic: simply practicing.
“Vocal exercises make an immense difference. It is muscular and to keep control, you have to keep strong. The audience deserves it,” he said.
Music With Friends
For the Doobie Brothers upcoming concert at the Dock Street Theatre with Music With Friends, Johnston said the group will play songs spanning the band’s history, including some reworked “old new songs,” a deep cut or two and, of course, the hits.
The concert is the first of three shows the organization will present this year
“With the Dock Street Theatre being such an intimate venue, the shows feel more like a club than a larger concert,” Music With Friends founder Larry Faber said. “Given the Doobie Brothers high-energy level, this show will be powerful and the music alive even more so.”
Johnston concurred, saying, “Whatever age or demographic, our job is to reach the audience and move them to react.”
By Harris Cohen / Charleston Scene :: View Article
Posted on Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013
World-class acts do private shows - for 'Friends' only
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It looks like just another fancy cocktail reception. A sea of guests is gathered inside Spirit Square, some crowding around tables piled with crab claws or tenderloin sandwiches, many juggling mixed drinks, men in sport coats, women in sparkling outfits.
The only distinguishing feature: a poster near the Seventh Street entrance, emblazoned with a photo of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey.
They’re gathered here on this early November evening because Frey’s here. And they were here last April because Aretha Franklin was here. And in 2011 for Bonnie Raitt. And for Diana Ross. And Crosby, Stills & Nash. And Steely Dan. And Jackson Browne.
So these aren’t run-of-the-mill fancy cocktail receptions. They’re better described as preludes to what would be the hottest tickets in town – if anyone else actually knew these artists were coming here, and that this club even existed.
The club is called Music With Friends, with the “Music” provided by the aforementioned musicians and others, and the “Friends” in the form of anyone willing to fork over $1,650 a year for three events, each built around an intimate concert at Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theatre.
Launched in 2007, Music With Friends now has almost 600 members. It won’t get much bigger. The McGlohon only seats 730, and founder Larry Farber has no plans to move to a larger space. After all, the former First Baptist Church was a key part of his original vision for the club.
"It creates intimacy and the acoustics are marvelous, it’s got the charisma and character of this beautiful old church, and when you combine that with these wonderful artists we’ve had, it makes this room come alive in a way that’s just remarkable," Farber says of the theater, which is lined with rich-red velvet seats, accented by gorgeous stained-glass windows, and capped by a Byzantine dome.
Though 600 to 730 people sounds like a lot, it seems like only a little once the McGlohon is filled. The space is so small that someone could sail a paper airplane from the back to the front row without much effort; the stage covers slightly more square footage than the average Music With Friends member’s living room.
"(The artists) truly make eye contact with our members," says Becky Mitchener, the club’s development and membership director. "It’s not just about looking into the lights and into the abyss."
"Here, the seats that are farthest away," Farber adds, "are as good as any."
'The cost is all relative'
Farber, 61, is a Charlotte native. He came up through Cotswold Elementary, McClintock Junior High, Myers Park High, and then graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1973.
His interest in music was born at age 12 when he started his first band as a piano player; he cut his teeth in business as an agent with Hit Attractions fresh out of college, and – beginning in 1986 – as a partner at East Coast Entertainment, which books, he says, "everything from weddings to country clubs to fairs and festivals."
Then, in the mid-2000s, he had a dream: a private music club for friends, friends of friends, and those friends’ friends that would bring major nostalgia acts to his favorite venue in his beloved hometown.
Starting with about 50 couples, Farber launched in 2007 with Michael McDonald, then Gladys Knight, then Tony Bennett. The artists came and went with little public notice.
"We have never put an ad in the paper or a magazine," Farber said. "This is a club based on referrals, and we want to keep it that way."
That philosophy has worked. Today, the club’s membership includes Carolinas HealthCare CEO Michael Tarwater, Mercedes-Benz dealership owner Felix Sabates, former WSOC-TV news anchor Debi Faubion Attori and Wells Fargo executive Bob Bertges, the man who created the Levine Center for the Arts.
But anyone can join. You don’t have to be in an upper tax bracket. An Ivy League diploma is not required, and no one’s going to come to your house to confirm you have a three-car garage or marble countertops. All you need is that $1,650, plus a one-time seat fee of $500 ("like a PSL," Farber says).
If it sounds pricey, it is. Then again, at three shows per year, it’s basically $550 per concert. That covers the cocktail reception (catered by Porcupine Provisions); a post-show party (the place varies, but after Frey it was Blue Restaurant & Bar); unlimited drinks; and valet parking.
By comparison, premium tickets to Madonna’s recent concert at Time Warner Cable Arena ran $381, and fans had to share her with 16,000 other people, not 600.
"I’d much rather be around people I know in a great setting, pay double that price, and know it’s going to be a wonderful event," says Kim Saunders, 54, a mortgage consultant with Allen Tate Mortgage Services and a member for 31/2 years.
"The cost is all relative," says Alex Funderburg, 49, managing director of Bank of America Leasing and a member for 21/2 years. "Some people spend their money on clothes, some on shoes, some on trips. We all have things that we’re willing to spend a few extra dollars on. … For me, it’s this."
An idea that’s catching on
Farber boasts that there’s nothing else like Music With Friends in the U.S., and Douglas Young – vice president of programming at Blumenthal Performing Arts, which rents the McGlohon to the club – suspects he’s right.
"It’s not that people don’t do private membership series," says Young. "There are a lot of people who’ll do speaker series, in which you have to buy a full-year subscription … but in terms of on the concert side, it is really unique to have something that is using pretty big-name artists."
Each year, Farber schedules two shows in the spring and one in the fall, or one in the spring and two in the fall. Shows are always on weeknights, and typically end by 9:30 p.m.
"Every reason somebody might have for not wanting to join, we eliminated," he says. "We don’t do anything on weekends because someone might have a wedding or something. We don’t do anything in the summer when people are traveling."
The formula has worked, and the concept is spreading. Farber and his minority partners (Johnny Harris, David Rudolf, Steve Cummings and Clay Boardman) launched a second club in 2011 out of the historic Dock Street Theatre in Charleston; it has about 400 members and has welcomed many of the same artists as Charlotte, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Smokey Robinson and Frey.
Coming next fall: a third club, in Nashville, which plans to use a theater being built at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
"We’re not opening 25 stores a year – this is a unique concept," Farber says. "But if we open up one a year for the next few years, we’d be thrilled with that."
‘You’re really in the band’
Music With Friends concerts have a lounge-y feel. Drinks can come into the theater. Here and there, people chat (sometimes a bit too loudly) in their seats. But mainly, the vibe is exceedingly upbeat. You can see lots of smiles, women clinging to their men (and vice-versa), fingers being tapped on armrests.
On this night, Frey performs for 90 unhurried minutes, telling stories between songs that take a few minutes, or cracking jokes with the audience – at one point, he says, "Excuse me for a sec," grabs a tissue, then quips, "Someone has cocaine in the house because my nose is running. I thought that was over last century." The crowd howls.
The singer caps the night with two encores, and Eagles hit "Take It to the Limit" has nearly all 600 people swaying and belting out the chorus.
"It’s a great concept," Frey says to members at one point. "It’s been a lot of fun for us to play – I don’t want to say in a place this small. Let’s say in a place this intimate, where you can feel the band breathe and feel the music. You get in these big venues and I’m telling you, man, stuff is whipping all over the place and you’ve got your earpiece and you’re trying to drive it the best you can. But here, you feel like you’re really in the band."
Even in the darkness, you can see Larry Farber in his balcony seat, smiling and nodding.
By THÉODEN JANES / Charlotte Observer :: View Article
Posted on Friday, Nov 30, 2012
Music with Friends Featured on News Channel 36
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On a recent Tuesday night, Spirit Square in uptown filled with people. Think of it as a group of old friends, who mark their calendars to get together three times a year.
The event is called Music with Friends, a private cocktail reception followed by a private concert with some of the biggest names in music. "There is truly nothing like this in the country," Larry Farber said as his crowd grew larger.
That crowd included well-known attorneys like Bill Diehl and David Rudolph, along with Family Dollar founder Leon Levine and his wife Sandra.
"The idea came about because I knew this theatre in Charlotte, which was one of a kind in the country, and I wanted to marry what to me was the most beautiful venue in America with some of the most legendary artists," Farber said. The historic McGlohan Theatre as a backdrop, Larry Farber's "Music with friends" is now in its fourth year and the roster of stars keeps growing.
"From Steely Dan to Sheryl Crow, Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald to Tony Bennett," Farber said. Membership is capped at 600 people and right now, the Charlotte club is entirely sold out with a waiting list. "It's $1,500 a person per year, which includes everything," Farber said. "All the shows, the food, drinks, parking and three concerts that are unequal to what they'll ever hear."
"It's just like they're in your living room," said Dennis Purser, an original member of Music with Friends. Yes, he says, this costs more than your regular concert, but here, he gets a voice. "So, we all make a vote on it and whoever gets the most votes is who we get in here," he said. The winner the night we were invited was legendary group Crosby, Stills & Nash, playing the classics that made them household names. And the crowd loved it, cheering and singing along to every song. Sold out in Charlotte and now expanding elsewhere, Music with Friends is moving into Charleston, S.C.. "Then, after that once we get the two clubs going, we're going to look at some other markets to see if they are suitable for a club like ours," said Farber.
It's a club that draws big name acts and puts them on a smaller, up close and personal stage.
"It's like they're playing just for you," Dennis Purser said.
As if the music of Crosby, Stills & Nash wasn't enough for one night, the show started with a major announcement about next season. It starts in March with none other than Diana Ross.
"How can you beat seeing Diana Ross in this room?" asked Farber.
That announcement and the Crosby, Stills " Nash show was a proud moment for a man who loves music and is beside himself that so many people who've joined his club do as well.
"We're creating memories for a lifetime and that, for me, is so rewarding," he said. If you'd like to see photos from some of the shows, check out www.musicwithfriends.com.
By BOBBY SISK / NewsChannel 36 :: View Article
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 10:00 PM
Updated Friday, Nov 5 at 10:49 PM
CONCERT REVIEW: EARTH, WIND AND FIRE TURNED CHARLESTON INTO A BOOGIE WONDERLAND
CHARLESTON, S.C. — If you were walking around downtown Charleston Wednesday evening and felt the ground rumbling, it wasn’t an earthquake. More than likely what you were feeling were the funky bass notes that were pulsating from Verdine White’s bass guitar as Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) treated a small but appreciative audience at the Dock Street Theatre to a ninety-minute set of classic funk and R&B music.
Yes, you read that correctly; Earth, Wind & Fire, perhaps one of the biggest R&B acts in music history, performed at the recently renovated Dock Street Theatre. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.
The concert came courtesy of Music With Friends, a local music club that started in Charlotte four years ago, and opened a chapter here in the Lowcountry this year. Members pay a membership fee and then yearly dues, which get them three shows by big name artists at the Dock Street. The historic performance space on Church St. downtown holds about 500 people.
I’ve been in coliseums with bathrooms bigger than the Dock Street’s main floor.
That’s not meant to be insulting to the venue, quite the opposite in fact. The intimacy between band and audience is one of the best things about Music With Friends at the Dock Street.
Even sitting in the last row of seats in the balcony, it appeared that no one was ever more than a couple of hundred feet from the stage. I was personally worried about how a band like EWF would sound in a venue as compact as the Dock Street. I needn’t have worried. The band took to the stage at 8:30 and quickly launched into “Boogie Wonderland,” which was a hit for the band in 1979 alongside The Emotions.
It was a good choice for an opener, because the crowd was immediately out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. Original EWF members Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, and Philip Bailey were backed by a band of amazing musicians that even included Bailey’s son, Philip Bailey Jr.
Local Venture Gets You Up Close and Personal with Music Legends
"Do you remember the 21st night of September? Love was changing the minds of pretenders while chasing the clouds away."
Earth, Wind & Fire, "September"
It's one of Earth, Wind & Fire's best-known hits, and next week, on Sept. 21, a small group of hardcore music fans will get a chance to see that legendary R&B band at the historic Dock Street Theatre downtown.
Wednesday night's show is the latest performance made possible locally by Music with Friends, a club that brings well-known performers to town for intimate performances at a venue that holds about 450 people.
Music with Friends is the brainchild of Larry Farber, who for years has worked in the music business, first as a musician, and more recently as a senior partner with East Coast Entertainment.
Farber, the founder and CEO of the club, sat down to talk about the music club recently, joined by associate Becky Mitchener, as well as club members Cantey Hare and Chris Drummond.
Farber started Music with Friends in his hometown of Charlotte five years ago, believing that there was a segment of the music-loving population in Charlotte who would be willing to pay a bit more for the ability to see well-known artists in a small venue.
As it turned out, Farber was correct in his assumption. The inaugural season of the club in Charlotte featured acts that included Michael McDonald, Gladys Knight and Tony Bennett performing at the 700-seat McGlohon Theatre.
"It's like they're playing just for you," Dennis Purser said.
Response to the club was enthusiastic enough in Charlotte that Farber decided to expand to Charleston this year.
Motown Legend Diana Ross performed at Dock Street in May, and after Earth, Wind & Fire perform next week, members will be treated to what is sure to be a great performance by Bonnie Raitt on Nov. 3.
Membership in the club is open to anyone and works like this: A prospective member pays a one-time $500 initiation fee, which allows them to choose their seat at the Dock Street Theatre. Members then pay $1,500 each a year, which gives them access to not only three performances annually at the venue but also free parking, a pre-show party with free hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, and an after-show party at a local club or restaurant.
While some might look at the cost of membership and think it a lot to pay for three concerts a year, consider the fact that tours in recent years by Madonna, The Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney all had seats near the stage that were selling for anywhere from $300 to $450.
The premium price for those shows puts you in a stadium or coliseum with tens of thousands of other people.
Throw in service charges, parking, and food and drinks at the show, and the difference in price isn't all that far off.
While there is nothing wrong in seeing a show at a larger venue, Farber believes that some music lovers are willing to pay a bit more for a different kind of music experience.
"I thought it would be cool to have a club that allowed its members to see world-renowned artists in an intimate venue," says Farber. "This is a club for music lovers, and it's really about the entire experience rather than just the artist that is playing."
Club members also get to have a hand in helping select the acts that play each year. Members vote on who they would like to see, and an attempt is made to book the most popular choices. Farber points out that the year Music with Friends launched in Charlotte, the club was able to book all three of the top choices voted on by its members.
Obviously, it depends on who is touring and whether they are interested in playing shows that are a bit out of the ordinary. But with the addition of Charleston, it is easier to book top-tier artists.
The club has no corporate underwriting, and despite the current difficult economic situation in the country, Farber says that membership actually grew during the recent downturn. Mitchener also points out that the club tries to schedule shows during the week so as not to be competing with larger venues, and avoids shows during the summer in recognition that many of its members plan vacations with their families then.
By Devin Grant, Special to the Post and Courier :: View Article
Friday, September 15, 2011