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PUBLISHER • Charles A. Womack III EDITOR • Mark Kemp


NEWS EDITOR • Ryan Pitkin FILM CRITIC • Matt Brunson THEATER CRITIC • Perry Tannenbaum CONTRIBUTING WRITERS • Erin Tracy-Blackwood, Allison Braden, Catherine Brown, Konata Edwards, Jeff Hahne, Vanessa Infanzon, Alison Leininger, Ari LeVaux, Kia O. Moore, Grey Revell, Dan Savage, Debra Renee Seth, Aerin Spruill,


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Creative Loafing © is published by CL, LLC 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., Suite C-2, Charlotte, NC 28206. Periodicals Postage Paid at Charlotte, NC. Creative Loafing welcomes submissions of all kinds. Efforts will be made to return those with a self-addressed stamped envelope; however Creative Loafing assumes no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. Creative Loafing is published every Wednesday by Womack Newspapers, Inc. No portion may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. First copy is free, all additional copies are $1. Copyright 2015 Womack Newspapers, Inc. CREATIVE LOAFING IS PRINTED ON A 90% RECYCLED STOCK. IT MAY BE RECYCLED FURTHER; PLEASE DO YOUR PART.


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It might be your last chance to see these members of “the Big Four” live when Slayer plays PNC Music Pavilion on June 14 during what they say is their last tour.


We put out weekly 8

NEWS&CULTURE QUEEN CITY KITTIES Charlotte comes together to help its

feline friends BY PAT MORAN


12 14 16

FOOD&DRINK COPPER PROVES ITS METTLE Dilworth Indian restaurant brushes off the haters after 14 years of rave reviews BY SOPHIE WHISNANT


MUSIC SHUT UP AND PLAY ‘CUSP Presents (Instrumentality)’ showcases the majesty of wordless music BY MARK KEMP 18 MUSIC NEWS: PATOIS COUNSELORS GET A’ ‘PROPER RELEASE’ BY MARK KEMP 20 SOUNDBOARD


ARTS&ENT FROM ON HIGH ‘God’s Trombones’ brings three nights of resounding sermons to Spirit Square BY PERRY TANNENBAUM 24 FILM REVIEWS BY MATT BRUNSON






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TECHNICOLOR A customer in a Benjamin Moore paint store on South Boulevard recently decided he would test the colors in the store by splashing them everywhere, and ended up doing thousands of dollars in damage. According to a 21-year-old woman working in the store, the suspect began purposefully picking up paint cans and smashing them on the ground, splashing colors onto the floor, walls and other products. Not only that, but the reporting victim ended up in the path of the vandal, with paint landing on her face and arm, according to the report. All in all, the abstract artist did $2,500 in damage to the store. IT’S AN ART The paintball wars are not

over. We reported last month that CMPD was baffled by a string of paintball incidents throughout the city that began early in the year, and last week, shit just got worse. Two victims reported being shot at on the same day by unknown suspects wielding paintball guns. One man suffered bruises and scratches while the other reported $500 worth of damage to his car.

HGTV Keeping the paint theme going, an

apartment in Arwen Vista in University City received an unwanted home makeover, and the Property Brothers weren’t even there to soften the blow. After unknown suspects broke into the apartment, they targeted the stove, refrigerator and cabinets by painting them, resulting in more than $1,000 in damages. Bad taste in interior design isn’t a crime, but vandalism certainly is.

NEW PHONE, WHO DIS? One woman was hoping for a paint job like the one described above for her car, but ended up losing the whole damn vehicle instead. It’s been two years and counting since the victim has seen her ‘89 Chevy Caprice. In April 2016, she hired someone to paint the car and update the interior. The job was supposed to take six months, but at the end of that time frame the suspect claimed they weren’t done with the job. After the car’s owner requested to have her vehicle returned by April of this year, the suspect totally ghosted and stopped taking any calls or texts from the victim. SHARING IS CARING A 48-year-old

woman in the Steele Creek area also lost her car after trying to do someone a favor last week. The woman told police she loaned her Mercury Sable to a friend of hers whom she trusted, but later found out that the friend then loaned it out to a complete stranger. The victim now has no idea where her car is, and has one less friend.

HAVE IT YOUR WAY One customer is in a real whopper of a situation after losing their cool in the Burger King drive-thru

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line in Elizabeth. The suspect threatened the worker at the window because there was a mix up with his order. Bruh, just get the $6 Mix and Match deal, that’s why they invented it.


bus driver called police last week after finally removing himself from a situation during which he was threatened and his bus damaged by an unruly passenger. The man told police that the suspect became irate while riding the bus and threatened the driver by telling him he would “slash” him. The suspect then got off the bus while yelling, but quickly realized that he had not yet reached his destination, so his grand exit was meaningless. When the suspect tried to get back on the bus, the driver refused to open the doors for him, and the suspect began striking the door, causing $800 in damage to the glass windowpane.

MJOLNIR Another irate customer took his anger out on a work vehicle in northeast Charlotte yesterday, but this suspect wasn’t content with just kicking and punching. A driver with Express Pack Service told police that he was making his rounds between 2 and 3 p.m. when the suspect suddenly struck the mirror on his delivery van with a mirror, doing $100 in damage. No one was injured in the incident.

CREATIVE COMMONS A 36-year-old Target employee working on Rea Road called police last week after becoming a target himself. The man told officers that he was working at the store at around 8:30 p.m. when a male suspect, whom he had never seen before, walked in and took a picture of him. The employee said the suspect then made an inappropriate comment that “intimidated and harassed” the employee, and he and the store’s management believed a report should be filed with police.

SCHMUCKS A recently married couple learned just how much their friends value them after doing some inventory regarding money that was stolen during a recent wedding party at C3 Lab. According to the victim, an unknown suspect made off with a few cards that contained money during the party, and the victim had to call around to those whose gifts were missing to find out exactly how much money was stolen. The first wedding guest told her they had $1,000 in their card, broken up into 10 $100 bills. The second guest told her they had written out a $1,000 check. As for the third guest, they sheepishly admitted that the envelope simply held a $75 gift card for Amazon.

All stories are pulled from police reports at CMPD headquarters. Suspects are innocent until proven guilty.



SHOOT FIRST Customers at Hillary’s 3Sheets in Perth, Australia, are being offered water guns to shoot at seagulls, which have been ruining diners’ waterfront meals. “It was bad,” owner Toby Evans told Nine Network television on May 16, admitting the idea was “a desperate measure. Before, they’d wait until customers had finished and got up, but now they’re getting cheekier and cheekier.” Customers are on board, saying the pistols are working. BUT, WHY? Making good on his promise, Welshman Mark Williams, 43, celebrated his third world snooker championship (snooker is a game similar to billiards) by conducting the post-match news conference at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England, in the buff. Williams, who beat John Higgins of Scotland on May 7, is the event’s oldest winner in 40 years, Reuters noted. “I’m not going to say anything stupid ... but to be honest if I won this next year, I’d cartwheel down here naked,” Williams promised. HIGH AS A FLIGHT The Daytona Beach

International Airport was briefly evacuated early on May 11 when John Greenwood, 25, caused a ruckus as he rode around the baggage carousel in the nude, trying to get out onto the tarmac, reported News4Jax. Sheriff’s deputies shocked him with a Taser, to which he responded: “We gotta get outta here, there’s a bomb going to go off. I planted a bomb in the bathroom.” After sweeping the airport, officials found no explosives, but Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said they did find Greenwood’s clothes in a backpack hidden in a hole in the bathroom wall. Described by Chitwood as a frequent flyer, Greenwood is known to local law enforcement, and he admitted taking drugs on Thursday night. He faces several charges after the incident.

EASY WAY OUT Like any resourceful

mom, Johanna Giselhall Sandstrom of Kyrkhult, Sweden, made lemonade out of lemons after she discovered a spelling error in her newly acquired tattoo. Sandstrom had asked the tattoo artist to entwine the names of her two children, Nova and Kevin, on her arm, and it wasn’t until she arrived home that she realized the tattoo read “Kelvin” instead of “Kevin.” “My heart stopped and I thought I was going to faint,” Sandstrom told local newspaper Blekinge Lans Tidning. Removing the tattoo would require multiple treatments, she learned, so Sandstrom decided instead to change her 2-year-old son’s name to Kelvin, The Independent reported on May 16. “When I thought more about it, I realized that no one else has this name,” she said. “It became unique. Now we think it is better than Kevin.”

WEIRD SCIENCE For two years, Kendra

Jackson of Omaha, Nebraska, “had a box of

Puffs ... everywhere I went,” due to constant sneezing, coughing and nose-blowing that started after she hit her face on the dashboard during a car accident in 2013, she told KETV. Multiple doctors told her allergies were the cause, but eventually she was diagnosed with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak — her brain fluid was leaking into her nasal cavity at the rate of about a half-pint a day. In early May, Nebraska Medicine rhinologist Dr. Christie Barnes plugged the small hole between Jackson’s skull and nostrils with her own fatty tissue, giving Jackson the relief she had been seeking for years.

AWWWWWW Six baby squirrels in Elkhorn, Nebraska, found themselves in a sticky situation when their tails became tangled in tree sap and knotted together in their nest. When a man noticed what looked like a six-headed squirrely cluster moving around in a tree, wildlife expert Laura Stastny, executive director of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, got the call. Stastny told the Omaha World-Herald that her group sees a case like this every year or so. She covered the squirrels with a towel to calm them and then snipped the fur that held them together. LET ME GET MY CHECKBOOK The owner of a 15,000-square-foot condo on the 45th floor of the swanky Atelier building in Manhattan is offering the 10-bedroom, 11-bathroom property for sale — for $85 million, according to WNBC. It features the expected appointments — marble bathrooms, granite kitchen with stainless steel appliances — but the steep price tag also includes some extras, such as two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini, courtside season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets, a summer mansion in the Hamptons, a million-dollar yacht, live-in butler service and ... oh yeah, two tickets for a trip to outer space. GLORY DAYS Sidney Bouvier GilstrapPortley, 25, was arrested on May 11 in Dallas after scamming his way into two Dallas high schools in an apparent effort to relive his basketball career. Gilstrap-Portley was charged with posing as a 17-year-old student and Hurricane Harvey evacuee so that he could play high school basketball. As Dallas schools welcomed students displaced by the hurricane, Gilstrap-Portley first enrolled at Skyline High School and then at Hillcrest High School, where he was a star on the team (and dated a 14-year-old girl). In fact, high school coaches voted him offensive player of the year. The Dallas Morning News reported that a former coach spotted him at a tournament and alerted Hillcrest’s coach that he had graduated “a time ago.”

check out Local Vibes now on spotify! Check on June 14 for episode 47 of our podcast, Local Vibes, as the guys from Hectorina drop by to chat about their new album, Muck, and what comes next.






QUEEN CITY KITTIES Charlotte comes together to help its feline friends BY PAT MORAN



7 inches long. Cradled in the volunteer’s arms, it kneads the baby bottle with its paws and its ears start to twitch. That’s a sure sign the kitten has learned to bottle feed, according to Ann McElwain “Their ears wiggle back and forth once they start suckling,” McElwain says. “It’s adorable.” Early on a Saturday morning, I’m among the 15 fledgling feline nursemaids ranged around a table at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Care & Control (AC&C) Shelter on Byrum Drive. We’re receiving initial volunteer training from McElwain on how to properly feed and care for orphaned kittens between the ages of one day and four weeks old, or neonates, at the shelter’s kitten nursery. The nursery was launched last year with an $11,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Though veterinarians and veterinary technicians are on site, more than 200 volunteers staff the facility. Before the nursery opened in April 2017, orphaned kittens were sent to traditional foster homes to be bottle fed, but neonates have to be fed every two to three hours. “As you can imagine, the pool of foster homes with the ability to do that is very small,” Melissa Knicely, a CMPD spokesperson, says. Hence, the kitten nursery cares for the fragile fur balls, which often would not survive without their mothers, until they are weaned and ready to enter foster homes. Last year, according to AC&C’s website, its kitten adoption rate increased by 38.7 percent, the transfers of kittens to other rescue groups and organizations increased by 34.5 percent, and kitten euthanasia decreased by 42.3 percent. “Since the introduction of the nursery, we’re saving many more kittens,” Knicely says, “but now we have to find many more homes.” The kitten nursery is one of several Charlotte organizations designed to care for and find permanent homes for the city’s cats and kittens. I had signed up for volunteer training at the nursery expecting to discover a straightforward feline pipeline from nursery to foster home to forever home, but the reality is more complex. In addition to AC&C, the various players caring for the Q.C.’s kitties include the Humane Society of Charlotte, municipal shelters across the region, several pet rescue/spay and neuter organizations and not one, but two cat cafes — relaxed and cool hangouts designed to 8 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM


Gretchen’s gaze

Valerie flashes her “adopt me” eyes


introduce cat lovers to their next best friend. Knicely tweaks the old saying: It takes a village to care for Charlotte’s feline friends. “When we opened the nursery in April this year, we had 18 kittens,” McElwain says. “By the end of the month we had 88.” Speaking by phone a few weeks after our nursery training session, McElwain explains that last year’s warm winter extended the breeding cycles for cats, resulting in a population explosion. She runs through the facility’s procedures for dealing with this influx of neonates. Kittens this young cannot regulate their body heat, so a plastic disc called a Snuggle Safe is heated in a microwave and placed in each carrier, which holds up to four kittens. The neonates are susceptible to upper respiratory infections, and because they are switching from mother’s milk to Kitten Milk Replacement, they can develop diarrhea. In addition to cuddling, feeding and weighing the kittens daily to make sure they’re thriving, volunteers stimulate each kitten’s anus with a cloth to make sure the neonates go to the bathroom. One thing volunteers learn early on is that “poop happens,” McElwain says. To make sure no diseases are transmitted, volunteers wash blankets, carriers and bottles after each feeding, and they always wash their hands. They use a certain hand sanitizer so much that McElwain claims her crew has invented a new fragrance — “Eu de Purell.” McElwain may joke, but the job has its share of heartbreak. “You can come in one day to feed a kitten, and the next day it may not be there,” Knicely says. Fifty kittens died in nursery last year, she continues. It’s a relatively low number, but every loss is deeply felt. When the kittens graduate from bottlefeeding, they go to foster homes to transition to regular food, Knicely explains. From the foster homes, they return to the nursery, where they get a medical checkup before being put up for adoption. The Humane Society of Charlotte, which has partnered closely with AC&C for decades, has stepped up this year, Knicely continues, placing many kittens from the nursery into their network of foster homes. AC&C continues to bring adult cats into its nursery-adjacent shelter from a variety of sources, including pickups from nuisance calls and pets that owners have surrendered. (As part of the CMPD, AC&C is required by law to bring in these strays and unwanted pets.) Last year, the total number of cats — adults and kittens — adopted from the shelter was 1,971. Knicely stresses that euthanasia is rare at the shelter, reserved for those few animals deemed a threat to the community, or too ill or injured to survive. Knicely adds that animals are never euthanized to make space at the shelter. This may be due to the animals constantly moving out of the shelter. Though the public can adopt kittens and adult cats at the facility, far more animals are transferred to a myriad of rescue organizations, including 24 groups focused exclusively on cats. Last year, rescue groups pulled 2,064 cats and dogs from the shelter. The lion’s share of these feline pickups — both kittens and adult cats — belongs to the Humane Society of Charlotte. “We have a 99.9 percent live release rate,” says Humane Society of Charlotte spokesperson Emily Cook. “That means,

Kitties chillin’ at Daily Mews


Mac Tabby’s Lounge


“SINCE THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NURSERY, WE’RE SAVING MANY MORE KITTENS, BUT NOW WE HAVE TO FIND MANY MORE HOMES.” MELISSA KNICELY, CMPD ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL outside of extraordinarily rare cases, every animal that comes in to us comes back out.” Last year 1,170 cats, many coming from AC&C, were adopted from HSC’s main shelter on Toomey Avenue and its adoption center at Petco in Huntersville. These felines range from adults to kittens as young as two months. The HSC does not adopt out cats that have not been spayed or neutered, Cook adds. Spaying and neutering is a key component of HSC’s strategy to reduce the city’s population of unwanted animals. Last year, HSC performed 12,574 spay/neuter surgeries at its two clinics. The surgeries also play a part in Community Cats, the organization’s TNR (trap-neuter-release) program. “If a cat lives outside, it’s considered a community cat,” says HSC’s Community Cat Coordinator Leah Massey. These community cats perform a useful function in the ecosystem, she points out. “They’re doing a community service, eating rats, mice or snakes,” Massey says. HSC finds the animals by going into areas where outdoor cats have been picked up by AC&C, or through phone calls to 311 complaining about cats in the neighborhood. Then it spays or neuters the cats and gets them vaccinated for rabies. Without the program, these healthy and useful animals would go to AC&C, where they could end up being euthanized, Cook explains. In 2017 the Community Cats program humanely trapped, neutered or spayed and returned 3,037 community cats to their original environments. HSC has also launched the Working Cats program to help animals that are not socialized enough to be pets, yet not feral either, Knicely

says. She paints a scenario where a feral cat is picked up in response to a nuisance call, and the caller does not want the animal returned to the neighborhood after it’s spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Those animals are put up for adoption for workplaces. “Lots of old buildings have rodents or a mice problem,” Knicely says. “These animals can make ideal warehouse or office cats.” Animals that go to HSC’s Toomey Avenue shelter get a thorough medical checkup, including blood work and vaccinations. Then they undergo a behavioral assessment from HSC’s Behavioral Specialist Leticia Counts. If the cats get a clean bill of mental and medical health, their next stop is Kitty City or Meow Town. Kitty City houses litters of kittens in cages. If you’re looking for a pet and see a kitten that captures your heart, a volunteer or staff member will get it out of the cage so you can play with it, Cook says. Across the hall is Meow Town. It’s an open room without cages, where adult cats are allowed to create their own community, she continues. An adjoining screened-in patio allows cats some outside time. “We’ve seen our adoption rates for cats skyrocket ever since we introduced the cat room in 2013,” Cook says, “because now people can meet cats in a less stressful environment.” Cook cites a success story.A wheelchairbound woman entered Meow Town looking for a particular tailless cat, which she reasoned would work best with her wheelchair. But with cats, things seldom work out as planned. “Instead, another cat sitting by the window jumped right into her lap in the chair,” Cook remembers. “She just looked straight at me and said, ‘I guess this is the cat I’m taking home.’”

THE OPEN-ROOM CONCEPT gets a novel twist at Charlotte’s two cat cafes, where the feline adoption center has been turned into a place where people come to socialize. “Five years ago there was only one cat café in America,” Andy Leicester says. “Now there are over 200.” Last April, Leicester and his wife Tamara left the security of their corporate jobs and opened Daily Mews cat café in a 1940s bungalow on Monroe Road. The couple’s decision process was simple, if terrifying, according to Leicester. “We jumped off a cliff and figured it out on the way down,” Leicester says, laughing. The couple is a confessed pair of cat lovers, and it shows in the café’s surroundings. We’re sitting in the cozy cat lounge, which is adjacent to a gift shop and a café serving beer, coffee and baked goods. As we talk, a content black cat named Angel rubs against my pants leg and purrs. The lounge, which holds 12 adult cats and 15 people who pay $12 an hour for quality cat time, has been completely “catified,” Leicester says. Catify is a standard term in the cat café business, and what it means is that the lounge is a feline playground. Ledges wide enough for easy cat navigation ring the walls leading to a suspension bridge. Felines nap on carpetcovered scratching and climbing structures, custom built by Matthews-based Contempocat. A wide-screen TV showing videos of birds and squirrels entrances a pair of felines. Boo, an easygoing, longhaired male cat, lounges in a sunny garden window, which juts out into a courtyard next door. He keeps a sleepy eye on an outdoor bird feeder. If any cat wants to escape briefly from human attention,

an opening shaped like a cat’s head leads to a private back room housing food dishes and litter boxes. Leicester credits the cat-friendly environment to Tamara, an interior designer with work experience in the architectural field. “In an environment like this, people can see the cats’ personalities quickly,” Leicester says. “They really shine.” It helps that the animals are peaceful and friendly, he adds. Since the café opened, there have been no cat fights aside from a stray hiss or two. An inconspicuous wall diffuser that dispenses feliway, a synthetic version of the cat facial hormone, aids this serenity. It calms cats without sedating them, Leicester explains, and lets them know they’re in a safe environment. Everything about the café is designed with one purpose in mind, according to Leicester. “We help get adult cats adopted,” he says. “Kittens can adopt themselves.” Since opening in late April, the café has adopted out 15 cats. While Daily Mews gets its animals from a handful of rescue partners including AC&C, most of these cats come from the café’s nextdoor neighbor, Monroe Road Animal Hospital. Monroe Hospital has had its own adoption program for more than 30 years, says Chris Graham, the hospital’s adoption coordinator, but since Daily Mews opened, it’s been on the front line of the hospital’s cat adoptions. In return, the hospital and its staff are on call for any health issues that may arise among the café’s cat population. “Clients or Good Samaritans find the majority of our cats,” Graham says. The hospital vets the animals with a medical examination, then gets them spayed or neutered and microchipped, he explains. CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 9


Amy Chapman, CMPD Animal Care & Control Kitten Nursery Volunteer “At the moment, we have 13 or 14 cats, including the ones we have over at the Daily Mews,” Graham says. Daily Mews is licensed as a private shelter. It hosts foster cats in a commercial retail setting, but the majority of the cats technically belong to MRHA. The café charges a $45 adoption fee, which it passes on to rescue partners like the hospital.

IF DAILY MEWS is a cozy cat bungalow, Mac

Tabby is a funky feline club. Lori Konawalik, who opened Charlotte’s first cat café in Area 15 on North Davidson Street last December, sits with me in the Mac Tabby lounge as Bitty Betty, a black and white tabby, paws hungrily at my lemon muffin. The vibe here is a bit more rock ‘n’ roll, a retrofitted industrial space with work by local artists hanging on the walls. Coffee and kombucha are the two main items served by the attached café. A carpet-covered support post and a whimsical cheese wall that cats can crawl through are the few concessions to “catification.” While the Leicesters have studied other cat cafés for pointers and inspiration, Konawalik has drawn on her instincts. When she briefly looked at other cat cafés, they seemed to her to be too cat-centered, with people added as an afterthought. “I didn’t like that, because I feel that cats are an accessory to lives which make our lives better,” Konawalik says. “I felt the cafe should be human-centered with cats, because that’s more real life. That’s more my style. My cats in my house do not take over.” To that end, Mac Tabby hosts music nights, like a recent event featuring a set by local guitarist and songwriter John Sullivan. Cat yoga, an activity that is also on the schedule at Daily Mews, is a popular event. The café also offers supervised Kitty Time reservations for children under 7. Like Daily Mews, Mac Tabby charges admission to the cat lounge — $12 for an hour and $6 for a half hour. Attendance in the lounge is capped at 15 people, and the number of cats in the room is set at 12 by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. With a total of 77 adoptions since December, a steady stream of cats has passed through the café. Gretchen is not one of those success stories. The gray two-year-old is not as playful as some of the other Mac Tabby cats. Instead, she’s a gazer, Konawalik says. “She’ll 10 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM




keting & , HSC’s Mar Emily Cook ions Manager Communicat


Leah Massey, HSC’s Community Cat Coordinator gaze in your eyes like she loves you.” Gretchen’s thoughtful demeanor may derive from having experienced two failed adoptions, one dating from before her time at Mac Tabby. Last month a couple took Gretchen home, but had to return her due to medical reasons, Konawalik says. If the cat is disappointed by this turn of events, she doesn’t show it. Gretchen circles my book bag before settling down on it for a nap. The majority of Mac Tabby cats have found homes, including a three-legged feline named Beowulf. He was only at the café a few days, Konawalik remembers, when a special needs teacher spotted him and knew she had found her cat. Like all the other cats at the café, Beowulf came through Konawalik’s sole rescue partner, Catering to Cats and Dogs. “I had a meeting with Lori a year before Mac Tabby opened,” says CCD’s Roseann Forbes. “We had a conversation about the future and found that our visions were aligned.” CCD pulls many of its animals from highkill shelters, Forbes says. After the cats are updated on their vaccinations, spayed and neutered, microchipped and tested for feline AIDS and feline leukemia, they are ready for Mac Tabby. The cat café is technically a kennel that fosters the animals, which remain in the care of the rescue group. Mac Tabby’s $125 adoption fee goes directly to CCD. Duriong Creative Loafing’s trek on the Queen City kitty trail, a pattern emerges. As more neonate kittens survive, they move out to private homes either through AC&C’s foster network or HSC’s. They return to shelters and adoption centers healthy and socialized, and therefore easier to adopt. Though it’s harder to find homes for adult cats, even the prognosis for them looks good. Nowadays, fewer cats are euthanized by AC&C and other municipal shelters because they’re less likely to languish in those shelters. Those animals are on the move. Rescue groups are taking the cats from AC&C and other municipal shelters. Then the adult felines are fostered, so they,

Lori Konawalik’s son Carter with Mac Tabby Cats too, are healthy, socialized and more adoptable when they move on to adoption centers like HSC’s Meow Town and Charlotte’s cat cafés. At the same time, the unwanted stray and feral populations are reduced by trap-neuterrelease initiatives. Cats that once fell through the cracks — animals that are too socialized to be community cats but too feral to be pets — are now being placed in businesses by HSC’s Working Cats program. It’s a massive initiative, a cooperative, overlapping ecosystem ranging from government agencies down to the individual cat lover. But why are so many people in the Charlotte area so invested in saving cats and finding them homes? After all, these are just animals. Why concern ourselves with caged cats when caged children are in the news? That question can be answered at Mac Tabby, as Bitty Betty finally settles down and perches on my shoulder. “People may forget what you tell them but they never forgot how you make them feel,” Konawalik says, citing customers who have told her that the feeling of peace and happiness they get from their visits to Mac Tabby can last for several days.


Her observation brings the reason for the citywide effort to care and find home for cats into focus: Connecting to another species can also connect us to our humanity. “People absolutely adore cats and have since ancient Egypt. They make us happy,” Konawalik says. She opened her café because she felt she wasn’t doing enough for her community. Konawalik was fostering cats out of her home, but wanted to do more for cats and the people who love cats. Given those goals, Konawalik says, if her café were to go under, she would not see it as a failure. “Seventy-seven cats have been adopted. I taught my kids to not let things stop you if you really want to do something,” Konawalik says. “We’ve had people come in here to be at peace with the cats. If we can affect cats’ lives and people’s lives in a positive way, how can you possibly go wrong with that?” This story is dedicated to the memory of my cat Tinky, who died as I was working on this story. He touched the lives of my family, friends and neighbors in a positive way. He wasn’t a rescue cat, but he may have rescued us.

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COPPER Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-9:30 p.m.; 311 East Blvd.;

COPPER PROVES ITS METTLE Dilworth Indian restaurant brushes off the haters after 14 years of rave reviews BY SOPHIE WHISNANT



N THE LAND of cheesy grits

and fried chicken biscuits, it’s the smell of murgh tikka masala — the traditional Indian dish of piping hot chicken swimming in a tomato cream sauce spiced with Indian herbs — that draws the crowds in Dilworth. Copper, a name that reflects a blend of historic Indian cooking tradition and modern English, is regarded by many as the best Indian restaurant in Charlotte. The restaurant’s ability to create modern, global Indian food has developed a dedicated customer base that continues to grow, even in a region still dedicated to the Southern food staples. Since its founding 14 years ago, the crew at Copper has been serving more than just typical Indian cuisine out of its historic location in the Mayer House on East Boulevard in South End. “We try to keep the original authenticity of the Indian food, all the ingredients and everything, but try to give it a little bit of modern touch,” manager Jimmy Bankar says. The restaurant prides itself on its ability to make Indian food that’s more accessible to diners who may have never tried the cuisine before. The idea came from Copper’s owner Aparappar Sing Pannu, who also owns The Blue Taj in Ballantyne. Pannu’s first restaurant, in Roanoke, Virginia, featured more traditional Northern Indian food that represented his own roots. But when he decided to expand to the Q.C., Pannu wanted to a restaurant that could bring Indian cuisine to a new audience. “What he tried to do in Charlotte is give Indian food a little bit of upliftment,” Bankar says, “so that it will be kind of a good introduction for the non-Indian community, who is really scared of trying Indian food for the first time.” It’s the attention to spices and the simplicity of the menu that helps ease nervous customers into trying something different. Bankar often interacts with diners who are won over by the cuisine, but one patron in particular sticks out in his memory. He recalls the customer who was “very much pregnant” and had never tried Indian food before. She was unsure of whether the cuisine would upset her stomach. Bankar 12 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

Copper is known for its modernized version of Indian food, but classics like the murgh tikka masala (above) or a side of naan (below) are also available.



Copper is located at Mayer House, the old home of Carson McCullers.


assured her that she would be perfectly fine to try the murgh (meaning chicken) tikka masala. “So she tried it, and ’til she went in the hospital for her pregnancy she kept on coming over here,” Bankar says. “And as soon as the baby was born, she was back over here with the baby.” The food doesn’t just attract newbies. The menu at Copper is tailored to suit Charlotte’s Indian population, especially those bored with the city’s basic Indian options. “For our Indian community, it will be something different,” Bankar says, “because a lot of people, they get bored off of eating the typical Indian food all the time.” The menu is broken into three sections: traditional, vegan/vegetarian and modern. The murgh tikka masala is the restaurant’s most popular dish and one Bankar is very proud of; it is most commonly recommended to first-time diners. Other common plates are the Kashmiri chili-fennel roasted lamb chops and the black sesame apricot chiliglazed chicken tikka with roasted pepper creme and market vegetables. More classic Indian spots have a tendency to make their menus complex, including multiple options for sauces, causing hundreds of possible combinations and sometimes a headache. But the simplistic approach to Copper’s menu doesn’t leave the diner wanting for flavor. “Each and every dish has separate ingredients to it, so every dish you will get different flavor,” Bankar says. It might be a seemingly small selection, but there’s a point to it. “We try to cover whole India on one page,” Bankar says. “So when you come to Copper you can enjoy the delicacy of the whole India, basically.” Bringing the entire subcontinent of India to the table is fundamental to Copper’s mission. While most Indian restaurants

The dining room, like the food, is a mix of modern and traditional. focus on the food of a particular region, Copper educates its diners on all elements of the cuisine. “We don’t call it only Indian food, we call it as a global Indian food,” Bankar says. To continue the diversification of diners’ experiences, the chefs change up four to five dishes every so often, behind the direction of menu mastermind Mel Oza and chef Naveen Sadana. Bankar says patrons can expect new items to pop up again over the next four months or so. What’s definitely not changing is the restaurant’s location. Its location, in the historic Mayer House in South End — famous as the home where Carson McCullers wrote much of her iconic novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter — allows for a unique atmosphere and dining experience. As Bankar points out, it’s more charming than your generic dining room. With multiple rooms to sit and dine in, there’s a palpable sense of character and history throughout the place. On a weekend, you can expect Copper to be slammed with reservations. It’s less predictable on a weeknight. “Sometimes ’til 6 o’clock nothing will be here, and 7 o’clock everything is jam packed,” Bankar says. With top-notch cuisine and a charming space leading to high demand, the team at Copper enjoys a certain popularity, but the crew never takes its success for granted. “Being in Charlotte is actually a very competitive market, because we have a lot of

Indian restaurants around us, and that’s the reason we have to kind of take extra care,” Bankar says. “Everything has to be kind of excellent to, you know, stay on top of this market.” Despite all the hard work, the restaurant has its share of haters, too. “There are some critics,” Bankar says. “A lot of people, especially in our Indian community, you know, they feel that Copper is all about Americanized version of Indian food — it’s not that.” Bankar says the twists on classic dishes are about making inexperienced diners more comfortable with a new type of cuisine, and


showing off what Indian food has to offer. The approach clearly has worked, as Copper has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on OpenTable and makes the cut on many Best of Charlotte lists. It’s a repeat winner in CL’s Best of Charlotte issue, taking the prize for “Best Indian” multiple times over the years. “This is basically really a pride for us that we get to introduce our food to the community which is not Indian community,” Bankar says. “So a lot of people have this misconception in their mind that Copper restaurant is only for American people — it’s not. It’s for everybody.” BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 13





Ray LaMontagne TUESDAY














What: Even folks who don’t like metal have to give Slayer its due. The band’s music is up there with that of Anthrax, Metallica and Megadeth as one of the “Big Four” of thrash, with Slayer being arguably the best. Better catch vocalist and bassist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King driving this chariot now, because they’re claiming that after 40 years of raging about torture, terrorism, genocide, hate crimes, religion, war and more, they’ll be calling it quits once they get back home to Cali.

What: This is a Juneteenth celebration unlike any you’ll find elsewhere. The “Met Gala of Durags” will deconstruct the misconceptions and biases surrounding the “sacred artifact” that is the durag. Head to Camp North End for an evening of food, art, live music, giveaways and more to celebrate the emancipation of slavery and the creative power of black America. And let’s try not to think about the times when Eminem used to wear a durag. That’s not what this day is about.

What: A recent offering from reggae icon Bob Marley’s son Stephen is a sweet little acoustic ditty with Pitbull, “Options.” Stephen’s got the looks and the voice, but he’s never had the cache of his youngest brother Damian and certainly not older brother Ziggy. Which doesn’t mean Stephen’s not got talent — he does — and his 2018 duet with brother Ziggy on “Circle of Peace” is a winner. A night is never wasted when you spend it in the presence of a Marley.

What: A festival that’s good for the Sol. This inaugural event — the Whitewater Center’s new take on the popular Brew Stash Bash — will mix yoga and beer with water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. For the competitive, there’s various river races planned throughout the day. The rest of us can enjoy the craft beer tasting with samples from 25 breweries across the country. After all that, festival goers can sit back and enjoy Unspoken Tradition on the River Jam Stage.

What: Maybe Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time didn’t last as long as we wanted, but we’ll always know this underrated comedian as Terry Bernardino, the flamboyant roller skater from Reno 911. His roles in Grandma’s Boy and Malibu’s Most Wanted are also worth a watch whenever we come across them channel surfing. VIP packages are available, so you can meet the Happy Madison cohort. If you do, be sure to tell him the Panthers are better than his beloved Vikings.

When: 5 p.m. Where: PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd. More: $16.

When: 5 p.m.-Midnight Where: BlkMrktCLT, Camp North End, 1824 Statesville Ave. More: Free.


‘ 14 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

When: 8 p.m. Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 East 36th St. More: $26-$29.

the 5th annual


When: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.

When: 8 p.m. Where: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. More: $19.50 and up.



Marcia Ball TUESDAY


David Ryan Harris WEDNESDAY




















What: Public schools often skip over Juneteenth, but it’s one of our country’s most significant milestones. The holiday celebrates the moment when the “last” slaves in Texas learned of the abolishment of slavery on June 19, 1865. The Levine Museum, in partnership with House of Africa, is hosting an educational family day that will highlight advancements in history since the abolishment of slavery and update visitors on the ongoing fight for civil rights.

What: It makes sense Logic has hit the road on his Bobby Tarantino tour, considering he’s now a man without a home after putting his Los Angeles mini-compound on the market for $2.2 million. He’ll have a home in Charlotte Tuesday, though, when he hits the PNC Pavilion a year after he donned his Panthers jersey for a frenzied crowd at CMCU Ampitheatre. Just remember the one rule, as Logic announced on stage before last year’s show: “No fuckboys allowed.”

What: She’s never gotten the mainstream attention of a Bonnie Raitt or Dr. John, but Marcia Ball’s cred as a white, blues-wailing, piano-pounding woman in a largely man’s world has been sealed for the last half-century. She’s back on the road touring Shine Bright, which continues her legacy of blending N’awlins blues and R&B with a Texas twang. Ball has won multiple awards including Living Blues mag’s hat-tip as Most Outstanding Musician for keyboards.

What: If Otis Redding were reincarnated as a white hippie, he would be Ray LaMontagne. Inspired to start writing music when he heard Stephen Stills on his radio alarm clock, LaMontagne has since released seven studio albums of deeply soulful folk-rock. His latest, Part of the Light, continues on the dreamier path he’s traversed since 2014’s Supernova. He’s also bringing along alt-country singersongwriter Neko Case, which makes for a hell of a one-two punch.

When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Where: Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St. More: Free.

When: 7 p.m. Where: PNC Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd. More: $30 and up.

When: 7 p.m. Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. More: $22-32.

When: 7:30 p.m. Where: CMCU Ampitheatre, 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. More: $39.50 and up.

What: A full month of David Ryan Harris? You have no good reason to miss him, but if you haven’t taken advantage yet, you’ve got two more Wednesdays to do so. Harris is the Atlanta-based acoustic soul singer who also cranks up his electric now and then. He’s an impeccable songwriter whose early tunes, like the ultra-soulful “For You,” inspire certain audience members bring out the fans just to cool themselves off. His latest is the Elvis Costello-esque pop-rock single “Easy on the Eyes.” What can we say — he’s a romantic.

the 5th annual


When: 7 p.m. Where: Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. More: $10-up.



CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 15



Cuzco’s Arman Serdarevic (from left), William Schoonmaker, Justin Ganey and Daniel Caldwell will let their instruments do the singing during their June 27 set at CUSP.


SHUT UP AND PLAY ‘CUSP Presents (Instrumentality)’ showcases the majesty of wordless music BY MARK KEMP


AVE YOU EVER found yourself grooving to the music of an artist you like, getting lost in the rhythms and other layers of cool instrumentation, then realize that the crappy lyrics have completely ruined the experience for you? Of course you have. Great songs with bad lyrics span the decades, from Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” way back in the ’60s, to the Police’s “De Doo Doo Doo,” in the ’80s, to Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps,” in the early aughts, straight up to David Craig’s recent “For the ’Gram,” the U.K. R&B singer’s cringeworthy ode to Instagram of earlier this year. In 2018 — more than five decades after Bob Dylan and the Beatles conned every budding musician in the world into believing they should also be great poets or storytellers — most music fans still expect their favorite pop stars to put lyrics to their songs. Whether rapped, spoken or sung, we demand that our artists be clever wordsmiths able to drop profound pearls of knowledge over their hip-hop beats, saxophones, pedal steel guitar, fingerpicked acoustics or amped-up power chords. There have been a few Top 40 exceptions, particularly in the pre-Beatles years, when hits like the Safaris’ drum vehicle “Wipe Out” and Booker T. & the MGs’ slinky, organ-fueled “Green Onions” reached the Top 5. In the mid-’70s disco era, a few artists charted with instrumental hits, too, including the Philly funk band MFSB, whose Soul Train theme song 16 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

“TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” reached No. 25. Even as late as 1990, Texas guitarist Eric Johnson reached No. 5 on the mainstream rock chart with his lyrical “Cliffs of Dover.” Away from the charts, instrumentalists have taken us on journeys in numerous settings, from high-energy dance floors where DJs follow the mood of a night, to the chill-out rooms at raves, where artists like the Orb have taken us on trips inside of our minds. What we frequently miss when we focus on a bad rapper’s clumsy rhymes or a singersongwriter’s lousy lyrics are the beautiful pearls of knowledge already inherent in hiphop beats, the rich emotion at the core of a country song’s twang or the dialog happening amid the hurricane of guitars and horns in a rock or jazz improvisation. The story we get when a DJ mixes up a bunch of sounds is contingent on where the rhythms, beats and samples take us. It’s the same with the conversation we get from the blurting saxophones and clattering percussion of a free-jazz ensemble, or the emotional journey an electronic musician takes us on with their ambient melodies and other effects. Music itself can tell stories that mere words could never convey. “Music without lyrics can have just as much potential and heart, or as much of a message, as it does with lyrics — maybe even more,” says musician Zachary Reader, who books the talent at Snug Harbor in Plaza

Midwood. “Lyrics can be limiting; a song with vocals is basically only about what the lyrics or singer tell you it’s about. Instrumental music has this unlimited freedom and allows your mind to follow suit — to wonder, to wander, to focus or zone out.”

THAT’S THE IDEA behind CUSP Presents (Instrumentality), this month’s regular Wednesday night Snug residency, which Reader organized himself. Snug’s residencies normally involve Reader choosing one local artist to curate each Wednesday session during any given month, but he came up with a different plan for June. “In the spirit of avoiding business as usual, I wanted to try something special,” Reader says. “I don’t think the instrumental community gets very much shine, or at least enough appreciation around here.” The first installment of CUSP Presents (Instrumentality) was on June 6 and featured the local acts Dirty Art Club and Madwreck, a sample-based ensemble and instrumental hip-hop producer, alongside Bo White and Brett Green’s experimental High Cube project and Casey Malone’s mind-bending electronic outfit Zodiac Lovers. On June 13, the Latin-tinged performance and instrumental sounds of the N.C. Brazilian Arts Project will appear alongside the electronic project Axnt, as well as Dr. Dice (aka Shaun Olson), the disco-inspired

producer of Charlotte’s Miami Dice, and DJ Party Dad, who spins old-school oddities. On June 20, the duo Blow Your Head (featuring DJ/producers Scott “Flock of Slagles” Slagle and Geoffrey “Jah Freedom” Edwards) will perform on Snug’s back porch, while the main stage will feature the free-jazz duo Ghost Trees and the local audio/visual artist and producer up/dn, formerly known as Dirty Drummer. And finally, on June 27, the Charlotte instrumental math-rock ensemble Cuzco and local experimental rock band Hectorina will join Atlanta psych-rockers Chew for some churning guitars, while Snug’s weekly Knocturnal host Justin Aswell mixes it all up for a swirly end to the month’s instrumental mayhem. Hectorina, which is not normally an instrumental band, has worked up a special all-instrumental set just for this show. “We’ve been experimenting with improvisation increasingly this past year,” Hectorina’s front man Dylan Gilbert says, “so this’ll give us an opportunity to really let loose and let the force of the sound drive everything forward, instead of lyrics or song craft.” As for Cuzco, the relatively new Charlotte band is already 100-percent instrumental. Will Schoonmaker, one of Cuzco’s two guitarists, says he understands why some people have a hard time acclimating to instrumental music. “When you’re not someone who plays an instrument but enjoys music, you speak the language of the vocalist — literally,” he says.


CUSP PRESENTS (INSTRUMENTALITY) 10 p.m. June 13 (N.C. Brazilian Arts Project, Brut Beat, Dr Dice, Axnt, Party Dad); June 20 (Ghost Trees, Bullship, Up/Dn, Blow Your Head); June 27 (Cuzco, Hectorina, CHEW, DJ Justin Aswell) Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $5.

“Therefore you can relate by singing along and moving your voice up and down. As a guitarist, I relate to the instrument because I was taught the language of the guitar.” But anybody can learn to appreciate that language, Schoonmaker adds. “I believe that people who listen to instrumental music have another side to them where they interpret a scene in their mind.” What’s cool about experiencing it live, he says, is that “every person around you is doing exactly the same thing, [but] with a different interpretation.” It was important to Reader that he get Cuzco into CUSP, he says, because they’re “a group of young guys who have made a solid mark with their polished sound — and without a word. You can certainly feel the emotion and passion behind their music.” Reader has held previous CUSP events in which he’s showcased avant-garde artists, but nothing on the scale of this month’s edition, according to Ghost Trees saxophonist Brent Bagwell. “If memory serves, the first one was in February of last year and the emphasis was on collaboration and unusual pairings,” Bagwell says. “Ghost Trees was on that bill with a bunch of great acts. Zach then decided he wanted to use Snug Harbor’s residency month of June as a rolling series of events showcasing lots of the artists he has booked at the previous CUSP nights.” As a jazz musician, Bagwell appreciates the emphasis on wordless music, even though he admits that when he’s not listening to jazz or classical, he gravitates to music with lyrics, like most folks. “I probably skew more on the instrumental side with all the jazz, western classical and film scores I keep in rotation,” he says, “but even there you have big-band vocalists and Billie Holiday and opera and the like. It’s tough to avoid.”

IN A CULTURE obsessed with larger-than-

life personalities and big ideas expressed literally, wordless music demands more nuance from its listeners. But some of the most timeless music — whether classical, jazz, hiphop or rock — is that which is either completely wordless or for which the human voice is used more as texture than as a vehicle to deliver a narrative. The most obvious example is scat singing, the horn-like, bip-tiddy-bop sounds associated with jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. A less obvious example is Belinda Butcher’s submerged vocals throughout My Bloody Valentine’s classic album Loveless, which gently roil in, out and over the band’s shimmery rush of wavering guitar drones, serving more as an additional instrumental layer than as a conveyer of literal information. “When I write lyrics ... I’m not particularly trying to convey anything to anyone in





words,” MBV guitarist Kevin Shields told me in an interview shortly after the album’s release in 1991. “It’s ambiguous, but in an ethereal, flowy way. It’s kind of see-through. And the lyrics are only as substantial as the impression you get from the entire song.” Dylan Gibert agrees. “These folks can use vocals sometimes or not [at all], and when they do, it doesn’t have to be up front in the mix,” he says. “I think the whole ‘vocals up front’ thing is derived from the folk-song format, and that’s kind of how people still relate to that kind of music.” Getting away from such a limited format can be freeing, Gilbert says. “But what can be really magical about music with no words is where it can take a listener emotionally,” he says. “It requires more patience sometimes, but can be more rewarding in the long run. Just look at EDM — no words, usually, but the beat and melodies unify the crowd in a way pop-rock or punk or R&B can’t.” “It allows the listener to provide the narrative, so to speak, inasmuch as he or she might be inclined to do so,” Bagwell adds. “While it is great to hear sharp and incisive and emotive vocals, it’s also nice simply to listen to the music and let it tug at its own thread among your memories. “There have been lots of songs I’ve written over the years that folks have told me make them think of [fill in the blank] or that reviewers have said sound like [insert cinematic imagery],” Bagwell continues. “There is almost never a consensus, and each answer is different, even for the same piece of music. So, in that sense, instrumental music gives the listener a great deal of agency to involve oneself in the action, become a part of the energy of the performance.” That’s especially the case for live music, says Bagwell. “I’m a big believer in seeing and hearing jazz live,” he says. “The recordings are great, but [they’re] almost always a snapshot of something that really — and already — happened. So, nights like these CUSP shows are great experiences as much as great music. The place, the folks, the varied sets — all of it — is greater than the sum of its parts.” Instrumental music experiences have always played a special role for Reader, who began his own musical career at 19 playing wordless sets. “The first music I ever seriously made on my own and felt brave enough to play on a stage was instrumental, under the name Ultimate Optimist,” says Reader, who’s since performed in numerous Charlotte bands. “I was experiencing all these deep, new, weird emotions about love and heartbreak, growing up and trying to remain optimistic, but just didn’t really want to write poetry or lyrics about it or anything. I wanted to let my drums and 61-key Yamaha PSR280 keyboard do the talking.” Scott Slagle, the DJ who will perform the June 20 CUSP as part of Blow Your Head, knows about letting music do his talking. He’s been collecting records for so many years that no kind of music, instrumental or otherwise, is particularly unusual to him. “In my normal day,” Slagle says, “I may go from [the free-jazz composer and multiinstrumentalist] Anthony Braxton to Luther Vandross to Nigerian Afro rock. It’s all just moods.” MKEMP@CLCLT.COM CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 17



CHECK THE GUY’S TRACK RECORD Bo White finally unleashes Patois Counselors’ first ‘Proper Release’ BY MARK KEMP


Photo by Andy McMillan

player isn’t the perfect rockin’ record, it comes damn close — that is, if your tastes for rockin’ records runs to smart, dark, witty, compact tracks that distill all the restless energy of rock, pre- and post-punk, into 11 nuggets of intense, noisy melodicism that clock in at 3 minutes, 20 seconds or less. On the surface, Proper Release’s twominute opener “Disconnection Notice” is a tirade about those pains in the asses we receive in the mail each month from Duke Energy. “The bills are all paid,” front man Bo White barks, in a sneer worthy of the Fall’s Mark E. Smith, over drums, gurgling bass and a sweet, slicing guitar line. “You wouldn’t wanna disconnect now.” But as the album unfolds, “Disconnection Notice” reveals itself to be part of a larger punk-rock meditation on what lies beneath the surface of the banalities of day-to-day life in the 21st century. In the rush of guitars and percussion that fuel “Repeat Offender,” White shouts the title over stuttering, staccato guitar rock as if he were the front man of an ’80s oi! band — or Fugazi. “I wanted to make a cohesive piece about modern living as I see it — full of contradictions and mundane tasks,” White tells me. “I wanted to point toward the important things that can get brushed under the rug when one is caught in the minutiae.” “Repeat Offender” segues into the more subdued, almost African-inspired guitar rhythms of “Making Appts,” over which White sings, “So tired of making appointments — stop breaking them.” But those rhythms get their energy from a jittery bass line and sustained bursts of punk guitar noise. And then, about three-quarters of the way into the album, there’s the spooky intro to an instrumental, “Pffones” — one of two tracks featuring only White on all instruments — which gives way to dentaldrill sounds, crashing percussion, crawling bass, the tinkling of strings and quiet/loud moments of bleak electronics. Proper Release closes out with the full-on post-punk rush of “Target Not A Comrade,” which draws on the best elements of a genre

Top left: Patois Counselors’ ‘Proper Release’ Middle: Patois Counselors are (from left) Lee Herrera, Krizia Torres, Eddie Schneider, Robin Doermann, White, Lenny Muckle and David Ulloa. Bottom: White (seated, right) recently joined ‘CL’ editor Mark Kemp (standing, right) and fellow musicians (from left) Brent Bagwell, Angela Saylor and Lenny Muckle for a special ‘Local Vibes’ podcast on experimental music.

18 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

that’s brought us from the idiosyncratic experimentalism of Pere Ubu through Pavement and on up to Parquet Courts. It’s a massive sweep of 100-percent topnotch music that White describes in three sentences as compact as his songs: “Big ideas. Casual application. Having fun.” White has been working up to Patois Counselors’ first proper release over his entire career as one of Charlotte’s smartest and most talented musicians and songwriters, early on with his local indie label Kinnikinnik Records and celebrated avant-rock trio Calabi Yau, and later as part of Yardwork, Black Congo, NC, Bo White y Su Orquesta and many other acts that today also include his band TKO Faith Healer and duo High Cube, with Mineral Girls’ Brett Green. White recorded Patois Counselors’ earlier self-titled debut 7-inch by himself, and then put together a band to do gigs, cherry-picking from Charlotte’s rich well of musicians. He enlisted what’s become a rotating cast of players that, on the album, include ex-HRVRD guitarist Lee Herrera on bass; Garrett Leister, Kevin Clarke and Lofidels’ mastermind Lenny Muckle on guitars; Robin Doermann, Joshua Cotterino and Krizia Torres on synthesizers; and David Ulloa on drums. For Proper Release, White says he initially wanted to include all of the members of the earliest version of the live band, but time precluded everyone from participating. “It was recorded in two main sections, spaced apart by about six months,” he says. “In that time, some band members pursued other interests and new ones stepped in.” One of those new ones was Muckle, whose own work as Lofidels is equally as adventurous as White’s music. White brought the musicians together in his living room to lay down the recordings live. “I like the pushand-pull that comes from live tracking,” he says. “We used smaller iterations of the group — bass, guitar, drums — then did overdubs for the rest.” The goal was to create music that feels live, but also includes all the benefits of an intimate bedroom set-up. “I wanted to lean away from the grandiose, to step away from the bandstand while still conducting the band,” White says. “I attempt that with many of my musical projects, because I enjoy exploring that tension through music.” With Proper Release, White has come up with his finest attempt yet at exploring that tension within the context of a glorious postpunk sound. Patois Counselors are, no doubt, one of Charlotte’s shiniest musical gems. MKEMP@CLCLT.COM

3012 N. Davidson St.,Charlotte NC \ (980) 299-2588 \ @canvastattooandartgallery Canvas Tattoo & Art Gallery “ ” Mention the word "Creative" at the shop for a rad prize!"

CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 19


SOUNDBOARD JUNE 14 COUNTRY/FOLK Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (U.S. National Whitewater Center) Marie Miller Album Release Tour (Evening Muse) Summit Songwriters Showcase (Summit Coffee, Davidson)

DJ/ELECTRONIC DJ Matt B (Tin Roof) Le Bang (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK Carmen Tate Solo Acoustic (Eddie’s on Lake Norman, Mooresville) Open Mic for Musicians (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Karaoke (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) Monthly Songwriter Showcase (Summit Coffee Co., Davidson) Morganton, Winter’s Gate, Erabella, Speaking With Ghosts, Den of Wolves (Milestone) Porch 40 at Alive After Five (Rooftop 210) Ready4More (Tin Roof) Royal Blood, Turbowolf (The Fillmore) Shana Blake and Friends (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) Slayer (PNC Music Pavilion) Vinyl Alley (JackBeagle’s) Voodoo Fix, Chuck Mountain, Dog Ear (The Rabbit Hole)

JUNE 15 BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Stephen Marley (Neighborhood Theatre) Vanessa Collier (U.S. National Whitewater Center)

CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Kenny Rampton Plays Trumpet Greats (Stage Door Theater) Lucy Shropshire: The Songbird of Jazz (Morehead Tavern) Jazzy Fridays (Freshwaters Restaurant)

COUNTRY/FOLK The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill) Michigan Rattlers (Evening Muse) Rascal Flatts, Dan + Shay, Carly Pearce (PNC Music Pavilion) Rusty Knox (Summit Coffee, Davidson) Taplow (Cabarrus Brewing Company, Concord)

20 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

DJ/ELECTRONIC Free The Optimus, Dope Knife, Konvo, John Harper (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Silent Disco- Luau (Rooftop 210)

POP/ROCK Summer Concert Series (Blakeney Shopping Center) The Armory (Tin Roof) Captain Midnight (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) Dan Staton (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) David Childers, Brut Beat (Petra’s) Dot.s (Evening Muse) Drake Bell, Ansonia, GroupText (The Rabbit Hole) Millennial, Sleeve, Swell Friends, Vess (Visulite Theatre) Over The Wire (members of Patriot & The Louts), The Beatdowns, The Commonwealth (Milestone) Pinky Poodle Poodle, Acne (Snug Harbor) Pluto for Planet (RiRa Irish Pub) The Revivalists (Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre) Side Effect (JackBeagle’s)

JUNE 16 BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Dennis Spring, Live Irish Music (The Workman’s Friend)

CLASSICAL/JAZZ/SMOOTH Queen City Jazz Fest: Will Downing, Norman Brown, The Rippingtons, Kindred, The Family Soul (Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre) Kenny Rampton Plays Trumpet Greats (Stage Door Theater)

COUNTRY/FOLK Shiloh Hill (Primal Brewing) Town Mountain, Jason Moss & the Hosses (Visulite Theatre) Unspoken Tradition (U.S. National Whitewater Center)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Hit Agency & Release presents Chosen Life CLT feat. Mike Dunn (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub) Kill the Noise, Sullivan King, R3xOR (World) Tilted DJ Saturdays (Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery)


SOUNDBOARD HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Africa Unplugged (The Music Yard) Old School Concert & Day Party: Soundbridge, DJ Stacey Blackman (Morehead Tavern)

POP/ROCK Summer Concert Series (Blakeney Shopping Center) 20 Watt Tombstone, King Cackle, Cheesus Crust, Uncle Buck [secondary event] (Skylark Social Club) Ali Henderson Band (Tin Roof) Astrea Corp, Foxture, Sangre Cabrona (Petra’s) Chris Jones Trio (Summit Coffee, Davidson) Comfortably Nuts (The Rabbit Hole) Dane Page CD Release (Evening Muse) Enrage Against The Machine, Third Eye (The Underground) John the Revelator (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) Kovax & Stitchy C, Kyng Rash, Samson, Blaze Belushi, OC From NC, B-Squared, Genghis Ganj, Jon Notty, Ty Harriz, Ed Lewis (Milestone) Mike Strauss Band (Comet Grill) Quiet Hollers (Evening Muse) Redleg Husky (Birdsong Brewing Co.) Steven James (Cabarrus Brewing Company, Concord) Super Happy Funtime (JackBeagle’s) TKO Faith Healer, War Twins, Konvoi, Telefones (Snug Harbor) Tonya Wood and the Shannon Lee Trio (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) Tosco Music Party: Beatles Tribute (Knight Theater) Trey Lewis (Tin Roof)

JUNE 17 BLUES/ROOTS/INTERNATIONAL Irish Ceili Brunch: Irish band and Irish dancers from Walsh Kelley School of Dance (RiRa Irish Pub, Charlotte)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Bone Snugs-N-Harmony (Snug Harbor) More Fyah - Grown & Sexy Vibes (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub)

HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Snow Tha Product (The Underground)

POP/ROCK Descent EP RELEASE SHOW: Reflect//Refine,

East Viridian, Oakhaven, Fractured Frames, Empty (Milestone) Don Telling’s Island Mysteries - Album Release (Lunchbox Records) Family Jam with Jamie (Summit Coffee) Omari and The Hellhounds (Comet Grill) Roanoke, Matt Minchew, Jordan Middleton (Petra’s) Sunday Music Bingo (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern)


6/13 THE HIP ABDUCTION 6/15 MILLENNIAL 6/16 TOWN MOUNTAIN 6/21 AMERICAN AQUARIUM 6/29 HAYES CARLL 7/19 ROOSEVELTS 7/20 JGBCB 7/21 JUPITER COYOTE 7/23FANTASTIC NEGRITO 7/25 THE SHEEPDOGS 8/5 LYDIA 8/11 NATALIE PRASS 8/17 RED BARCHETTA A Tribute to RUSH 9/11 JOSEPH 9/19NOAH GUNDERSEN 9/28 CAAMP 10/2 MT. JOY Underground) Marcia Ball, The Bill Miller Band (Neighborhood Theatre) Open Jam with the Smokin’ Js (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) Ray Lamontagne, Neko Case (Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre) Uptown Unplugged with Jeremy Davids (Tin Roof) Open Mic hosted by Jarrid and Allen of Pursey Kerns (The Kilted Buffalo, Huntersville)

Jazz Jam (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub)




#MFGD Open Mic (Apostrophe Lounge) Knocturnal (Snug Harbor)

POP/ROCK The Stone Eye, Ladyhel, Hey Zeus, Chrysler (Tommy’s Pub) Supercrush, Big Bite, Alright (Lunchbox Records) Music Bingo (Tin Roof) Music Trivia (Hattie’s Tap & Tavern) The Neighbourhood (The Fillmore) Backpacks, Equipment, Height Keech, Goldzilla (Milestone) Daryl Hall & John Oates, Train (Spectrum Center) Open Mic with Lisa De Novo (Legion Brewing)

JUNE 19 HIP-HOP/SOUL/R&B Eclectic Soul Tuesdays - RnB & Poetry (Apostrophe Lounge) Logic, NF, Kyle (PNC Music Pavilion) Soul Station (Crown Station Coffeehouse and Pub)

DJ/ELECTRONIC DJ Steel Wheel (Snug Harbor)

COUNTRY/FOLK Red Rockin’ Chair (Comet Grill)

POP/ROCK Aloha Broha & Debt Neglector, The Rufftons & MisTics 9 (Milestone) Alvarez Kings and Anarbor (Evening Muse) ASG, Beitthemeans, Lo-Pan (Snug Harbor) Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers (The

Russ (Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre) Free Hookah Wednesdays Ladies Night (Kabob House, Persian Cuisine)

DJ/ELECTRONIC Karaoke with DJ Alex Smith (Petra’s) Cyclops Bar: Modern Heritage Weekly Mix Tape (Snug Harbor)

COUNTRY/FOLK Willie Nelson & Friends (PNC Music Pavilion) Open Mic/Open Jam (Comet Grill)

POP/ROCK CUSP presents (Instrumentality) : Bullship w/ Ghost Trees, Up/Dn, Blow Your Head (DJs) (Snug Harbor) Ancalagon, Vesterian, Valle Crucis, Rites to Sedition (Milestone) David Ryan Harris June Residency with Avi Jacob (Evening Muse) Pluto for Planet (RiRa Irish Pub) Open House & Karaoke (Sylvia Theatre, York) Open Mic & Songwriter Workshop (Petra’s) Open Mic with Jared Allan (JackBeagle’s) Trivia & Karaoke Wednesdays (Tin Roof)

 American Aquarium (June 21, Visulte) Algiers (June 27, Neighborhood Theatre) Foreigner (July 4, PNC Music Pavilion) Sam Smith (July 6, Spectrum Center) Barenaked Ladies (July 5, Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheare) Erasure (July 11, Fillmore) Indigo Girls (July 13, Fillmore)

Digital Noir: Michael Price and DJ Spider (July 14, Milestone) Coheed and Cambria (July 14, Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheare) The Mood Kings (July 15, Evening Muse) Kurt Vile & the Violators (July 17, Fillmore) Punch Brothers (July 17, Knight Theater) Lindsey Stirling, Evanescence (July 20, PNC Music Pavilion) Boy George & Culture Club, The B-52s (July 21, PNC Music Pavilion) Fantastic Negrito (July 23, Visulte) Janelle Monae (July 24, Fillmore) Weezer, Pixies (July 25, PNC Music Pavilion) Lauryn Hill (July 25, Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheare)

NEED DIRECTIONS? Check out our website at clclt.

com. CL online provides addresses, maps and directions from your location. Send us your concert listings: E-mail us at mkemp@clclt. com or fax it to 704-522-8088. We need the date, venue, band name and contact name and number. The deadline is each Wednesday, one week before publication. CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 21



FROM ON HIGH ‘God’s Trombones’ brings three nights of resounding sermons to Spirit Square BY PERRY TANNENBAUM


NQ PRODUCTIONS doesn’t usually perform at McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square, but when it does, it’s kind of a big deal. So shall it be, brothers and sisters, when God’s Trombones — sounds big, doesn’t it? — comes wailing, praising, shouting and testifying into the city for a three-night run beginning Tuesday, June 19. Capping OnQ’s “Season IX: Redemption Song,” the current cast is among the theater company’s biggest ever, with about 25 actors, singers, dancers and musicians performing onstage. If you’ve ever attended an event at McGlohon and know its recent history as the home of Pastor Stephen Furtick’s Elevation Church, or are aware of Spirit Square’s origins as the Charlotte’s First Baptist Church, you’ll realize that OnQ has chosen the right place for James Weldon Johnson’s “Seven Negro Sermons in Verse.” To this day, the McGlohon retains its stained-glass, Sunday-church vibe. As for Johnson, he was a seminal figure in African-American literature as a poet, novelist, essayist, critic, anthologist, songwriter and collector of spirituals. Oh yeah, and he also served as United States consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua under President Teddy Roosevelt and as executive secretary of the NAACP. But Johnson is best remembered for writing the lyrics to what’s come to be known as the Black National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice,” as well as for his novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and for his most anthologized poem, “The Creation,” from God’s Trombones, which was first published in 1927. OnQ artistic director Quentin Talley has loved the piece since he was 12. That’s when his youth choir participated in a production of God’s Trombones presented by an association of black Baptist churches in his hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina. It was one of Talley’s formative theater experiences, and by the time he reached college it was foundational. “I even ended up doing ‘The Crucifixion’ as my dramatic monologue audition piece for Winthrop [University] and received a First Night Scholarship,” Talley remembers. In the original preface, Johnson said that he’d prefer his verse sermons to be spoken aloud — or “intoned” — so it’s natural that singing and dancing should be added to the package. The costuming — a mix of pastoral robes, choir robes and Sunday best — will remind us where we are. 22 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM


Get ready for ‘God’s Trumpets.’


“We begin like we are in a church service,” Talley says. “Once the sermons build, we take on various locations and time periods. Our choir is absolutely amazing, and the audience will probably want to stand up, sit down and say, ‘Amen!’ All are encouraged to do so, but it’s not mandatory.” Leading the choir in his first stint with OnQ is Dennis Reed, Jr., whose GAP singers (not to be confused with the GAP Band of the ’70s and ’80s) have worked with such notables as Fantasia, Bebe Winans, New Kids on the Block and Shania Twain. On this gig, Reed is auditioning the singers, picking the songs and penning the arrangements. Will Reed fire up his newly formed choir with righteous gospel music played on a hallowed Hammond B3 organ? He responds with a hearty laugh: “That’s correct. You’ll hear the B3, piano, bass and live drums. “Much of the black church tradition is rooted in live music,” Reed adds. “What’s really cool is that we are taking a little liberty with song choice. We will fuse traditional hymns, Negro spirituals and even new elements of music such as hip-hop loops. As

far as choreography goes, we’ll see a lot of it come together in practice and much of it happens organically.” Though he has never worked with Talley before now, Reed is a fan. A graduate of Charlotte’s Northwest School of the Arts, Reed has numerous musician and singer friends who have collaborated with Talley and OnQ — and Reed’s ties to Charlotte are strong. He founded Inspire the Fire here more than 15 years ago, when he was 17, to bring the arts to young people between the ages of 10 and 21. For that, Reed earned Community Leader of the Year honors at the 2015 Queen City Awards. GAP stands for God’s Appointed People, so gospel music and God’s Trombones should be as much up Reed’s alley as it is Talley’s. In the piece, Johnson constructed his sermon suite using “vague memories” of sermons he had heard or collected, and their subjects are familiar church staples. The typical old-time African-American preacher, Johnson wrote, “preached a personal and anthropomorphic God, a sure-enough heaven and a red-hot hell. His imagination was bold

and unfettered. He had the power to sweep his hearers before him; and so himself was often swept away.” Aside from “The Creation,” poet Johnson hearkens back to the Old Testament in sermons on Noah and Moses. Christian themes include the Prodigal Son, the Crucifixion, Judgment Day and a nonscriptural funeral sermon. “Each sermon will have a different approach,” Talley promises. “Most are recited, some acted out or sung, some are poetry slam form, but all have down-home preaching undertones.” A mix of OnQ ensemble regulars and authentic preachers will deliver the sermons. Familiar OnQ faces include Omar El-Amin for the Prodigal and Ron McClelland for the Crucifixion. Slam poet extraordinaire Bluz leads us aboard Noah’s Ark, and Q himself orates “The Creation.” Preacher Yolanda Bynum will launch the show with Johnson’s “Listen Lord” prayer, and Rev. Madeline Salder will lean into “Let My People Go.” Johnson intended us to hear trombones when his verse was read aloud, as they

GOD’S TROMBONES 7:30 p.m. June 19-21 McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $20.


Preacher Talley — in vintage black and white. authentically replicated the sounds of the preachers of his youth. Listening to trombone, Johnson heard expressive capabilities, beyond other instruments, which approximated “the varied range of emotions encompassed by the human voice — and with greater amplitude.” Of course, it’s fascinating that Talley, in reviving this Johnson gem, is hearkening

Preacher Talley — in living color. back to his own youth, positioning himself to capture some extra flavors of its spirit. “This show has been on our list for years but never really fit with themes we’ve had in the past couple of years. With this season’s theme being ‘Redemption Song,’ it fit perfectly,” Talley says. “As artistic director, after 11 years of producing ups and downs,

this show is a reminder to keep the faith. Running an arts org is taxing physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, and sometimes you need a reason from a higher power to keep going, especially at the end of a season.” Sometimes you also need to check out a worthy writer like Johnson, who has unjustly

In a state that values freedom, why can’t we choose to use cannabis in all its forms?

fallen from his loftiest esteem, perhaps because of the folksy, down-home flavor of God’s Trombones. Or perhaps because today it’s more appropriate to say black or African-American than Negro. Both of those trivial reasons evaporate when you delve into Johnson with any depth. Start with The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, or with Johnson’s actual autobiography, Along This Way, in which he observes: “On occasions, I have been amazed and amused watching white people dancing to a Negro band in a Harlem cabaret; attempting to throw off the crusts and layers of inhibitions laid on by sophisticated civilization; striving to yield to the feel and experience of abandon; seeking to recapture a taste of primitive joy in life and living; trying to work their way back into that jungle which was the original Garden of Eden; in a word, doing their best to pass as colored.” Some things don’t change. And it is this keen intelligence that is embedded in God’s Trombones. BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM

Rhiannon Fionn

It’s a medical issue! It’s a social justice issue! It’s a freedom issue! Carolina Cannabis Now is a new column from CL reporter Rhiannon Fionn, who plans to get to the roots of these issues and more to give us a regular update on the state of cannabis policy in North Carolina. Check out the first installment of this monthly column in the June 28 issue of Creative Loafing, and read it online at CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 23



MOTION OF THE OCEAN Heist series sputters back to life BY MATT BRUNSON

DURING THE FIRST decade of the 21st

century, filmgoers could count on Steven Soderbergh gifting them a new Ocean’s flick every few years. The behind-the-scenes gist was presumably the same for all three pictures — basically, a bunch of movie stars got together with their directing buddy to shoot a few sequences in between their nonstop partying through European and American hot spots — but, in a reversal of the norm, here was a franchise that actually improved as it progressed. The 2001 release Ocean’s Eleven, a remake of a middling Rat Pack movie from 1960, offered amusing turns from Brad Pitt, Bernie Mac and Elliott Gould but otherwise had little going on beneath its air of cool collectedness. The 2004 follow-up Ocean’s Twelve added a few more narrative complications and made better use of its allstar cast (particularly Matt Damon and Julia Roberts). Yet it wasn’t until 2007’s Ocean’s Thirteen that everything clicked just right, largely because it was the first film where it truly felt like there was something at stake in its convoluted, house-of-cards plotline. Those cards take something of a tumble in Ocean’s 8 (**1/2 out of four), not so much a reboot of the franchise as a continuation with different players. Soderbergh is still attached as producer (The Hunger Games’ Gary Ross takes over as director), Gould returns briefly as Reuben Tishkoff to maintain some semblance of continuity, and there are frequent discussions centered around George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, who supposedly has died in the interim (I say supposedly, because it’s routinely pondered throughout the film as to whether he’s really dead, just in case Clooney ever opts to return to the fold for an easy paycheck). The central character is now Danny’s sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock), just wrapping up a jail sentence and eager to pull off a massive score. Her idea is to steal a necklace valued at $150 million — easier schemed than done since said bauble has been kept in an underground vault for the past few decades. But Debbie sets into motion a plot that will result in the necklace being worn to the Met Gala by pampered movie star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), at which point she plans to pilfer the jewelry. To assist her in her robbery, she assembles a team whose members include her BFF and former partner in crime (Cate Blanchett), a computer hacker (Rihanna), a fence (Sarah Paulson), a forger (Mindy Kaling), a street hustler (Awkwafina), and the fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter) who will 24 | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | CLCLT.COM

Cate Blanchett and Rihanna in Ocean’s 8 (Photo: Warner) be dressing Daphne for the Met charity event. To paraphrase Julie Andrews (and maybe Emily Blunt?) as Mary Poppins, Debbie’s plan is practically perfect in every way — which helps explain why the movie is anything but. Heist flicks rely on things going wrong to ratchet up that tension and provide a series of savory twists and turns, but Ross (co-scripting with Olivia Milch) ends up devising a caper scheme that runs too smoothly. As such, there’s only one significant plot twist and zero complications, leading to a narrative woefully lacking in any manner of intrigue or suspense. Fortunately, many of the players provide some oomph to the proceedings. Like Clooney before them, Bullock and Blanchett are required to do nothing more than coast on their movie-star charms, but Carter is amusingly flighty, Rihanna is appropriately self-assured and Awkwafina manages to steal some scenes right along with those diamonds. There’s also a late-inning appearance by James Corden, who’s very funny as a persistent investigator sent by the insurance company to locate the necklace. It initially appears as if Corden’s character will goose the story in an unexpected direction, but like everyone else (meaning those in the audience), he’s just there to admire the pretty people and remain amused at the lightheartedness of it all.


and Clint Eastwood with gun culture, Paul Schrader has spent a huge chunk of his career as writer and/or director examining the omniscient specter of violence — how it’s triggered, how it manifests itself, and how it’s ultimately settled. It would be facile to

say he has finally found his definitive answer in First Reformed (***1/2 out of four), but it might be accurate to state that the writer of Taxi Driver, Hardcore and Light Sleeper has added another puzzle piece that allows the image to come into sharper focus than before. A haunting and meditative work that also centers on Schrader’s other topic of note — religion (no surprise from a man who was raised by strict Calvinists and not able to see a movie until he was 17) — First Reformed stars Ethan Hawke as Reverend Toller, a parish pastor living in upstate New York. Still feeling remorse over the fact that he urged his son to volunteer to fight in the Iraq war — a suggestion that led to his boy’s death — Toller divides his time between delivering sermons to his mostly empty church and hitting the bottle. But after one of his parishioners, the pregnant Mary (Amanda Seyfried), asks him to speak to her husband Michael (Philip Ettinger), an environmental activist who might be harboring suicidal tendencies, Toller finds his sense of purpose renewed. But it also leads to a string of conflicts — with a church organization that is increasingly more devoted to profits than people, with a venal right-wing sponsor (Michael Gaston) who uses his philanthropy to mask his utter contempt for the earth and its inhabitants, and, most tellingly, with his own attitudes toward righteousness and redemption. Like practically all of Schrader’s protagonists — even Jesus himself in the Scorsese-directed, Schrader-scripted The Last Temptation of Christ — Reverend Toller is a tortured individual whose ultimate reckoning must be through a trial of violence. Yet one

of the most intriguing aspects about First Reformed is its inexorable march toward a climax that seems preordained. Or is it? Without resorting to spoilers, suffice to note that the conclusion is one that’s open to interpretation and certain to invigorate and infuriate audience members in equal measure.


makes a startling film debut with Hereditary (*** out of four), the sort of slow-burn horror yarn that gets under the skin with needlepoint precision. Toni Collette delivers a bravura performance as Annie Graham, an artist whose mother has just passed away. Annie and Mom weren’t close, but the tensions don’t end there. Mental illness runs in Annie’s family, and her relationships with her son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) are, at best, awkward. For his part, Annie’s husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) patiently tries to keep everyone calm and behaved. Yet that proves exceedingly difficult once tragedy hits the family unit and matters take a supernatural turn. Although there are moments of shocking brutality and gore, Aster’s emphasis is on establishing and maintaining a sense of genuine dread. Such an approach places the picture in the company of such earlier works as Rosemary’s Baby, Vampyr, Diabolique and the underrated ‘70s effort The Mephisto Waltz — high praise indeed. If this film never quite ascends to their heights (that climax is awfully busy and rather rushed), it’s nevertheless an impressive calling card that Aster can whip out at future studio pitches.

CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 25




Playmates and soul mates

GETTING OFF FOR SCIENCE Local researcher goes deep into women’s sexuality

Who are you after dark? Charlotte:

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are so many assumptions that women’s IN A SMALL ROOM on campus at UNC bodies must operate very similarly to men’s, Charlotte, women show up, one at a time, without any data to support that.” to lean back on a padded, reclined table She explains that for about 150 years, that looks like it belongs in a doctor’s textbook writers assumed that women’s office. On a nearby counter are drawers sexual arousal came from the parasympathetic of lab equipment, one of which is labeled nervous system — the rest-and-relax system Cleopatra, for the queen who supposedly — just like men’s. In fact, women’s arousal invented the first vibrator by caging bees. is governed by the sympathetic nervous On the wall in front of the table is a large system, which also triggers the fight-or-flight television screen. Once the woman is all set response. Understanding this link allowed up and given detailed instructions, the lights Lorenz, who has worked in clinical settings, in the room go off, the television comes on, to reassure sexual-assault survivors that and a woman-friendly pornographic video arousal during assault is neither unusual nor begins to play. In the glow of the screen, an indicator of “wanting it.” she’ll stimulate herself — for science. That link has also led to hypotheses This is just one component of UNCC’s about the link between women’s Women, Immunity, and Sexual arousal and some women’s Health lab, or WISH, led by health responses to rape fantasies and psychologist Dr. Tierney auto-asphyxiation. Lorenz. The lab focuses on Science is also yet to investigating questions at satisfactorily explain why the intersection of women’s female bodies are better sexuality and mental and at achieving multiple physical health. This study orgasms. “Physiology has is aimed at unraveling not explained that,” Lorenz part of the complex says. “I feel like if I were relationship between a a drug company trying to woman’s reproductive and ALLISON make the next blockbuster immune systems. BRADEN drug, I’d want to figure that out.” “One thing we’ve found is Studying questions of female that sexual activity can change the arousal has come with no shortage of way that a woman’s body responds to challenges. Lorenz describes one example certain kinds of immune challenges,” Lorenz of the phone calls she gets every month or says. “Does sexual arousal potentially protect so: “Does your husband know that you’re against certain kinds of sexually transmitted doing this?” infections?” For Lorenz, it’s easy to write off the cranks Lorenz’s research suggests that sexual who call her up. What’s less easy to write activity in women provokes adaptation in off are the entities that fund her research. their immune systems. During ovulation in “Nobody wants to be the person who funded sexually active women, antibody production the vagina study — ever,” she says. “We and other infection-fighting functions drop, but there’s very little change in the immune always have to tie our research back to some function of abstinent women during the other health goal.” In one grant proposal, at same part of the menstrual cycle. the request of the funding agency, she had to “The immune system has to have some way replace the word “sex” over 5,000 times. of knowing, is there a possibility that I might She adds that it would be impossible to either be getting pregnant or that I might get funding for a study that investigated how be pregnant? If so, I need to change the way to make sex better. But, she adds, “When I tell that I respond to invaders,” Lorenz explains. people about the work that I do around desire, “Sexual activity may cue the body to think that around pleasure, around interests, they get conception is possible, and therefore I should excited and interested. They think that that’s do certain things a little bit differently.” valuable. The money just isn’t there.” Even as she and her colleagues make Even though there remains much to groundbreaking advances in our understanding explore, Lorenz says her field has come a of women’s physiology, Lorenz says her work long way. She describes how her mentors, constantly reminds her how much we still don’t just one generation ahead of her, had to fight know. She cites one example after another; the for credibility and recognition as scientists. mechanism of copper IUDs remains a mystery, Despite the occasional unsolicited phone same for the notorious arousal-inhibiting call, Lorenz says things are different for her. effect of antidepressants. “To the extent that I present myself as a “The way that our bodies work is so scientist,” she says, “people accept that.” poorly understood,” Lorenz says, “and there BACKTALK@CLCLT.COM


FeeLing Lonely?



1 Good enough 9 Biblical talking beast 12 Chimed 16 Game show VIPs 19 -- acid (vitamin C) 20 At any place 22 Grain morsel 23 Start of a riddle 25 Joanne of “Abie’s Irish Rose” 26 Hide-hair connection 27 Tooth in a machine 28 Professional wrestler Flair 29 Oater 31 Furtive action 35 Movie-archiving gp. 37 River in a Best Picture title 39 Shah’s land 40 Riddle, part 2 44 Tropical rodent 47 Former Russ. state 48 Folk rocker DiFranco 49 Exterior 50 Bremen loc. 51 Intuit 53 Camera for a pro 55 Tongs, e.g. 58 Riddle, part 3 62 Reference book’s “Look here, too” 63 -- profit (lucratively) 64 “Can -- true?” 65 Leaning Tower’s city 69 Play for time 70 Gym tops 72 Vents vocally 73 Atoll part 74 Sit next to 76 Stage design 77 Grows molars, e.g. 79 Riddle, part 4 82 Hold down 86 Rural rest stop 87 Exotic berry in fruit juices 88 Writer Deighton 89 Giant in foil 90 See 3-Down 92 Nov. lead-in 94 Very focused 96 End of the riddle 101 Tennis legend Bjoern 102 Election analyst Silver 103 Gods, to Livy 104 Use one’s lungs

108 Under control 110 Soft & -112 Classical introduction? 114 Au -- (roast beef option) 115 San Francisco’s -- Valley 116 Riddle’s answer 122 Taxing gp. 123 Playwright McNally 124 Submarine 125 Cougar, e.g. 126 Mgr.’s helper 127 Salon colorer 128 Admiration taken too far


1 Expendable chessmen 2 Take -- at (attempt) 3 With 90-Across, frighten away 4 Drunk 5 Jackie’s hubby #2 6 Small ammo 7 Brittle-shelled Chinese fruit 8 Back talk? 9 Grain bristle 10 Actor Omar 11 Shipping rig 12 Match official 13 Declaration 14 Water nymph 15 Mardi -16 Not extreme 17 Indy 500 entrant, e.g. 18 Eye-catchers 21 S’pose 24 “Bejabbers!” 30 Keep busy 32 Clerk on “The Simpsons” 33 Drop 34 Judges, e.g. 36 “The Day of the Jackal” novelist Frederick 38 Orville and Wilbur of aviation 41 Main port of Norway 42 Give an alert 43 Luxurious 44 Tennis legend Andre 45 Civets’ cousins 46 Long trial 52 Broody music genre 54 Intermediary 56 BBQ piece

57 Flexible card 59 Fit as a fiddle 60 Vicious 61 Clever 65 Bikeway, say 66 Fill one’s lungs 67 Tyler of rock 68 Green light 70 End up 71 Rudolph’s facial feature 72 Joins again 74 “Selma” director DuVernay 75 “-- Mir Bist Du Schoen” 77 Quirk 78 “Evita” star Paige 79 Part of QED 80 “Back to the Future” bully 81 Bit of power 82 Of Jewish scholars 83 Stage actress Duse 84 Least abundant 85 Difficult 91 Bring up until able to fly, as a bird 93 Tianjin locale 95 Baking meas. 97 12 in a foot 98 Impostors 99 Sheer folly 100 In the area of 105 “-- Called to Say I Love You” 106 Writer Godden or actress Willis 107 Analytic work 109 Comics’ Kett 111 Rip apart 113 Prefix meaning “the same” 117 Tate displays 118 Agent’s take 119 Flurry 120 Minister’s field: Abbr. 121 Levin or Gershwin

graB Your copy today


CLCLT.COM | JUN. 14 - JUN. 20, 2018 | 27



RETROACTIVE BLESSINGS Calm down, get over it, let it be BY DAN SAVAGE Without snooping, I came across texts between my wife “Mary” and a guy “Jeremy” of a very sexual nature. While I would be OK if she were doing this and I knew about it, this has been going on since before we met. (We’ve been together 10 years.) She says she has never met him in person (despite communicating with him for more than a decade!) and this was the only thing she was doing that she thought would have been out of bounds. Again, if I had known, it would have been fine. I’m not OK with her being with other guys, but I know harmless flirting can be a release. Still, I have issues with anxiety and depression, and this is definitely triggering me. I do not want to snoop and I want to trust her, but I am having a hard time with both. Prior to this, it never occurred to me that Mary would do anything that had a whiff of dishonesty about it. But her having kept this from me for as long as I have known her has made me question that. I don’t want to keep bringing this up to her, but I am struggling with it. What do you think I should do? UPSET IN THE MIDWEST

I think you should get over it, UITM. Easier said than done, I realize, particularly with the twin burdens of anxiety and depression. But if you would have been fine with this had you known — if there was no reason for Mary to hide this LTR-of-sorts from you — the best way to prove that to her

hesitated, and… a decade went by. is by giving it your retroactive blessing. If there’s nothing else — if no other shoes You’re right, UITM: Mary shouldn’t have drop — give this your retroactive blessing. hidden this from you. But she assumed — incorrectly, as it turned out — you would have I am a transgender man, and my a problem with those texts. It was a reasonable girlfriend is a transgender woman, and assumption on her part, since swapping we have hit a plateau. Intimate flirty texts with a stranger is regarded as time is rare, communication “out of bounds” by most. While this is minimal, and although I makes Mary’s failure to disclose care for her deeply, I do look a little worse, we live in a not like her as a person culture that defines absolutely and no longer want to everything as cheating — get married. I have don’t get me started on considered asking the idiocy that is “microif we could open up infidelities” and the idiots the relationship, but pushing that toxic concept — I doubt that is the and as a consequence, people solution. How does not only lack perspective (oh, DAN SAVAGE one end a long-term to live in a world where everyone relationship? regarded harmless flirtation as no HELP RELATIONSHIP TRANSITION big deal!) but also the language to honesty discuss our need for a little Whatever you do, HRT, please — please harmless erotic affirmation from someone — don’t ask to open up your relationship who isn’t obligated to find us attractive, i.e., when what you really want is out. A lot of not a spouse or partner. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a moment. When should she have told you about Jeremy? What would you have done if on the third or fourth date, she looked up from her menu and said, “I’ve been swapping flirty texts with this guy for, oh, the last several years. I have no interest in him in real life, we’ve actually never even met in person, but I enjoy his texts and would like to keep swapping texts with him. I hope that’s not a problem.” You would have dumped her on the spot, right? She didn’t want to stop, she didn’t know how to talk about it, she

people who want out do this, and it’s why so many people believe all requests to open a relationship are a sign the relationship is doomed. People who want out but ask for open inevitably get out in the end. People who want open and ask for open and get it tend to stay. But since most couples in open relationships aren’t public about it (most are more comfortable being perceived as monogamous), people hear about the insincere requests that preceded a breakup and conclude all requests are insincere. Anyway, HRT, how does one end a longterm relationship? One uses one’s words. If “I love you” are the three magic words, then “I’m leaving you” are the three tragic words. Seeing as intimacy is rare and communication is minimal, it shouldn’t come as a shock to your soon-to-be-ex fiancée. On the Lovecast, come hang out with the lesbians of the Lez Hang Out podcast: savagelovecast. com; write to; follow @ fakedansavage on Twitter; read the Savage Love Letter of the Day at

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to November 21) An unexpected meeting with a former colleague opens some interesting possibilities. But you need to press for full disclosure before making a decision.

to May 20) This week finds you in a sociable mood, ready and eager to enjoy the company of family and friends. It’s also a good time to seek out and renew old friendships.

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June 20) Patience is called for as you await a decision about that project you’re eager to launch. Meanwhile, try to set aside more time to share with that special person in your life.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) A recent flurry of activity eases by midweek, giving you time to readjust your disrupted schedule and make new plans for a weekend getaway.

CANCER (June 21

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ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Count to 10 if you must, but don’t lose your temper, despite that person’s (you know who!) efforts to goad you into reacting. Your restraint will pay off in a big way.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) Your practical side dominates the week as you reassess your finances to make some sensible adjustments in what you plan to spend and what you expect to save.

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to July 22) Avoid becoming involved in a workplace dispute early in the week by insisting both sides submit their stands to a neutral arbitrator. Things begin to cool off by Thursday.

LEO (July 23 to August 22)

It promises to be a busy but productive week for the Big Cat. The pace slows by Friday, allowing you to catch up on matters you put aside but that now need your attention.


22 to January 19) You’re usually the one who gives advice. But now it’s time to open yourself up to counsel from friends who have your best interests at heart.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) You might find resistance to your call for a full inquiry into a workplace problem. But by week’s end even the most rigid naysayers begin to come around.

(August 23 to September 22) A suddenly disruptive family situation is best handled with a cool, calm and collected response. Wait until things settle to let off all that pent-up emotional steam.


(February 19 to March 20) A recurring problem surfaces once again. Maybe it’s time you used your creative talents to help you find a new approach to resolving it once and for all.

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2018 Issue 17 Creative Loafing Charlotte  
2018 Issue 17 Creative Loafing Charlotte