Performances & Activities

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First Night Raleigh 2014 performers and interactive activities are listed below.

Click on the picture or “Read more »” for details!


Big Sam's Funky NationBig Sam’s Funky Nation – Countdown to Midnight
Big Sam’s Funky Nation is a driving force of urban funk. Ryan White of the Oregonian says the band is “tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond!” The band is led by trombone powerhouse, Big Sam Williams, formerly the trombonist for Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who the San Francisco Chronicle calls “the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz.” Big Sam refuses to let the audience sit still. Between the band’s solos, Big Sam’s signature dance moves and his distinctive trombone riffs, the energy… Read more »

Ten Strings & a GoatskinTen Strings and a Goat Skin – Early Countdown
Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, a young bilingual trad/folk/fusion trio celebrating the music of the Irish, Acadian, French and Maritime cultures, is known for a rare musicality that belies the musicians ages. Integrating modern and world rhythms with traditional and original tunes, they create a fiery, contagious and unique sound that is increasingly catching the attention of Canadian and International stages. Awarded Music PEI’s 2012 Roots Traditional Recording of the Year, nominated for 2012 ECMA Roots… Read more »

Daniel Montoya heaven knows copyHeaven Knows Global DJ
Heaven Knows is a DJ, producer and electronic musician located in Fayetteville, NC. He has been producing and recording under different names since 2007. His previous albums include “Dry Season” (2010), “Your Inner Machine” (2011) and the most recent “Every Body” (2013), all under the Restore Productions label. His music can be described as an amalgamation of different electronic currents with a common focus around Chill-out and Deep House. His influences range from classic electronic acts such as Brain Eno and J.M. Jarre to… Read more »

The Gawler SistersThe Gawler Sisters
The Gawler Sisters, a young and vibrant folk trio, bring an eclectic assortment of old and original tunes from America’s Northeast. Raised in the rich folk tradition of their acclaimed musical family, Molly, Edith and Elsie Gawler have carried on their family’s musical legacy. They accompany their warm, interweaving harmonies with fiddles, banjo, wooden banjo, cello, guitar and ukulele, as well as a few surprises. Read more »


Fran SmithFran Smith
Now in her twenties and living near Leeds, Fran has spent the past three years honing her craft as a solo artist. Alongside regular live performances and studying for degrees in Songwriting and Traditional Music, she gathered valuable knowledge of the industry’s “front line” by working as an artist liaison officer at The Sage Gateshead, one of the UK’s most successful and multi-faceted music venues. Read more »


Comedy WorxComedy Worx
Since 1989, Comedy Worx has been entertaining the Triangle area with big laughs! Each weekend, this improv group presents a show of two comedic teams that compete and try to earn points by making the audience laugh. Each team performs different scenes and plays different games based on the audience’s suggestions. Comedy Worx is the South’s longest-running improv comedy show and is a definite good time. Enjoy their special spin on celebrating the New Year ‘Around the Globe!’ Read more »

African American Dance EnsembleChuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble
You are invited to join the African American Dance Ensemble for a First Night Raleigh favorite! Celebrate community spirit to the beat of ancient rhythms. The choreographic works of the African American Dance Ensemble depict customs, traditions and occasions of African life. For over a decade, Chuck Davis has taken annual trips to Africa to study African dance and art traditions. “In the village we humble ourselves as we dance and sing for the elders’ approval, which is never readily given… Read more »

Michael StanwoodMichael Stanwood
Join Michael Stanwood, actor, teacher, visual artist/photographer, multi-faceted musician, instrumentalist, composer/songwriter, music producer, recording artist and award-winning children’s performer as he shares his multiple talents with listeners of all ages. A guitarist and expert Autoharp player, he also performs on a variety of folk and ethnic instruments including the didgeridoo… Read more »


Moscow NightsMoscow Nights
Moscow Nights is an exciting, versatile ensemble of world-recognized, prize-winning musicians presenting authentic, traditional Russian folk music. Their unique program offers an entertaining glimpse into Old Russia through music, song and dance. It incorporates obscure folk instruments, traditional Russian attire, audience interaction, dances and vocals that combine in an exhilarating performance. The lively, toe-tapping repertoire is diverse and varied, lyrical and humorous, and sure to appeal to the young, old and everyone… Read more »

Around the World in 80 DaysAround the World in 80 Days
Around 1872, Victorian gentleman, Phileas Fogg, sets out to win a bet that he can circle the entire globe in only 80 days. Traveling by train, steamship, sailboat, hot-air balloon, and even elephant, he must overcome impossible obstacles to win the extraordinary wager. Follow Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, around the world in this 1956 film version of the Jules Verne novel. Enjoy their fantastic voyage in the movie that remains hugely popular, combining exploration, adventure and a thrilling race against time. Read more »

Josh DumbletonJosh Dumbleton
Come and hear Associate Director of Music/Organist, Josh Dumbleton, perform music of the masters on the magnificent 97-rank Letourneau Pipe Organ (2007) of Edenton Street United Methodist Church. This special concert will feature Josh playing “Mostly Mozart” in this warm and familiar venue. Read more »


NC OperaNorth Carolina Opera
Singers from the North Carolina Opera will serenade you with operatic classics in this Opera Around the World performance.

North Carolina Opera was formed in 2010 from the merging of Capital Opera Raleigh and The Opera Company of North Carolina. It is dedicated to presenting operatic performances at the highest level throughout the Triangle. Read more »

Lenore Raphael TrioLenore Raphael Trio
British drummer, Peter Ingram, and South African bass player, Jimmy Mngwandi, join international jazz pianist, Lenore Raphael, in a performance and jazz jam that is sure to be a hit at First Night Raleigh! Raphael’s music is influenced by the likes of Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans, and through them she has formed her own style into one that has received praise by critic, John Gilbert, who calls her “one of the best pianists in the jazz mainstream. Read more »

Lenny Marcus TrioLenny Marcus Trio
From New Orleans to Vienna! Join Lenny Marcus and his band in this First Night favorite as they take you on a trip to Europe by way of the Islands with Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms, bossa novas through Brazil and end up in Europe with some “Jazz of Beethoven” and other classical-jazz mixes. Read more »


MLK All Children's ChoirThe Martin Luther King, Jr. All Children’s Choir
The Raleigh-based MLK, Jr. All Children’s Choir under the direction of Randy Shepard was conceived as a specific way in which the youth of the local community could actively participate in the first national birthday celebration for Dr. King. The Choir has grown steadily and is now widely considered one of the best youth choirs in the nation. Read more »


St. Ambrose Quartet1St. Ambrose Jazz Mass Quartet
The St. Ambrose Jazz Mass Quartet is a spiritual jazz group falling under the umbrella of Moment’s Notice and led by Bobby Moody. The Rev. Michael Battle, then-Rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, founded the St. Ambrose Jazz Mass Quartet (JMQ) in 2001. The musicians were intrigued by the offer to perform the Jazz Mass at St. Ambrose and were eager to see how their sound would translate to Christian music. Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivered the sermon at the first Jazz Mass at St. Ambrose. Read more »

Doug Prescott BandDoug Prescott Band
Doug has been crafting his songwriting skills since the late 60′s. Many bands and recordings later, 2013 saw the release of his third album, Blues in the Key of Sea. The 11 songs on this release are all over the map stylistically, yet form a cohesive Blues/Rock/Americana blend, with truth and heart at the core. One of the common threads throughout Doug’s recordings has been his musical connection with Tommy Hartley, a guitar virtuoso who permeates the music. Read more »

James HillJames Hill
With the release of Man With a Love Song, James Hill, recognized as one of the world’s foremost ukulele players, stands poised and ready to take his place in the ranks of today’s best young songwriters. Here, seemingly in a single blast, Hill’s songwriting has grown to rival his prowess as a musician. From the soulful big-band jazz of “What Would You Have Me Do?” through the barrelhouse-bluegrass of “Hand Over My Heart” and impeccable barbershop of… Read more »

UnknownDurham Ukulele Orchestra
The Durham Ukulele Orchestra is a genre-busting ensemble whose love for music is rivaled only by the love they have for their favorite little instrument. Skillfully blending selections from the great American songbook, the best of classic rock, and a bit of the indie-alternative scene, the Durham Ukulele Orchestra has fashioned a sound that is both unique and foot-stomping entertaining. So if the only thing a ukulele reminds you of is tiptoeing through the tulips, come let the Durham Ukulele Orchestra give you… Read more »

Larry Hutcherson ukuleleFirst Night Ukulele Class
Enjoy this group of new Ukulele players who have been taking Ukulele classes this fall in the First Night Ukulele project. This group is taught and led by Larry Hutcherson.

Larry Hutcherson went from hometown bands to larger towns, then to traveling full time gigs across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. He went on to Canada, playing Country Rock and Rock ‘n Roll. Read more »
The LollipopsThe Lollipops
Iggy Cosky began recording songs at 14 and hasn’t slowed down since. “Songs are just pouring out of my head,” explains the young Raleigh resident, who says he tries to write a song each day. “At the end of the week, I’ll take one and really try to bring it to life.” Though he released an EP in January under his own name once leaving the two bands in which he toured as a guitarist, Cosky’s music career took on new life. Read more »

Lonnie Walker BandLonnie Walker Band
Originally a one-man band, Lonnie Walker evolved from the solo spirit of Brian Corum into a collection of friends bound by their shared passion for music and visual art. After years of honing their sound while playing house shows and DIY spaces in Greenville, NC, Lonnie Walker garnered local support from classmates and peers immediately. The additions of Eric Hill, Justin Flythe, Raymond Finn and Josh Bridgers birthed a sound much more unconventional. Now signed to Raleigh’s Terpsichore Records, their blend of… Read more »
The sound of Hindugrass is a fresh new voice for Indian fusion, a surprising and engaging festival for the ears in an age where everything has “already been done.” Alternately haunting and soaring sarod melodies intermingle with the sweet twang and bite of instruments from the Smoky Mountains and the rich palette of chamber strings over a driving bed of percussion instruments from around the world, all delivered with delightful virtuosity. Read more »

Pavelid: HarpistPavelid
Born in Colombia, Pavelid Castaneda completed university studies in Bogota, Colombia, and then studied Music Education at the National Pedagogical University of Colombia. Pavelid’s life has been completely dedicated to music as a singer, music director, composer and teacher. In 1992, he relocated his family to Babylon, NY and soon thereafter began his career as a highly acclaimed harpist, playing in the most renowned venues in New York. Pavelid and his wife, Gladis, have since moved to central North Carolina to enjoy… Read more »
Transactors Improv CompanyTransactors Improv Company
A favorite at First Night Raleigh for over a decade, Transactors performs improvisational theater based on audience suggestions. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune describes the company’s work as “imaginative and skilled comedic voyages that are sure to entertain.” Transactors Improv uses music, dance, storytelling and dramatic skills in their shows. The South’s oldest improv group, Transactors has performed coast to coast, from Canada to Texas. This year they take on the world with… Read more »

Mark NizerMark Nizer
Mark Nizer is one of the greatest entertainment comedians and jugglers performing today. His wild exploits have landed him on MTV, HBO’s “Just for Laughs”, “The Arsenio Hall Show”, “Bob Hope and Other Young Comedians”, “Comic Strip Live” and “LA Law”. He has opened for Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Hope, George Burns, John Byner, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles and Barry Manilow. The late Bob Hope said, “He just keeps getting better and I didn’t think that was possible.” Read more »

tim gabriel1Tim Gabriel’s Little World
Enjoy the amazing detail in these tiny worlds, including a version of the North Pole and an original Trick or Treat Village. These little worlds, created by North Carolina artist, Tim Gabriel, are sure to delight audiences young and old! Read more »




Interactive Activities:

People's ProcessionPeople’s Procession
As the Children’s Celebration ends and the evening entertainment begins, mark the passage of time… from afternoon to evening… from old year to New Year… in the People’s Procession! Read more »



CarouselFirst Night Carousel
Carousels are popular around the world, so take a spin on the official First Night Carousel. Presented this year for the very first time at First Night Raleigh, this majestic ride will delight and entertain! Read more »



RockStar03Rock Around The World
New to First Night Raleigh this year—go on a Rock and Roll Thrill Ride guaranteed to help you celebrate the New Year as you hop on Rock Around the World! Read more »





Gold Leaf Sleigh RidesGold Leaf Sleigh Rides
Carriages are popular all over the world. Catch a ride on John Wesley Smith’s horse-drawn sleigh as it makes a loop around the historic North Carolina State Capitol. Don’t miss this annual First Night Raleigh favorite! A First Night button is required to ride. Read more »



lite briteFirst Night Lite Brite
Modeled after the pop-culture LITE BRITE toy first introduced in the late 1960’s, First Night Raleigh presents its own, larger-than-life version of this interactive, illuminating toy. Using tinted and recycled water bottles; First Night attendees will be invited to create their own brilliant designs on this huge installation—approximately 60 times the size of the original! Becoming light artists on the spot, participants will be invited to interact with our giant lite brite by adding or rearranging the tinted water bottles into the backlit surface. Read more »
Ballroom DancingBallroom Dancing
Ring in 2014 while dancing the night away in one of Raleigh’s most historic and beautiful ballrooms. USA Dancers host and demonstrate throughout the evening. In keeping with the International theme this year, Latin Dance demonstrations will be featured from 8:30-9:30. Read more »



Namaste and be in the moment with a fresh start to the New Year. Enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating experience in downtown Raleigh’s own Vault Studio. Space is very limited! Read more »



world of dance1World of Dance
Learn how to dance as your neighbors do across the globe in this showcase of International Dance Favorites.
Read more »



drum2World of Rhythm
Join Global Rhythm and International Drumming and Rhythm—which includes steel, African, and Japanese drumming! This rhythmic experience is being coordinated by Drum for Change and Greg Whitt, who believe that everyone has rhythm, but not everyone knows how to outwardly express it! Drum for Change is dedicated to using the universal language of percussive music for creative self-expression. Read more »

Broadway Sing-Along
Join Theatre Raleigh and get into the act yourselves as you are invited to sing familiar Broadway Tunes along with some amazingly talented singers from Hot Summer Nights/Theatre Raleigh. Read more »

Global Resolutions
Originally created by artist Heath Satow, festival goers are invited to write and tie on this beautiful globe a thought for what they can do in the coming year to make this world a better place. Read more »