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Let's Active 40th Anniversary Concert Event with Mitch Easter

On November 4, 2021 in Winston-Salem, NC, The Ramkat and MUSE Winston-Salem (“Museum of Understanding, Storytelling and Engagement”) presented a "Let's Active 40th Anniversary Concert Event with Mitch Easter" celebrating the influential band's 1981 debut.

An article in the Winston-Salem Journal described the band (Let's Active) and its founding members (including Mitch Easter):

Let’s Active, an influential indie-rock band formed in Winston-Salem, made its debut 40 years ago this month.

Mitch Easter, a guitarist, singer-songwriter and record producer, was the frontman, with Faye Hunter on bass and Sara Romweber, who was 17 at the time, on drums.

and

Over the years, various people have performed in Let’s Active, including Angie Carlson, Rob Ladd, Eric Marshall and Jon Heames. The band gave its final performance in 1990. Although Romweber left the band in 1984, she and Easter reunited for a benefit in August 2014, a year after Hunter’s death. Romweber died in 2019.

“He is legendary and he’s such a kind person and so talented,” Meltzer-Holderfield said of Easter. “It’s just amazing that he’s right here in Kernersville.”

Easter, 66, who was inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in 2019, may be best known for producing R.E.M.’s early albums “Chronic Town,” “Murmur” and “Reckoning.”

He is also known for his skills on the guitar and producing records for various artists and bands out of Fidelitorium Recordings, his studio in Kernersville.

The anniversary event featured tributes to the band's influence and legacy and to the memories of Faye and Romweber (who passed away in 2013 and 2019, respectively) followed by musical performances. Again, from The Journal:

Guest speakers are Don Dixon, a musician and record producer, who co-produced R.E.M. with Easter in the 80s; DD Thornton Kenny, a local DJ on Deaconlight at WFU – in the earlier days of WFDD and one of the first to play R.E.M. and Easter’s music on the air; David Menconi, a Raleigh-based music journalist and author, who released the book “Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk” in 2020; and Jeffrey Dean Foster, a well-known local musician.

Jelisa Castrodale, a Winston-Salem freelance writer, will be the emcee.

In addition, guest speakers Rob Ladd, who was a member of the band the Connells, will speak in tribute to Sara Romweber; and Mitch Easter will speak in tribute to Faye Hunter.

After a short intermission, there will be a performance in which Easter and several musicians will play Let’s Active songs. Chris Garges and Shawn Lynch will be Easter’s band at the concert event. Other featured performers include Tammy Easter (Easter’s wife), Alanna Meltzer-Holderfield, Missy Thangs, Mariel Beaumont, Jon Pfiffner, Timothy Joseph, Jeffrey Dean Foster and Don Dixon.

David Menconi shared his commentary from the even on his blog:

Place has always been an important part of music, especially rock & roll. But there have been times in the rock era when the community implied by that word, “place,” was less a physical location and more a state-of-mind network.

I’m thinking of towns like Austin, Minneapolis, Chapel Hill, Athens – and of course, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In the 1980s, it seemed like the best & brightest bands were coming from towns like that, off the beaten path and far from the music industry’s centers. And from Winston-Salem and beyond, those towns were like outposts on an underground-rock chitlin circuit that bands both old and new toured. I was in Austin back then and saw most of the notable bands of that generation come through. And when the Replacements, Guadalcanal Diary or Let’s Active came to play, everyone in town worth knowing was in the room, too. It was a great family to be part of.

Like a lot of people who were from outside North Carolina at that time, my introduction to Let’s Active came via R.E.M., whose 1983 full-length Murmur just floored me. Hearing that for the first time blew my mind and completely reset my musical compass. I wanted to know everything about it, including where it came from and who the producers were: Mitch Easter & Don Dixon. I quickly set about acquiring every record I could find that either of them had anything to do with.

I remember hearing Let’s Active’s Cypress in the fall of 1984, and it felt like a bulletin received from this wonderful & mysterious community out there. And I got to see Let’s Active on a bill with The dB’s in Austin, at a club called Steamboat, and it was a show that was every bit as great as I hoped it would be.

All these years later, Mitch is the last member of the original Let’s Active trio still with us. But the four Let’s Active records are still in the world, as great as ever, and Mitch is still weaving spells in that amazing studio of his.

As for me, I can’t wait to hear this music played live again. Thank you

An Instagram account was created for the celebration (@letsactive40th) along with a web site with some merch associated with the event (https://teasterweb.wixsite.com/letsactive40th).

Various moments from the event were captured on social media. Here is Richard Barone's video tribute:

and one from Mike Mills:

Here is Rob Ladd's tribute to Sara Romweber:

Here is the performance of "Every Word Means No" from the 1983 debut EP afoot:

and another clip:

Here is Easter performing "Co-Star" from the 1984 album Cypress:

Here is a compilation of various performance clips that were shared on social media:

Here are photos of Don Dixon, Easter, and Jeffrey Dean Foster sharing memories:


photo credit: James Robert La Rosee (@jimlarosee)


photo credit: James Robert La Rosee (@jimlarosee)


photo credit: James Robert La Rosee (@jimlarosee)

Easter posted an after-event photo to his Instagram and judged the event to be a huge success:


photo credit: Mitch Easter (@immitcheaster)

In the article from the Journal, Easter summarized the band's legacy:

“We were always a mid-level band,” he said. “We toured the country and went to England a couple of times and stuff, but we were never successful. We made money doing it, but we were never like a famous band. We’re known in a certain little segment of music history. That’s sort of our world.”

“Everybody was young and alive then,” he said.

But he said that it’s wonderful that people remember Let’s Active and those years fondly.

“I think that’s really wonderful,” Easter said. “It’s the best thing about music. It makes you happy.”

Here are more photos from the event:


photo credit: The Ramkat (@theramkat)


photo credit: JOHN GESSNER (@johngessner)


photo credit: JOHN GESSNER (@johngessner)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


Rob Ladd - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


David Menconi - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


DD Thornton Kenny - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


Jeffrey Dean Foster - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


Don Dixon - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


sound check - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


Emcee, Jelisa Castrodale - from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


from Let’s Active 40th Anniversary (@letsactive40th)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Marla Lepore (@marlaink)


photo credit: Geoff (@bellbeefer23)


photo credit: jdf (@jeffreydeanfoster)


photo credit Melissa Clark James (@melissajameswsncrealtor)


photo credit Melissa Clark James (@melissajameswsncrealtor)


photo credit Melissa Clark James (@melissajameswsncrealtor)


photo credit Melissa Clark James (@melissajameswsncrealtor)


photo credit Melissa Clark James (@melissajameswsncrealtor)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Kristin Garau (@kjgarau)


photo credit: Dillard Richardson


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Paul Shrier


photo credit: Rick Reich


photo credit: Steve Nichols


photo credit: Steve Nichols


photo credit: Steve Nichols


photo credit: Steve Nichols


photo credit: Steve Nichols


photo credit: Mike Foster


photo credit: Mike Foster


photo credit: Kimberly Martin Henderson


photo credit: Kimberly Martin Henderson


photo credit: Kimberly Martin Henderson


photo credit: Kimberly Martin Henderson


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Gregg Davis


photo credit: Bill Kopp


Mitch, introducing the band members - photo credit: Neb Rodgers


photo credit: Thomas Ivey


photo credit: Scott Carle


photo credit: Dillard Richardson


photo credit: Neb Rodgers


photo credit: Neb Rodgers


photo credit: Neb Rodgers


photo credit: Neb Rodgers


photo credit: Jo Milos


photo credit: Jo Milos


photo credit: Jo Milos


photo credit: Rick Reich


photo credit: Rick Reich


photo credit: Rick Reich


photo credit: Rick Reich


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Charles Hahn


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni


photo credit: Ricky Garni

 

 

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