Midway Market featuring The Veldt } Saturday, May 1, noon (market)/6:00 p.m. (The Veldt) | Franklin and Graham Streets, Chapel Hill |

Follow the setting sun down Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, and you’ll feel the shift as you pass the restaurant Mint.

The businesses get cooler and funkier, with richer local terroir, and art spills into the streets. There’s the historic music venue Local 506 and the art space above it, Attic 506. There’s Beer Study, Syd’s Hair Shop, Rumors Boutique, and the venerable Italian Pizzeria III. It’s almost like traveling back to a time before Target and the Greenbridge condos, as if you could stroll into The Record Exchange or Pepper’s Pizza or Second Foundation, hearing the phantom strains of the street musicians in front of First Citizens Bank.

The spell lasts all the way to The Baxter, the bar-arcade around the corner on Graham Street. But then, alas, like Orpheus, you turn around, and old Chapel Hill shimmers away. Aside from valiant artifacts like Carolina Coffee Shop and Sutton’s Drug Store, it’s prefab chains all the way to Morehead Planetarium.

This vintage block is called Midway, and it’s largely the vision of Wendy Mann, who grew up in Chapel Hill in the seventies and eighties before plunging into the art and nightclub world from LA to New York. Returning years later to find her hometown much changed, she had a vision that was steeped in nostalgia but tempered by worldly experience. Once she became a co-owner of Midway in 2008, and then of Local 506 in 2019, she had the canvas to paint it on. And once she met Luva Zacharyj, another Chapel Hill prodigal, she had the perfect partner.

Zacharyj had also grown up in Chapel Hill in the eighties, and she had also returned after circumnavigating the country, developing a dual career as a bar manager and a vintage seller.

She had a shop called Southern Swank inside Raleigh’s Father and Son Antiques for more than a decade before transitioning back to bars. In 2019, Local 506 co-owner Rob Walsh asked her to come in to discuss a role there. That role would eventually turn out to be co-owner.

It was then that she met Mann, who also founded the VibeHouse studios. They instantly connected over their similar histories. Their fast friendship was incorporated in January, when they started their own company, Wendy & Luva LLC. Besides infusing an iconic rock dive with craft cocktails and local-artist pop-ups in the green room, their biggest endeavor is Midway Market, an outdoor artists-and-craftspeople market that, since November, has been sparking fond memories of Apple Chill, the street art festival that reigned for decades before being replaced by Festifall. Its first big outing as the pandemic abates, which was rain-delayed from April 24 to May 1 as this story went to press, features an extra extra dose of vintage Chapel Hill: a concert by The Veldt, which is also a warm-up for a new music festival.

The project of twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis, The Veldt was one of the Chapel Hill indie bands swept up in the alt-rock gold rush of the early nineties, after Nirvana’s breakthrough. Until their acclaimed reunion several years ago, they were best known for the great 1994 album Afrodisiac and its gripping single, “Soul in a Jar.” A story in The Guardian in 2016 recounted their industry travails as a Black shoegaze-soul band that not only refused to conform to the stereotypes of either white or Black music but seemed to revel in scrambling them.

Zacharyj and Daniel Chavis first bonded over their shared love of psychedelic music—which runs from the Woodstock rock groups through veins as divergent as the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, the dreampop of Cocteau Twins, and the garage rock of The Brian Jonestown Massacre—and the vintage fashion it wears, from buckskin fringes to writhing paisleys.

“Shoegaze is just soul music turned up loud,” says Chavis. Inspired by the convivial atmosphere of touring Europe with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, he put on a festival called Triangle Psych Fest at several Raleigh venues in 2018. He was planning a second outing—he wanted to do it on the roof of a Holiday Inn and call it the Holiday Love-In—before COVID put a stop to that.

The idea was revived in conversations among Chavis, Zacharyj, and Mike Benson, the former Station owner who is now working toward opening a beer garden on Midway. Chavis is reconceiving his psych fest under a new, still-undecided name and planning to roll it out this fall, in venues in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Veldt concert is the first in a series of pop-up shows he’s booking at Midway and elsewhere to build up to the festival.

“Luva and Benson, they’re part of the whole original Chapel Hill music scene. That’s how we know each other,” Chavis says. “Luva’s got a really great style, and for the feeling of it, I want to hark back to stuff they used to do in the sixties. There’s not a niche for that in the Triangle, between Hopscotch and the bluegrass festival.”

At Midway Market, on May 1, the music will wend throughout the day. The market starts at noon, with more than 20 vendors selling art, handmade jewelry, clothes, crafts, and more. Food, beer, and coffee from the block’s plentiful restaurants will be on hand. Pretty Odd and Lazaris Pit will perform around 2:00 p.m. before The Veldt headlines at 6:00 p.m., inside the 506 with the front of the building opened to the street.

The market is planned to return every other Saturday unless demand warrants going weekly—and given the vibrant but deeply lived-in atmosphere it’s infusing into Chapel Hill, it well might.

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