By Eric Hairston
Live music has just not been the same in Winston-Salem since fixtures like The Garage and Ziggy’s closed, but a group of innovative entrepreneurs want to change that.
The Ramkat, located at 170 West Ninth Street in the Arts/Entertainment District of Winston-Salem, is the brainchild of Richard Emmett, Andy Tennille, and Bryan Ledbetter, three friends and music fans who believe that downtown Winston-Salem is on the rise, and the time is now for a community arts space.
“While our focus will definitely be on presenting live music,” the team announced during their Kickstarter campaign, “The Ramkat will host performing arts of all stripes, as well as other community events and entertainment, including theater, comedy, film and simulcast/pay-per-view concerts.”
With the success of BB&T Ballpark, the continued growth of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and the recent completion of the newly renovated Benton Convention Center, downtown Winston-Salem is attracting more and more visitors every day. Additionally, with more than 8,000 residents currently living in or near the downtown area and the construction of an additional 2,000 housing units on the horizon, more people are not only working in downtown Winston-Salem, but they are living and playing there, too. The need for a live music venue is evident.
A live music venue is needed to facilitate those (like myself) who are in need of a place to spend weekends wanting to get their music fix and enjoy a cold brew. As Winston-Salem grows, The Ramkat seeks to gain and develop community partnerships, with artists, performers, and nonprofits. The venue anticipates employing 30 full- and part-time employees. The Ramkat is a two-story complex with a 1,000-person-capacity (that’s pretty big) with handicap accessibility. In addition, there are three bars serving wine, spirits, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.
The Ramkat opens March 9 with The Vagabond Saints’ Society performing music from legendary British rock band Queen, with doors opening at 8 pm with the show starting at 9 pm. On March 10, the venue will host the 16th annual “Cash Bash,” which was founded and led by local rock band The Bo-Stevens. The event will feature performances by Bonnie Montgomery, Straight 8s, John Howie Jr. and Rosewood Bluff, with each of them
covering a song by Johnny Cash during their performance. The doors will open at 7 pm with the show starting at 8 pm.
On March 16th, The Gen-uine headlines a showcase of indie rock and folk bands featuring I, Anomaly, Scrub Pine and COMPANYON among others. In the upcoming months, the Ramkat will be hosting a large variety of bands, showcasing music across all genres, so I am sure it will be a variety of musical flavors to choose from. The venue is currently booked until April with a host of local and national acts, with plans on doing approximately17 shows per month. As my anticipation grows for the opening of The Ramkat, I will certainly rock (no pun intended) my most exceptional screen-printed Queen T-shirt to celebrate the rebirth of live music in Winston-Salem.
Live from The Ramkat
By Eric Hairston