Submitted by Melissa Howsam — Correspondent
Oak City said goodbye to its summer-long concert series aptly named Oak City 7 with last night's last hoorah, featuring Paleface, Debonzo Brothers and Big Daddy Love on the main stage, with Hank Sinatra on the acoustic stage.
With seven biweekly shows running from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the series saw a slew of local and regional bands hit City Plaza gratis. Yes, free. Think Alive After Five (I know that was so five years ago), but with a fresh facelift.
Beyond paving the city's beat street, the loca-loving series also showcased a bounty of sustainable sips, nips and products from the local beer bus to the food truck fodder to the House of Swank "919 Y'all" koozies and tees, and the Got to Be NC samples. "Seven shows, 28 bands, two stages, 15 local beers and local food," ever-so-aptly sports OC7's Facebook page.
For OC7's finale, midpoint hometown band the Debonzo Brothers arguably stole the show, both with their "varying degrees of twang" and "ruminative folk" and their quips: "Only one person in this entire plaza tonight admitted to being in love," they said as they took stage. Maybe those of you in love looking for poetic justice can redeem Raleigh and represent in 2013.
But for the premiere 2012, 96.1 was a mainstay event-sponsor (the event is 100%-sponsor driven), sporting a tent, games and giveaways. This week, in conjunction with World of Beer, the radio-fav gave a chance to win a World of Beer basket, including a six-pack of beer, a $25 WOB gift cert and tee.
"We've come out to every Oak City 7 and basically tried to have something fun to do for the community when they come out, because it's free," said 96 Rock on-air personality Alli Morgan. "So we'll bring our cornhole board out, and we register [patrons] for different things, whether it's tickets or free beer (like we're doing tonight) we always try to have something that's interactive."
Attendee Sarah Hunter enjoyed the outdoor series enough to become a repeat offender. "I really liked it," she said. "I thought it was a good use of the downtown space, and it kind of brought back the free downtown concert series that Raleigh had gotten rid of with Alive After Five. We actually went to every single [OC7] concert except for one, when it rained, and we really enjoyed it and enjoyed supporting North Carolina bands and beer and agriculture."
For this, the last of a set of sweltering summer Thursdays "in the 7," the nod to fall felt serendipitous, as temps continued to dip down in what feels much more like late September than late August in Raleigh. And the Plaza filled one final time with Triangle-ites (and many of their loyal pups) looking to pay summer its due and take in the tunes and the treats (the line at Tar Heel Creamery was a beast) of the local streets.
"I think the appeal of Oak City 7 is that it's cool for somebody after work who wants to relax on a Thursday," said Morgan. "It's not Friday, so it's not frantic. You can come down here and it's free; grab a beer and hang out. Music lovers again, it's free and it's indie stuff, so different than you would normally randomly run into [at bigger venues] and so you can come out here and enjoy music and it's gotta great atmosphere. I love downtown Raleigh, so I'm glad that they started doing this every other Thursday."
And as Raleigh-lovers, so are we.