There are no rules: Singer-Songwriter Doug Burton on Leaving a Musical Legacy

Doug Burton is a singer-songwriter based in Fayetteville, NC. He has been actively writing & performing since forming his first high school punk rock band, The Cooties, in 1985 in Williamsburg, VA. Doug and Cooties drummer Chris Layton began a songwriting partnership in 1992 that quickly morphed into the band Gunston Midas. Gunston Midas would go on to be a mainstay in the Tidewater, VA/Outer Banks, NC indie rock scene over the next 20 years.

Upon relocating to Fayetteville in 2014, Doug embarked on a solo career, releasing the album, “Hotel Reverb” under the pseudonym Junction Medias that same year. He played regularly at the local venue The Rock Shop, and made frequent appearances in the Triangle area. 2019 saw the release of his second solo album, “Context Is Everything,” which was recorded & produced by Shawn Adkins at Back-A-Round Studio. In July 2019, along with local musician Michael Daughtry, he co-founded Fayetteville Songwriters In The Round, a monthly live original music series. The series features the best local songwriters as well as guests from around North Carolina. During the COVID hiatus, Doug wrote a new album called “Good Music,” which will go into production in early 2022 as the sixth Gunston Midas album. He has been happily married to Katie Jones Burton since 1998. They have no children and wouldn’t have it any other way. They enjoy staying at home and listening to a good record as well as going to concerts & traveling.

Burton at Back-a-Round Records

3 Things making your life richer & why

1. My love of music is my foundation. My main goal in life is to leave the world a better place than I found it. My way of doing this is through the music I make. Being that my wife and I decided to not have children, the music I leave behind will be my legacy and I take that seriously with every album I release and with every live performance. 

2. The love I share with my wife and my closest friends sustains me and when I need them, they’re always there. Likewise, being a good friend and a loving husband is of paramount importance to me and when I fall short, I feel extremely bad about myself. I am a perfectionist. I don’t consider a song and/or album to be finished until it is exactly the way I want it to be and I extend that high standard to most things in my life. It sometimes makes things difficult but when I do succeed, I feel like a tremendous success.

3. The music community here in Fayetteville is, for the most part, a close knit circle and a caring & giving support system. There are healthy rivalries to be sure, but ultimately, there is a real sense of community here that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Artists here are often inspired by each other, which is also rare in my experience. When a fellow musician says they listened to my album and it meant something to them, that means a lot to me.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Michael Daughtry. Upon relocating to Fayetteville in 2014, Michael was the first musician who befriended me and he has been an endless source of inspiration as well as a great friend. I’ve seen him behind the scenes and I’ve seen him on stage and he is by far the hardest working musician I know. His work ethic, passion, and positive attitude are infectious. Though he seemingly has more projects going on than time in the day in which to complete them, he is always giving with his time when I need to run an idea by him or just to chat. He sets an unbelievably high bar for local musicians to aim for. Keeping up with The Joneses? No, I try to keep up with The Daughtry!

Michael Daughtry and Doug Burton

What is one of your current artistic experiments?
During the COVID lockdown, I wrote a large batch of songs and I have written more in the meantime. I have selected twelve that will make up my new album, “Good Music,” and I’ve been busy recording home demos in preparation for the planned recording sessions in early 2022. I am also re-launching the Songwriters In The Round series every month at Fayetteville Bakery & Cafe.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Throughout 2020, I periodically posted songs performed acoustically at home, in the studio, and at various locations in which I found myself. This “Acoustic Series” allowed me to practice my newly written songs as well as revisit many older Gunston Midas tunes. I have not continued the series into 2021 as I have been able to get out and play for people in person more. The various Open mic opportunities in Fayetteville allow local musicians the ability to try out new material and get the immediate feedback not possible with home practice.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I have a music room in our house where I have my guitars and recording gear set up. I keep my Fender Telecaster out and readily available as well as my Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic guitar and Mustang bass. My other guitars are packed in their cases but I do use some of them occasionally on recordings for a variety of tones. I practice there daily but sometimes I also practice while sitting at the computer, especially if I am working on something new so I can make notes to remember parts and/or lyrics for future use.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I would stop short of calling it “random,” or “magic,” but it’s often a little of both. “Love Makes You Stupid” from my “Context Is Everything” album was inspired by a Seinfeld episode. My early Gunston Midas song “Vancouver” was written in the aftermath of a friend I knew I would miss moving to Vancouver. The title track on “Good Music” is about my desire to leave as much good music  behind as possible, when “my time disappears.” Then there are songs like “Fire Ants” which is a story told through the eyes of a fire ant and how life is often disappointing but “you get used to it.” The first song I ever wrote was in high school in 1985. It was called “Chair.” One day, a friend sat down next to me in class and said, “I wish I had a nice chair ’cause all of these are so uncomfortable.” A lightbulb inside my head suddenly switched on. The first line of “Chair” turned out to be “I wish I had a nice chair ’cause all these are so uncomfortable.” My songwriting mantra is “Never question The Muse.” My Muse has been singing to me since 1985 and I will listen until she stops. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre.
1. Get it on tape. Or ones & zeros in modern parlance. I wish I had recorded many of the songs I wrote early in my life as a musician that have disappeared into the forgotten depths of history. It was more difficult in those days to record but with today’s technology, songwriters are in a golden age of convenience so take advantage of it. 

2. If you write something you are not entirely happy with, don’t consider it done. Put it aside and move on. Then maybe go back later and listen with fresh ears. Sometimes you will find that your initial reaction was too harsh, or maybe you like the chorus or the verse and you can use just that part in something else. 

3. A song is whatever you say it is. Don’t restrict yourself to a formula or structure. Every rock & roll song doesn’t have to be: intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro. If you just have a verse and a chorus that you like and they work well together and all combined, it’s only 50 seconds, so be it, that’s what the song was meant to be. My favorite band, Guided By Voices, has more drop-dead brilliant songs that are under a minute than most bands have what you would even call a good song. There are no rules to songwriting. 

Setting Words to Music: “Songwriters In The Round” Live Again

It’s interesting to watch show concepts circle around. MTV debuted its Unplugged show in 1989 and it’s been a pleasure to watch the format–musicians sharing background stories and writing process with stripped down acoustic versions of their songs–move from tv to local stage.

When we did it at Deep Dish Theater in Chapel Hill a dozen years ago, we had local greats like Tom Maxwell (Squirrel Nut Zippers), Peter Holsapple (the dBs and R.E.M.), Caitlin Cary (Tres Chicas), and Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony) as well as a dozen others. The concept was picked back up in 2016 in Durham, where local Fayetteville musician Doug Burton performed at the 106 Main venue. “I ended up learning so much more about the other two performers’ lives and song craft than I ever would have under normal circumstances. We were encouraged to tell a quick story about what inspired our songs, or any anecdote that might offer a glimpse into our process. I immediately thought of the 90’s MTV show. I can still remember watching the very first one with Ray Davies, a personal songwriting hero, and I loved the episodes with Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Tom Petty, and David Bowie in particular.” Burton said.

Shaun McNamee, Doug Burton, Tish Mone in 2019

Now it’s Fayetteville’s turn to showcase local and state-wide musicians: how they link up with their muse, where their song ideas come from, their favorite musical memories, and perform their best and latest work. Burton teamed up with Michael Daughtry and started the show in 2019 at The Sweet Palette. After a pandemic hiatus, Burton is remounting the show this month and plans to run every Third Friday at the Fayetteville Bakery & Cafe on Boone Trail Extension.

I asked Burton how he selects musicians to perform for Songwriters in the Round. He replied, “Originality is something we highly prize. Also, some performers just have that “it” factor. I saw Shaun McNamee perform three songs one night at Coffee Scene’s Java Expressions and I knew I had to book him. If your songs tell a story, paint a picture, set a mood that the listener can easily find themselves in, we want to hear them. Likewise, if your songs are confrontational and force the listener to think in ways they hadn’t before, we want to hear those songs as well. Another good example is Jim Hurst. I’d simply never seen anyone play the piano like he did. It was almost like he was stabbing the keys. He played with such passion and feeling, you’d have thought he was at Madison Square Garden and not a local Open Mic. That’s what we’re looking for. And there’s lots of it here. I’ve seen some young performers recently who are extremely impressive and they will be on In The Round bills in upcoming months.”

Michael Daughtry, Lisette, Isabel Taylor

The first run of the show, in addition to Burton and Daughtry, featured musicians Kayla Dawn Cason, Isabel Taylor, Leah Kaufman, Glenn Jones, Kael Jackson, Lisette, Shaun McNamee, Tish Mone, Ernesto Rivas, Chris Scroggins, Jim Hurst, and Elisa Gale. The re-launch on Friday September 17 at 7:00 PM features Lisette, Alice Osborn, and Burton. The October line up will be Shaun McNamee & Neil Ray, Herman Ospina (from The Mood Kings) and Gamalier Padilla.

Burton is eager to feature musicians who want to share their stories, even if they don’t consider themselves strictly performing in the singer/songwriter genre of music. “In fact, our October bill will feature Herman Ospina from Charlotte’s The Mood Kings. They are one of the hottest rock bands in the state at the moment, so I was really happy when Herman was interested in joining us. He told me he is interested in performing in a more stripped down, acoustic format. From our original run, Chris Scroggins from The Scroggins Band was another example of a rocker who broke his songs down to the bare essentials, and Tish Mone, though definitely outside of the Singer-Songwriter mold, fit right in with our format and was one of my absolute favorites.”

Fayetteville has an incredible depth and breadth to its music scene. From Jazz to Rock, Classical to Hip-hop, Country to Pop, there are artists (alive and passed) who have gone on to fame and fortune from their beginnings here in Cumberland County. Songwriters In The Round is another great production to let us get to know the next round of artists on their way to making a name musically for themselves.

Musician and Teacher Tony Harrison Has Good Music Mojo

Tony wears a blue tie dye buttonup shirt and plays an orange and green bass guitar. He's standing in front of a fellow musician and a drum set, all under a large tent.
Tony at a concert. photo credit: Digital Wolf Photography

Tony began playing guitar, piano drums, trombone and guitar at an early age. After seeing Elvis Presley and later receiving his first electric bass for Christmas, his life path was made clear. Tony started playing professionally while in high school, later attending UNC-Pembroke and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business. Today, Tony is the sole proprietor of Rally Point, LLC aka Cape Fear Music Center, where he spends his days repairing instruments and teaching students of all ages guitar, electric bass, ukulele, beginning piano and music theory. His shop employs several of the area’s finest instructors and instrument repair technicians.

Tony is the bassist and a songwriter for Rivermist, a regionally recognized and award-winning variety band playing in the Carolinas and Virginia. His newest ballad, ‘Tangled’ is being released in late August, 2021 and is getting great responses at live shows. Hear and purchase Rivermist’s available releases on all of your favorite streaming services at https://rivermist.hearnow.com/

Rivermist playing the NC State Fair, 2019

3 Things making your life richer & why: Obviously music is my passion and I live to perform and teach. I love my wife, Suzanne, who is my motivator and cheerleader in all things. My love for animals inspired me to become a vegetarian last year. 

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change?
With the world in disarray last year I found I needed to develop productive habits. So I started to really focus my practice and write more music. Part of this process has led me to experiment with writing several pieces with similar subject matter. Lately I have been using roads, highways etc. If you pay attention to your surroundings, inspiration is everywhere.  

Rehearsal at Cape Fear Music Center

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I do most of my practice and writing in my teaching studio at 110 Old Street. It’s just a block from where I played my first gig in front of the Market House in 1980 and on land where the mill was in the late 1700’s that our whole community grew around. It has good mojo. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre. My advice to musicians who desire to make a living or just want to enjoy playing and writing music is to be true to yourself. Write and play what makes you happy.  I play a wide variety of music from classic rock, beach music, latin and jazz to musical theater. I love many styles, but love most to play whatever makes the audience happy on any particular night. 

Illuminating Friends and Feelings: Dark Pop Singer Keyse

photo credit Matthew Wonderly

KEYSE is a Dark Pop/Alternative Rock project based out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Madeline Keyse, the sole writer and vocalist, is a former opera singer turned modern pop act. Pre-pandemic, she shared the stage with artists such as Lacey Sturm (ex Flyleaf), Tilian Pearson (Dance Gavin Dance), and Landon Tewers (The Plot In You).
MERCH: https://keyse.bigcartel.com

Surround yourself with people who inspire you to create.

Madeline Keyse

3 Things you can’t live without & why: First, I absolutely cannot live without a keyboard (more specifically my ROLI Seaboard Controller). It is an integral part in my creative process with songwriting; I’d be pretty lost without it. Going hand-in-hand with that, the next item would be my iPad Air 2. I store all my lyrics, voice memos, song ideas, and write out full demos that I bring to the studio on it, so it is a necessity. Lastly, I couldn’t confidently perform live without my Telefunken M80 microphone. It makes my voice sound great, and it’s also neon yellow. You can’t miss it on stage, and it’s a great conversation piece.


Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: As cliché as it sounds, it’s definitely going to be my bandmate and partner Grant Garner. He is best known around town for being the vocalist of The Sherman Neckties, and has performed with his band for various city events, such as Hay Street Live, Downtown Summer Nights, Zombie Walk, and the Dogwood Festival. He not only plays guitar for my live performances, but he handles everything regarding my live performance altogether, and to be quite frank, KEYSE gigs wouldn’t even exist without him. He is inspiring to me for a multitude of reasons from personal to professional, but the most admirable thing about Grant is his need to grow as a musician. He spends hours learning about the industry, new musical equipment, experimenting with audio production, and passes whatever he learns onto anyone willing to listen. He is the most passionate musician I’ve ever met, and our relationship has pushed me to pursue my career in music to the best of my ability.

photo credit Matthew Wonderly


What is one of your current artistic experiments? In March of 2020, I started working with Landon Tewers as the new producer for KEYSE. He produced, mixed, and mastered my most recent single “Are You High Enough To Hold Me?” and we have created a whole new sound for the project. Since then, I have been traveling back and forth between Fayetteville and Detroit, working on the new material. I have been pretty quiet about what the future holds for KEYSE, but what I can say is the new songs are an entirely different body of work from my previous releases. There are some really incredible things that we are working towards, but that’s about all I can say at the moment. The future looks bright.


What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? In 2019, I was gigging about once or twice a week, sometimes three. And I absolutely loved every second of it. So you can imagine that with the entertainment industry shutdown, it has definitely taken a toll on me. Going from having your entourage of friends supporting you at every show to almost complete isolation will do a number on you. But I had to learn to adapt. I went from consistent live performances to recording new songs every opportunity I could get. As of right now, I’m sitting on about 7 or 8 unreleased singles. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to prepare myself for steady releases once I am able to, but I am more than ready to return to gigging, post-pandemic of course!


Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I don’t have band practice anymore, considering that live music doesn’t really exist currently. But my songwriting work space is pretty minimal. It consists of my ROLI Seaboard and my iPad. I will typically come up with a basic chord progression and write the topline of the song over that. Once I get the basic structure, I will take the demo to Grant, my partner, and he will help me re-record a higher quality demo on his workstation. There he can add guitar, bass, sample drums, and a better vocal take to further demonstrate the idea so we can bring it to the studio.

photo credit Matthew Wonderly

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? The majority of my songs are based off real life. Recurring topics in my songs are typically grief, loss, and heartache. But my music is not limited to that spectrum of feeling. More recently, I have been inspired by things as simple as a line in a movie or a character in a book. This past year has been emotionally exhausting for everyone, and I know I don’t want to think on or write about the hardships I’ve faced until I’m truly past it and am reflecting. Until then, using songwriting in a fictional sense has been, and will continue to be my favorite form of escapism.


Advice to newer artists in your genre. Set a couple attainable goals every year, and focus on making them happen. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone when creating. Surround yourself with people who constantly inspire you to create. Make sure your circle of people are dependable, trustworthy, and encouraging. Pay attention to who stays inside for your set at a show, and who hangs out in the parking lot the whole time. Most importantly, be kind to your fellow artists!

Listening and Learning: Singer-Songwriter Lisette

The artistic bio: Blending elements of dark alternative pop with orchestral instrumentation and electronic production, Lisette creates colorful, cinematic soundscapes that are enhanced by her powerful vocals. She is a singer-songwriter born from early influences of rock, alternative, indie pop, and her love for classical music and film scores. Her music is comparable to the likes of Evanescence and BANKS. She began writing songs at 15 and performed at music venues and open mics around her home state of North Carolina. While studying music business and popular music in college, she stumbled upon her love for producing and she released her debut single “Run This Far” in 2018. Lisette won ‘Best Rock Female’ at the 2019 Carolina Music Awards.

Lisette captivates audiences with her haunting voice and lyrical poetry that flows within her songs. Her debut EP Beneath the Surface released November 1, 2019.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Coffee Scene or Rude Awakening! Dirtbag Ales is also one of my favorite nighttime spots.

3 Things you can’t live without: My cat, piano, and acoustic guitar

EP release at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Nov 2019.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Lauren Light. She’s actually from Greensboro, NC but I’d still say she’s considered local. She’s a pop singer-songwriter, co-founder of twoOhsix Music, and also runs a podcast called “The Enlightened Musician,” which focuses on the music business and turning your art into a successful business. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Lately I’ve been making my morning cup of coffee and sitting on my deck to read and/or journal (if it’s not too hot!). I’ve really been enjoying that morning ritual to clear my mind and feed my imagination before work.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I actually just finished recording an acoustic version of my debut EP Beneath the Surface with my good friend cellist Justin Mackey. The production of the original EP was electronic pop with cinematic elements and I really wanted to strip everything back and focus on the raw emotions and lyrics of each song. We took each of the five songs and reimagined them using organic instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, and cello.

Lisette and Justin Mackey.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My parents have always encouraged me to reach for the stars when it comes to my music. Neil Donnell Ray, who is a pillar of the Fayetteville music scene and hosts The Coffee Scene’s Open Mic Night, has always been a big supporter of mine since I began performing there when I was 16. He’s been around through the years to see my growth as an artist and has always encouraged me. Also, my college music professor Dr. David Lee Fish, cellist Justin Mackey, and, of course, my friends.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? If you want to make a full time living from being an artist, learn as much as you can. Not only about music in general or your instrument of choice but also about the music business itself. In this day and age, it’s crucial to be well rounded and knowledgeable about branding, marketing, social media, booking practices, etc. Gone are the days where record labels develop artists and help them build their fan base. They want to sign artists who have their own following and brand, which they can then help them to achieve even higher heights. With that said, these days you don’t even need a record label to be successful. Social media and the internet has completely changed the game and any artists in any location or any genre can be successful if they have the right tools. Remember, if you don’t know how to do it yourself you will have to pay someone else to do it for you. This is why I’ve taught myself music production, graphic design, video editing, website design, photography, etc on top of getting my Bachelors degree in Music Business and Popular Music.


Merry Musician Michael Daughtry

The professional bio: Michael Daughtry is a singer/songwriter from North Carolina. He graduated from Berklee College of Music (magna cum laude) where he received several performer/songwriter awards for his infectious song crafting. He gigged at the Charles Playhouse periodically for Blue Man Group performances in Boston. His current songs reflect the trials and joys of life. He has recently received recognition from artists such as John Ford Coley, Derek Trucks, Edwin McCain, Luenell, Guy Torry, Jocko Sims, Bleu, Dale Baker (Sixpence None the Richer), and Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish. He has performed for fifty and fifty thousand in his career. He teaches acoustic guitar and piano. 

Favorite Local Third Place: My mom and dad’s house.

3 Things you can’t live without: Peanut Butter, my Calendar, Coffee

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Wow it’s hard to pick just one, but El’Ja Bowens

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Online private music instruction

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Get the Drift. It’s a half hour weekly life streaming event with music, recurring segments, games, and ridiculousness. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork?: The living legend that is Neil Ray!

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre?
Write out a few one year, five year, and ten year goals. Keep them to yourself (or share with a trusted love one). Make friends with at least a few folks who share your goals. Find mentors!

Collaboration leads to Connection: Wilson and Ray new concept album

What are you looking for/
Love Hope Happiness/
Everything else they sell at the store

-from the song “Oh Dang”

It’s fitting — in a weird 2020 way — that the first new article of the year is about the same artist as the last new article, published a year ago. Shane Wilson, FTW. That experimental cd we wrote about? It’s out today, July 3! The Blue Ridge Connection, Volume 1 uses original songs and poetry to tell the story of a young man named Martin who goes into the western North Carolina mountains in search of answers to some of life’s most perplexing questions. (Hint: there may be shrooms involved in answering some of them.)

The Blue Ridge Connection is an evolving collective of artists brought together by the magic of the western North Carolina mountains. This iteration is a collaborative effort between Neil Ray (percussion and poetry), Shane Wilson (vocals, guitar, lyrics), Michelle Winfrey (vocals), and Drea Dreiling (violin).

Fans of Shane’s writing or Neil’s spoken word poetry will not be disappointed. Both are equally featured throughout the tracks. The Blue Ridge Connection, Volume 1 is available on all major streaming platforms or can be purchased directly from Shane’s website.

Shane Wilson, with Sequoia Rising partner Jerry Smith

Dr. Daniel Montoya is a Modern Day Renaissance Artist-Scientist

Dr. Montoya at LeClair’s General Store

It doesn’t come as any surprise that a neuroscientist–someone who studies the way the brain works for a living–would be interested in the concept of Resonance. “It’s the goal of many people vibrating at the same frequency,” Dr. Montoya grins, “and I’ve experienced it with music.” He researches the idea of consciousness from a cognitive psychological standpoint, but philosophy and arts are never far from his scientific work.

Dr. Montoya hails from Argentina, where he started playing guitar at twelve. When he was seventeen, he volunteered to work a visit from the Pope. Eventually, the music and religion overlapped when he started writing and playing music for churches here in America. Religious music is designed to lead to resonance within the congregants.

His creative muse is Electronic music and his latest album is Space Songs for Earthy People. He creates the ethereal tunes on the computer, records vocals on his iPad in found spaces, and overlays more traditional instruments to make the sound full and rich. Getting caught in the bain of the artist’s life — when is the work done? when is it finished? — is not helped by the computer. “I’m endlessly tweaking,” he chuckles.

Another aspect of Dr. Montoya’s love of music is working as a deejay, spinning ambient, house, new age, trap, and other genres of electronic music. One of his favorite musicians is David Bowie, not only because of his constant learning and reinventing, but because of Bowie’s business acumen. “You have to learn to do it all as an artist today,” Dr. Montoya says, “No one else will look after your business like you will.”

photo from Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County Block Party.

A devoted community member, Dr. Montoya participated in a local board training program, and was selected to work with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County on their Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Arts Council’s CMAC (Cumberland Makers and Creatives) team, which focuses on networking, training, and supporting independent artists of all forms in our neighborhood. “I’m excited about things that are happening [in Fayetteville], the people, the vision,” he remarked.

“Minor Mood”, Major Chops: The All American Jazz Collective

Imagine eating lunch under the shade of an old oak tree, the mellow sounds of John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk wafting around you from a quintet sitting adjacent in the park. How melodious. How cosmopolitan. How All American.

Well, I have news for you: You can do just such a thing on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) every other Friday this coming fall when the All American Jazz Collective starts playing again. This loose quintet–sometimes a quartet, sometimes a sextet or more–plays on campus as well as various community gathering places around Fayetteville.

Jazz has a long history in the state. Coltrane hailed from High Point, Monk from Rocky Mount. Nina Simone is from Tryon, Billy Strayhorn spent formative years in Hillsborough. The NC Arts Council maintains a trail through eastern North Carolina dedicated to these luminaries and their stories. Perhaps we can get Fayetteville on the map: trumpeter Waymon Reed is from here. So the All American Jazz Collective is carrying on a proud North Carolinian tradition.

All American Jazz Collective
One lineup of the AAJC, Pappas far left, Carey in middle. Photo courtesy Anthony Russell.

AAJC started performing together in the fall of 2017. Co-founder Daniel Pappas mused, “Fayetteville had lots of R&B or Smooth jazz, even some fusion, but we wanted to do traditional jazz music.” Pappas moved here five years ago to teach and now runs the music department at FTCC. Jazz wasn’t his main musical focus before teaching at FTCC. “I felt I could speak about it better if I played it,” he chuckled. And with the wide spectrum of jazz styles, musicians, and songs to choose from, there is always something to play or to improvise around.

Jenne Carey, also a recent transplant to Fayetteville, and vocal instructor with FTCC, sings with AAJC. Jazz isn’t her background either–she’s a classically trained opera singer–but she jumped at the chance to grow her skills and range. “Ellington, Gershwin: these composers fused jazz with classical,” she enthused. The other members of the Collective vary from performance to performance. The March 2019 lineup at Holy Trinity included Jay Locklear on piano, Landon Oliver on organ, Anthony Russell on drums, and Willie Lockett (who is a former 82nd Airborne Bandmaster) on bass.

In addition to private functions, the AAJC has played at the opening of the Hope Mills Lake and with Sweet Tea Shakespeare. “I wish there was a jazz club here,” Pappas said. Hence the Friday Jazz Lunches and other community performances. Perhaps the new Jazzio’s restaurant on Bragg Blvd might be interested in the group to perform…

AAJC is an exciting contribution to the Fayetteville music scene. Pappas mentioned he was particularly enthusiastic about the Cape Fear New Music Festival, held at Methodist University in the Spring. Both Methodist and Fayetteville State University have strong music programs, including jazz studies. All these musical connections between educational establishments, bands, and individuals will make our city sound that much more rhythmic.