Victor Graham, the owner of Rhythms Live Music Hall


Hello Faithful Reader,

I hope this month’s edition of the Black Bird’s Eye View finds you well and in good spirit. I am well. A few months back I had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with Victor Graham, the owner of Rhythms Live Music Hall, located at 2020 Chapel Hill Rd, Suite 33 in Durham, North Carolina. To say that this man can naturally draw you in with a very good story is an understatement. Sit back and get to know this NC Pioneer and champion of music and music enthusiast.

Q.

Are you originally from Durham North Carolina?

A.

I am from Sumter South Carolina.

Q.

How is it that you come to be the owner of Rhythms Live Music Hall?

A.

This is a 20-year vision. The foundation came when I was a kid…10 or 11 or 12 years old. It just goes to show how much of our lives are shaped by our childhood. My Brother, who was the president of Student Government at South Carolina State College, would always pull me up to the college even at a young age so that I could be exposed to some things…to give you some insight, I had the pleasure to see Elvis Presley and the Jackson 5 one night back to back when I was 10 or 11 years old. I saw and met Earth Wind & Fire when they had one hit record. I saw Kiss when they were a lounge act at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis Tennessee when I was thirteen. That was before the makeup and all that stuff. Somehow or another, over the years I came to crave presentation. What I mean by presentation, back then…before all the technology the only way an artist could really sell his stuff was…he had to take it to the stage, and it had to be right…he had to give it to the people. Those days kind of changed over the years. The presentation became a little more watered down with technology and synthesizers, sampling and all that stuff. About 20 years ago I think I discovered a way that we could give the “presentation” back to the people…to give it to them in a more intimate setting and put it right in their face. Then it hit me. Some people call it an epiphany. It led me on a 20-year journey. A lot of stuff happened in between of course. I give God the glory for all of it. He’s the head of my life. I’m not ashamed of that. This is not about me. It turned into a spiritual journey…It always has been, but I didn’t know it at the time. 20 years ago, I was not ready. The journey from then until now took me in the world of doing some promotions and things of that nature because I thought that my dream of Rhythms Live Music Hall was unattainable. Little did I know, and what I believe now, is that the Lord was preparing me for now. I could not have done this had I not gone down the road of promotions and formulated relationships in the industry and those types of things…so that’s the back story

I think this is important too when I first came up with this vision 20 years ago…. I was so excited. My wife was like, “It sounds good Honey, but I don’t understand why it is not already being done.” So, she was never really onboard with it…she was like, “I love you and I will support you… but I don’t know.” The reality was, she asked an excellent question. So, time went by and I thought the dream was unattainable and I gave up on it. Then in June of 2017, my Wife and I went to see Jeffrey Osborne at The Birchmere in the DC area…this was like the 9th time we had been to the Birchmere…. but this time something was different. Jeffery came out there and he tore that place down. As we were driving back home, my Wife goes, “Why did you give up on Rhythms Live?” I said, “Well don’t know…Mama got sick, we put the boy through school.” She said, “Well, we’re empty nester now...you have 7 business plans…. you need to dust the cobwebs off. To God be the Glory. That moment spoke to the fact that when your yoke partner comes onboard…truly onboard….it does something spiritually. So now my Wife handles the backend of business and I take care of the front. When my Wife fell into position it all clicked

Q.

When did you first open your doors?

A.

November 18th MLK Weekend. We opened with Jeffrey Osbourne. There is a story there too. This came with a lot of challenges. We had construction delays and construction surprises, we had two hurricanes and a snowstorm. A four-month project turned into a seven-month project. It created a little havoc up front. We had to cancel a few shows because we were not ready… we were not finished. Some of the markets received that well and some didn’t. I got hammered for a while. It has not been all roses, but to God be the Glory we are here. We had to endeavor to persevere. To get here we had to grind. So, now we are here, and it is a different kind of grind now. I consider this the people’s venue. It is not about me. It is God’s gift to me and my gift to the community. We want to be community oriented and we want to embrace the non-profits. Anything that we can do to help anybody…we are all for.

Q.

Tell me about Rhythms Live Music Hall and your vision.

A.

Rhythms Live Music Hall can seat a little over 600. It can do more if we do accommodation seating and standing and quite naturally, we can do more if we do standing only. My vision is that we cater to the 40 years and over market. We are an inclusive venue catering to all music enthusiast. We are not a restaurant or a bar, though we serve food and alcohol beverages. We are a Music Hall.

The African American experience in music is full and rich. There are many talented artists from the ’60s and 70’s still working…looking for gigs. I’m talking about the Classic Rockers and Jazz artists, most of whom are too big to play the smaller clubs and they are not big enough to play the big theaters or arenas…they are right in between in the hole. Unfortunately, having the right platform for them to play had been missing. Rhythms Live Music Hall fills that void and gives them a place to showcase their brilliance and their talent, People really receive that and are looking for them. So far it has been a pleasant experience.

Q.

Who are some Artists who have Performed at Rhythms Live Music Hall?

A.

Jeffrey Osborne, Delbert McClinton, Larry Carlton, Will Downing, Eric Benet, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Marcus Anderson, Adam Hawley, Huggy Lowdown, Chris Paul, Carnival of all Rhythms, The Tams, Chairman of the Board, Woolly’s Roots of Blues and Jazz Jam, Jesse Kinch, Miki Howard, and Toney Terry.

Q.

How do you go about selecting the artists who showcase here?

A.

A lot of it is my research. With us, the presentation is the most important thing. We built this venue inside out. What I mean by that is our focus, energy, and resources were put on that stage. We wanted to make sure that the lighting was right, that the sound was right, and the right technicians were in place to run the shows…then we built it from there starting with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the best listening and visual experience. We literally created the venue around the stage because Rhythms Live Music Hall is all about Good Music. To supplement the experience, we also offer a little comfort food and alcohol beverages. We continue to build our venue to get better and better. As far as the stage and production…that was nonnegotiable we wanted that to be right…right from the start…and it has been. We are very proud of that. No matter what happens, when you come here you are going to get a great show. Every show here is handpicked. I do my due diligence by researching the artists and I tap into my own experiences. I know who can bring it and who can’t. I can’t predict how many tickets will be sold but I can predict what a certain artist can do on that stage.

Q.

Does Rhythms Live Music Hall have a consistent schedule? Are there specific things that that place here each week?

A.

Our goal is to be active every weekend and in addition, we rent our space to individuals who are interested in private parties and events.

Q.

Are there opportunities here for local artists?

A.

Absolutely. We are working on different types of platforms to bring local artists on a consistent basis. We’ve had local artists open for the nationals. I am from an era…oh man, the ’70s was an amazing decade for music. In the 70’s you had that good Classic Rock from Boston to Chicago to the Doobie Brothers and then you had all the Motown Acts out there and Jazz was still relevant with Miles Davis and people of that nature…you had the Funk and Disco. We used to dance…dance…dance and it was all presentation based and from a local perspective, all the towns had these fabulous bands. Every town had a band…and the bands would come to the club. It wasn’t spinning records then….it was live music. Our band in our town was Brown Ash and the band in Winston Salem was Human Blood and the band in Greenville was Green Eyes and the band in Atlanta was the Voltage Brother and the band here was Johnny White and the Elite Band. You had all these fabulous guys and we use to look forward to that. I miss those days. These guys are still out there. Looking for venues to do their thing. There are thousands, if not millions of people who seek presentation…. they love it and will travel to get it. We want this to be their little spot where they can see who they want to see, be what they want to be, and have a good time. The average person makes a night of going to a concert. They plan to eat, drink and listen to great music. Rhythms Live Music Hall is the one-stop spot for all of that. Our goal is to bring that back with the Rhythms Live Music Hall Experience

Q.

If you were placed in a position to bestow three jewels upon the masses, three things that would better mankind….no answer is wrong or right or too long or too short…. What three Jewels would you bestow?

A.

  1. Give God his Glory…God, Family and then everything else. My Pastor says, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” That can mean so many different things. Keep it in perspective.

  2. Life is precious. Tomorrow is not promised.

  3. If you can find a passion ….do it. Dreams are tough. Trust in God is tough. It’s not easy. But if you can get past all the skirmish and realize, “hey I woke up this morning” everything else is extra gravy…because guess what? A whole lot of people did not wake up this morning…and it’s just that simple. What good is it to save all the money you have…then clock out of here. Yes, you may have set your balance straight.

Where the power of God really reveals himself is when we are given balance in our lives…. none of us are perfect. We must have balance in our lives and when we dream, we must dream big because when you dream big and achieve the dream you gotta be like, “Wow, that’s God.” I have had so many “that’s gotta be God” moments

This concludes my most informative, motivating, and inspiring interview with Mr. Victor Graham. To learn more about his vision and movement visit Rhythms Live Music Hall online at https://rhythmslivenc.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RhythmsLiveMusicHall/

Until next time…Be well

Always,

Robin




































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