by Eric Ginsburg
The reasons Eric Mann left Greensboro about a decade ago — and the reasons he came back in 2011 — didn’t have that much to do with the arts.
Mann, a Florida native who first came to North Carolina to attend Guilford College in 1998, has bounced around the state. He initially left Greensboro to move to Chapel Hill because his girlfriend at the time — now his wife — was attending medical school, and living apart was less than ideal. A residency program afterwards brought the couple to Asheville.
“Both of those [cities] were probably going to be temporary,” Mann said. “We didn’t necessarily think we would stay, but we didn’t know.”
Before Mann left Greensboro he played guitar in Kudzu Wish, a name that conjures significant nostalgia in certain local circles. He tried to keep up the musical habit in Chapel Hill and Asheville, playing a short flight of shows with Fighting Poseidon and the Big City Bangers in each city respectively, but the projects didn’t stick.
By 2010, Mann and his wife were sick of living in a college town like Chapel Hill or a tourist town like Asheville, and were looking for somewhere more “normal” and accessible that still bragged enough cultural action to be interesting. In the handful of years since leaving Greensboro, the city had started to come alive with more things happening artistically and downtown, especially with young people and new businesses, he said.
“Having different experiences in Chapel Hill and Asheville, we mainly didn’t want to raise a family in those kind of places,” he said. “They’re fun places to live temporarily.”
Eventually the couple agreed to return to Greensboro, where Mann now works as a supervisor with Guilford County Animal Control. And he’s happy.
“I guess the big thing about Greensboro, it was true then and now, you’ve just got to pay attention a little bit more,” Mann said. “There’s a lot of different things going on but you’ve got to do a little bit more searching out to find things to do. Even with restaurants, they may be spread out and you have to intentionally go to a certain part of town.
“It definitely seems easier from 10 years ago to find stuff to do in general,” he continued. “I guess I miss the Flying Anvil. I always thought it wasn’t really gonna work and I guess it didn’t. I actually haven’t been to the Crown yet, so there are a lot of different things going on. Being in my mid-thirties, I’ve got to really pay attention to Facebook to find out what’s going on and where.”
Playing and listening to music has long been a part of Mann’s life, but not the central focus, he said. It took more of a backseat after the couple returned to Greensboro, which makes even more sense considering they have a 2-year-old now.
But it’s picked up again recently — Mann played in a Refused cover band for a show at the Blind Tiger in December, and now he’s working on a new musical project. It’s a new cast of characters and it doesn’t have a name yet, he said, but there’s momentum.