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Eats and Beats: Dom Flemons’ ‘Golden Moment’ Of Live Performance


Like many musicians, Dom Flemons was nervous about returning to the stage after more than a year away from performing. Though he spent the shutdown working on several projects with high-profile collaborators, Flemons still wondered if his live shows would be the same as before the pandemic, and whether audiences would respond like they had in the past. But Flemons, a Grammy Award-winning, Arizona-born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, had little to fear. Audiences have embraced his signature high-energy live shows with a reinvigorated enthusiasm. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, Flemons talks about why the live music experience matters.

Dom Flemonsperforms at the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff Sunday night. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Dom Flemons: I’ve always wanted to stay on the stage, I’ve always wanted to perform for people. And I’ve always been moved by the idea of presenting traditional American music to audiences who may have never heard it before. I mean, I got the bug a long time ago. I mean, it’s part of the reason that after I graduated from NAU I jumped in the car and I drove on I-40, and I rode west all the way until I got to North Carolina and then began my journey of starting the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

I’ve been very fortunate in a lot of ways that I’ve been able to make a living at music for many years. I’m OK with getting back on stage now that things are opening back up ‘cause I know there’s a need. There’s always going to be a need for these stories to be told. And I don’t mind to be a person that’s playing the songs, advocating for the stories that the songs are associated with, and when I can help right some of the wrongs that have been done in the past.

For a long time the pace was so fast that I think that it was easy to let music just pass by you. And the audiences have been just extremely grateful. They come up to me after the show and it’s a lot of people’s very first live concerts at this point. They just love that they get to see music in person and they get to feel that energy in person. Right now there’s just kind of this golden moment where people are really connecting and celebrating the fact that we can get together in person. I don’t know how long that’s going to last necessarily but at the moment it just feels really nice to get together with folks and to be able to share these songs.

I’ve always liked taking in different cultural ideas and helping to spark cultural memory with the audiences. I think in a time where people are wondering about their identity in a local, cultural sense, I feel like folk music is always a place that you can find a little bit of that cultural center, and that’s what keeps me out there. It’s what revitalizes me and then being able to share those moments with the audience. Those are moments that are wonderful moments for me, and that’s something that’s always been there ever since I first started to play.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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