Ready to rock

Hilton Head cafe gives musicians, audiences all the music with none of the distractions

February 25, 2011 

  • The Rock Cafe Hilton Head offers live music from 8 to 10 p.m. Fridays at 31 Mathews Drive. Local musicians Nick Primiano and Mike Gabriel will perform today at The Rock.

    Details: 843-842-9741, www.facebook.com/therockhhi

Are you a big fan of live music but the bar scene has you singing the blues? A local program offers an alternative to the noisy nightlife.

The Rock Cafe Hilton Head gives musicians the opportunity to play in a different kind of atmosphere and audiences a chance to really listen to the music. The free program is held from 8 to 10 p.m. Fridays at 31 Mathews Drive on Hilton Head Island. Organizers Joan Maute and Nick Primiano are calling it "Hilton Head's listening room."

"Artists can sit down and play ... and people listen," Primiano said. "It's not a normal bar atmosphere where you have people drinking and it gets pretty noisy. ... The cool thing about it is people come there to listen. There's no alcohol."

There might not be alcohol, but there is complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate along with the free tunes.

Maute said The Rock provides a family-friendly atmosphere, where musicians of all ages are encouraged to perform. In fact, local musician and music instructor David Kimbell brought two high school students to perform with him at The Rock on Jan. 28. Maute said listening to the young musicians was a treat.

Maute and Primiano said they get a wide variety of music on Friday nights -- blues, folk, country, jazz and soft rock. Local musicians Jim Harper, Tom Aycock, Jolyn Bowler and Billy Blair have played there.

"It's an interesting music scene," Maute said. "There's a lot of very good music here on the island."

Maute said some nights there are only 10 people in the audience. Other times there are 30 or 40 in the crowd.

"Some people are there no matter what," she said. "They just love hearing the music."

Former Hilton Head singer and songwriter Mark Scudder started The Rock in June. He was working as a multimedia designer for Jamie Osborne, the pastor of Shout Church, an online church based out of 31 Mathews Drive. The building also houses a program called Lifetree Cafe, but Osborne said neither the church nor Lifetree are affiliated with The Rock.

Scudder said since the building wasn't being used on Friday nights and it seemed like a good place for live music, he came up with the idea of The Rock. Osborne let him use the space for free.

When Scudder decided to head home to upstate New York in August, he asked Maute and Primiano, who had both performed at The Rock, if they wanted to take over the program. Now the two Hilton Head musicians coordinate the performance schedule and try to get the word out to local music lovers.

Maute said they have approached most of the musicians who have played at The Rock because they are well-known in the area. But she and Primiano would like to get more musicians to share their talents. She said their periodic open-mic nights are a great opportunity for those who aren't yet known in the community.

"We hope that more people can become aware of (The Rock) and we can keep it going," Maute said.

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