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3 min Read
Published April 2, 2014

Filming Underground: People Share Their Stories In The Village Subway

Last Monday I had the honor of meeting some amazing Raleigh historians, matching them up with the spectacular Cameron Village Marketing Team, and venturing down into the Village Subway to hear their stories of the magical time spent there in the 1970’s.

Together, with Smith Cameron Productions filming, they created a video to capture the memories and wonder of the Raleigh music scene, to promote Cameron Village’s upcoming event: The Underground Rises. The power of that era’s music scene is coming back to Cameron Village, reincarnated through the eclectic energy of The Love Language.

You may be surprised to know that going into the legendary Subway wasn’t the coolest part of this experience. It was the people. And the stories.

With the unparalleled help of Debby Boozer, who heads up the Pier Facebook group, we found a group we felt would be ideal in sharing the stories of the underground.. I was thrilled to approach the meeting spot and find a gathering, not just of people, but of walking history:

  • Butch Smith – Manager of the Pier, who brought in big music gigs from across the country.
  • Robert McMillan – Worked in the Subway off and on for many years, wearing many hats: From dish-washer all the way up to manager.
  • Alan Hicks – Played in several bands, including Shotgun Spark playing at the Frog and Nightgown and David Allan Coe at The Pier. He played Cafe Deja Vu with Tumbleweed, Danny Joe Reagan, and Friends.
  • Jim Skinner – Founding member of the Pier, manager–He was there when it all began.
  • Sandra Simpson – Worked for The Pier as a server, and in a strange twist of fate, she turned out to be the aunt of The Love Language’s drummer.
  • Debby Boyles Boozer – Founder of the Pier Facebook group, connecter of all Raleigh people.

These people, not those peeling walls and posters, made the Village Subway, The Raleigh Underground, come to life.

I could listen to their stories for hours, hearing the wisdom of our city’s past, hearing where our music scene’s roots grew.

I watched them, re-connecting with each other, some after many years, in the dusty basement and crumbling walls where their music once echoed.

RELATED: The Raleigh Underground: An Epic Era Sealed Beneath Cameron Village.

I wondered what it must feel like to visit the abandoned ruins of your past, and to have so many people desperately wanting to hear your story.

To know that what they said was of utmost importance to so many people, who just want to know more. And when we left, some of them thanked me. I wanted to cry.

It was a deeply personal experience. Smith and Cameron Village couldn’t fit their stories into a three-minute video, but I remember their stories, the things that had to be cut. I will share their stories in our upcoming Hidden History book.

But in the meantime, I know you’ve all been waiting to hear stories and see pictures of the Village Subway–so you can thank Cameron Village, they’ve made this for you. And while the Subway itself is falling apart, unsafe, and must stay locked away (and has a ton of security around it, seriously, don’t go exploring, just watch the video, read the book, come to the event, and be happy!) — the Underground Rises on April 25th, as Cameron Village and The Love Language launch a new music scene! Come, celebrate history, and celebrate new Raleigh!

Photo credit: Libby Leah
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Want to join in on the Underground Rising again? Come join us on 4/25/14 and make your own memories at the greatest Indie music venue Raleigh has ever known!

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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