Finally Friday: Music in Downtown Laurens

Last November, Elevate Upstate grants were awarded to the towns of Travelers Rest and Laurens, and Laurens’ downtown will soon be enjoying live music on the final Friday of each month, starting this weekend, thanks to the grant.

 

Since it’s still winter and likely to be cold, the first event on February 27 will be held indoors at Roma Restaurant on East Laurens Street from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Starting in March, the music will move outdoors and will go from 5:30 to 8:30, with Roma as the back-up plan if there’s inclement weather.


With the grant money, says Jonathan Irick, director of Main Street Laurens, they are able to pay artists for a year’s worth of Finally Friday events. “We need artists to be willing to play for $500 or less, so that we can have about $125 for marketing and other things,” he says.

The music will be from a variety of genres, from blues to beach music to gospel, with a Halloween party theme in October. The first artist will do covers of country tunes.

May is South Carolina Preservation Month, per the South Carolina State Historic Preservation office, and since Main Street Laurens exists to preserve the downtown, Irick says, they want to honor that. Acclaimed blues musician Hunter Holmes is a local historian who has studied Piedmont blues music. Holmes regularly travels to schools and other groups to give programs on the history of the blues in South Carolina, entertaining with his music while educating on the history of South Carolina music.

In addition to the outdoor live music in the after-work hours, downtown retail businesses will stay open late and will have special offerings, and restaurants are encouraged to have their own live music in the later hours to extend the festive atmosphere and keep people downtown. Each month the Main Street Laurens Facebook page will post what all of the special events will be a week before Finally Friday.

 

The downtown business specials include wine and cheese at the Artist’s Coop, and they will also hold a raffle for a piece of artwork.

 

“The city of Laurens has a trolley that’s mainly used for special events, and school kids use it sometimes for field trips,” Irick says. “We’ll have it running a route on Finally Friday nights at no charge for businesses that aren’t right on the square.” The route will run in a circle starting at 2 Blondes Savvy Consignment on North Harper Street and ending at Robin’s Nest on Main, with a total of five stops.

 

Downtown Laurens has four restaurants, the newest of which is Yo’ Cup Cafe and Coffee House, the winner of Main Street Laurens’ Jump Start program. Yo’ Cup is normally only open for breakfast and lunch, but they will stay open during Finally Fridays to accommodate downtown guests.

 

“Live music is always part of our events,” says Irick, including the annual barbecue festival, Squealin’ on the Square, held the first weekend in October, and Sip ’n’ Stroll wine tasting event in April. There will not be a Finally Friday in September because it would be back-to-back with the barbecue festival, but Sip ’n’ Stroll will be folded into Finally Friday as a combined event.

 

Those two events draw visitors from outside of Laurens County—police estimated 20,000 were in town for Squealin’ on the Square last year, representing more than 80 zip codes outside of Laurens, and Irick says many of the attendees at Sip ’n’ Stroll had heard about the event from social media. With a monthly music event, the town hopes to continue to draw visitors from all over the Upstate.

 

 Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina.  
You can find more of her work at SharonPurvisWrites.com.