In Charlotte, the financial ups are bringing some cultural downs. With each influx of housing for hundreds of young professionals, years of history are erased and eradicated, leaving us with a sense of loss masked as progress and with cultural demise under the guise of development.
With the onset of a growing city, we are left with only memories of what many of us once held so dear that now exist only in our fading recollections. This was made quite apparent through the crowd that attended the reception for Daniel Coston this past week at the Charlotte Museum of History. This all-too-often overlooked venue is currently home for an ongoing exhibit by Coston, long-time Charlotte photographer. His exhibit, “On the Way to Here: Adventures in Photography, Music and Life,” pays homage to a fear-turned-reality here in Charlotte: the closing of prominent and historic music venues.
Museum director Kay Peninger said, “Charlotte has a thriving music scene that featured two nationally known music venues – The Milestone is one of the oldest punk clubs in the world and the Double Door Inn is a nationally known blues club that has hosted performers such as Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon and Stevie Ray Vaughn. These venues also played an important role in developing local talent. For many Charlotteans, experiencing a local band playing live at one of these venues is an experience that will always be part of their memories of Charlotte.”
Coston’s exhibit brings to light many of these historical attributes and venues that will soon be closing their doors to the public for good. I didn’t necessarily expect the young,hip crowd when walking into Coston’s lecture but was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of those present. The attendees represented various eras, each with his or her own bragging rights concerning with whom he or she was drunk in the parking lot of the Milestone back in the ’60s, or how they were there the night Clapton played at the Double Door.
My dad, a frequenter of venues like the Double Door and the Grady Cole Center in the 1970s quoted Lynyrd Skynyrd when discussing the hows and whys of closing so many venues, “I can see the concrete slowly creepin…”
We have seen our city’s evolution from having only a few venues like Tremont, Amos’ and the Milestone, to the opportunities brought to us through The Fillmore and The AvidXchange Music Factory. We have seen the Visulite and The Evening Muse host an incredibly wide variety of shows and have experienced unexpected house shows that rival those of other large cities.
And now, unfortunately, we see the Chop Shop, Double Door, Amos’ and others slowly closing their doors to be demolished and repurposed to meet the growing demands of our city, demands that often value stackable housing over remarkable history.
Coston honors the past with hope for the future of Charlotte music through this exhibit while bringing yet another excellent exhibit to Shamrock Drive’s gem of a museum. While the venues may be dying off as much of Charlotte’s history, Coston’s work keeps them alive and generously shares his experiences with a longing public.
His final exhibit, titled “Charlotte Music Venues,” will include former club furniture from venues such as Chop Shop, photographs, interviews with former staff members, and club flyers. A small preview of this is exhibit is on display now, with the official opening in late October/ early November and will run until May 2017.
Photos: Daniel Coston