The Kraken, a Chapel Hill bar located in a 1973 roadhouse venue, is now hosting a weekly residency series on Wednesdays to bring musicians from all over the country to the Chapel Hill community.
Jonathan Byrd, the master of ceremonies and originator of the Shake Sugaree Americana Residency, performs at the series every week and invites different guest musicians to join him on stage each time.
Byrd, who grew up driving past the building now inhabited by The Kraken, said hosting the residency series at a venue he had known his whole life just made sense to him.
“The Kraken, that little roadhouse, has been there since I was a kid and I lived out in Western Orange County,” Byrd said. “It went through various ownership, and then I noticed a couple years ago that Jody and Kirk bought it and that there were real bands playing there on the weekend — and it wasn’t just a local watering hole, it was becoming a destination for music.”
Byrd performs a genre known as old-time music, which he discovered when he began playing acoustic music. He said he was drawn to the genre because of its songwriting forms.
“Old-time is social music — it’s music that people would get together and play on the weekends,” Byrd said.
These old-time performances are accompanied by guests from all different genres. Jess Klein, a singer-songwriter who recently moved to North Carolina from Texas, recently joined Byrd onstage at The Kraken as one of the first residency guests.
“As a musician I got to be exposed to a whole community of people,” Klein said. “It felt really special. It felt like an intimate show in a cool, laid-back environment.”
Klein said she really enjoyed the environment surrounding The Kraken and described the weekly performance for the community as uplifting.
Kirk Schmidt, who owns The Kraken along with his wife, Jody Kidney, said he is excited about the residency because it is giving more people a chance to experience a show at the venue, as well as an opportunity to hear Byrd perform live.
“The Kraken is community-based in and of itself — I like to say that we’re not really owners, but we’re caretakers of The Kraken,” Schmidt said. “People should come out because it’s a historical, musical experience at a classic roadhouse. It’s a rare experience that they will treasure and they will not regret.”
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