Good food, friends and free music

Everybody likes free: free gift with purchase, free to the sixth caller, buy one and get one free.

How about free entertainment?

On Tuesday night, the Friends of the Mount Pleasant Library are providing free music by Center City Brass at Buddy's Place, a local eatery.

Kim Sholly, president of the Friends, said the group tries to bring fun to the community while celebrating each year one of its greatest resources: the library.

In the past, the Friends of the Library have sponsored storytellers, authors and dinner meetings. Julie Stephenson, the Friends' treasurer, remembered that several years ago a Celtic group performed live music at Buddy's Place, and the community responded enthusiastically.

She suggested finding local musicians for this year's offering and had to look no further than fellow Mount Pleasant Middle School teacher Keith Lee.

Lee, band director at the middle school, plays the French horn with Center City Brass, which also includes Corey Gaston and Matthew Jarrett on trumpets and Charlie Fisher on trombone. They all came to know each other through the Carolina Crown drum and bugle corps and the music department at UNC Charlotte.

A couple of years ago, Lee said, they decided to start playing together, and Center City Brass was formed.

Though all these men are full-time musicians, they are not full-time performers. Gaston is director of worship at Back Creek Church in Charlotte. The others are educators who enjoy teaching their craft to young people.

This is Keith Lee's eighth year at Mount Pleasant Middle School. He enjoys working with students who are just beginning their musical education. He claims that middle school is the place where "you make or break kids as musicians."

He gives his students basic music skills, but also tries to teach them the importance of perfecting their craft and developing those skills.

A native of Rowan County, Lee also assists with the Mount Pleasant High School band program, so he's able to watch his pre-teen musicians grow and mature into young adults.

Since Stephenson and Sholly are hoping for a good turnout of locals - including Lee's current and former students - I asked Lee whether he is more nervous about this gig than others.

He said there's added pressure in playing for people you know, but he anticipates it will be a lot of fun as well. He's been meeting with the guys to put together their repertoire for the evening. He said it will have something for everyone, music that people will know and enjoy.

The free music at Buddy's Place will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Good food, good company and good music - that's an offer too good to pass up.