Music with Friends Featured in Charlotte Business Journal

Music With Friends
July 17, 2018

Big thanks to Erik Spanberg, Senior Staff Writer of the Charlotte Business Journal whom wrote an incredible article about our club:

"Welcome to Music With Friends, a private concert club that, for more than a decade, has catered to a largely baby-boomer crowd. On a recent late-spring evening at Charlotte’s McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, founder Larry Farber greeted members while tending to last-minute details before ZZ Top tore through a 90-minute set in the 600-seat venue.

If you didn’t hear about it from a friend, that’s because Farber’s three-shows-per-year offer is truly a members-only affair. Music With Friends has 500 members who pay $1,650 annually for a VIP experience custom made for people who love music — but who may also be well past the days of mucking through beer-splashed clubs or fighting throngs at an arena or amphitheater.

“It’s hard to believe this is our 12th season and it’s still going well,” said Farber, whose day job is with EastCoast Entertainment, a company that books acts and bands of all genres and levels for weddings, corporate events and festivals. “It’s like owning a restaurant. You want everybody to like every show and every morsel of food.”

Heavy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are provided for all members as part of the annual fee during a 90-minute pre-show party at Spirit Square, followed by the 90-minute performance and a post-event party, usually at a nearby restaurant. There are usually two concerts in the fall and one in the spring, but none during busy vacation season in summer. Shows are always on weeknights to avoid weekend conflicts and the lineup is typically eclectic, usually leaning on veteran artists in various genres.

Over the years, club members have seen Bonnie Raitt duet with Darius Rucker on “Angel from Montgomery,” listened in as Aretha Franklin performed two days after learning of the death of her goddaughter, Whitney Houston, and seen a range of artists spanning Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Sheryl Crow, Steely Dan, Heart and Hall & Oates. In October, Farber will welcome Alison Krauss to the McGlohon Theater.

Two members of the Eagles — the late Glenn Frey and guitarist Joe Walsh — have performed solo shows for Music With Friends. So have the Commodores, Gladys Knight and Norah Jones.

Members pay a one-time entry fee of $550 and then subscribe each year after that. Farber emphasizes the entire experience — seeing interesting, established performers in a small setting with quality food and drink and familiar faces — is what makes Music With Friends special.

For those wanting to see a specific artist or genre, Music With Friends may not be a good fit, he said. The club strives for diversity when booking shows, aiming for a well-rounded lineup that offers insight into what makes veteran acts last. On plenty of occasions, Farber has had his own eyes opened by a performer who he wasn’t particularly an ardent fan of, but came to appreciate by seeing them up close.

Over the years, Music With Friends has expanded, with mixed success. Farber loved a satellite version in Charleston, South Carolina, but the 400-capacity theater that served as home base was too small to allow the venture to make it financially.

A spinoff version in Houston remains up and running, and Farber told Luxury Living it has been stable and well received. There is a possibility another city could be added, though Farber wants to further analyze before deciding whether to grow again.

Frequent member surveys tell Farber and his staff what’s working and what’s not — and which acts are of interest, assuming they’re within budget limits. Farber mentioned that some artists command concert guarantees that would make the McGlohon a near-impossible proposition. (Sorry, Springsteen fans.)

Mostly, though, the market for performers remains healthy and within reach for the club. Music With Friends’ founder long ago stopped worrying about ever running out of ideas. Along the way, it’s become a labor of love.

“It’s been the most fulfilling, inspiring thing I’ve done,” Farber said. “To watch 550 of your closest friends soaking up live music, reliving their past — I never could have imagined the high it creates. I hope it keeps going for a long time.”

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To read the article on Charlotte Business Journal, please click here.