The Durham Dirt from inside Durty Durham

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This Week in DURTY DURHAM News


There’s a room in Durham that’s a guaranteed prescription for weird. A room where you don’t know what will be waiting for you when you walk through the door. It’s one of the few places in Durham that’s open to the public and hasn’t been co-opted into being predictable. The only thing that it’s consistent in being is strange.

The room has been open on and off over the years, and has held a few different monikers. For a long time, it was simply referred to as “The Lounge”. A nondescript metal door with no sign stood next to a window draped by heavy curtains, obscuring the establishment’s contents. These days they have a sign. It reads “Crazy Camp Music Park.”

Located just beneath the Cosmic Cantina at 1920 Perry St. (just off 9th Street), Crazy Camp provides a unique service to the downtown Durham community. It’s a bar for musicians and music lovers. The far end of the bar houses the stage, which comes fully stocked with guitar and bass amplifiers, a full drum kit, vocal microphones, and a more than solid PA. Guitars and basses line the walls. During business hours the stage is open to anyone and everyone who would step up to make music on it. In other words, the venue serves as a permanent open mic, where musicians of all persuasions can come together to improvise, jam, play standards, originals, or anything else. It’s a space dedicated to musical collaboration and development, and for a full decade now it’s played a huge role in exposing countless local musicians to collaborative improvisation, and teaching them how to jam.

Every night is different at Crazy Camp. The lineup of players changes constantly. The genre can switch at the drop of a hat. The jam can take you through a multitude of time signatures, tempos, grooves, and even in and out of well-known cover songs. A cacophony of playing styles and voices cascades around the room, as players switch out with one another, often without the jam even bothering to stop. And as an added bonus, the players never have to worry about staying in tune! Cosmos Lyles, the owner of both Crazy Camp and Cosmic Cantina, has pioneered the creation of the Evertune Guitar Bridge, a device that when installed in a guitar, keeps the instrument from ever going out of tune. Every guitar and bass at Crazy Camp has been fitted with one of these miraculous machines, ensuring that every jam is just as harmonious as the participating players are able to make it.

And just to add in another moving part here: If you happen to participate in or witness an exceptionally good jam at Crazy Camp, it’s not gone! Every jam at Crazy Camp is recorded by condenser microphones installed in the ceiling. The recordings are then posted to the bar’s website. Take a second to appreciate the scope of this. Crazy Camp has recorded and posted material from jams on every single weekend, dating all the way back to MARCH 2012! That’s quite the library of local jams. Check it out sometime.

Oh, right… Did we mention there’s a full bar, as well as stellar Mexican food upstairs at Cosmic Cantina?

Word on the street is that Cosmos is planning another remodeling of the space’s interior.

crazy camp

How many more reasons do you need?

This is one of the hidden gems of our fair town.

Get there and support your local music scene.

Admission is FREE.

Open Thursday through Sunday. 8pm-4am.


Durty Durham is an evershifting group of artists and musicians that are near the white hot of core of so much Durham culture. Memberships ebb and flow with the river of life, but the art on the walls and the names associated with previous events reveal what old masters like Victor Hugo knew long ago, what is revered in so-called low culture becomes high culture. #PARTYILLEGAL

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