Concerts are back – indoors and out

Concerts are back in Clayton! The Clayton Center is counting down to our first show of the year Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey on Friday, Sept. 10, with special guests Will West & The Friendly Strangers. (Tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 2).

In the meantime, we’re excited for the first outdoor concert on Town Square sponsored by the Town of Clayton and the Clayton Downtown Development Association.

Clayton 2021 Town Square Concert Series poster

On Thursday, Aug. 19, local artists Aaron Hamm and the Big River Band and Jonathan Parker will take the stage for the first live Town Square concert in nearly two years.

Headliners Aaron Hamm and the Big River Band are Johnston County natives that play in-your-face, honky-tonk country music. Jonathan Parker describes himself as an American, no apologies, country music artist from the moonshining swamps of Johnston County. Both will welcome you back to Town Square in style.

The second Town Square show is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30. Beach music band and crowd favorite The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will be back. The Embers consider the genre of beach music as “music with a memory” and have been creating lasting memories since its inception in 1958. Simply put – heart and soul, rhythm and blues, feel good music.

Town Square concerts also feature food trucks, beverages, and activities for the kids starting at 6:00pm. The live music begins at 6:30pm. Town Square is located at 110 W. Main St.- at the intersection of O’Neil Street and Main Street.

The outdoor series is sponsored by Deep River Brewing CompanyHTR: Hometowne Realty and Leak Locators.

We’re gearing up to go live

microphone on stage

The Clayton Center will reopen this fall with a 2021-2022 schedule of live events to rival seasons past.

Details about upcoming events will be released over the next few weeks. Our first announcement will be this Wednesday, July 28. Keep an eye on your inbox, on this website and on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for more information.

(If you’re not on our e-news mailing list, subscribe by using the link to the right on this homepage or send an email to eventinfo@townofclaytonnc.org.)

We can tell you now that we are looking forward to welcoming you back safely (you can read our reopening Health & Safety Guidelines here) and to having a live audience in the auditorium.

See you soon!

Dancing our way back to a live audience

Dance recital season is always an exciting time at The Clayton Center. So, when we closed our doors just before dance season started last year, it seemed especially quiet in the Auditorium.

Dance Group

Now, after a year of all things virtual, our local dance students have the chance to take the stage once again. The Clayton Center will begin the reopening process by hosting several local dance recitals over the next six weeks.

Granted, things will look different in this 2021 spring season. In year’s past several hundred family members would fill the seats for each recital, and some recitals would sell out all 600 of our seats. This year social distancing will allow for fewer than 150 audience members per show, all wearing masks, of course.

Despite the venue restrictions and Covid precautions that we are taking, feedback from the studio owners, parents and the dancers is positive. They are all eager to be back at The Clayton Center for live performances. And we welcome them as our first step toward presenting concerts and other events in the coming months.

Mike Wiley and RLT present “Breach of Peace”

mike wiley breach of peace banner

In a partnership with Raleigh Little Theatre (RLT), The Clayton Center welcomes Mike Wiley back to our stage as he performs a real-time, live performance over Zoom for an RLT audience.

On Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23, Mike presents his one-man show Breach of Peace. Audience members are asked to keep their cameras on so Mike can “see” and interact with his audience, who will be projected live into The Clayton Center auditorium.

The production will be as close as you can get to attending a live in-person show without actually leaving home. Stick around after each show for a live talkback with Mike!

Breach of Peace is based on true accounts of surviving participants of the Freedom Rides, as well as many other individuals involved in the early struggle for African-American equality. (Photo by Chris Charles for Creative Silence.)

Visit RLT online for ticket and show access information.

Join the MacMaster Leaheys for A Celtic Family Christmas

With nine months of experience in livestreaming events under our belts, The Clayton Center is branching out this holiday season with a special offering of A Celtic Family Christmas with the MacMaster Leahy Family.

The event – which becomes available on Thursday, December 17 – is our first ticketed virtual show. Tickets are available through our partner streaming service HomePlay.Live. Click here for details on how to purchase tickets and access the show via HomePlay.Live

The MacMaster-Leahy Family

The entertainment world is filled with extraordinary stories, but few match the beguiling true-life tale of Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music, whose dazzling career achievements underpin an incomparable off-stage life.

Indeed, when two of the planet’s very best fiddle players married in 2002, the proverbial mantelpiece was instantly crammed with JUNO and East Coast Music Awards. Though MacMaster and Leahy followed different trajectories – she a Cape Breton native who could step-dance before she could walk; he the oldest brother of acclaimed family group Leahy – both had assuredly crested the traditional music peak.

Their first recorded collaboration, 2015’s Bob Ezrin-produced album One, which was followed by 2016’s A Celtic Family Christmas (and which cemented the couple’s status as powerhouses on the seasonal circuit) confirmed MacMaster and Leahy were as dynamic working together as they were working apart.

The entertainment world is filled with extraordinary stories, but few match the beguiling true-life tale of Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music, whose dazzling career achievements underpin an incomparable off-stage life.

That’s no small feat when your combined album sales exceed one million; when past collaborators include classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bluegrass star Alison Krauss and banjo ace Béla Fleck; and when your ecstatic fan base (which boasts Shania Twain and The Chieftains) stretches from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Sydney, Australia.

“The fiddle was definitely common ground for us when we first got together,” MacMaster, a Member of Order of Canada since 2006, recalls with a chuckle. “But I was so in awe of Donnell’s family, of 11 siblings who could play and had a family band. And here I am now doing almost exactly the same thing. Well, kind of.”

MacMaster is referring to her and Leahy’s six musically gifted children, who today are the centrepiece of the MacMaster/Leahy live set though not because the couple necessarily envision showbiz careers for Mary Frances, Michael, Clare, Julia and Alec (Sadie’s only 3).

Rather, the pair realized early on that being on the road without their kids was infinitely harder than touring with them. That the children were already being home schooled (MacMaster has a teaching degree) made enacting that decision easier.

“Initially we were reluctant to let the kids perform. We worried the expectations might be too much,” Leahy says. “But then one night we put Mary Frances on stage. Soon after that Michael wanted to play. And you must reward practice.

“When I was a kid, I played the fiddle for my parents and my brothers and sisters. But you need to get into the game at some point. For me, the game was playing house parties. Our kids are practicing and when they come out on stage and do their little number, it’s their reward. They feel like a part of the tour and that provides amazing gratification.”

Thank you for your support of our weekly concerts

livestream compilation collage

Since the initial pandemic shutdown back in March, The Clayton Center has continued bringing live music to the community.

To commemorate our eight months of shows, we have put together an “events in review” stream. Join us for the Giving Thanks Live Stream Compilation, which features highlights from some of our favorite pandemic livestream concerts.

The featured North Carolina musicians have sustained us through this time of isolation and uncertainty, and we are grateful to them and to you for sticking with us. We wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and we hope you enjoy the show. You’ll find it this Wednesday, November 25, at 7:00 PM at https://youtu.be/t7plwfcVBVo.

Special Veterans Day YouTube event features Jazz Ambassadors of The U.S. Army Field Band

The Clayton Center is proud to honor the men and women who have served and defended our country this Veterans Day with a special live video stream of “The Greatest Generation” as performed by The Jazz Ambassadors of The United States Army Field Band.

We would like nothing else than to have our veterans gather in the auditorium for a tribute as in years past. But since we can’t do that, we are streaming a video performance of the the Jazz Ambassadors, which is the official touring big band of the United States Army. The concert is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 11.

This event will be streamed on YouTube at the following link: https://youtu.be/dg5C7G0TOLY.

Formed in 1969, this 19-member ensemble has received great acclaim at home and abroad performing America’s greatest original art form, jazz.

Concerts by the Jazz Ambassadors are programmed to entertain all types of audiences. The band’s diverse repertoire includes big band swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, standards, popular tunes, Dixieland, vocals, and patriotic selections, many of which are written or arranged by members of the Jazz Ambassadors.

The Jazz Ambassadors has appeared in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe. Recent notable performances include concerts at the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Jazz Education Network Conference, and an appearance on the Colbert Report.

Gordon Goodwin, Bobby Shew, Ernie Watts, and the Dave Brubeck All-Star Quintet are just a few of the outstanding jazz artists who have shared the stage with the Jazz Ambassadors. The band has been featured in joint concerts with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony Pops, the Colorado Pops Orchestra, and the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.

The Jazz Ambassadors’ rigorous touring schedule and reputation for excellence has earned it the title “America’s Big Band.”