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3 min Read
Published March 20, 2014

The Underground Rises: Cameron Village Brings Back The Music Scene

Ten months ago I wrote a slice on the abandoned mall beneath Cameron Village. Hundreds of thousands of you responded, passionately describing hazy memories of magical nights in the Village Subway, listening to classic and punk music that would one day become legendary.

The Ramones. Pat Benatar. Th’ Cigaretz. R.E.M. Mike Cross. Fabulous Knobs. Jimmy Buffet. Raleigh was the beating heart of a music scene that’s etched in the souls of everyone who was lucky enough to spend time in the Raleigh Underground.

The Underground is equally thrilling for those of us too young to have experienced those glory days. College students and young professionals messaged me in swarms. Can we go down there? Can we bring that music scene back? Can we get photos, videos, books, and documentaries of this mysterious and musical part of Raleigh’s history?

Well you’re all in luck. On April 25th, the Underground Rises.

Cameron Village is bringing the local to life, starting by allowing the local shops to spread their wings on the runway, finishing by shutting down the streets with the music of The Love Language, a local band with the soul of the Subway in their live show.

RELATED: Filming Underground: People Share Their Stories In The Village Subway.

They’re also releasing a short film shot in the Subway itself, with yours truly going down there to help with interviews, as well as fresh pictures of their underground world.

The Underground Rises-- Cameron Village Brings Back The Music Scene - 1
Raleigh Underground as captured by photographer Malcolm Riviera in the late 1970’s, contrasted against the same spot as it appears today, 30+ years later. Help us kick start a new era of indie bands rocking the village on 4/25!

Candid Slice will be releasing a series of interviews, as well as a full-length book with pictures and oral history. The Underground is coming back to life, Raleigh. And why? Because thousands of you asked for it:

Carol Berryhill

  • I would love to see the place alive again.

Lisa Jenkins Watkins

  • Magical indeed! I waitressed there in the early 80’s while attending NCSU. During breaks we would slide over to The Bear’s Den (formerly The Frog & Nightgown where my parents went!) for a couple drinks & disco dance, or over to Cafe Deja Vu for a little bluegrass or jazz. My most memorable night was serving late night pizza to Jim Dandy & Black Oak Arkansas who had slipped in to hear another band after doing a local concert elsewhere. Those drunken guys tipped about $100 for 2 pizzas! 🙂

Terry Brown

  • What an incredible place and a huge escape for me in the mid-1970’s. Loved both the Cafe Deja Vu and the Pier. Saw many great acts there, Jimmy Buffet, Pousette Dart Band at the Pier, but I was a Lariat Sam junkie who frequented Cafe Deja Vu. Just loved the variety of music that they played.

Donny Biscuits

  • As a young person who occasionally works in Cameron Village and only found out of the underground’s existence a few months ago, I have to say I am fascinated. I would LOVE to see it opened up again and be put to use. I got so excited just now when my friend shared this article. I couldn’t believe it; “she knows about underground Cameron Village too!? No way!”

Rick Bolich

  • Cafe DejaVu; the best. Period. The Snap. If you were there, you know.

Jane Capps

  • I left Raleigh after grad Sanderson’71. Used to come back from Goldsboro in ’76.’77 to see Mike Cross. He was the coolest performer! Saw some others down there but my memory is so fuzzy…prob. cuz of all the beer!

Charlotte Marshburn Elliott

  • This is so awesome! I worked at Elliot’s Nest when it first opened. We danced the night away to Donna Summer songs and other disco music. It was such a magical time for me.

Nicholas Goddin

  • Some of the best times of my life! I hope some folks who know the club business will take note. Hell the 1000 plus young people getting ready to move in a stones throw away should make it a no brainer. And those of us who used to walk there, always a good idea if possible, and still can, or can again, probably would.

Joe Why

  • The day John Lennon got shot, alot of the area musicians got together for a impromptu jam session in his memory, it was an amazing night, just one of the few amazing nights spent in the subway.
RELATED: The Raleigh Underground: An Epic Era Sealed Beneath Cameron Village.

While the Village Subway itself cannot be opened to the public, the spirit of the Underground is surfacing, as Cameron Village plans more concerts to promote local bands and engage Raleigh in the music scene, just like in the days of The Pier, The Bear’s Den, Cafe Deja Vu, and the Frog and Nightgown.

In fifty years, we’ll all be sharing memories of the good old days in the Cameron Village music scene.

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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