Guitarist Billy Jones came to Davidson a decade ago, while en route to a planned move Asheville. He landed a job at The Soda Shop on Main Street, and “just fell in love with the place.” Soon, the Asheville move was canceled, Mr. Jones settled here, and became a regular on the local music scene.
Now thanks to Mr. Jones, the music scene in Davidson is getting another new venue this weekend: a music shop, studio and hangout on Main Street called The Birdsnest. With the help of a parade of friends, Mr. Jones renovated about 2,000 square feet upstairs from the Needlecraft Center at 102 N. Main St. He and other local musicians now offer lessons and host student performances for family and friends. The site also has a recording studio for rent, instruments to sell, equipment, and old records.
The idea is to help continue building the community of musicians that has grown up around Davidson in the past decade or so.
You’ve probably seen Mr. Jones around town, usually with a guitar in his hands. He plays often at Summit Coffee (with the house band, The Pocket). He also is a regular at special events on the Village Green and elsewhere.
A native self-taught musician, Mr. Jones has recorded two full-length albums over the past few years: “Without a Fight” and “Time.” And for the past five years, he has taught music professionally in the area.
At first, the new space on Main Street was an extension of his music-teaching business – a way for him to move it out of his home and into a permanent space. But visiting friends saw the space and made suggestions, and he began to think about the possibilities.
“The initial idea was just to have lessons,” he said this week, while giving a tour of the studio. “Then people started coming up the stairs and asking, ‘Is this where the record shop is going to be?’”
Musician friends began helping out with the renovations, and one who works at Davidson College offered to donate some aging recording equipment, including a 32-channel mixing console. So Mr. Jones and his cohort sound-proofed one of the rooms as a recording studio.
Other friends have built his shop counter and record bins. “This whole place has really been built by the community,” he said.
And Mr. Jones hopes to give back as well, through his music school. One of his former guitar students, August Thomas, a piano student in the CPCC music program, has advanced his skills to the point where he now teaches guitar and piano under Billy's tutelage. Kara Bringewatt (violin and voice), and Luke Post (guitar) round out the teaching staff.
“This is really building community through the community,” he said. We offer music camps during the summer. And he hopes The Birdsnest can become a supplier of musical talent for downtown events – large and small.
He says he’s already talking with fellow musician Tim Helfrich, of Summit Coffee, about organizing a series of benefit concerts.
Local musicians say they’re excited about having a place to hang out and jam and just meet fellow players. “It’s something we don’t have – to have as many musicians as we have here in Davidson, this winds up being something very cool,” said singer-songwriter Rusty Knox.