In case you haven’t noticed, we have found ourselves gravitating towards Downtown Salisbury more and more lately. It’s no secret that the revitalization of Downtown Salisbury has been a slow, slightly arduous process, but nonetheless, progress is certainly happening! It seems like every time we turn around there is a new addition to the downtown scene…case in point, Headquarters Live. We sat down with owner Joey Gilkerson this week, to discuss the music venue, along with the current and future growth of Downtown Salisbury.
Many of you may recall the old firehouse that is now home to Headquarters Live. As the oldest standing and original firehouse in Salisbury, the regal brick building stands as an iconic symbol in Downtown Salisbury. After some back and forth between town officials and interested parties over what to do with the empty space, Gilkerson and his team were able to secure the spot, officially signing the lease on October 13, 2013. One might assume that Gilkerson had been harboring a longstanding dream of opening his own live music venue, but the reality is that the commercial realtor had his eye set on utilizing the space to whatever end the community needed it. After a five year struggle to acquire the building, the next step was reaching out to community members to find out what Downtown Salisbury was currently lacking. “The response was overwhelmingly that people wanted a music venue,” said Gilkerson.
Fast-forward to present day and Headquarters Live is gearing up for a promising spring season. Since opening, the team at HQ Live has been rolling out a soft opening of sorts, with shows initially available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only. “We called it a soft opening, but it ended up being a learning phase actually,” said Gilkerson. Despite the brutally cold weather during the first few weeks, the venue has been enjoying a solid run of successful shows, with popular acts like Go Go Gadget and Sam Grow attracting large crowds. “We’re thinking warm weather will be the sweet spot,” said Gilkerson, directing us to the massive windowed garage doors along the side of the building that will open in the spring and summer months and provide more space for patrons to mingle and enjoy live acts. Capacity will increase from roughly 300 people to 1300. What’s more, there will be a food truck conveniently parked outside. Plans for weekend afternoon shows in the spring and summer are already underway.
Currently, the space is approved for beer and wine, which allows for all-age shows to happen on the premises (although not all of the shows will be all ages events). There are also plans in the works to target the college crowd, with a series of college battle of the bands events. “The cool thing is, there is no target demographic,” said Gilkerson. “Every show is catered to someone different.” Expect an eclectic mix of live acts at HQ Live, with a mix of both cover bands and original acts. For a full list of upcoming shows, we suggest following Headquarter’s Live on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as on their website.
HQ Live joins the ranks of notable new additions to Downtown Salisbury, including The Brick Room, whom you may remember from our write-up last year. The dining and bar scene also includes Roadie Joes, MoJos, Sushi De Kampi, Mayabella’s, and Echelon, to name a few, along with art galleries and retail shops. As a commercial realtor and a Salisbury native, Gilkerson has followed the revitalization of Downtown Salisbury for many years. “I’ve always heard conversations about the revitalization of downtown, but I think we are now amongst a Renaissance. Revitalization is an on-going process,” he explained. For Gilkerson, the key to a renewed downtown sector is not only merging the gap between campus and downtown, but also recognizing the slow but gradual process of building a local economy. By continually adding value to Downtown Salisbury with new venues and renewed storefronts, the area will continue to grow and prosper, explained Gilkerson, adding “it continues to prove that if you provide something for people to do, then people will come.”
With spring finally arriving, you can bet we are marking our calendars for a trip to Salisbury filled with a little shopping, some delicious dining, and now, a show at Headquarters Live. See you all there!