A Third Friday report and review

For some time, the city of Salisbury has highlighted its downtown Plaza one day a month, as the powers that be chose the third Friday of each month for the event.

The new Third Friday logo.

As they promoted their new logo, it was my first opportunity to enjoy the festivities. Normally I’ve had one of two conflicts: league bowling or a Shorebirds game. Since neither was in effect Friday night, my significant other and I went down to see what it was all about.

Looking west down the Plaza.

It was a sort of sparse crowd when we arrived, as folks were just getting set up. This picture was taken just before 6:00 and, as you can see, there wasn’t much going on.

The local artist whose professional moniker is “Y-Hate” was making the rounds with a bucket of mud. Why? To do these temporary sidewalk paintings. They’ll be gone and off to the storm sewage system with the next good rain; ashes to ashes and all that.

Floral mud art by Y-Hate.

The mud art in context with the landscape.

The second picture was taken roughly 6:45 and you can see business picked up a bit.

I guess when the Third Friday concept was hatched, it was based on the “Arts on the Plaza” portion of the Salisbury Festival. Just like at the Salisbury Festival, 3F was promoting themselves at this event too.

Third Friday had a table at its own event.

Indeed, there was an art show indoors at the building which used to house the Escape restaurant (more on that building later.) I didn’t get any pictures of the artists’ work, but I did scope out the shows.

Also, there was music. Ben Rayne is a guitarist who picks out a location in the Parker Place lot and sets up most warm months.

Guitarist Ben Rayne, playing at Parker Place.

Yet he wasn’t among the ‘featured’ artists. J Guy and Carter were the two acoustic musicians set up on the makeshift stage in front of the WMDT-TV studios.

The acoustic duo of J Guy and Carter, from Easton way.

Meanwhile, way down the street at Flavors one could find the acoustic sounds of Goatbag vocalist Josh Pryor.

Josh Pryor relaxes after his set.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware he was playing until after he was finished. But I imagine it was a departure from his other job singing with what could be best categorized as the goth metal stylings of Goatbag.

And that leads me to my first complaint. Maybe it’s because I’d not been to Third Friday before, but my perception was the activities would be conducted within the Plaza and perhaps a bit around the corner. Maybe these signs were a bit confusing.

Signs were there to point out the 'schtuff.'

Then again, it pointed into the Plaza. But other vendors were farther down Main Street and I had no idea until I wandered down to the Flavors end of the block. That’s where I found this guy.

Mayor Jim Ireton enjoying the festivities.

He was holding court in Flavors, and was nice enough to pose for this shot after briefly discussing the disagreement between a $78 parking space and a $100,000 condo before retreating inside to reunite with his rapidly-warming beer.

As I mentioned last night, both featured artists were selling their wares.

The tip jar and CDs of J Guy and Carter were right by them on stage.

Josh Pryor worked on building up his contact list.

Gee, were they figuring the sales tax on their tip jar or CDs? I should be careful though, since I may get Josh Pryor ‘Cold Busted.’ (Inside joke.)

Yet that’s a serious omission if done with enough volume.

And speaking of sales and songs, peace sells – but who’s buying?

The Peace Alliance of the Lower Shore had a table - I bet they do every month.

I had a brief disagreement with one of the women handling this table because she had a flyer that claimed 39 cents of each federal dollar went to fighting wars and handling veterans affairs. This pie chart by the Concord Coalition begs to differ. Sure, I know, to these guys 20 cents out of a dollar is too much, but we do need to “provide for the common defense” somehow.

Let’s go back to the pretty pictures, shall we?

Looking west in the Plaza again.

I took this one as the sun was setting and lighting turned from natural to artificial.

Again, the crowd managed to increase as the evening wore on – I took the top one about 6:30 and the bottom about 8:00. One nice thing about the Plaza is the photographic opportunities different lighting scenarios provide.

Obviously the focus of the event is on the arts. So what were these ladies doing here?

The Salisbury Roller Girls.

Promoting their upcoming matchup, of course. Then again, this poster does have artistic elements in it.

A spiffy poster to promote an upcoming bout.

I could see that hanging in someone’s den, particularly if they’re interested in sports memorabilia.

Keeping my promise of earlier in the article, I wanted to share something I noticed about the Escape restaurant. It almost looked like the Rapture hit there a few months early.

The vacant Escape Restuarant looked like it was set for another night's business. It's been closed since last fall.

It sort of creeped me out that the place looked like it was ready to open for another night’s business, as if the owners expected to be back later that evening and never arrived. Maybe that’s intentional (because who needs to see yet another obviously vacant space downtown) but the care didn’t extend outside the building.

The porch for Escape no longer is a musical venue - at least until someone makes it so.

It’s a place begging to be a musical venue but no one was there.

Still, a lot of merchants downtown get a share of the revenue brought in by the additional foot traffic. Here’s a nice young lady in Mike’s Downtown Deli closing up shop after what was hopefully a successful evening for them. It was a successful night for me, too, as I snagged a former advertiser once again (see sidebar.)

Mike's Downtown Deli closes for the evening.

While I was down there, I spoke to one business owner who’s attempting to solicit financial support for a second day per month where downtown stays open through the evening. Some have even suggested we do this every Friday night, but I don’t think the concept would last if done too often.

The way I see it, what makes Third Friday work to the extent it does is the fact it stands out from the other days of the month. It seems to me that the concept could be expanded to a second day of the month only if the weather is conducive for strolling (as it was on Friday) – in the wintertime this may not be enough of a draw to convince people to leave their homes for an event with multiple indoor venues.

My other suggestion would be to simply put out the information on where musicians are playing and artists are setting up. Had I known Josh Pryor was down at Flavors I may have wandered down to hear a few songs. Like this article in spots, Third Friday has a certain disjointed character which may appeal to some but not others. Since I’m not really a member of the arts-and-croissant crowd, the main draw for me would be the music so I want to know who’s playing where.

The flowers set the stage for this shot.

As the event closed up, most people packed up to go home while a few others drifted down to Flavors to catch the ‘after-party.’ And while 3F was an interesting event, I’d like to see it supported better by the local community since I don’t think there’s going to be any city money involved hereafter. (The businessman spearheading the effort for a second day per month is going the private donation route – the only city involvement would be to close down the Plaza to traffic.)

I’ll likely drop by next month to see what’s new and unusual, so why not do so yourself? The Plaza looks better with a few hundred people in it than it does when it resembles the vacant patio of Escape. Obviously there’s a lot to do in the summer, what with Shorebirds games, various festivals, and the draw of Ocean City nightlife, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a little time and support some local businesses either. Once the crowds come down, the buzz will follow and the event will kick into a higher gear.

The next Third Friday is June 17. There is no Shorebirds home game that night, festivals usually run two nights, and Ocean City isn’t going anywhere. You have no excuse.

Comments

3 Responses to “A Third Friday report and review”

  1. Roni J. on May 24th, 2012 8:50 pm

    Hi Michael!
    I was searching for pictures of 3F the other day and found your blog. I don’t have a facebook, so it isn’t easy for me to see the pics that the 3F crew uploads.

    I am a bit disappointed in your review, your pictures don’t give the vibe that 3F really has! Then again, I am from the vendor end and my experience is probably much different than yours. I was wondering if maybe you were there too early? I have been twice now and I feel like near the river end, it is much more exciting. Last 3F wasn’t the best because the music was steady. I also think there needs to be way more promotion.

    I personally took a vow to promote myself and the Third Friday fellow artists on twitter and my blog. I really hope you don’t give up on it. The arts are definitely underrated and need more exposure. I grew up on the Eastern Shore and I am proud that at least we are trying.

    If you want to read my blog posts and see my booth photos they are here:
    1. http://blog.badjonesrising.com/post/21520053840/third-friday-3f-was-a-complete-success-it-was

    2.http://blog.badjonesrising.com/post/23409553970/third-friday-2-the-photos-above-are-from-my

    I like your blog! Thanks again! Take care.

  2. Michael on May 24th, 2012 11:19 pm

    I appreciate the sentiment. Bear in mind that was the first 3F I attended, and I think I did two or three others last summer. But I haven’t been there since perhaps last August or September, since I think it works far better as an outdoor event.

    But I’m curious to know, since you have that perspective: do you think the crowds are worth the time invested? I suppose if you had nowhere to go on a Friday evening putting up your wares for a few hours and possibly making a sale or two is fine. But I have a friend who owned the former Deli 111 and I’m not sure it was always worth his time and effort to open for 3F. We can also see how many other downtown eateries have bitten the dust and I mentioned Escape in this piece – not long after was the demise of Flavors, although it’s since reopened as MoJo’s.

    Honestly, I think that 3F ought to just worry about holding the patrons’ attention to the Plaza rather than try and scatter through downtown. It’s already pedestrian-friendly, with the only change I might consider being to place the musical stage at one end with the art show being at the other so people could gravitate back and forth depending on their mood. (Or use the steps of the courthouse for bands, which they have before.)

    If I think about it and the weather is decent, maybe we’ll drop by in June. My significant other is an amateur photographer so she enjoys that artistic portion of the proceedings.

  3. […] gone was the Escape Restaurant, which I remarked last year was set up like a ghost eatery with everything still in place at the […]

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