The original Kings opened at 424 South McDowell Street in July 1999 by Raleigh musicians Paul Siler, Ben Barwick and Steve Popson. Although there were a few decent local venues at the time, Kings catered to music fans and musicians in a way that was entirely different. The space became a focal point for creativity in the area. Besides the many local and national musical acts that began to see Kings as a regular stop, there were Game Show nights (such as The Gong Show) put on by the owners and their friends, circus performances, comedy nights, theater performances, a regular professional wrestling show, basically anything that sounded like it would be interesting, dramatic, or hilarious. As time went on, the sound system was improved, and bigger national acts like Bonnie Prince Billy, Calexico, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Shins, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Mastodon began to see Kings and Raleigh as a legitimate tour stop.
In 2007 the landlord chose to demolish the building that housed Kings so that the ground could be used as a staging area for construction of a parking deck. The owners came close to reopening in several different locations, but due to this or that complication, it never happened. That is, until a lease was signed on the space at 14 West Martin Street in April of 2010.
The new version of Kings is improved in several ways. Upstairs is the Kings space, with a larger stage, acoustically designed ‘floating’ walls, a beautiful steel and pine bar, and a sound system that is fantastic to hear or to play through. In the basement is a separate bar called Neptunes. Neptunes is a comfortable hideaway with custom cocktails that feature handmade syrups and fresh, locally produced ingredients. Perhaps the most important improvement of all is the addition of Cheetie Kumar, who joined Paul, Steve and Ben as an owner. Cheetie, in addition to directing the construction and generally the entire organization, is responsible for the cocktails in Neptunes, and she also will be running the soon to be opened restaurant in the street level space called Garland.
The people below have been instrumental in helping us four reopen Kings. By no means comprehensive, this is a beginning attempt to recognize the people that have dedicated themselves and their considerable talents to seeing that this endeavor is successful.
Kings bar design and build: Jim Dautremont
Neptunes bar design and build: Bo Taylor Custom Cabinetry
Graphic and Web Design: m8 design and Gamil Design
Cyber Guru: Tom Corbitt
General Contractor: Greg Paul Builders
Architect: Mary Farlander and David Maurer, Maurer Architecture
Acoustics and Sound System Design: John Koelle, North State Sound
Metal work: Bryan Buldouc
Muppets: Kristin Matwiczyk
“The Kings” art installation and Muralist: Nurkin Arts, Scott Nurkin
Space Muralist: Bart Cusick
Crown Muralist: David Eichenberger
Interior guidance: Kay Jordan, Maura Dillon
Painting: Shepherd Lane Painting
Photography: Ronnie Tomany Jones, Veronica Tomany Photography
Carpentry: Ed Marsden
Carpentry and Excellent timing: Luke Buchanan
DJ Coordination: David Mueller
Accounting: Charlie Lancaster, Linton & Associates
Insurance: Alex Maiolo, Lee Moore Insurance
Legal council: George W. Miller, III, Haywood, Denny & Miller, L.L.P.
Lots of everything: Trent Bowles
Lots and lots of others who were extremely generous with their time and effort.
Since the opening of the new Kings, we have had shows with M83, The Avett Brothers, Ty Segall, Warpaint, Kurt Vile, Passion Pit DJ set, Chelsea Light Moving/Thurston Moore, Surfer Blood, Matthew Dear, Dum Dum Girls, OFF!, Archers of Loaf, Crooked Fingers, The Sword, Red Fang, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Lower Dens, Fucked Up, Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof, Monotonix, Treasure Fingers, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Xiu Xiu, Javelin, El Ten Eleven, Ducktails, Delicate Steve, Star Slinger, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cursive, Smith Westerns, Woods, The Field, Corrosion of Conformity, The Felice Brothers, Phosphorescent, Marnie Stern, Shigeto, Mark Eitzel, Tilly and the Wall, Vacationer, Body Language, Bear In Heaven, Yob, Agalloch, Efterklang, Here We Go Magic, Oberhofer, Moon Duo, Yellow Ostrich, The Love Language, The Rosebuds, Megafaun, Todd Barry, Neil Hamburger, Tig Notaro and many more!