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Thursday August 11th

Local artist brings together songwriters across the state for N.C. Pride Showcase

Ari Pappalardo
Buy Photos Ari Pappalardo

Local singer-songwriter Ari Pappalardo will bring together local artists from all over the state at the N.C. Pride Songwriter Showcase at 2nd Wind Cafe on Oct. 18.

Pappalardo is passionate about connecting with as many people as possible through music. He's bringing that passion to North Carolina with the creation of the N.C. Pride Songwriter Showcase, which allows songwriters to perform their original music and tell their stories. The goal of the showcase is to uplift local musicians through a shared appreciation of North Carolina.

On October 18, there are four artists on the line up: Ken Fitts, Bill West, Brendan Macie and Oxenford Clerk.

There will also be a “post-Halloween party” on November 2 at 2nd Wind featuring the group Wasabitage.

2nd Wind is located at 118 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510. The N.C. Pride Songwriter Showcase will start at 9:30 p.m. and admission is free.

“It’s about highlighting the talent of the area and reminding folks who are maybe not so sure there's a music scene down here — not so sure there's a creative lifeblood of energy — that there certainly is,” Pappalardo said.

Though the showcase has North Carolina in its name, Pappalardo said it has nothing to do with being born and bred in the state. 

“That's what I strive for with the N.C. Pride brand. I don’t care where you came from, but if you’re here, come to my show and please show us what you have done and what you’ve been working on and tell us your stories," Pappalardo said. 

Pappalardo believes storytelling is the basis of songwriting. He said encouraging and hearing people’s creative processes is invigorating. 

A North Carolina native, Pappalardo has been playing music for 14 years and gets a lot of his musical inspiration from the 1960s. His favorite artists include Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. 

“Music early on became a form of expression and understanding for me, and I got addicted to it, and that's all before the live performance high of everything. I was really just a guy with a guitar who knew a few chords and would write his emotions," Pappalardo said.  

Though he describes himself as a pop songwriter, Pappalardo said his own music is really a dense blend of different genres.

“Whether its a Nashville-sounding country song or a funky tune or Bruno Mars, it's all pop music, and there's hooks and there's moments that catch us. So when I say I’m a pop writer, it really means that I’m going for a certain level of accessibility with my writing," he said.  

Gabriel Reynolds, the booking manager at 2nd Wind, has worked with Pappalardo for a long time and said the showcase at 2nd Wind is always fun.

“That's what makes it more fun to work with people like Ari. It's not just abstract like when you’re booking someone where you know their name, and you sort of know what they do. It’s more like you’re booking someone you have that physical and musical connection with that you feel like a part of the community with," Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said though the venue at 2nd Wind is small, they still are successful at providing live music by passionate people for passionate people.

“We get a healthy turnout — it's a fun time. We get a nice community of people that share that and become friends with each other," he said.

For upwards of six months, the N.C. Pride Songwriter Showcase has featured three to four original artists and given them time to play their music and tell their story. 

However, it was initially difficult to find venues to host the showcase. According to Pappalardo, many musicians fear rejection.

“At some point in time I was told 'no' and had the door shut in my face. I know people are gonna say no. No is a given. Let’s see who’s gonna say 'yes.' Let's keep knocking until we find the doors that say yes. So now opportunities are happening," Pappalardo said.  

Pappalardo wants to give new and self-producing artists these opportunities, and he’s able to do that in Carrboro.

“My favorite thing about 2nd Wind in Carrboro is that I’ve seen all manners of experimental music. People in this town are brave. They do weird things," he said. 

Bill West, one of the artists being featured at the showcase, has been playing music for 20 years. 

“I’m sort of addicted to music. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I’m playing music, or thinking about music or studying it," said West.  

This is West’s first time playing at 2nd Wind, and he said he hopes a lot of new people check out the showcase.

“There's a lot of really smart talented people that go to Carolina, and I hope they understand and realize that this is a really cool treat. Just go a few blocks up the street and for free, walk in and see some great talent," he said.

The N.C. Pride Songwriter Showcase promotes the individuality of songwriters and Pappalardo encourages students to contact him about participation.

“You can be whoever you want to be. You can play whatever you want to play. And it’s a fantastic time and I’ve had a lot of fun showcasing my friends and complete strangers," Pappalardo said.

The next step for the N.C. Pride band is expansion. Pappalardo has a new location in the works in Cary and hopes to one day have locations all over North Carolina.

“Connect with as many as possible. It doesn't matter what I’m doing or where I am, if I’m connecting with people, there's a dialogue for the future," Pappalardo said.  

The show begins at 9:30 p.m. at the 2nd Wind Cafe and is free admission to all.

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