Kill the music: Charlotte City Council's fight against live music | CLT Blog
photo: James Willamorphoto: James Willamor

Kill the music: Charlotte City Council’s fight against live music

Posted on 26 Feb 2011 by Benjamin Brown

Summer time in Charlotte means a lot of things, but some of the most indelible marks of summer are food, festivals, great weather, and most importantly, live music. However, proposed changes to the current noise ordinance jeopardize this summer pastime.

The current noise ordinance, while strict, provides a balance for venues to have live outdoor entertainment, while protecting the peace of the residents who live near venues,restaurants, and bars that provide live, amplified entertainment. Under the current ordinance, venues are allowed to apply for a permit so as to be allowed by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police to lawfully amplify music for the purposes of entertainment. (The current ordinance can be found here.)

The newly proposed changes would severely limit the current allowances that govern outdoor events. Some of the proposed changes are as follows:

  • Any bar, restaurant, or venue that is within 400 feet of residential zoning would not be allowed to have amplified, live, outdoor music. Period. No permits would be issued for any venue meeting these criteria. This would have the biggest effect on venues like the Philosophers Stone, and other outdoor music festivals, such as the ones that take place in NoDa.
  • Any venue that’s NOT within 400 feet of a residentially zoned area would be allowed to have 15 hours of live, amplified, outdoor music per year. Now with an average set length of about 45 minutes to an hour, that would mean that venues such as Dixies tavern would only be able to have roughly 1215 bands play over the course of the summer.
  • No outdoor amplified noise would be permitted in the “right-of-way” hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. This means that protesters, and street performers would be limited to when they could perform and speak. Also, the permits for these events would have to be on-site at all times.

Permits to protest? Who is this really protecting? It seems that the complaints of a very small group of influential people has led to some very serious limitations being proposed for local businesses. We have to remember, these local businesses are owned by local people: neighbors, friends, and community members. So who’s opinion is really being heard? Has anyone realized that the only venues this will benefit are the majors? (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, a wonderful, but Live-Nation-owned and managed venue.)

Charlotte is a city on the verge of greatness. It’s a city that has collectively pushed for the future. It’s a city that has finally begun to value arts and culture as valid additions to the city’s foundation. So why is Patsy Kinsey and the Charlotte city council trying to take the city several steps backwards in its quest to continue its transformation into a cultured and vibrant city. It can’t be about one group’s culture, one group’s art, or one group’s opinion on what’s noise and what’s music. It’s about all of us — all of our cultures. It’s what makes Charlotte such a great place to live. It’s what will strengthen Charlotte and help build it into a central hub for culture, art, and entertainment.

The city council will be having its second hearing about the noise ordinance changes on:

March 21st at 2:00 p.m.
at 600 East Fourth St, Room 280

If you would like to make your voice heard, please join the Save Charlotte Music Facebook Group or sign the petition here.


  1. laconically 26 Feb 2011 at 10:24 PM

    Permits to protest? Who is this really protecting? — the DNC.

  2. Jeff 27 Feb 2011 at 8:51 PM

    They rescheduled the meeting on the 21st for 3 pm.

  3. Michael G. Plumides, Jr., J.D. 23 Mar 2011 at 5:50 PM

    I wanted to stop and thank you for using the title of my book, KILL THE MUSIC, as your headline. If you don’t already know, my book is about my battle to keep the 4808 Club open in Uptown Charlotte amidst the same adversity live music, up until a few days ago, was suffering. Although my struggle was at the hands of the P.M.R.C., The A.L.E., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Building Standards, Sue Myrick, and so forth, there are numerous similarities. During that period even the FBI had their eye on “inappropriate music” and I was forced to shut down after the infamous GWAR show of September 19, 1990. You can read all about it here, available on Amazon.

  4. Avatar of Benjamin Brown
    Benjamin Brown 24 Mar 2011 at 12:59 PM

    The inspiration for the title actually came from a song title by a band called Every Time I Die. I believe, if I read the copyright of your book correctly, that the song date pre-dates the book title. But you’re welcome anyways.

  5. Michael G. Plumides, Jr., J.D. 25 Mar 2011 at 5:59 AM

    I’m just glad to be in there somewhere.