Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2013 by primesmokehouse

STANLEY BAIRD has achieved worldwide recognition, having shared the concert stage with such notables as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, ImageNajee, Alex Bugnon, Regina Belle, Richard Elliot, Brian McKnight, Kirk Whalum, Kim Waters, The O’Jays, the late George Howard and his mentor, legendary trumpeter Donald Byrd. During his teaching tenure in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Stanley was able to quench his thirst for West Indian and Latin music, influences that also season his music. In addition to the national airplay Stanley has enjoyed on straight-ahead, smooth-jazz and urban adult stations, hid music has been featured on the soap opera The Guiding Light. He has received rave reviews several elite music publications, including Bre, Billboard, and The Gavin Report. Throughout his career, Baird has covered every aspect of jazz, using his gift to create music with heart. Stanley created the STANLEY BAIRD YOUTH JAZZ FOUNDATION because he believes jazz can be kept alive through young rising instrumentalists and vocalists. Baird ‘s philosophy is “Listening to music is good for the soul and the mind…don’t do drugs, get your high on soothing, inspirational music.” 

In 1991, Stanley formed The Stanley Baird Group, which has released six albums; Traffic Jam is the latest release.



Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2012 by primesmokehouse

Tony ThompsonRALEIGH, N.C.
– Tony was a born “natural musician” from North Carolina and started playing gigs at age 11. Jazz piano became his first love after studying drums, accordion, guitar, viola and organ. The Tony Thompson Trio featuring Peter Innocenti on bass and Andy Trexler on drums perform as a ‘modern blend of fresh modal jazz and soulful blues. Piano, bass and drums uniquely highlight Tony’s original contemporary arrangements for solo piano of popular American tunes.

Tony has produced four CDs since establishing independent jazz label Tonymanmusic in 1999. Forever Charmed, a full-length CD composed totally of originals, has been aired frequently on NPR including their program All Things Considered. Original music from Tony’s last CD ( iKnow ) aired on Fox Network’s popular TV show “Fringe.”

Tony has performed with a wide array of jazz luminaries, including trumpeter Tom “Jamaica Funk” Browne, trumpeter Cindy Bradley, 2010 winner of the American Smooth Jazz New Artist; blues and jazz guitarist Calvin Edwards; saxophonist Phillip Doc Martin; and singer songwriter Paula Atherton.

Tony graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he studied music and business. The multitalented artist also owns a piano service company and has rebuilt pianos, tuned them and voiced for an eclectic mix of concert artists including Victor Borga, Peter Nero, The Beau Arts Trio, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Commodores and Weather Report.

Tony’s fifth CD is slated for this winter.

Showtimes are 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The cover is $10.

For reservations or more information, call 919-832-8685.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2012 by primesmokehouse


Paul Whitley is undeniably anointed.

His journey into the world of music began at 8 years old, when he started playing the drums. But his ability blossomed to amazing new heights after his father prayed for his hands. By the time he was 16, his fingers had found a comfortable place on the keyboards … and then on the strings of the bass and lead guitar.

In 2002, after being laid off from his job as a civil engineer, he discovered his passion for recording and producing. He has worked as a musician and producer alongside such luminaries as Marvin Sapp, John P. Kee, Byron Cage, Wes Morgan, Myron Butler, Steve Cole, Walter Beasley and Joey Sommerville, to name a few.

Versed in a variety of music genres, he has built a reputation on “maintaining absolute quality and professionalism with everyone he works with.”

Showtimes are 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The cover is $10. For reservations, call 919-832-8685.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2012 by primesmokehouse

Willie Bradley

Currently working on their full length contemporary urban jazz debut Don’t Look Back, trumpeter Willie Bradley and bandmates Cornell Young (drums) and Ted Ash (keyboards) bring a unique and colorful history to their current high-energy jazz/R&B/funk-influenced band Essential Elements. In 2002, the three Fayetteville, N.C., natives joined forces as the Willie Bradley Trio. Pooling their talent, the trio became a popular live attraction throughout their area, playing covers and originals over the next couple years.

Several years later, as fate would have it, the three were unwittingly attending the same church, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist. At the urging of their pastor, they began playing jazz arrangements of gospel songs under the name The Kingdom Builders. They also performed at couples’ ministry banquets and at other churches in the region. While continuing to play gospel, the three ultimately decided to get their jazz groove going again.

“Our bond is stronger now than it ever was, because we are now more spiritually sound…,” says Bradley. “We’re doing it the right way now, and the fellowship we enjoy as friends is as strong as the chemistry we share as musicians. Just as the group name implies, each member of Essential Elements brings a different flavor, personality and sound to the band. Each one of us brings a unique element to the group. I think another thing that sets our sound apart is the way I approach the trumpet – in a more melodic way than usual, much like that of sax player.”

Showtimes are 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The cover is $10. For reservations, call 919-832-8685.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2012 by primesmokehouse

ROCKY MOUNT, NC – Upon first hearing JULIA NIXON, people sit up a little taller and smile a whole lot wider.  Her velvety, lush voice – which, by the way can be gritty and downright bawdy – is as enchanting with a 120-piece orchestra as when she serenades a capella on a stool – with nowhere to hide.

She has toured Japan, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Russia and various countries in Africa. Her No. 1 dance hit in the United Kingdom (“Breakin’ Down”), which was co-written with longtime partner David Ylvisaker, also helped her international appeal. Her independent release, “Keepin’ on Track,” was nominated for a Grammy in the category of best pop female vocalist.

She toured with Richard Pryor and Donald Byrd and The Blackbyrds; she has opened for Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Vince Gill, Kenny G, Tina Turner and Herbie Hancock; and she has performed at the White House, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall.

Julia Nixon is no stranger to the stage either.  After all, she is the dynamo who replaced  Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls as “Effie,” earned the role of “B J.” in the national touring company of Smokey Joe’s Café and played Caroline in “Caroline, or Change” at D.C.’s renowned Studio Theatre.

“I am so excited to be playing Rocky Mount,” says Nixon, whose well-traveled band features guitar virtuoso Wayne Kee. “I’ve spent many years away from North Carolina, but this is actually my home, and I relish any opportunity I can to perform here. It will be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait!”

Among her many accolades, The Washington Post wrote, “She sing’s with vocal power and emotional range.”

GQ magazine noted that “she has a voice that never flags. …”

And The London Times effused, “She squalls up a vocal storm to rival Aretha Franklin. …”

Nixon performs Friday and Saturday at The Prime Smokehouse: Barbecue & Beyond, 207 E. Thomas St., in downtown Rocky Mount, N.C., as part of the Weekend Dinner Jazz Series. There will be two shows, 9 and 10:30 p.m. each night. The cover charge is $10.







Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2012 by primesmokehouse


One listen, and it all makes sense. George Benson, Motown’s Wali Ali, Latin virtuoso Carlos Santana, Mile’s protégé John McLaughlin and the swinging Wes Montgomery – all legendary guitarists who helped season the pots that Wayne Kee dishes up regularly as one of North Carolina’s most in-demand guitarists.

“I’ve had the pleasure of playing or touring with a lot of great musicians,” says Kee, who has performed at such disparate venues as Madison Square Garden (with the funk group War) and London’s Palladium (with British poet/songwriter Marc Bolan and the group T. Rex). He’s hit the road with the likes of superstar jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd and songwriting dynamo Bryce Wilson (who wrote for such music giants as Whitney Houston, Babyface , Toni Braxton and Mary J. Blige). And he has been tapped by the rap masters of today, including 50 Cent, The Game and Jay-Z, for his tasty guitar lines. Yes, that is Kee kicking it with Beyoncé on a couple cuts and Dr. Dre on the soundtrack for Austin Powers’ movie, “Goldmember.”

Of course, Wayne Kee’s amazing musicality is no mistake. He was inculcated in the sounds of the soul universe – jazz, blues, R&B and gospel – from an early age.

A graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, he attended Yuba College in Marysville, Calif., where he studied electronic music. He also studied jazz theory at Sacramento State University.

In addition to the guitar, he is also proficient on several other instruments, including woodwinds, percussions and keys. And he’s not the only gifted Kee. The prolific musician-pastor John P. Kee and bassist extraordinaire Alphonza Kee are his brothers.

Showtimes are 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The cover is $10. For reservations, call 919-832-8685.


Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 by primesmokehouse


Richie Cole is recognized worldwide for the sweet sounds of his alto saxophone and the creativity behind his Alto Madness Orchestra.

The Alto Madness Orchestra was developed by Cole in the early ’90s and its continuing popularity is proof of its uniqueness. As Richie explains, “The idea of the Orchestra is the concept and sound of an 18-piece big band using only seven instruments, four of which are horns. Not only does this have the big band ensemble sound, it also allows us plenty of room for improvisation as if we were in a quartet setting.”

Richie started playing alto saxophone when he was 10 years old in his home town of Trenton, N.J. Influenced by Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, Cole’s obvious talent and dedication won him a full scholarship from Downbeat magazine to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.

His professional career began in 1969 when he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band. And after stints with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Doc Severinsen Big Band, Cole formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own “Alto Madness” style in the ’70s and early ’80s.

Cole has performed and recorded with the great vocalese artist Eddie Jefferson, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Enriquez, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Boots Randolph, and Nancy Wilson, to name just a few of his musical collaborations.  Notably, Cole has performed at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall as well as a command performance for the Queen of England.

Cole has recorded more than 50 albums and CDs, including his top hit album “Hollywood Madness” (1979 Muse Records) and his tribute album to Leonard Bernstein, “Richie Cole Plays West Side Story” (1997 Music Masters Jazz). A prolific composer, Cole also finds time to arrange for full big bands, symphony orchestras and frequent performances at jazz festivals worldwide. Moreover, he enjoys sharing his love of music with younger generations and is active recording, touring and presenting university master classes.

Cole was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and the Board for the National Endowment for the Arts where he served as chairman for one year. He is also a charter member of the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2005 he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society.

Showtimes are 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The cover is $10. For reservations, call 919-832-8685.