Crean: There was a group of us. Andrew Dudek was not a business partner but he helped us book bands. Pete handled our booking and marketing, I handled our operations so I managed the bar and employees and made sure everything ran smoothly. Andrew was a sort of a booking partner, he tended to book some of the indie rock shows. Pete booked some of the bigger names we had.

Ben Singer, Greensboro music professional: I had just landed in Greensboro in 2005, and I was working at Notion Software at Elm and February 1. I was just working, not playing [music], and definitely didn’t know any musicians around town, didn’t have any associations in the scene even for several years after that.

I remember seeing Dave Rawlings Machine there — I was like, Oh my god, he’s gonna be down there. I remember how exciting it was to have people doing interesting stuff because in Greensboro there was so little. When I saw the club I was like, This is amazing and perfect and I can’t see how it will survive. The club, it’s just too big. There’s not enough people here to fill it up.

Dudek: We needed it. A successful town has a few music venues and a few that have different capacities. The Flying Anvil was 854 capacity, and that’s big. That was bigger at the time than Cat’s Cradle. We were gonna break it into several stages, the main stage and the small stage but the cost of two soundboards [was too much]. We decided to put all our chips in and do one big room.

One big room.
One big room.

Diarra Crckt Leggett, bartender at the Flying Anvil: It was kind of pitched as Pete, Crean and Dudek being like the face men and how they were gonna have a first-rate live music venue and did I want to be a part of it? It was an enthusiastic, “Hell yeah! I definitely want to be a part of it.”

We mostly served just highballs and beer and wine. This was before craft beer got big, but Natty Greene’s had a stake so we stocked Natty’s beer. Remember that Burn energy drink? We had Burn instead of Red Bull. People were like, “Awwwww….”

I remember Little Brother played there; I recall a lot of rum and cokes — we didn’t have any cognac. The indie kids were of course drinking PBR. The Leon Russell show, that was one of the early shows that illustrated the nightmare of having a liquor bar without food. You had to buy a membership to get in, and there was a three-day wait. That was problematic for buying tickets at the door.

Schroth: Everybody that was involved in that place, everybody that was a partner and that worked there was in it for the right reasons. It was totally about the music and the community. It’s a shame that that didn’t work but the intentions of everyone that stayed involved were pure. it was meant to be something incredible.

THE NAME

Crean: Pete came up with that.

Schroth: It’s an old blacksmith tradition where they would pack an anvil full of gunpowder and it was almost like a competition to see who could launch the anvil the highest…. It’s just one of those things that doesn’t sound like a very good idea but it does work. I came out of a sculpture background and Brian came out of an art background. And it’s like the whole Led Zeppelin thing, like an impossible task. We were presented a task and we were going to try and make it fly.

Dudek: It was the space that we had envisioned. Me and Pete and Brian Crean, the three of us were in there from December [2005] to May cutting pipes out of the ceiling, trying to speed up the process to start booking acts.

Beerbower: We had to gut all the bathrooms — the occupancy being what it was, there had to be proportional bathrooms. I think there were 9-11 stalls in each bathroom. It was a huge expense that wasn’t necessarily factored in the beginning. We were like, “Why can’t everybody pee in a trough?”

Kern: I think between buying the building and putting a new heating and air conditioning system, some roof work and putting in something like 16 toilets I think we had something like $350,000 in it.

Benton James, bandleader of the Urban Sophisticates (2002-2013): I remember the venue well. [It] had a metal ceiling and it was like hell on our ears. I remember it was set up like Cat’s Cradle. It had a lot of potential. The ceiling was pretty high, they had a backstage area that was pretty cool and a pool table. They were talking about building a bookstore.

I remember not knowing how the night was gonna go, but if I remember correctly it was pretty packed. It felt so much like the Cradle that I really wanted it to become that. It felt like that club that you went to where all the big bands came before they were huge.

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1 COMMENT

  1. R.I.P. Baity’s, Ziggy’s, Flying Anvil, Ziggy’s again… meanwhile places like the Orange Peel (Asheville), Fillmore (Charlotte), and of course Cat’s Cradle keep on chugging. Good on everyone here for making a real run at building a local regional venue. I enjoyed every show I saw there; wish I had a T-shirt!

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