by Eric Ginsburg
In the very recent history of downtown Greensboro, the loss of the short-lived Flying Anvil venue is one of the most mournful chapters. Crammed near the corner of Eugene and Lee streets, the show space was too big for its britches from the jump. Literally: The gigantic space cost too much and proved difficult to fill. The people behind the Flying Anvil learned like countless others that sometimes the few yards from the center-city strip could be an insurmountable gulf, and there’s been an open wound in Greensboro’s music scene ever since its untimely passing.
But what if we tried again?
The South End, as the area of downtown south of the train-track line of demarcation is sometimes called, is experiencing a resurgence. In the last few years some great restaurants moved in, and with construction underway at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing and Union Square Campus likely becoming a reality in the near future, there is increasing hope of rebirth. Why shouldn’t a music venue be part of that?
It’s possible that the Crown, a young space carved out of the upper floor of the Carolina Theatre a few blocks up downtown’s spine, could become the space locals are craving. But without someone responsible for regular booking and a more narrowly defined mission as a live music venue, there is plenty of doubt among the creative underclass that its purveyors share a closely aligned vision.
It would be a mistake to try and redo the Flying Anvil exactly, especially on the same scale, but as residents and life return to downtown it’s not that wild of an idea. The band of people behind the venue — Andrew Dudek and Pete Schroth, specifically —would be happy to provide advice to anyone trying to learn from their mistakes, and Dudek suggested there should be some city support.
A smaller, leaner venue a la Local 506 in Chapel Hill may be the best nearby model — a stripped-down space that’s visually unimpressive at first, aside from a small bar in a front room area. Downtown seems destined to become more of a cultural hub, in part because of the performing arts center, and the so-called South End would be the best fit for a small, hipper venue. It all depends on planning, management and support.