When: Fri., Nov. 25, 8 p.m. 2016
There's no way to confirm this, of course, but it's a safe bet that most musicians who've played at The Kraken have at least one picture in their cell phones of the bar's colorfully lit roadside marquee that advertises the night's lineup. Even without photographic evidence, a night of fun at the old roadhouse on the corner of Highway 54 and Dodsons Crossroads is always unforgettable. Where else can a band pick morsels from the occasional platter of barbecue, or a tray of cupcakes that just show up on the bar because a neighbor brought them by?
Two years ago, locals Jody Kidney and Kirk Schmidt bought The Kraken, which is located out in White Cross, about six miles west of Carrboro. On Friday, the owners celebrate the joint's "Krakenversary" with the public.
Since taking over, Kidney and Schmidt have brought in some local craft beers to the menu, occasional food trucks, and thrown a bunch of outdoor cookouts. Patrons are usually a mix of walking-distance locals, friends of bands, and folks who'll gladly keep the alcohol intake to a DUI-beating minimum just to drive out there on a weekend night to see what's up.
"Kirk's been crushing it on the booking, too," says Kidney. "We're working on making it a rock 'n' roll roadhouse for everybody."
The shows are free, yet musicians can take home a decent sack of change anyway, thanks to the generosity of customers whenever the old pail in front of the stage is passed around for donations. On top of that, bands often get a cut of bar proceeds.
"We're keeping the generosity going on, from the community and from the bands" says Schmidt, sitting with a local brew and a laptop at the Kraken bar booth he uses as his "office."
This year's Krakenversary features Raleigh's Countdown Quartet—actually a seven-piece band these days, with three saxes, a trombone, and guitar-bass-drums. The band's New Orleans-style funk-and-roll is perfectly suited to the Kraken's spontaneous party vibe. It's a dream booking for Schmidt, who's also celebrating his birthday that night. Kidney's band Fantastico!, the high-energy Chapel Hill blues-rock supergroup led by Stu Cole, once of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Chicken Wire Gang, will open. On Saturday night, a "Krakenversary Encore Performance" on Saturday offers another y'all-come lineup of the superb violinist Jennifer Curtis with the otherworld's rock'n'roll messenger Dex Romweber; Raleigh pop-rock supergroup Wayleaves; and The Cosmic Country Band, whose Austin hippie ethos just feels right for NC's roots music scene.
Plus, it's right after Thanksgiving, so don't be surprised if loaves of white bread and a big jar of mayo appear on the bar, for any leftover turkey that patrons want to share. Come on in, neighbor. —Danny Hooley