Life, Love, and Music: The Nashville Songwriters Association International Showcase at Muddy Creek Cafe


By Asia Sheppard

“Writing a song is like a first kiss. It starts off slow and it can go great or you might have to try it again. It’s all about the true emotion behind it.” – Dan Dockery

All good and honest music needs air. It needs to be able to breathe and to breathe its purpose into people. On Friday, June 20th, 2014, Muddy Creek Cafe on Bethania Rd. hosted the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s (NSAI) Singer/Songwriter showcase. It was a night of great music, amazing food, and wonderful people in an oasis that Winston Salem has needed for a long time.

muddy creek cafe
muddy creek cafe

Muddy Creek Cafe is an experience and more than just a cafe. It is a place that as soon as you walk into it you feel like your at home. It is actually an old mill that has been restored and turned into a hub of creativity where original music flows from the side patio to inside the cafe which has a unique and familiar atmosphere. It has the feel of a vintage and friendly neighborhood confluence with old school sodas in bottles and high quality local food. Everything about Muddy Creek is local and they support localism. All of the art of the wall either came from a nearby grade school, Old Richmond Elementary or from local artists. The coffee is supplied by Krankie’s coffee and any desserts that aren’t baked in house come from local bakeries.

“Muddy Creek is intimate and personable,” explained Bill Heath, a local musician who does marketing for the cafe. He and his partner Shana Whitehead opened up the cafe two years ago. “I remember just driving past it and thinking that it would be a cool cafe,” said Whitehead. Many of the music lovers and diners agree. During the showcase outside, all of the chairs and tables were occupied by the music lovers and inside the cafe the line was out the door with people wanting cold drinks and delicious food. “I’m glad I found this place,” said diner, Brad Ellis. “It’s unique. People are made to feel welcome and the staff are warm and wonderful. It is incredible and a much needed place in Winston.” Muddy Creek is a huge supporter of local musicians and bands. Every week they have different local musicians play and it is always an eclectic mix. They can have a rock band one night and a jazz singer the next.

“That is why Muddy Creek is a perfect venue to have the showcase,” stated Dan Dockery, the coordinator for the Winston Salem chapter of the NSAI. “Muddy Creek is a place of music.” The showcase displayed singer/songwriters from the area who are members of NSAI. NSAI is based in Nashville, Tennessee but it is international. “You have to be a member to be a part of NSAI but the benefits are fantastic. They truly look out for the best interest of singer/songwriters in the creative process of the mechanics of writing a song and you can even get a professional to mentor you. They even help in a legal sense. We lobby for singer/songwriters’ royalties and rights.” The NSAI helps singer/songwriters hone their craft and network with other artist. “Writing a song comes from the heart. If I play you a song I’ve written and if its honest and true then by the end of the song you will feel as if it was written for you,” explained Dockery.

muddy creek
muddy creek cafe

Dockery is in a local band called “June Rise.” “Being in a band is sharing. If it is done with love, honesty, and with intent it’ll rise! It becomes a swirl where you won’t know where it starts and ends. That applies to life as well. Love, honesty, and intent.” His band has played at Muddy Creek and he encourages other bands to reach out to the cafe. “This is a place where memories are made. When you are in a great atmosphere and you hear a great song it sticks with you. Think of songs that invoke emotion with you. You probably remember where you were when you heard it. Just think that ten years down the road someone could come here, hear a great song and fall in love.”

Muddy Creek is always hosting events. On Thursdays they have an open mic night and there is always a band playing on weekends. On the 4th of July they will have an Original Music Showcase. “It’ll be a great event for the family! There will be amazing live music, face painting for the kids, food and drink specials, and more,” said Whitehead. “This is a great place and we love that we get to be a part of a great community and support such great local talent.”

Find out more about Muddy Creek Cafe HERE.