Raise the Roof Annual Event Benefits the Sunrise Theater
By Andrew Soboeiro
In the dead of winter, one constantly risks drowning in the doldrums. Such stagnation can blacken one's spirits, a bad omen for the start of a new year.
Luckily, the Sunrise Theater has a cure for this debilitating disease: live music.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, the theater will be hosting its 12th annual Raise the Roof concert. A four-hour event featuring an eclectic assortment of local musicians, it is certain to lift anyone's spirits.
Raise the Roof began in 2000 as a fundraising event. The Sunrise Theater needed a new roof and hosted the concert to attract donations. It has since grown into a Moore County tradition.
"We try to focus on local talent," says Herb Cameron, chairman of the SunLive events committee, which is responsible for planning the Sunrise Theater's concerts. "We kind of have an array of performers over time. With the exception of last year, all have had a local flavor to them."
This year's concert will feature performances by Tony "Pie Face" McMillan, the barbershop quartet The Links, the Swing Street Band, Anna Murphy and Friends, and The April Fools.
Anna Murphy and Friends was formed recently; its first performance was a fundraiser for Weymouth held last September. Its members include pianist and saxophonist Paul Murphy, whose daughter, Anna, is the band's namesake, as well as pianist and drummer Gary Brown and bassist Larry Arnold. (Fred Brush is also a member of the band, but will not be able to play at this event.)
"As far as the trio goes, we've been playing on and off in different combinations at the Pinehurst Resort," says Paul Murphy. "We'll do primarily the Portuguese-Brazilian type of jazz, with maybe one of Duke Ellington's standard pieces."
The Links, a barbershop quartet, was formed in 1998, part of the Golf Capital Chorus. It includes lead singer Ron Sickenberger, tenor Juan Russ, baritone Larry Harter, and bassist Bob Tweed. The Links is an active part of the local music community, performing at least 20 times a year in various settings, mostly around Moore County. The quartet raises money though advertisements in programs for their events. As members of the Golf Capital Chorus, all their profits go to charity. It focuses particularly heavily on funding the North Carolina Children's Home.
"We're big supporters of the Sunrise," says Sickenberger, who is looking forward to the upcoming concert. "It's a marvelous -facility, and we support it every chance we get it. Raise the Roof is a lot of fun. It's really an exciting evening of entertainment and enjoyment, and at such a low cost. So we're thrilled to participate."
Perhaps the most unique of bands, if such a quality can be defined, is the Swing Street Band. Originating in Chicago in the late 1970s, the band moved to Minneapolis, where it achieved fame performing for seven straight years in New Year's at the River, the city's annual New Year's -celebration.
The band is currently based out of Raleigh and Southern Pines, performing regularly at Sandhills and Triangle events.
The band's leader, Tom Bernett, has been a professional musician and entertainer for more than 40 years. He has worked with countless international stars, including Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Allen, the Lettermen and Stanley Jordan. He teaches private drum lessons with the Sandhills Academy of Music, and regularly -performs with local nonprofit bands, including the Moonlighters Big Band in Raleigh and the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra in Sanford. In the Swing Street Band, he sings and plays drums.
The band's other members include clarinetist and alto saxophonist Steve Menendez, tenor saxophonist Terry Blalock, baritone saxophonist Mark Epstein, trumpeters Rob Hill and Aaron Vandermeer, trombonist Chris Shaw, keyboardist Court Stewart, bassist Larry Arnold, and guitarist Bill Shilkitus.
"The Sunrise Theater is a true treasure in our communities," says Bernett. "From the very first time I saw a show here, I've wanted to find a way to do a concert with my band on the Sunrise stage. I'm really looking forward to playing at this year's Raise the Roof, and introducing the Sunrise crowd to some of Swing Street's exciting, horn--driven pop and jazz party music."
The April Fools includes guitarist Sherman Jourdian, fiddler David McDonald, banjoist Steven Hedgpeth, and bassist Alan Ashdown. The band formed five years ago when these four members, each from a wildly different background, met while performing in coffee shops.
"It really is unique that we all ran into each other, -especially with this specific kind of music," says Jourdian. "We play old-time music; we're an old-timey string band. Most people hear it for the first time and it's bluegrass, but it's -actually a very different kind of music. It's largely a North Carolina treasure. It's like the musical incarnation of an oral history."
The concert will be held from 7 to 11 a.m.
Tickets are available for $12 online or at the box office.
For more information, visit www.sunrisetheater. com, or call the box office at (910) 692-3611.
Andrew Soboeiro is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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