When Jeanne Jolly and her band play the Gaither Auditorium next Saturday, you’ll have Clarence Munden to thank for that. Munden is a longtime musician and lifelong resident of this area, and more recently he was one member of his family who worked hard to keep the Marina Restaurant alive.
The Marina closed but not after a yearlong string of music that has left a lasting imprint on this region. Munden, who is a member of the very popular band Out ‘n the Cold, began to build a booking list of musical acts that included rising national stars, the Durham-based Delta Rae.
Munden was looking for acts to book at the Marina when he saw Delta Rae listed on Craig’s List. There was a link to a video so Munden checked it out.
Munden recalls that the Delta Rae video was the band singing in what looked like someone’s house. He says he was so impressed that he called fellow Out ‘n the Cold member Martin Parker.
“He came over and was impressed,” recalls Munden. “Now they’re signed with Warner Brothers.”
Delta Rae has performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno twice since they began appearing in Elizabeth City, first at the Marina and later at Arts of the Albemarle’s Maguire Theatre. And it was the band that recommended Jeanne Jolly to Munden.
“They said you gotta listen to her,” said Munden.
And they were right. Since Jolly first appeared in Elizabeth City, she’s cultivated a following here and Munden believes it’s a following that will grow to eventually include a national audience.
“As soon as the right set of ears hears her, she’s going to sky rocket,” says Munden.
Munden no longer has the Marina Restaurant as a venue for new acts, but that’s not stopping him from looking for fresh music to bring to the area. He says the only thing standing between Elizabeth City and a vibrant music scene are the people that live here.
“The musicians are there, we just need the local support,” says Munden.
Munden arranged to bring Jolly and her band to the museum. He says that he has no doubt she has enough of a local following to fill the auditorium. But there’s more at stake for the future of music in Elizabeth City than just filling the auditorium next Saturday. Munden says there are other regional acts – quality, highly desirable musicians – that are watching in the wings to see if there is strong support for good music.
Munden has been a part of the local music scene for decades. Best known as the bass player for Out ‘n the Cold, he’s played with a number of acts and has a long history with a number of musicians here.
You can catch Munden and a number of other musicians opening for Jeanne Jolly Saturday at Museum of the Albemarle.