Sept. 28--STAUNTON -- Music can be a driving force and inspirational. Music can soothe the savage beast.
Music can also make a good dining experience better.
Enter John Huggins, owner of Shenandoah Pizza in downtown Staunton. Huggins has made it his mission to blend good music with pizza and a great ambience and provide rising stars a venue.
With musical performances spiking in downtown, Huggins understands that it's only growing and today's local talent needs a place to showcase their craft. So he is more than happy to open his doors to budding musicians in the Valley.
"I've never seen musicians so busy now-a-days," said the pizza entrepenuer, who is also a musical promoter with Shenandoah Concerts. "People are more hooked now than ever."
Huggins said when he first started only two or three places hosted live evening musicians. Now, there are about six to seven venues along downtown.
Patrick Berrang is one musician who appreciates being able to have a place to play.
Berrang, a Waynesboro native, said there are more places to perform and larger crowds in Staunton than in the River City. It's something he'd like to see change.
The guitar player said he usually performs acoustically, leaning more toward blues, folk and soft rock. He said he has been influenced by music that has come before and influenced by music coming out now. But he would love to be able to perform before a larger crowd than what Waynesboro now offers.
David "Duffy" Young, of Waynesboro, and Alex Arbaugh, also of Waynesboro, agree.
The duo was at Shenandoah Pizza on Thursday evening and were pleased they had a place to perform. Both artists expressed desires for a larger music scene in Waynesboro, but said the growing culture of music in downtown Staunton is good to see.
Young said more young musicians are coming up and they need places to get in gigs. That involves practice and places to play. Arbaugh said these up and coming artists need to rehearse and get stage time as much as possible, use all the resources that are out there and "don't talk to much."
For music lovers, such as Huggins, being in and around music is a good feeling. And bringing that good feeling into his restaurant is a win-win for everyone.
Huggins said the local groups have followings and they tend to draw that following in when they perform. Huggins also hosts a radio show on Star 94.3 at 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
"It's hard to quit (music)," he said. "Especially when you get really involved."
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