Cornelius music venue Bella Love 2.0


A vibrant music scene can spring up anywhere, and disappear just as suddenly. In the back of our minds we know this, but instinctively just sort of assume, without giving the matter much thought, that the nearest large city is where we’re naturally bound to find such. So it was that after a number of years living in the Charlotte, NC region, those of us here at Exquisite Noise Records, thoroughly underwhelmed by the scene, gave up on finding good bands, figuring it would either happen someday distantly down the road or not at all.

But then out of nowhere, almost by accident, we began discovering a number of great musical acts in the smaller towns immediately north of there – Huntersville, Mooresville, Statesville and even Cornelius. In the past year, we’ve signed and featured one such act, Pinko, an up and coming three piece whose raw and bizarre yet catchy rock dirges recall early 90’s grunge, as evidenced by their debut CD, Snuggle Buddy. On this year’s edition of our label-wide sampler, meanwhile, we were also able to feature Statesville native Kyle Ketsdever, a multi-talented soul with far ranging interests, from acoustic to straightforward rock to comedy to 3am basement style jams, all of it incredibly interesting.

At the center of this burgeoning scene sits Bella Love 2.0, a unique live music space located in the older downtown section of Cornelius – yes, Cornelius. As by far the most forward thinking and active (not to mention warmer, as in the musical vibe within) venue in the area, Bella Love has made it their mission to both seek out existing talent within the region and to promote a better awareness of local music. Recently, we had the opportunity to pick the brain of Bella Love founder Case Warnemunde.

“There is a need for a venue for local talent to be showcased and Bella Love is happy to bring it to the public,” Warnemunde says, “Through interactions with musicians at these Open Mic nights, both through their performance and through actual conversations, a few things have become clear. Bars and restaurants are not always an ideal setting for emerging bands to share their sound. Bella Love 2.0 is an alternative to those types of venues. Here it is all about the creative process leading to a pleasing result. Bella Love can be part of the process as well as highlight the result.”

In addition to its primary purpose as a live music venue, Bella Love also functions as a workshop. One-on-one musical instruction is available in this space during the day, and available to rent for bands seeking rehearsal space, or room to bring in their gear and record. Also, while not strictly related, there’s an event the 2nd Friday of every month – named, well, 2nd Friday – in the Old Town section of Cornelius. Hosted by the Bella Love team, it’s an art crawl featuring live music as well as food trucks and local vendor specials.

While, clearly, if you are reading this, you probably maintain an active presence online, getting out from behind the laptop and seeing what’s going on around this region is vital both for your own well being and that of the community itself. Now that the scourge of karaoke fever has apparently run its course, live music does seem to be staging somewhat of a comeback, and this is one important piece of the puzzle. While pay-to-play schemes have unfortunately taken root over the past decade, showing no signs of relenting (basically, bands must buy up tickets to their own shows in order to perform there, theoretically in the hopes they can resell these to friends and fans), it’s refreshing to see that not every owner or promoter has embraced this questionable tactic.

“Bella Love is creating a new way to approach community in the 21st century,” Case continues, likening that they are doing in this space and beyond to “an actual, physical social network. It is a reason to meet your neighbor, a venue to discover talent, and a way to support local businesses.”

One of the paradoxes of big city live music sites – those which actually book local talent, that is – seems to be that they need larger draws to pay the rent and keep the electricity turned on, which in turn leads to more predictable and codified acts. You can bank on x number of attendees most nights by booking some pleasantly bland singer-songwriter type, or even worse, a polished but paint by numbers cover band. But during a recent night at Bella Love, I witnessed Wolfdog play, a solo performer who somehow blended 60s protest folk music with, like, heavy metal, but then often comedic lyrics – and most of this even actually worked. He was in turn followed by Tecate Sunrise, a sprawling yet musically gifted rock group, and then the indescribable melodic mayhem of our very own Pinko. Sure, we are biased, and maybe this is a shameless plug, but there’s a reason we signed these guys in the first place, and released their CD; simply put, though undoubtedly such an experience exists somewhere, sometime, at some venue down in Charlotte, it’s safe to say that in years of going out to scope that music scene, we never had a night as fascinating as this one.

A rising tide carries all ships, as the saying goes, and we believe that one positive development fed into another and another, leading to the current vibrant state of lower Iredell/upper Meck music. We here at Exquisite Noise do feel we’ve played some small part in this, though to be honest it wasn’t planned that way – again, that larger city to the south seemed more logical a place to expect this explosion. Maybe Bella Love had it mapped out from the beginning, but whatever the case, their impact has been far greater, and seems poised to only grow from here.

“(The) current local musical landscape is full of possibility and budding with creative, authentic interactions. Bella Love hopes to continue to be a platform in which local artists and musicians can share their ideas and skills,” Warnemunde concludes, “by bringing attention to the vast resources that are all around us and highlighting the area’s exceptional and innovative talent, Bella Love is securing a creative future for generations to come.”



  1. Great article! Cornelius, crazily enough, really is at the epicenter of a unique creative revitalization. This is going to be a great year to be a …Cornelian? Yeah

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