How Gable Music Ventures built up a local music scene

Founded in 2011, the company is behind Wilmington's Ladybug Festival, the Smyrna Opera House revival and a plethora of shows at World Café Live.

Musician Bill Weisel. (Photo courtesy of Gable Music Ventures)

Gayle Dillman’s daughter had a lot of anxieties while attending high school. Her remedy? Music.
“She had asked me for a Martin guitar for Christmas,” Dillman said. “But the guitar fell apart. Martin was happy to fix it, but it was going to take three months.”
Dillman went to the local music store, expecting the shop to loan her a guitar until her daughter’s Martin was repaired. No dice.
“They said, ‘We don’t have any [guitars].’ Then, this guy comes from behind the counter and says, ‘I have a guitar she can borrow.'”

I quickly realized in 2010 that there were no places for underage kids to play.

That man was Jeremy Hebbel. Hebbel not only loaned Dillman’s daughter one of his old guitars, but began giving her songwriting lessons. Soon, Dillman’s daughter was writing her own songs and playing live. But there was one more problem.
“I quickly realized in 2010 that there were no places for underage kids to play. Not in Wilmington,” Dillman said. “Everywhere, you had to be over 21 to get into the bar. Like any good mother, I decided I need to fix that.”
In November of 2010, Dillman and Hebbel put together what they called the First Annual Yorklyn Rock Show. Dillman said over 100 people turned out for a rock show in the middle of nowhere.
“We were just two people who put on a show,” Dillman said. “I had an idea here — create and find opportunities to put on events that were for all ages to come and have fun and relax. Music puts you in the present moment — people forget how important music was in times of trouble.”
Five months later, Dillman and Hebbel came together to officially form Wilmington-based event production and music booking company Gable Music Ventures.
“In May of 2011 we put on our very first show as Gable Music Ventures and continued to have miserable, terrible shows for the next six months,” Dillman said. “We’ve had a steep learning curve to say the least. Our whole operating identity has been to provide music for all ages, to find emerging artists and original music and to showcase that. Since doing that, the business has gone a number of different directions.”
What started off as mostly DIY shows in rented spaces or open air became staple Wilmington events like the Ladybug Music Festival, an annual showcase of local women talent held the Thursday before Firefly.
“It’s a celebration of women in music,” Dillman said. “We came up with this idea, got somebody to bankroll it and we set it up at five different venues.”
In addition to the Ladybug Festival, Gable Music Ventures has been leading a string of music-related events — from shows at the Smyrna Opera House and Wilmington University to Wilmo Rock Circus on Wilmington’s riverfront and the monthly Singer-Songwriter Showcase at World Café Live.
“It’s the experience of a lifetime when you’re in high school to play on the stage of World Café Live,” Dillman said. “We’re really proud about that. We’re creative about starting this scene almost from nothing in Wilmington.”

Companies: Wilmington University / Firefly / World Cafe Live

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