However, when another Hamlet native and professional musician met a British author who traveled to the United States to visit Coltrane’s birthplace while grieving over the death of his son, he was inspired to share his story with others.
Eric “Carolina” Davis will perform a benefit concert Wednesday at The Blue Room, in honor of Talbot’s son’s memory, and the proceeds will go to The Blue Room.
Davis now lives in Arkansas, about an hour outside of Little Rock, but tours throughout many parts of the continental U.S.
Recently, he opened for Bucky Covington’s act at Harlow’s Casino and Resort, and in the past he has five national television appearances on The Nashville Network (TNN).
It was after a gig at Sonny’s Lounge in Carolina Beach two summers ago, though, that he first encountered children’s author John Talbot, whose son Louis passed away from cancer.
Talbot has since become a man with whom Davis has forged a strong friendship.
“We just struck up a conversation,” Davis recounted. “He was going to the airport, and I offered to take him so he didn’t have to get a cab. As we talked, I happened to mention there was a magnificent sunrise about a week or two before then. It was more amazing than anything I’d ever seen.”
Talbot also recalled that particular sunrise, which was distinctive because of Jupiter’s proximity to the moon, and Talbot made a remark that at first seemed odd to Davis.
“It was spiritual - like John Coltrane’s music,” Davis remembered Talbot saying.
Davis then explained he was from Hamlet, as was Coltrane, and Talbot said hearing Coltrane’s records in his youth had sparked inspiration within him.
He told Davis he’d become a born-again Christian as a result of the jazz progressions.
“We’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives,” Davis remembers Talbot saying with all sincerity.
After seeing him off to the United Kingdom, Davis pondered what he could do to honor the memory of Louis, and share John’s deep passion for Coltrane with others.
“I’d told him that I would plant a tree in the United States in his son’s memory, but then the idea came to me to play a benefit concert at The Blue Room, and give the money to The Blue Room,” Davis said. “He thought it was a great idea.”
Hamlet physician Dr. Fred McQueen purchased The Blue Room after learning it was Coltrane’s birthplace.
“It was an old two-story hotel, and we restructured the first floor exactly the way it was,” McQueen said.
Issues over zoning and planning prevented the second story work from being done, but McQueen said he’s collected memorabilia linked to the saxophone virtuoso, as well as Dizzy Gillespie and other musicians with regional roots, to decorate the auditorium.
“It’s a monument to John Coltrane,” he explained. “I’d have to say the highlight of the building is a full-size portrait of him that I picked up in California, but we also have all his albums and some other items.”
McQueen explained after Coltrane was born in Hamlet, he moved to High Point, and from there became a globe-trotter with band in tow.
The Blue Room is an intimate venue, seating 50 to 60 people, and one can only imagine what it would have been like to see Coltrane play a set there.
“He was the Jazz Messiah,” McQueen said. “John Coltrane is known all over the world, probably better than he’s known right here where he was born. I wanted to draw attention to his achievements with The Blue Room. He’s gone, but his music lives forever.”
Talbot is thrilled about the show, though he may not be able to attend, Davis said.
“He was real excited,” Davis said. “He asked me if I could just text him from The Blue Room.”
The Blue Room is located in Hamlet at the corner of the 200 block of Hamlet Avenue and Bridges Street.
The show is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m., with members of local band Zephyr’s End set to pitch in at the show.
General admission will be $5, and all proceeds will go to The Blue Room and the memories of Coltrane and Talbot.