“For much of our history, the courtroom has served not just as a local center of the law and government, but as a meeting ground, cultural hub, and social gathering place,” said former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
This quote was included on the Facebook event page for Uptown First Friday, which rang in its second year of monthly open mic performances in the plaza of the historic Henry County courthouse in Uptown Martinsville last week, transforming the former courthouse into the kind of social gathering place Powell mentioned.
The blazing temperatures earlier in the week dropped on Friday which, coupled with a cool and constant breeze, made for perfect weather for this year’s First Friday kickoff. About 150 people attended the event, enjoying beer from Scuffle Hill Brewing, food from Hugo’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, and music from talented local musicians during an open mic hosted by Kat and Dennis Calfee of the band Above the Fray.
First Fridays began as Uptown Open Mic in spring 2021. What was initially planned as a one-time event to
celebrate the closing of an exhibit and raise awareness of the museum met with such great success that the board of the Historical Society voted to continue the gatherings, which were rebranded as First Friday and help raise funds for the nonprofit organization.
The Calfees return this year to host the open mics, which last Friday had a full lineup including a number of familiar regulars from last year as well as many new talents who performed a variety of tunes from instrumental to country to pop to rock ‘n roll.
First Friday events are not just for music—the Historical Society welcomes any kind of performer to share some stand-up comedy, read a poem or short story, do a dance, or even show off a magic trick or two.
Uptown First Friday will take place Aug. 5, Sept. 2, and Oct. 7 from 6-9 p.m. Admission to the event is free and all ages are welcome. Each event will have food as well as a cash bar in addition to the open mic hosted by the Calfees.
First Fridays are sponsored by the Historical Society’s annual sponsors, Carter Bank & Trust and The Lester Group.