By Robert Lopez
May 18, 2016 08:03
Birth of the Cool
Emily Wagoner takes a seat on the patio outside Potent Potables, glass of wine in hand, and looks out over Jamestown’s Main Street.
She sees plenty that wasn’t there when she was growing up. Across the street is The Deck at River Twist, a live music venue. To the left is Southern Roots, a gourmet restaurant. New shops are all around.
Even Potent Potables, a craft beer and wine shop, is a fairly recent arrival, as are the food trucks that regularly set up shop outside. Tonight Baconessense, from Alamance County, is peddling dogs, wraps and sandwiches.
“I feel like I’m at the beach, the mountains, like you can be at a little resort area right here in your hometown,” Wagoner, 32, said. “You have all these places you can walk to, all the entertainment. It’s really built up. Just driving through the main road, on a Friday, Saturday, or even during the week, you’ll see a lot of people looking for a good night out.”
Nestled in between Greensboro and High Point in southwestern Guilford County, Jamestown has emerged as an unlikely hot spot.
A compact, walkable downtown, some eclectic businesses and proximity to Interstate 74 and Business 85 have combined to make the town of 3,600 something of a destination.
“You still have that small town feel,” Wagoner, who works as a medical assistant, said. “But within the last five years, it’s built up, gotten a nightlife. I’ve been to Pilot Mountain, and had people asking about Jamestown, asking about The Deck. We’re becoming pretty well-known.”
Lydia, Quakers and new businesses
Visitors entering Jamestown on Main Street will pass under a graffiti covered railroad bridge.
Lydia’s Ghost is said to reside in a tunnel nearby. On some nights she can supposedly be seen trying to flag down a ride.
According to lore, when the driver arrives at the address Lydia provided, her mother answers the door and says she died in a car accident. And Lydia is nowhere to be seen.
During the day, visitors on the approaches into town are more likely to see rolling farmland, maybe an occasional remnant of the industrial age.
Measuring three square miles, the town today stretches roughly from GTCC on the east to High Point City Lake on the west.
The area was settled in 1752 by Quakers and named after James Mendenhall, whose family owned much of the property that was to become the town. A small bit of the family’s plantation remains on West Main Street and is open for tours.
The Oakdale Cotton Mill served as the town’s main employer in the years after the Civil War and up through much of the 20th Century.
The mill closed in 2009, but some industry remains, mostly notably Highland Containers, whose brick smokestack continues to loom over downtown.
Keith Volz, who has served as Jamestown mayor since 2007, moved to the town for work in 1983 from Pennsylvania.
“In a lot of ways it was basically like it is today,” he said. “It was very quaint. It wasn’t very big. But frankly, it can’t get very big, because we’re being squeezed by Greensboro on one side and High Point on the other.”
The town, Volz said, started becoming something of a draw when Southern Roots moved from High Point into a storefront downtown in 2009.
The restaurant, noted for its southern dishes made with local ingredients, had been a big draw during the furniture market.
“In the late ‘90s, early 2000s, there were a lot of people wringing their hands over the vacant buildings, thinking that we had a ghost town,” he said. “But when Southern Roots came to town, it was followed on the heels by a couple of other places.”
Even today, though, the town’s business district stretches only a few blocks. One Many establishments in town have their own small lots, but most parking is on the street, and on weekends those spaces can fill up quickly.
“We’re an older town that just doesn’t have the available property to put in parking, or the type of money large cities have to build large lots or parking garages,” Volz said. “We have to make do with what we have.
“But walking, it’s a good way to take in the ambience.”
Never a follower
Many evenings, Wade Gabel will walk around The Deck and ask people where they’re from.
“A lot of folks will say Asheboro, Burlington, Winston,” he said. “There used to be a mentality of ‘Why would I drive all the way to Jamestown to do something.’ But once people come, they realize how much is going on. And headcount-wise, we might have a couple hundred on the weekend, depends on the band, depends on the weather.”
Gabel, 52, grew up in Jamestown. “A lot smaller, a lot quieter” is what he remembers. A hardware, a pharmacy, a drycleaner, a Bi-Rite grocery and not much else lined Main Street in those days.
After spending most of his career in corporate sales, he said, he saw an opportunity in what had been a gift and garden shop, and four years ago opened The Deck.
“I wanted to take a chance,” he said. “So I opened a bar. I never worked in a bar. I’ve frequented one or two. But, I just wanted to do something different in my home community, and I’ve always been a huge music fan. I’ve never been comfortable being a follower.”
The Deck features live music every Friday and Saturday, and the occasional Thursday and Sunday. It also hosts an open-mic on Wednesdays.
With its potted plants, fountains and cement statuary, the place still does somewhat resemble a garden shop from the outside. The inside is decorated with throw rugs, couches and chairs. A bar area, with garage-style doors opening to the outside is carpeted with artificial turf.
In the back is the stage, which he upgraded last year. Jaxon Jill, Narrow Gauge and Exit 180 are among the acts that have performed there recently.
Gabel has also started an event on the first Thursday of each month, featuring live music and “giving folks an opportunity to network.”
“We’ll have small businesses coming in here setting up booths to get word out about what they’re doing,” he said. “We have Foothills on board to do a tap takeover. It’ll be similar to a trade show. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of professionals and local people.”
He plans to host the event over the next five months, and “if we have success with that, we’ll maybe do something in the cooler months.”
“We’re always trying to add something,” he said. “You’ve got to keep re-inventing yourself. You can’t get complacent. You get comfortable, you go under.”
A lot of the touches you find in the city
A waiter sets down a big plate of shrimp and grits, the color of butter and adorned with ham, mushrooms and diced tomatoes.
On a Tuesday evening, Southern Roots is packed with diners indulging in fried green tomatoes with caramelized onions, lemon rosemary pound cake with fresh whipped cream, okra fries and other rich regional specialties.
Lisa Hawley opened the restaurant 14 years ago in High Point, where it operated out of the J.H. Adams Inn.
In 2008, her lease ran out at the inn, and she went shopping for a new space.
“There wasn’t anything in that spot in Jamestown,” she said. “I decided to make a move and it was the best move I ever made. I feel like I’m right in the middle of a lot of places. It’s easy for people to get to me. I’m five miles from High Point, less than that from Greensboro.”
Steve Kim, who opened Potent Potables with his wife Abby in 2012, said he had originally thought about opening his shop in Greensboro, but he too liked Jamestown’s central location.
“I live in High Point and always did business here,” said Kim, who used to run a cell phone store. “It’s a small community, but it’s near (I-85), it’s a good middle ground. So we decided to take a chance and found a building that we just fell in love with.”
The shop is in the former Sadie May’s Ristorante. A sign for the Italian eatery is preserved on the back wall.
Shelves are stocked with 700 different beers and 200 types of wine. The shop also has a bar with several brews on tap and a machine that dispenses vino. An old video game console sits in one corner, and on a typical night a few families can be seen playing some of the many board games Kim keeps on hand.
“It provides a different option, if people want to bring their kids in and relax,” Kim said. “So it’s beyond just being beer and wine.”
Food trucks park outside five or six nights a week, and in late April the store hosted a food truck festival that attracted about a dozen mobile eateries and benefited the autism society of North Carolina.
Such happenings, residents say, have given the town a bit of an urban vibe, attracting those who still want to “hold on to a little bit of the city.”
“It’s a nice place to live if you’re a young family,” said Chris Sandman, 31, who moved to Jamestown last year with his wife Aden Hailemariam and recently had a baby boy named Yonas.
“We used to live down by UNCG and go out a lot. We’ve calmed down a little bit. But it’s still nice to have a local bar and a little bit of entertainment. It’s a suburb, but with a lot of the touches you find in the city.” !
The Deck at River Twist hosts benefit concert
by JANE WHITEHORNE
After traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, come back to Jamestown for a special concert at The Deck at River Twist.
The Deck hosts The Legendary Drifters Nov. 29 for a performance to benefit the Guilford County Animal Shelter. Famous for its smooth R&B rhythms and what we in the Carolinas call Beach Music, the group’s play list includes fan favorites “Stand by Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Under the Boardwalk.” Tickets are being pre-sold for $10 and will be $15 at the door, which opens at 4 p.m.
Once the turkey leftovers are finished, start celebrating the Christmas season with a Very Shiloh Hill Christmas at TurnTable Nov. 30. The party begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. The event includes Shiloh Hill’s musical performance as well as games, prizes, specialty beverages, snacks and much, much more.
There are more offerings for you music lovers out there. Joey Barnes returns to Potent Potables Nov. 29 and Stiletto performs at The Deck at River Twist Nov. 30.
Potent Potables plays host to Marty’s BBQ Truck Nov. 30 beginning at 6 p.m. On Dec. 1, Potent Potables sponsors J-Town Food Truck Rally beginning at 1 p.m. Joining in are trucks from The Great Escape Catering Co., Urban Street Grill, King Creole, Bandito Burrito and Camel City Grill. Come early to enjoy the food and stay for the Jamestown Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Jamestown Rotary Club, at 3 p.m.
Start the new week off with Monday Night Team Trivia at Potent Potables Dec. 2 and join in the fun Dec. 4 at TurnTable for Local Mic Night. Sign up starts at 8:30 p.m. with the line up at 9 p.m. This free event is designed to allow local musicians a chance to be heard and test out their material as well as give music lovers a great listening experience.
Jane E. Whitehorne can be reached at 336-841-4933
Rising country star appears at The Deck Friday
Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 2:34 pm | Updated: 2:36 pm, Tue Jun 11, 2013. by OGI OVERMAN, Editor
The music business, being the cruel and fickle beast that she is, often determines who shall be a star and who shall live and die in obscurity by something as simple as a chance meeting, a seemingly random act. If the truisms “timing is everything” and “being in the right place at the right time” are valid anywhere, then the music business is bound to be the place. And Nashville is the proof in the pudding.
Anyone who ever ventured to Music City in search of a dream has a story of meeting so and so, who happened to know so and so, who’s brother-in-law was so and so, etc. That’s how deals get made, partnerships get formed, records get cut, and careers take off. Somebody has to know somebody.
In Michael Cosner’s case, the synchronous events began long before he began kicking down the door to Nashville. In 2004 he answered an ad in the now-defunct, Triad-based entertainment weekly, ESP Magazine. It was placed by salesman-turned-musician-turned-promoter Mike Kenny, who was looking for pickers and grinners to start a band. Cosner answered the ad, and while the band never quite got off the ground, a solid friendship arose between the two.
“We started writing tunes together and found we were not only quite compatible personally but musically as well,” said Kenny. “Mike is just a great guy, and once you hear his voice, you’ll understand why I wanted to team up with him.”
That team soon grew to include Nashville songwriter/producer Byron Hill, whom Kenny had befriended and introduced to Cosner. Hill, considered a bona fide Nashville heavyweight, has a string of cuts by major artists to his credit, including no fewer than nine No. 1 hits. He is a Winston-Salem native and on a trip home to see relatives, agreed to meet Cosner. It was, to say the least, a fortuitous meeting.
“We wrote, I think, eight songs in two days,” said the former front man for the popular regional act Native Son. “A few weeks later I flew out to Nashville, and he picked me up at the airport and let me stay with him, and since then we’ve become really good friends. I really have no idea how many songs we’ve written, but it’s a bunch, I know that.”
Last September, Cosner, aided by a $2,000 grant from the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Program, finally got to release some of his, Hill’s and Kenny’s material. He recorded a five-song EP at Nashville’s The Country Q Studios, titled Stay Country. And true to its title, Cosner has done just that. He makes no bones about his tastes and influences — no crossover, no Americana, no fuzz-toned guitars, no more-rock-than-country.
“I like the other stuff, but it’s not what I do best,” he said. “I see myself as a straight-up country singer. I’m not going to ever think I’m God’s gift to country music, but it’s the one thing I can do and I have confidence in my voice and my ability. I grew up around it (his dad, Wayman, was a touring musician with the Honky Tonk Goodtime Band) and it’s what I love.”
Cosner’s vocal chops will never be in question. His range is superb, falling somewhere between a George Strait baritone and a Josh Turner bass, with a bit of Gene Watson tenor thrown in. And with his rugged good looks, a sincere demeanor, and a satchel full of quality original material, he looks like a star just waiting to happen.
Lately, Cosner, a Trinity native and UNCG grad, has turned another chance meeting into an opportunity. He was playing a benefit for the Special Olympics in Sparta, Va. in which Marty Raybon was headlining. The former lead singer for mega-group Shenandoah has become a bluegrass star, but on this day was reprising all his country hits. Not only did Raybon’s backup band mesh with Cosner, so did Raybon himself. And the offshoot of that is a planned tour with Cosner opening for Raybon, with the band playing with both artists.
“This could be a great opportunity to meet a whole new set of people,” said Cosner. “Just like when Mike introduced me to Byron, this could be another set of doors opening. We have gotten some songs we’ve written into the hands of some major artists already, so this might get me in front of some larger audiences.
“I just want to play music; that’s what makes me happy. I’d love to get one good shot at it, but if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say I tried.”
Michael Cosner will appear at The Deck in Jamestown this Friday, June 14.
Ogi Overman can be reached at 336-841-4933
The Nightlife Buzz of Jamestown
by LENISE WILLIS, Staff Writer
What once was a quiet town “nestled between Greensboro and High Point,” is now a developing Triad hotspot teeming with fun and exciting venues. Between The Deck at River Twist, Turntable, Perky’s, Southern Roots and Potent Potables, Jamestown’s Main Street is the newest buzz, which is why the Jamestown News is starting a new weekly Nightlife column, creating a one-stop read for all of Jamestown’s entertainment news.
Kicking off the week, on Wednesday, Turntable hosts an open-mic night, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Sign-up is at 8 p.m., with performances beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Then, on Thursday, the innovative music venue will combine the visual thrill of Jurassic Park with the live commentary of comedic group, Britt and Friends. The outdoor movie will be projected on a big screen, and the usual movie theatre fare, such as candy and popcorn, will be available for purchase.
Bringing to town his relaxing, yet titillating fusion of soft rock and bluegrass, local guitarist/vocalist Alan Peterson will once again entertain at The Deck at River Twist, this Thursday night, starting at 8 p.m. Peterson says he enjoys playing the venue and being part of a new and exciting, burgeoning nightlife.
He can usually be found playing at Sessions in downtown Greensboro, but these days he’s added Jamestown to his list of gigs. And let’s be honest, the fact that Jamestown is starting to attract (steal) attractions from downtown Greensboro is certainly a boastful thrill by itself.
Peterson, a High Point local and graduate from Appalachian State, has vast work experience in the music industry, including being a crewmember on Darius Rucker’s tour and part of an opening band for Sister Hazel at House of Blues.
Next up for The Deck at River Twist is Soul Central on Friday night and Jimmy Leggs Band Saturday night.
And by booking David Wimbish & The Collection for Saturday night, Turntable will keep the other end of Main Street hopping. The band, with more than 12 alternating members, will perform on the venue’s backporch stage from 8 p.m. to midnight. Doors open at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5 advance (online) or $8 day of performance.
Mark your calendars for next Wednesday, July 24, when Turntable will host a free wine tasting and open mic night from 6-11:55 p.m.
The Legendary Drifters mark Independence Day at The Deck
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 11:52 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Tue Jul 1, 2014.
by JANE E. WHITEHORNE, Staff
It’s time to celebrate America’s birthday and the folks at The Deck at River Twist are turning up the volume with music from The Legendary Drifters.
This iconic group will perform July 4 at the venue, which now sports seating on the Main Street side of the building as well as a second full service bar with indoor seating. The doors open at 1 p.m. and fan-favorite Stilletto begins a set at 4 p.m. Afterwards The Legendary Drifters take the stage and will delight the crowd with their special arrangements of songs from the 1950s and 1960s.
Event at The Deck benefits SHERR
Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1:28 pm | Updated: 10:21 am, Wed Aug 13, 2014.
by JANE E. WHITEHORNE, Staff Writer |
Gin Wiltsey couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming silent auction at The Deck.
This event, to be held Aug. 23 from 6-10 p.m., is free to the public and will benefit the work of Safe Haven Equine Rescue and Retirement (SHERR), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to rescue horses in need of medical attention due to neglect or abuse.
“I found out that The Deck has partnered with the animal shelter in the past,” said Wiltsey. “And they partner with a company that provides rides to get people home safely. I thought those things were important.
“So many times places will let you have a benefit, but they charge for using the space. The Deck is letting us do this free of charge.”
The evening is designed for fun. There will be plenty of food, drink and music. The Deck will be serving a signature drink from which a portion of the sales will be donated to SHERR.
The main event of the evening will be a silent auction. Among the items to be auctioned off are a grandfather clock, antique furniture, jewelry, musical instruments, memorabilia and gift certificates for a variety of services such as massages. There also will be an array of autographed items featuring the signatures of Country music performers Jake Owen, Josh Turner and Diamond Reo, to name a few.