07/24/11 — Group hopes to bring cool jazz to downtown Goldsboro

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Group hopes to bring cool jazz to downtown Goldsboro

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

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This location on Center Street is a building that has been leased for use as a jazz club and meeting place.

By the time the new year rolls in, the smooth sounds of jazz may be reverberating through downtown if Ron Martin and his associates, the Premier Group, are able to make their plans a reality.

Martin, Mauricio "Lobo" Howell and Ed "Aton" Jackson are looking to redefine the west side of Center Street, as their group has leased out the old Wayne Theater and adjacent building to house a jazz lounge and an upscale barber shop.

And though the downtown barber shop concept is hardly a novel idea, the swanky spin Premier Cuts will put on its operation is certainly something downtown hasn't had before.

"It will have an upscale atmosphere -- elegant," Jackson said. "But prices will be competitive with other shops. We just want people to relax and feel comfortable."

And while the renovations at 109 N. Center St. aren't complete, the ornate walls and planned mounted plasma televisions should do to refresh the old building, though those modifications may be dwarfed by Martin's plans for the old theater.

His idea for a jazz club, Symfunees, has so far called for the gutting of the entire building, leaving exposed brick that Martin hopes to incorporate into his classy theme.

He and his associates stress that the theater won't become a "club," but a venue targeting a "mature" audience. The space will feature live music across genres from jazz and blues to country and will be available for wedding receptions and other events.

"We saw a need," Jackson said of his group's decision to invest in the old building.

And that need was for an entertainment venue for professionals, Martin said, adding the international artists he aims to bring to Symfunees will dictate the crowd's maturity level, though he said the market will likely influence the artists he'll bring as well.

"We wanted to create something for the older crowd," he said

And he's not new to the entertainment venue scene either, he says. Martin worked for the Department of Defense for eight years touring the world and entertaining and has already debuted a similar venue, Ambiance, in Fayetteville, so he's hopeful that this venture will pan out as well.

Martin said he intends for his entertainment venue to have full ABC permits, though the city's senior planner, Jennifer Collins, said Friday that no permits had been requested yet.

Martin said that he hopes to have the lounge's grand opening in December.