First Fridays return to the Sunrise Theater in May

Sunrise Theater’s First Fridays are back beginning June 4. The free concert series and biggest fundraising program for the historic theater missed the entire 2020 season due to the Covid shutdown. Now the volunteer committee co-lead by Rick Noyes and Sunrise Preservation Group board member, Kira Schoenfelder are ramping up quickly to prepare for the first of six events. First Fridays are hosted by the Sunrise Theater and take place from 5-8 p.m. on NW Broad Street between W Connecticut and W New Hampshire Avenues. Everyone is welcome to come out and see old friends or make new ones, drink some Southern Pines Brewery beers & hard seltzers, and listen to great music while supporting the local theater.

“First Fridays mean so much to the community. It’s often the event that makes people fall in love with this town when they first move here, me included,” said Kira. “The loss of financial support from a year without First Fridays has been strongly felt at our little nonprofit theater. We’re going to make this year bigger and better than ever to make up for the loss, so come thirsty!”

First Friday bands will continue to be the great mix of musical genres from bluegrass to funk the community has come to expect. Performers (and venues) have felt the effects of Covid restrictions even longer than most businesses and it’s tougher to get the machine back in gear but it’s all coming back. Some bands have been forced to call it quits as the shutdown dragged on, but most are back and eager to resume their careers. The flood gates have opened, and live music is back so agents are working overtime trying to get the gears moving again.

The June concert will feature a bluegrass band that has built a strong following in the Sandhills. HANK, PATTY, AND THE CURRENT is led by two North Carolina veteran bluegrass musicians — Hank Smith on Banjo and Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw on fiddle. They join forces with some of the most versatile musicians in the Carolinas to create modern, American, acoustic music.

Local musician, John McDonald will open the concert at 5 p.m. John is a Moore County native with deep roots in the Sandhills. Influenced more by English musicians growing up, his songs blend Brit-pop hooks with American sentimentality. John will also be on stage at the Sunrise Theater on June 26 for the next SINGER SONGWRITERS IN THE ROUND concert.

First Fridays would not be possible without the support of some loyal and generous sponsors. Nikki Bowman of Realty World Properties of the Pines is returning as the 2021 Season Sponsor. June’s concert sponsor is ritualx, a physician-led, local CBD company. Other monthly sponsors include Karma Spa Lounge & Beauty Bar and Pinehurst Surgical Women’s Comprehensive Health. Additional sponsorships are available. And this year’s sponsors will have the added perk of using the new Sunrise Loft as their VIP suite.

A lot of work goes into planning and executing a First Friday season. When the Covid restrictions were suddenly lifted, the team jumped into action. The events are planned by a small, hardworking group of volunteers including Dustin Bonecutter, Aimee Haley, Caitlin Kessy, Cathleen Jones, Matt Jones, Mike Murphy, Rick Noyes, Anthony Parks, Manny Samson, and Kira Schoenfelder, and Sunrise staff members Kevin Dietzel, Elaine Evans, and MaryBeth Poplyk. An army of Sunrise volunteers joins the committee on event day to keep the concerts running smoothly.

Service organizations volunteer each month to pour beer during the three-hour event. F3 Sandhills will be June’s guest bartenders. It’s a great way to give back to the community and the theater while also creating awareness of their group. Any organizations interested in volunteering should contact Elaine at the Sunrise Theater on 910-692-3611.

Two food trucks are chosen each month to keep the crowd well-fed. June’s concert will feature Meat & Greek and Jaya’s Indian Cuisine.

July’s First Friday band is THE EMPIRE STRIKES BRASS, an Asheville-based brass, funk, rock band with a big sound!

For more information about First Fridays and the Sunrise Theater, visit or follow both on Instagram. Families are welcome but coolers and outside beverages are not permitted. Pets are not permitted on the Sunrise greenspace during the concert.


Courtesy photo/Contributed.

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