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Arts and Entertainment

First Friday lights up downtown Greensboro shops, restaurants

Downtown Greensboro’s Elm Street is a popular place on Friday nights. Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Company, the Green Bean Coffeehouse and the nearby Carolina Theatre are hoppin’ nighttime destinations. But what about those who don’t want a beer, a coffee or to see a show?

Downtown Greensboro, Inc. and the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro joined forces in 2008 to bring evenings of live music, art and food to the downtown community. Each participating store decides what event to host: a poetry reading, a metal band or an art exhibition. Every month is a different experience.

Gil Fray is the music director of the F-Art Ensemble, a loose group of artists who come together each First Friday to play at a local women’s clothing boutique, Mack and Mack.

“As a collective, it can be anybody and everybody who shows up,” Fray said.

The F-Art Ensemble was active from 1980 to 1990, but was revived around three years ago to play First Friday events.

“For May, I’m hoping to have a Mayday parade,” Fray said. ”We used to have guerilla theatre events like that, so that’s a fun thing to do.”

Around the corner from Mack and Mack is Loaf, a brand-new bakery in a clean alley off  the main street sidewalk. It has been open for just six weeks and has only seen the last couple of First Fridays.

Angela Gregory, one of the co-owners, said the first time Loaf was open for a First Friday, business was slower because it came post-holiday. The one on Feb. 3 was their first real event, she said.

“Tonight we’re showcasing a local metal artist, his name is Jay Jones,” Gregory said.

Jones’ sculptural and nature-inspired mobiles hung over the dining portion of the bakery.

Gregory said she was unsure about First Friday’s ability to bring in a lot of new business, but that it was only their second foray into the event.

“We’ve had a really good day and had a really good evening,” she said. “I do feel that it will (bring in business).”

Other stores were offering discounts on certain items or had performances by other musical guests. First Fridays have been going strong for more than three years, and Greensboro’s budding downtown may reap the benefits.

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