There are a lot of similarities between making food and making music, The Prime Smokehouse owner Ed Wiley III said.
“When I am in the kitchen, putting things together, I am improvising a lot of times,” he said. “There is a lot of soul and passion that goes into the food I cook.”
It seems fitting then, that the guests who feast on that soul- and passion-infused food should have something equally soulful and passionate to entertain them while they eat, which is why Wiley began the 2014 Dinner Concert Series.
This is not the first time the restaurant has tried to bring live music to the area, Wiley said.
“When we opened almost a year ago, we started out every single weekend doing live music,” he said. “I thought it was a bit much, for the community. They did not take it. They were not as hungry for it as they might have been if it had been more sporadic.”
Now that they have scaled back to once a month, Wiley said the public has gotten more excited about the prospect.
“People, these last few months in particular, have really packed in here for the music,” Wiley said. “They are very gracious, and they are very appreciative. I have all these musicians playing, asking to come back and play again, which is kind of nice.”
The series will continue with a performance from vocalist Angela Bingham at 9 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“She has a beautiful voice, and she is really swinging,” Wiley said. “She does the American songbook, the classics, the standards, the jazz standards. She has a great band – guitar, band and drums.”
Following that, the restaurant will bring in jazz, blues and R&B singer Julia Nixon and country-blues singer J. Edwards for a joint concert at 9 and 10:30 p.m. May 9 and 10 and at 1 p.m. May 11.
“There is an incredible amount of excitement about what I have coming in May,” Wiley said “Julia Nixon is a phenom. She was on Broadway, and she has traveled the world many, many times. One way you know this woman is good is the Republicans and the Democrats had her perform at the White House.”
Her partner for the weekend, J. Edwards, said he would describe his music as soulful.
“I am pretty soulful,” he said. “Even the country I play is pretty soulful.”
The collaboration is especially interesting because the two have never played together.
“I thought if I could put this Washington, D.C., blues-R&B singer with this South Carolina Southern blues singer, both of whom are incredible, then when people look at us they will understand what we are trying to do,” Wiley said. “One thing is that music brings people together. It brings different cultures together. It allows you to appreciate things you might not have seen before.”
The two will probably split the night, each singing some songs, Edwards said.
“I think what we are going to do is split the show, so she will play a couple of songs and then I will play a couple of songs and there might be some collaboration later in the night,” he said.
It should be a pretty large crowd, Wiley said.
“I am sure, based on the way people are booking this now, there are people who do not know a whole lot about jazz, who say ‘I love country and blues,’” Wiley said. “They are going to come hear that and they are going to get an extra dose when Julia Nixon is on stage. I think that is a show people are going to talk about for a long time.”
Edwards said he also is looking forward to the show.
“It should be a great crowd and a great time,” he said.
The final show Wiley has booked is saxophonist Brad Collins, who will play 9 and 10:30 p.m. June 13 and 14 and 1 p.m. June 15.
“He is a saxophonist who studied with one of my father’s contemporaries, Mickey Fields,” Wiley said. “I could not believe that was one of my father’s best friends.”
Wiley said he expects large crowds at all of the shows, so he recommends reserving seats as soon as possible.
Tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows are $10, although the price is $15 for the Nixon and Edwards concert. Tickets cost $25 for the Sunday brunch concerts, which includes the meal.
Reservations can be made by calling 919-832-8685 or by visiting primesmokehouse.com.