“The best way to grow live music is to listen to live music!”
Amp The Alley, the weekly Thursday night Alley music series, is giving us that opportunity consistently and collaboratively. Have you ever wondered who actually manages the “Amp the Alley” bands each Spring through Fall in our wonderful Downtown?
Amp the Alley is presented by the Alley Restaurant Association. Aiken Blend staff caught up with Alley Restaurant Association members – Shawn Ledford of Mellow Mushroom, Norman Dunagan of Whiskey Alley, Ally Kneece of The Alley Tap Room, Tony Febus of TacoSushi, and Jeff Jordan of Trio Bar and Grill – a few months ago to hear their vision and get their thoughts about how their actions are benefiting their businesses and Aiken.
Amp The Alley was started back in early Spring of 2017. The Alley had just been re-modeled and the Alley restaurants decided to present some music at the Municipal Center outdoor stage to celebrate. They wanted to help make Masters week exciting for locals and visitors. They initially committed to 4 weeks of music – an experiment. One of the Alley Restaurant Association founders, Norman Dunagan, loves to experiment and encouraged the others to help. At the end of that time, the response was overwhelming and the pay offs for the Alley restaurants and downtown businesses in general was so great that they have been keeping us entertained on warm, hot, and chilly Thursday nights ever since!
All the Association members are committed to supporting #downtownAiken . They are quick to point out that their vision is to promote The Alley in general and grow out into the rest of Downtown Aiken from there. They believe that the more foot traffic they help generate for Downtown, the more all of Downtown will grow! The Alley is certainly a destination now and the old image in our minds of the Alley is gone, replaced with a vibrancy that is contagious.
The 2017 experiments and continued efforts have even resulted in the City of Aiken passing an open container ordinance so that patrons can take their drinks out into the Alley in plastic cups to hear the bands. The Alley has also been closed to vehicular traffic.
Jason Shepard, a local musician, actually does the booking for the bands each week. He tries to keep the bands diverse, supports local music as much as possible, but keeps an ear open for unique opportunities with visiting bands. Rock and Roll, Country, Bluegrass, Hip Hop, and Jazz genre have all been represented. If you are interested in your band playing an Amp the Alley event, send credentials to JasonShepard67@Yahoo.Com.
Although Amp the Alley is on Thursday nights, the Alley is vibrant almost every night of the week now. Great experiments and slow and steady commitments will continue to lead growth in our City center. Thank you, Alley Restaurant Association for helping us listen to live music to grow live music! The culture of a City is what makes it special! #BestSmallTowninTheSouth
Amp the Alley is an integral partner with the Aiken City Limits Music Festival. They will be presenting Aiken City Limits Kickoff Show with Shep and Michael Baideme on Thursday, October 18 as well as Aiken City Limits with Trey McLaughlin on Saturday night, October 20. The Alley Downtown Tap Room will host a Halloween Silent Disco on Friday, October 19. Mellow Mushroom will present a Sunday Brunch show with Jaycie Ward and Taylor Swann on October 20. Additionally, the new back bar at The Whiskey Alley is opening with a Dia De Muertos party on October 18. Click on the links above for details about all the #AikenCityLimits Events. Follow Aiken City Limits Music Festival on Facebook for all event details or AikenCityLimits.Com.
Note: Sadly, Trio Bar and Grill has closed. That obviously leaves a void in the Alley Restaurant Association budget until a new restaurant occupies the location. If you are interested in helping this series over the next few months, stop by any of the businesses and offer to help sponsor a week of entertainment.