A closer look at those in the spotlight – Café musicians

By Nolan Stout, Staff Writer

October 3, 2012 

As you walk into The Café and swipe your Passport, you casually glance towards the far corner and see musicians playing cover songs. For many of us, they’ve always been there. Just a little something added to the daily lunch experience that we take for granted.

However, the soothing background these musicians provide to a typical lunch should not be taken for granted. The people that add some spice to lunch have a story of their own.

Five of those musicians that add something extra to the everyday life at High Point University are Kris Ferris, Rob Massengale, Chuck Martin, Jimmy Gatewood and Amber Marlowe.

Despite not being in a band that plays on campus, Martin has an interesting story.

After knocking on doors in Nashville, Tenn. in his younger days, Martin was able to get a spot playing guitar for country artist Ray Stevens and actually recorded on four of Stevens’ albums.

Martin then came to N.C. where he played with a Greensboro band that scored a gig opening for Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult.

He eventually got together with some friends to start a Beatles tribute band. The group landed a show in the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England – the same club where the Beatles started playing.

Massengale, who plays bass with Martin, started his musical career playing guitar for a band in high school. However, another guitarist joined that was better so he moved to bass, which he has been playing ever since.

Massengale books much of the music that comes into The Café. He has been playing and booking at The Café since about 2005.

The other three musicians, Ferris, Gatewood and Marlowe are in a band called Windfall.

The band formed in Greensboro in late 2001, and has been playing at The Café for about four years.

“We’ve been professional musicians for about 10 or 11 years now,” said Marlowe.

Ferris plays guitar and shares vocals with Marlowe and Gatewood. He has also produced some solo work that the band plays from time to time in The Café.

Gatewood plays guitar, percussion and harmonica. He actually grew up quite close to The Café.

“I grew up about four houses up this street,” said Gatewood. “Which is now one of your buildings.”

The band has recorded a few albums together, which they sell at their shows.

As you listen to the bands, you may only hear covers, but the administration does not require bands to play covers. Marlowe likes to mix up the covers by playing some of Ferris’ solo work.

Martin likes having the ability to play nearly any genre he wants.

“It’s really fun because we’re not locked into one style of music,’ said Martin. “We can all do different things.”

Listening, one may notice something missing from performances in The Café. If you’ve ever been to a concert, you might notice the lack of applause, singing and cheering from the crowd.

Rarely is there any applause or cheering from the lunch crowd.

“We’re actually surprised when people do clap,” said Ferris.

Dealing with that lack of emotion from the crowd can be difficult at times.

“It’s kinda hard though, as a musician you get energy going both ways and it’s hard when you’re giving out and not getting anything back,” said Ferris.

For Massengale, there is a clear distinction between students that are not paying attention to the bands and students that are enjoying the music.

“There are the kids that don’t really care and then there are those that really get into it,” said Massengale. “If you really pay attention you’ll see that people are digging it and there’s a good reaction to it.”

Massengale says he loves playing at The Café and believes it is a very positive addition to the atmosphere.

“I think it’s a good thing because it makes the kids stay in here a while longer while they are eating,” said Massengale.

As musicians, those that perform at The Café really enjoy what they do. They are up there singing and playing because they love it. Next time you go into The Café for lunch, just look up and show the musicians a little respect. For all it takes to become a professional musician, they definitely deserve it.