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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill September 9, 2020



Rissi Palmer’s new Apple podcast redefines what it means to be a country girl

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A protest in Roxboro for David Brooks Jr., p. 16

VOL. 37 NO. 33



Fast-food workers at Freddy's and Bojangles' strike over unsafe conditions and unfair pay. BY THOMASI MCDONALD School LGTBQ clubs are a lifeline for students stuck at home. BY MARY KING

FEATURE 13 Rissi Palmer's new podcast redefines "country girl."


FOOD 25 Locals rally to save Morrisville's best-kept secret, Yin Dee.


CULTURE 26 Performing arts presenters scramble to adapt very old habits for a very new world. BY BYRON WOODS MUSIC 27 Dion “Showtime” Chavis's life after K97.5. BY KYESHA JENNINGS 28 A raund-up of the latest from Raund Haus. BY YAIR RUBINSTEIN AND BRIAN HOWE

THE REGULARS 5 Voices 6 15 Minutes

7 A Week in the Life 16 PHOTOVOICE

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Contributors Jim Allen, Will Atkinson, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Lena Geller, Spencer Griffith, Howard Hardee, Laura Jaramillo, Kyesha Jennings, Glenn McDonald, Josephine McRobbie, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Neil Morris, James Michael Nichols, Marta Nuñez Pouzols, Bryan C. Reed, Dan Ruccia, David Ford Smith, Eric Tullis, Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, Chris Vitiello, Ryan Vu



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This week in feedback: Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott responds, and readers clamor for Casey Toll.

Durham Housing Authority CEO ANTHONY SCOTT wrote in to protest the contextu-

alization of his quote from a prior interview in “A Tale of Two Signs,” Thomasi McDonald’s story on Durham gentrification. “The reference to me gives the impression that I support gentrification,” Scott writes. “What DHA is advocating is mixed income communities for the public housing RENTAL properties that we currently own and control. DHA is providing over 37 single families homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity which serves low income families. Other than that we are not building any single family homes.” Readers also weighed in on our profile of bassist Casey Toll, the unsung hero of local bands from H.C. McEntire and Skylar Gudasz to Nathan Bowles. “First off, this is a fantastic profile,” ROSS FLOURNOY says. “Second, I was truly blessed to enter Casey’s orbit in 2019—we spent a decent chunk of the year on the road together. Not only was I lucky enough to meet one of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with, but more importantly, I met one of the greatest people on earth—and that’s no exaggeration. Every detail and observation in this story is 100% true. The only thing that might need a bit more emphasis is Casey’s wicked sense of humor—no one can make me laugh quite like he can. It’s so rare to meet a player or songwriter whose talent and decency as a human exist in equal measure: Casey Toll is that rarest of bird.”

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The Raleigh Affordable Housing Bond Feels Like Déjà Vu BY COURTNEY NAPIER


he Raleigh Affordable Housing Bond is the last item on the November 2020 ballot, but for many on the brink of homelessness, it is the most important. There is potential for real, equitable change to occur in our capital city. There is opportunity for Raleigh to be an example to the country of finding creative solutions to difficult challenges related to displacement, gentrification, and homelessness. But up to this point, Raleigh has chosen profit over innovation, and the housing bond feels like déjà vu. The bond is currently a blank check with a wish list of five areas of desired spending: land acquisition, owner-occupied home rehabilitation, down-payment assistance, private-public partnerships, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit-gap financing. I am the first to admit that the housing crisis Raleigh faces is daunting. But my concern is that instead of facing it, city leadership is attempting to redefine it. It is well documented that Raleigh has an ever-increasing homelessness issue. Hotels across the city are occupied almost exclusively by unhoused people. Local shelters are struggling under the weight of the need for shelter and the demands of safety in the age of COVID-19. You can’t begin to measure this phenomenon with the area median income. The “area” in AMI actually accounts for Raleigh and Cary, which renders it useless for measuring Raleigh’s housing needs. Also, our homeless residents make below minimum wage if they are making anything at all. Since a large portion of them are single mothers, and schools are closed, many parents have to make the tough decision of leaving jobs to attend to their children. According to Housing and Neighborhoods Director Larry Jarvis, there are nearly 5,000 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing assistance vouchers. These vouchers allow a family to pay a portion of their rent while HUD pays the rest, essentially allowing landlords to earn market rate while housing low-income families. But in North Carolina, landlords can choose not to accept a Section 8 voucher, and many are opting out. Only a small percentage of voucher-holders find housing before the benefit expires. Instead of making the housing bond about this issue, the city has decided to redefine our housing crisis. Instead of making the goal to house the unhoused, the new defi-

nition of the crisis is that there aren’t enough units on the market for entry-level buyers. This redirection effort explains why the building and development community is campaigning for the bond to pass. Local construction companies, architects, design firms, nonprofits, real-estate professionals, and even one of Raleigh’s former mayors have all used their voices, influence, and wealth to encourage Raleigh to vote “Yes.” Jarvis made it clear to city council last week that focusing on building units at 30 percent of Raleigh’s AMI would mean far fewer units can be built overall. More units overall, the council argued, is much more important than building as many units for the most vulnerable as possible. It seems like Raleigh builders and developers completely agree, and they stand to make a shit-ton of money if the bond passes. But what will happen to those who won’t find affordable housing in this plan? What will happen to those who will be displaced while the city goes on its land-acquisition shopping spree through our most vulnerable communities? And as Raleigh welcomes more and more families fleeing natural and unnatural disasters, what will happen to those who can’t compete with their cash offers? Raleigh’s affordable housing bond has been publicized as “creating more housing options for all,” which translates to, “If you aren’t lucky enough to get into one of the few low-income units we choose to build, here are some lovely shelters we can direct you to until you find a place outside the city limits.” Down-ballot voting is one of the most potent tools we have to effect real change in our community. When too many Raleigh residents are unhoused and many more are on the brink, it is not the time to redefine this crisis in a way that wins the support of the building and development class. If Raleigh wants to use this critical point in our country’s history to make change in housing, then it must center those with the greatest need. Otherwise, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. When at-large council member Nicole Stewart said that the city isn’t in the business of helping residents build wealth, that should apply to the millionaires, too.2 Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at

COURTNEY NAPIER is a Raleigh native, community activist, and co-host of the podcast Mothering on the Margins.

September 9, 2020



15 MINUTES Larissa Chantell, 29 Volunteer and placement partner manager at the Animal Protection Society of Durham BY ANN GEHAN

How did you first get involved with APS? I’ve been involved with APS since I was eight years old. When I first moved to North Carolina with my mom, we would visit the shelter every weekend, so it’s always been a place that I’ve held close to my heart. About five years ago, I was on social media and saw that they were hiring, and I applied. My love for animals got me the job—I hadn’t had any prior experience. PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

What was your first pet? Her name was Daisy Mae. She was a teacup chihuahua, and we were attached at the hip. I have pictures of her inside of my playpen with me.

Has working at APS changed during the coronavirus? COVID-19 has just changed our whole process. All of our programs have been directly affected. With adoptions, we aren’t able to have people coming into the shelter, and we’ve had to switch over to doing virtual adoption. In March, we closed down the shelter to the public and our volunteers, so I had to suspend all in-shelter volunteer opportunities from March 13 until the middle of June. We’ve just started having volunteers coming back in. During that time period where we had no volunteers and it was staffonly here, we were responsible for 100 percent of care for the dogs, even taking them outside. Once the dogs legally became ours, our whole goal was to get them out of the shelter. We grew our rescue program and reached out to our local placement partners. Since January, I’ve transferred 238 animals with our partners. 6

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Has interest in your foster program changed? Right now, in foster care, we have about 220 animals. People are looking for companion animals because they’re spending more time at home. A lot of people work a lot or just haven’t had the option to ever have a pet or volunteer, but now, because of COVID, maybe their situation has changed. We’ve had a lot of people that are super excited, and a lot of “foster fails” happen as well, where people are interested in adopting but end up fostering, and then they’re like, “Oh no, we don’t want to give them back, so we’re going to go ahead and adopt this one.” Yeah, so we love those. Even if it’s just for a night or for a weekend, taking a dog away from the shelter environment does so much for the dog.

Are you a dog or a cat person? I’m a both person. I love all animals. I only have a cat right now. His name is Gary, but he plays fetch better than most dogs I know. W



Governor Roy Cooper announces that the state will move into “PHASE 2.5” of its tiered reopening plan effective 5:00 p.m. Friday. The most noticeable changes are the reopenings of playgrounds, museums, aquariums, and gyms. The cap on mass gatherings is also increased to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.


President Donald Trump encourages North Carolina voters to VOTE TWICE in this November’s election on a campaign stop in Wilmington. His suggestion was to vote once by mail and then again in person. That’s as illegal as it sounds, as it’s a federal crime and a felony in states like North Carolina. NC Attorney General Josh Stein said as much in multiple press appearances following Trump’s comments, calling the suggestion an attempt to “sow chaos in our election.” State election officials quickly released statements discouraging the illegal practice and reassuring voters that there are “numerous checks in place in North Carolina that prevent people from double voting.”


Vice President MIKE PENCE visits Raleigh on a visit aimed at galvanizing the president’s anti-abortion base. He also accepted an endorsement from the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, telling them that “We’re not going to defund the police. Not now, not ever.” State legislators ratify COVID-19 RELIEF BILL HB 1105 nearly unanimously. The bill allows the state to use the nearly $900 million left over from CARES Act funding to provide, among other things, a one-time payment of $335 to all families with at least one child. Governor Roy Cooper confirms that he will sign the bill shortly after it passes the state legislature.


DONALD TRUMP again encourages North Carolinians to vote twice, comments his administration had previously walked back. Federal voting laws did not change in the two days since his original comment, so the idea is still illegal.


Antiracists march in Durham for the second weekend in a row to PROTEST POLICE BRUTALITY and prisoner mistreatment.


The Washington Post releases a special investigation into LOUIS DEJOY, the North Carolina GOP fundraiser-turned-postmaster general. According to the investigation, DeJoy pressured his employees to make campaign donations to Republican candidates and later reimbursed them for doing so with bonuses. The U.S. House Oversight Committee launches an investigation into DeJoy two days later.


(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)

ESSENTIAL WORKERS in Raleigh and Durham rally on Labor Day to call for better working conditions and pay.



September 9, 2020



September 9, 2020



Food Fight Local Freddy’s and Bojangles’ essential workers strike over unsafe conditions and unfair pay during COVID-19 BY THOMASI MCDONALD


ssential workers shut down a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in West Durham Friday when they walked off the job to demand a safer workplace after reports of a fellow employee testing positive for the coronavirus. The protest and strike, which took place September 4 at the fast-food restaurant just off U.S. 501, follows a similar event at an East Raleigh Bojangles last month, when an employee there also tested positive for the virus. Employees at both locations have accused the restaurants of violating federal laws that protect workers’ wages under quarantine after they may have been exposed to the virus. It was just after noon when Jamila Allen, who works at the Freddy’s on Watkins Road, led her coworkers out of the restaurant. They were joined by nearly 60 supporters, including evening-shift workers. The workers chanted and demonstrated for just over an hour, but the daylong strike prompted the business to close for the rest of the day before reopening Saturday morning. Some of the workers and their supporters held aloft signs that read, “Hazardous Work Deserves Hazard Pay,” and “Freddy’s: Protect your workers and Unions for All.” “This COVID case shows why workers need to be involved in the decisions Freddy’s makes about our safety—why we need a union!” Allen, an NC Raise Up and Fight for $15 leader, told the crowd through a megaphone. “This is what a union looks like. Workers talking to each other, standing up together, and having each other’s backs. We are going to keep acting like a union, while we fight for our demands and our union rights.” The walkout was preceded by the workers delivering strike notices to the restaurant’s management team, according to a press

statement by NC Raise Up/Fight for $15. The workers are demanding a hazard-pay increase of $5 an hour for all employees, or a total hourly rate of $15 per hour, whichever is higher. They are also calling for immediate compensation for workers who missed shifts due to a COVID-19 quarantine mandate, in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The FFCRA is effective until December 31. It was on August 9 when Freddy’s management staff notified 12 workers that a fellow employee had tested positive for the virus, which has killed 86 people in Durham County, 210 in Wake, and 2,897 across the state. Freddy’s mandated the workers to quarantine for two weeks or until they could provide proof of negative COVID-19 test results. The striking workers say Freddy’s did not pay them while they were quarantined, even though employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave under the FFCRA, “which was enacted to address their exact situation,” according to the statement. The workers say the store was never shut down, and they doubt that a proper professional COVID cleaning ever took place. Days before Friday’s strike, the workers delivered a petition to management that had been signed by 19 employees. “We have been working throughout this

pandemic—risking our own health and safety to keep Freddy’s open and running smoothly,” the petition reads in part. “We deserve to be compensated fairly for hazards that we face every day at work.” In Friday’s statement, the workers said that when management failed to respond to the petition, they decided to strike. The inaction left the workers, who have been deemed essential during the pandemic, feeling disposable. “The way that Freddy’s has handled this COVID case, they have shown they only care about money,” Precious Cole, one of the striking employees, says. “But today, we showed Freddy’s that we are united as workers. And we are powerful.” The INDY called Freddy’s the day after the strike and protest to ask if management intended to honor the worker’s demands. “That’s funny,” a man who identified himself as the store manager said. He also said to call the restaurant chain’s corporate office but refused to disclose the phone number. “You can go online and get it,” he said. The Wichita, Kansas-based restaurant chain has about 300 locations across the United States. Company officials could not be reached for immediate comment. Two weeks before the walkout and strike at Freddy’s, workers at the Bojangles’ at 1013 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh accused the restaurant managers of mishandling a COVID-19 case at the store. Rumors of a coworker testing positive for COVID-19 began to circulate among the Bojangles’ employees on August 3. According to a press statement from NC Raise Up /Fight for $15, when the workers asked whether an employee had tested positive, “Bojangles’ management denied the information, assuring workers that no store employees had the virus.” Five days later, two Bojangles’ workers, LaMeaka Moses and Lisa Foster, saw a notification pinned to a rarely read bulletin board in the back of the store, noti-

“This is what a union looks like. Workers talking to each other, standing up together, and having each other’s backs.”

fying employees that a coworker had in fact tested positive for COVID-19. Moses and Foster walked off the job and went on strike. They were joined on strike by Foster’s son, Dekembe Black, who was scheduled to work the night shift. On August 19, the three striking workers and their supporters delivered official strike notices and demands to the restaurant, saying that workers were not properly notified, nor was the store professionally cleaned. Like Freddy’s employees, Bojangles workers want to be paid for self-quarantine. In addition, they demanded that it should be made available for all workers who were potentially exposed to the virus. The workers reported that the restaurant, before posting the notice, asked three employees to quarantine and paid them. But it has refused to pay other employees who work in what is described as a small kitchen where it’s difficult to practice social distancing. They also say the store should be professionally cleaned, with proof of the cleaning shared with employees and the public. And, along with demands for a pay increase of $15 an hour for all workers, the striking employees say they have not received hazard pay that was promised to them by the restaurant chain. “Bojangles’ does not have employees’ best interests at heart. For them, it’s all about a dollar,” says Moses, a long time fast-food worker and the mother of three young girls. “All workers should have been notified immediately, but there was no real communication from Bojangles’. They posted the notice several days too late and in a place where they knew most employees would never see it. They just wanted us to keep working.” At the onset of the pandemic, Foster said, the restaurant handed out T-shirts to employees that read, “Risk it for the Biscuit.” The items are also on sale to the public. “It may be a joke to them, but for workers like me who are risking our lives to come to work every day, it’s no joke,” says Foster, who remained on strike Saturday with Moses and her son until their demands are met. “We make Bojangles’ millions of dollars, and they didn’t even care enough to make sure our store got properly cleaned to protect us from this COVID outbreak.” W

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Your week. Every Wednesday. 10

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Orange County

Join the Club School LGBTQ organizations are a vital lifeline to community while students are stuck at home BY MARY KING


hapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are operating online this semester, which means their student LGBTQ organizations are, too. Clubs such as the Queer-Straight Alliance are important outlets for students to discuss their experiences without fear of discrimination, says Chapel Hill High School junior and QSA President Grace Davis, who notes the relatively high rate of suicide and depression among LGBTQ youth. In clubs, they can freely talk about the issues they face, whether it’s homophobic bullying or a teacher who won’t respect their pronouns. While virtual schooling presents challenges for all students, they can be especially grave for some LGBTQ students, such as those who must spend long days in unaccepting households. They’re also deprived of the simple joys of in-person interactions with LGBTQ peers, such as rummaging through the rainbow buckets of candy in Mx. Reinholz’s room during QSA meetings at Chapel Hill High School. “It’s really just to give them a place to talk about those issues and feel accepted and loved, even if they aren’t in other areas of the school and even at home,” Davis says. Before the pandemic, the QSA hung posters in the school displaying mental health resources and hotlines. But then COVID-19 derailed some of the group’s other activist endeavors, like a bake sale Davis had hoped to hold in support of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. For the virtual semester, the QSA is eschewing much of an outreach agenda in favor of internal community-building via online meetings and a group chat, where members can exchange memes and talk about what’s going on for them. “Our main thing is to just meet and try and play a game or talk about what’s going on in online school to just kind of have fun for a minute and get our mind off things that are not going so well,” Davis says. McDougle Middle School’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance was also engaging in activism before the pandemic, seventh grade English language arts teacher and GSA adviser Seth Gillis said. The GSA had participated in a book drive for Book Harvest to help

“It’s really just to give them a place to talk about those issues and feel accepted and loved, even if they aren’t in other areas of the school and even at home.” ensure that some of the donated books included queer representation. Gillis says the GSA is an essential safe space for youth who are questioning their identity or identify as queer. He’s seen it make an impact. As a teacher, he’s observed that members feel more comfortable bringing things that the GSA discusses into the classroom. “I think that my relationship with schooling would have been much different if I had had this opportunity or this space when I was in school,” he says. COVID-19 largely halted the GSA’s activities last semester, but Gillis hopes that with a more consistent school schedule this fall, students will be able to maintain the club remotely. Gillis says GSA advisers try to keep the group as student-centered as possible, so the

students will determine what they think is necessary for their community in a virtual setting. “The thing I’m worried most about is whether or not some of our kids are going to feel safe at home being a part of the meeting, so I’m looking at a lot of different ways of how they can be involved just using the chat feature,” Gillis says. After months in quarantine, and with a semester of online schooling ahead, some LGBTQ youth are stuck at home with family members who don’t affirm their identities, and a lack of privacy could make it difficult for them to fully participate in virtual LGBTQ groups. “That’s the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night,” says Danie Reinholz, Chapel Hill High School online learning facilitator and QSA adviser. “I want to make sure that their names and pronouns are respected, and also that they’re not inadvertently outed at home if they’re not out at home.” Although virtual learning can impose burdens on LGBTQ youth, it can also make some aspects of life easier. For example, Davis says, students no longer have to deal with encounters in the hallway between classes, where most bullying happens. “You can create a place, like our group chat, where you only have the people that support you, instead of just everyone that is at the school,” she says. Virtual meetings might even lead some students to feel more comfortable participating in GSA. “If this is going to be a safe haven for at least one student who maybe feels more comfortable getting involved virtually, then that’s a win in itself,” Gillis says. Reinholz says that to support the work of LGBTQ student groups, people should take care to use LGBTQ kids’ chosen names and pronouns. “That’s really what I want from the school, to treat these kids with respect and actually get to know them,” they say. Asked what the broader community can do to support the QSA, Davis says, “As a parent of a student who’s not part of the LGBTQ community or is not out, I think it would do a lot to help to just open your mind and educate yourself on LGBTQ issues, and just always be aware that not everyone is who they are on paper.” W

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Rissi Palmer’s new Apple podcast redefines what it means to be a country girl BY SARAH EDWARDS

he country musician Rissi Palmer settles into a chair in her Durham studio. Behind her is a blackboard where she’s scrawled to-do lists, a Quincy Jones quote, and her threemonth goals. She’s such an enthralling presence—intent, gracious, and assertive—that it takes me a moment to notice the tiny hand reaching up from the bottom of the Zoom frame to tug her hair. It’s Nova, her baby daughter, whom she’s nursing while effortlessly rattling off country music deep cuts. She’s equally unfazed when her husband, Bryan, and her dog wander in and out of the frame. Rissi Palmer can do it all. “Mommy could be doing the most important things in the whole world, and it still doesn’t matter,” Palmer says with a smile and shrug. It’s September 3, a few days after the release of the first episode of Color Me Country, Palmer’s new Apple podcast, which focuses on the Black, Indigenous, and Latinx histories of country music. The name comes from


Palmer’s patron saint, Linda Martell, a country singer who, in 1969, became the first Black woman to sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. “I was nervous because this is a really important project to me,” Palmer says. “When it’s an album, you can be like, ‘Well, I don’t care, because I love it.’ But with this, it’s really important to me to get it right because it’s not just my story—this is a lot of people’s story.” The task of telling the alternative history of country music is a big one, in part because so little information about it exists. Google pulls up a handful of think pieces, many of them born during the Lil Nas X media frenzy, when his hooky TikTok sensation “Old Town Road” topped the country charts before being removed by Billboard for not being “country” enough. In the wake of that controversy, listicles about Black country artists sprang up alongside pieces that framed artists of color in relation to their influence on the genre—which, since country originated in Black traditions, are many. Still, the commercial side of the genre is unfriendly to Black artists and listeners, with a charged history of erasing that influence, seldom signing artists of color and keeping them off the radio. When Black country stars have managed to break those barriers, they rarely receive the standard Nashville treatment or receive the recognition they’ve earned. This is where Color Me Country comes in, with a debut season that focuses exclusively on women. “It’s really important to me to normalize this for these women to become part of the conversation, not just in an ‘other’ kind of way,” Palmer says. “In the same breath that you talk about Kelsea Ballerini, you should be talking about Miko Marks.” he first woman we get to know, in the first episode of Color Me Country, is Palmer. We learn of her influences, from Lionel Richie to Patty Griffin, and hear from her close circle— her best friend, her husband, her nine-yearold daughter—in an intimate look at Palmer’s journey to Nashville. There, with “Country Girl” in 2007, she


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became the first Black artist in 20 years to chart a country single. Palmer was born and raised outside of Pittsburgh. At age 12, she moved with her family to Missouri, where she consumed a steady radio diet of pop and hip-hop. She was obsessed with Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys. But her Georgia-born parents loved country music, and she did, too. “I didn’t feel like I could say out loud that I liked country because I felt like a lot of my friends would look at me crazy—‘Girl, you like country?’ So I didn’t tell a lot of people that that’s what I was listening to,” Palmer says. “I would pull into school listening to Tupac and really, a few minutes before, I was listening to Trisha Yearwood.” From a young age, Palmer knew she wanted to sing. At 16, she busted out Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine” on a chicken-shit-littered Arkansas State Fair stage. A few years later, she dropped out of DePaul University in Chicago to pursue music, and at age 19, she was offered a shot at R&B stardom when the producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis—a duo that has worked with the likes of Janet Jackson and Palmer’s idol, Mariah Carey—offered her a record deal on Flyte Tyme Records. But she turned it down: The sound wasn’t her. When Palmer was 21, a Star Search rep came across a performance by her, and she went on to place third in the 2003 season of the talent show. Things picked up speed from there: She signed with the label 1720 Entertainment and, in 2007, released her self-titled debut album, which featured the clear-eyed, joyful single, “Country Girl” which peaked at number 54 on the country music charts. It was followed by two more Billboard Hot Country Songs: “Hold On to Me,” which reached number 59 in May 2008, and a cover of Jordin Sparks’s “No Air,” which peaked at 47 a month later.

“I would pull into school listening to Tupac and really, a few minutes before, I was listening to Trisha Yearwood.” Palmer also achieved another dream, following in Linda Martell’s footsteps, when she sang at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007. But Nashville music is a tough business, especially for a Black woman, and artistic differences led her to leave her label in 2009—a decision that turned into a legal dispute and prevented Palmer from recording for a year. She’s continued to release albums, though none have replicated the chart success of her early singles. In 2013, after having her first child, Grace, she released the children’s album Best Day Ever, followed by a five-song-EP, The Back Porch Sessions, in 2015, and Revival in 2019. Palmer’s career has taken her to New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and finally, Durham, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. About 500 miles from Nashville, she’s found true kinship with musicians like Phil Cook and XOXOK’s Keenan Jenkins. “It’s not like Los Angeles; it’s not like New York,” Palmer says. “This is a true

were others before Palmer, who certainly didn’t invent the phrase. But she did reinvent it. As her hit single has it, being a country girl isn’t about a dress code or zip code or race. It’s not being a Georgia Peach or Tennessee Ten. It’s about heartbreak and bare feet and true love and tire swings, appreciating the small things and honoring your roots. That’s being a country girl. And that’s country music.

riginally, Palmer had planned to release the podcast on June 29, during the national Black Lives Matter protests. But then, a week before the release, she checked her email to find a message from Apple. They’d heard about her podcast, and they wanted to hear more. Over the summer, the entertainment community. You can reach out and touch industry has taken a hard look in the mirthese people.” ror and made some promising gestures Kamara Thomas, who runs the Country toward racial equity. Reese Witherspoon Soul Songbook series—which highlights announced the production of a country alternative voices in country, soul, and music talent show that will focus on Americana—says she and Palmer are each diversity. Faith Hill and Charlie Worsham other’s biggest fans. avowed support for Mississippi removing “Our aims are so similar, in that we care Confederate iconography from its state about the music,” Thomas says. “We’re flag. The Dixie Chicks scrambled to drop willing to put our action behind the the “Dixie” from their name, followed by change we want to see within it.” Lady Antebellum becoming Lady A (and “I try to make sure that I have the same swiftly blundering into a messy $10 mildrive and passion for my work that I’ve lion lawsuit with a Black blues singer of seen in her, because I know that’s what the same name). gets artists through setbacks,” Jenkins But it’s a tough industry to reform says. “She is obviously a trailblazer for overnight. Whiteness is the bedrock of Black women in country music, but she commercial country music, where blues is a guidepost for me as well.” roots have been systematically whiteSince Palmer’s 2007 hit, there have washed over time, replaced with anthems been other songs with the same title, that sell jingoism, xenophobia, and large, from Luke Bryan’s too-cheesy-to-be-sleaexpensive trucks. zy tailgate anthem—which includes that In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, infamous parenthetical wink, “country Rhiannon Giddens was blunt about why girl (shake it for me)”—to the Carolina don’t know about country To advertise or feature more a pet people for adoption, Chocolate Drops’ defiant portrait of a music’s diverse roots: “White supremacy. please contact backwoods Southern woman. And there There is no other way to put it: It was


To advertise or feature a pet for adoption, please contact

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September 9, 2020

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constructed by numerous people as part of the white-supremacy movement.” Is a tide really turning in country music? “Ask me in a year,” Palmer says. She’s less concerned with performative allyship that directs attention to the growth of white artists than with directing attention to the artists of color that are already out there, doing the work and singing the songs. “We’re advocating for our daughters being able to show up into a creative space and be defined for just what they’re To advertise or feature bringing,” Kamara Thomas says. “I think a Color pet for part of what Me adoption, Country is trying to do is carve please out those contact spaces where it’s like, ‘You just come here to be an artist.’” Season one’s focus on women is appropriate, as country music has both race and gender problems, doubling the challenges for women of color. The next episode, which comes out September 13, will feature a conversation with Miko Marks, a husky-voiced country singer who has received critical acclaim and comparisons to Wynonna Judd, but has yet to break through the charts or major-market stations. The podcast takes its name from the Linda Martell album that turned 50 this year, which was released by a label that was, in gutting proof of the industry’s racism, called Plantation Records. Martell has been a shadowy figure for years: It was known that she lived somewhere in South Carolina, but that was about it. In the first episode, Palmer says that even if she never got toormeet she was To advertise featureMartell, a pet for adoption, content to honor her legacy. please contact But then a wonky cosmic coincidence happened: Martell broke her silence. On September 2, just days after the podcast’s debut, she was interviewed in a Rolling Stone feature titled “Country’s Lost Pioneer.” It’s a wrenching story about a voice edged out of an industry and into silence. Palmer says she’d had no idea until someone sent it to her; days later, Martell’s daughter messaged Palmer to thank her for the tribute. Maybe, Palmer reasons, e a pet Martell had had enough space from the ontact industry to finally feel free. In this, the two artists have another thing in common. “I don’t want anything from the industry,” Palmer says. “I like my career. I like the things that I get to do in a day. And I am—this sounds cliché as hell—but I am blessed, I truly am. So I don’t want anything for myself other than to be able to give opportunities to other people and to be able to continue to make music. I can say more things than people who feel like they have more to lose.” W

n, m

September 9, 2020



September 9, 2020


A single gunshot to the chest, fired by a police officer, killed David Brooks Jr. in Roxboro on July 24. Friday, September 4, was the fifth peaceful protest the town has seen in response to Brooks’s murder, this one led by The Black Revolutionists. His death sparked an outcry against blatant racism and racial injustices in Roxboro. Protesters are calling for the immediate termination of the officer and for the resignation of Police Chief David Hess. W

September 9, 2020


Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Best Bagel in the triangle Monuts FINALISTS Benchwarmers Bagels; Bruegger’s Bagels; New York Bagels & Deli Raleigh

Best Bakery in Durham County

Best BisCuits in Wake County

Best Chef in Orange / Chatham County Best Indian Restaurant in the Triangle Best Vegan-friendly Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

Flying Biscuit Café—Raleigh

FINALISTS Angie’s Restaurant; Jubala Coffee; Rise Cameron Village; State Farmers Market Restaurant

Best BlooDy mary in the triangle

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Jack Tar and The Colonel’s Daughter

FINALISTS East Durham Bake Shop; Loaf; Ninth Street Bakery

FINALISTS The Bar @ Transfer Co. Food Hall; The Raleigh Times; Whiskey Kitchen

Best Bakery in orange/Chatham County

Best BreaD in Durham County

Guglhupf Bake Shop

Ninth Street Bakery

FINALISTS Phoenix Bakery; The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering; Weaver Street Market

FINALISTS Guglhupf Bakery; Cafe & Biergarten, Levin Jewish Community Center; Loaf

Best Bakery in Wake County

Best BreaD in orange/Chatham County

La Farm Bakery

Best BarBeCue in orange / Chatham County

Best BisCuits in Durham County

Weaver Street Market

FINALISTS Boulted Bread; Stick Boy Bread Co; Utica Bakery; Yellow Dog Bread Company

Hillsborough BBQ

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

FINALISTS Great Harvest Bread Co.; Guglhupf Bake Shop; Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering

FINALISTS Allen & Son Bar-B-Que; Mama Dip’s Kitchen; The Pig

FINALISTS Foster’s Market; Monuts; True Flavors Diner

Best BreaD in Wake County

The Original Q Shack

Best BarBeCue in Wake County

Best BisCuits in orange/Chatham County

FINALISTS Backyard BBQ Pit; Picnic; The Pit

The Pit Authentic Barbecue

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen

Best BarBeCue in Durham County

FINALISTS Big Al’s BBQ; Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque; Ole Time Barbecue 18

September 9, 2020

FINALISTS Mama Dip’s Kitchen; Neal’s Deli; Rise Carrboro

La Farm Bakery

FINALISTS Boulted Bread; Stick Boy Bread Co.; Yellow Dog Bread Company

Best Breakfast in Durham County

Best Burger in Durham County

Elmo’s Diner

Bull City Burger and Brewery

FINALISTS Foster’s Market; Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten; Monuts

FINALISTS Dain’s Place; Only Burger; Town Hall Burger and Beer

Best Breakfast in orange/Chatham County

Best Burger in orange / Chatham County

Elmo’s Diner

Al’s Burger Shack

FINALISTS Breadmen’s; First Watch—Chapel Hill; Village Diner

FINALISTS Buns, Town Hall Burger and Beer; The Wooden Nickel Public House

Best Breakfast in Wake County

Best Burger in Wake County

Big Ed’s City Market


FINALISTS Angie’s Restaurant; Flying Biscuit Café – Raleigh; La Farm Bakery; State Farmers Market Restaurant

FINALISTS Chuck’s Burgers; The Fiction Kitchen; MoJoe’s Burger Joint

Best BreWery in Durham County

Best Burrito in Durham County

Ponysaurus Brewing Company

Cosmic Cantina

FINALISTS Bull City Burger and Brewery; Durty Bull Brewing Company; Fullsteam Brewery, The Glass Jug Beer Lab

FINALISTS Chubby’s Tacos; NUVOTACO; Taqueria La Vaquita

Best BreWery in orange/Chatham County Steel String Brewery

FINALISTS Carolina Brewery; Gizmo Brew Works—Chapel Hill Taproom; Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery

Best BreWery in Wake County Trophy Brewing & Taproom

FINALISTS Bombshell Beer Company; Bond Brothers Beer Company; Brewery Bhavana; Lynnwood Brewing Concern

Best Burrito in orange/Chatham County Carrburritos FINALISTS Bandido’s Mexican Café; Cosmic Cantina; Fiesta Grill Restaurant; Monterrey Mexican Restaurant

Best Burrito in Wake County Gonza Tacos y Tequila

Wake up with us.

FINALISTS Chubby’s Tacos; Dank Burrito; Gringo A Go Go

Best CariBBean or CuBan in the triangle COPA FINALISTS Boricua Soul at American Tobacco Campus; Carmen’s Cuban Cafe & Lounge; Tropical Picken Chicken

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September 9, 2020


Best Cheap eats in Durham County

Best Deli in the triangle Neomonde Mediterranean Raleigh

Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken

FINALISTS Chubby’s Tacos; Cosmic Cantina; Guasaca

FINALISTS Lucky’s Delicatessen; Neal’s Deli; Village Deli and Grill

Best Cheap eats in orange/Chatham County

Best Desserts in Durham County

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering

The Parlour the

FINALISTS Guglhupf Bakery; Cafe & Biergarten; Mad Hatter Cafe + Bakeshop; Nantucket Grill

FINALISTS Armadillo Grill; Breadmen’s; Elmo’s Diner

Best Desserts in orange/Chatham County

Best Cheap eats in Wake County

Guglhupf Bake Shop

Mami Noras Rotisserie Chicken

FINALISTS Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken; Angie’s Restaurant; Char Grill

Best Chef in Durham County

Monuts Best Bagel in the Triangle, Best Donut in the Triangle PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE

Marla Thurman FINALISTS Matt Kelly; Michael Lee; Ricky Moore; Scott Howell

Best Coffee shop in Durham County Cocoa Cinnamon FINALISTS Bean Traders, Joe Van Gogh Durham, The Oak House Durham

Best Chinese restaurant in orange/Chatham County

Best Coffee shop in orange/Chatham County


Caffè Driade

FINALISTS Aaron Vandemark; Andrea Reusing; Brandon Sharp; Brendan Cox

FINALISTS Gourmet Kingdom; Jade Palace Restaurant; Red Lotus

FINALISTS Cup-A-Joe, Joe Van Gogh Chapel Hill, Open Eye Cafe

Best Chef in Wake County

Best Chinese restaurant in Wake County

Best Coffee shop in Wake County

Five Star Restaurant

Cup A Joe

FINALISTS Brewery Bhavana, Red Dragon Chinese Restaurant, Taipei101

FINALISTS Fount Coffee + Kitchen, Jubala Coffee, Sola Coffee Cafe

Sister Liu’s Kitchen

Best ChoColate in the triangle

Best CupCake in the triangle

FINALISTS Happy China; Neo-China Restaurant; Shanghai Restaurant

Videri Chocolate Factory

Smallcakes Durham

FINALISTS Escazu Chocolates, Fera’wyn’s Chocolate Café, Matthew’s Chocolates

FINALISTS The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery, Cupcakes d’Amour, Gigi’s Cupcakes

Best Chef in orange/Chatham County Vimala Rajendran

Ashley Christensen FINALISTS Cheetie Kumar; Jeff Seizer; Scott Crawford

Best Chinese restaurant in Durham County


September 9, 2020

FINALISTS Nantucket Grill; The Yogurt Pump Weaver Street Market

Best Desserts in Wake County Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery FINALISTS Bittersweet; lucettegrace; Two Roosters Ice Cream

Best Distillery in the triangle Durham Distillery

FINALISTS Mystic Farm & Distilling Company; Oak City Amaretto; TOPO Distillery

Best Donut in the triangle Monuts FINALISTS Baker’s Dozen Donut Shop; Duck Donuts; Krispy Kreme

Best french restaurant in the triangle

Best irish PuB in the triangle

Vin Rouge

Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub

FINALISTS Coquette; Rue Cler; Saint Jacques

FINALISTS Doherty’s Irish Pub & Restaurant; Hibernian Pub Glenwood Avenue; Hibernian Irish Pub and Restaurant North Raleigh

Best fries in the triangle Five Guys FINALISTS Al’s Burger Shack; BurgerFi; Heavenly Buffaloes

Best frozen treats in the triangle The Parlour

FINALISTS FRESH. Local Ice Cream; LocoPops; Two Roosters Ice Cream

Trophy Brewing & Taproom Best Brewery in Wake County, Best Locally Made Craft Beer in the Triangle

Best Draft Beer selection in Wake county


Raleigh Beer Garden

Best Draft Beer selection in Durham county Beer Study—Durham

FINALISTS Clouds Brewing; Fullsteam Brewery; The Glass Jug Beer Lab; Hi-Wire Brewing—Durham; Pour Taproom: Durham

Best Draft Beer selection in orange / chatham county Beer Study

FINALISTS House of Hops; Steel String Brewery; The Wooden Nickel Public House

Best family frienDly restaurant in the triangle FINALISTS Angie’s Restaurant; Pompieri Pizza; Over the Falls

Best fooD truck in the triangle Chirba Chirba

Gocciolina FINALISTS Alex & Teresa’s Pizzeria & Trattoria; Garibaldi Trattoria-Pizza-Pasta; Mothers & Sons Trattoria

Best JaPanese restaurant in Durham county M Sushi FINALISTS Dashi; Kurama Japanese Seafood; Shiki Sushi

Best JaPanese restaurant in orange / chatham county

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering

FINALISTS Neomonde Mediterranean Raleigh; Sassool; Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar

Best hot Dog in the triangle Snoopy’s Hot Dogs & More

FINALISTS The Cardinal Bar; The Roast Grill; Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs

Elmo’s Diner

Best italian restaurant in the triangle

Best greek/ meDiterranean restaurant in the triangle

FINALISTS Flying Saucer Draught Emporium; Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage; State of Beer


FINALISTS Akai Hana Japanese Restaurant; Mr Tokyo Japanese Restaurant; OiShii

Best JaPanese restaurant in Wake county Waraji Japanese Restaurant

FINALISTS City Market Sushi; Kai Sushi & Sake Bar; Kanki Japanese House of Steaks & Sushi

Best Juice Bar in the triangle

Best inDian restaurant in the triangle

Raleigh Raw Juice Bar & Cafe

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

FINALISTS Clean Juice; Juicekeys; Kwench Juice Cafe

FINALISTS Garland; Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar; Viceroy

FINALISTS American Meltdown; Cousins Maine Lobster Raleigh; Succotash Durham

September 9, 2020


Best Late Night MeaL iN DurhaM CouNty

The Parlour Best Frozen Treats in the Triangle, Best Desserts in Durham County

Parts & Labor FINALISTS Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub; Cosmic Cantina; Dashi

FINALISTS Neomonde Mediterranean Raleigh; Sassoo;, Sitti

Best NeW restauraNt iN DurhaM CouNty

The Wooden Nickel Public House


FINALISTS Linda’s Bar & Grill; The Northside District; Time-Out Restaurant—East Franklin

FINALISTS Boricua Soul at American Tobacco Campus; M Pocha

Best Late Night MeaL iN Wake CouNty

Best NeW restauraNt iN oraNge / ChathaM CouNty

Players Retreat

Hawthorne & Wood

FINALISTS Carolina Ale House; Char Grill; MoJoe’s Burger Joint

FINALISTS Bonchon; Cham Thai Cuisine at Carrboro; James Pharmacy

Best LatiN aMeriCaN restauraNt iN DurhaM CouNty Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas

FINALISTS Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken; COPA; Gonza Tacos Y Tequila

Best LatiN aMeriCaN restauraNt iN oraNge/oraNge CouNty Carrburritos FINALISTS Fiesta Grill Restaurant; El Restaurante Ixtapa; Tacos Los Altos

Best LatiN aMeriCaN restauraNt iN Wake CouNty Gonza Tacos Y Tequila

FINALISTS Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken; Centro; so•ca

Best NeW restauraNt iN Wake CouNty

Poole’side Pies

Best LoCaLLy MaDe CiDer iN the triaNgLe

Best MexiCaN restauraNt iN DurhaM CouNty

Bull City Ciderworks

Gonza Tacos Y Tequila

FINALISTS Botanist and Barrel; Chatham Cider Works; The Naughty Penguin

FINALISTS Dos Perros; NUVOTACO; Taqueria La Vaquita

Best outDoor DiNiNg iN the triaNgLe

Best LoCaLLy MaDe Craft Beer iN the triaNgLe

Best MexiCaN restauraNt iN oraNge/ChathaM CouNty


Trophy Wife, Trophy Brewing Co.


FINALISTS Guglhupf Bakery; Cafe & Biergarten; Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar; Transfer Co. Food Hall

FINALISTS bartaco; Fiesta Grill Restaurant; El Restaurante Ixtapa

Best Pie iN DurhaM CouNty

FINALISTS Cloud Surfer; Trophy Brewing Co.; Grove; Brewery Bhavana; Kolsch; White Street Brewing

Best LoCaLLy MaDe Liquor iN the triaNgLe Conniption Navy Strength Gin, Durham Distillery

FINALISTS Krupnikas; The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits Company; Oak City Amaretto; Vodka; Topo Distillery September 9, 2020

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering

Best Late Night MeaL iN oraNge / ChathaM CouNty


Best MiDDLe easterN restauraNt iN the triaNgLe

Best MexiCaN restauraNt iN Wake CouNty Gonza Tacos Y Tequila

FINALISTS Centro; Frida’s Patio Modern Mexican Cuisine; Gringo A Go Go

FINALISTS High Horse; Locals Oyster Bar; Osha Thai Kitchen and Sushi

East Durham Bake Shop

FINALISTS Bean Traders; Foster’s Market; Hope Valley Diner; The Refectory Cafe

Best Pie in Orange/Chatham COunty

Best sOuthern fOOD restaurant in the triangle

Weaver Street Market

Mama Dip’s Kitchen

FINALISTS Crook’s Corner; Mama Dip’s Kitchen; The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering

FINALISTS Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Poole’s

Best Pie in Wake COunty Best sPOrts Bar in Durham COunty


Tobacco Road Sports Cafe

FINALISTS Burney’s Sweets & More; Main Street Grille; Cafe & Bakery; Slice Pie Company

FINALISTS Bralie’s Sports Bar, Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub, Dain’s Place

Best Pizza in Durham COunty Pizzeria Toro

Best sPOrts Bar in Orange/Chatham COunty

FINALISTS Hutchins Garage; Pompieri Pizza; Randy’s Pizza

The Wooden Nickel Public House

Best Pizza in Orange/Chatham COunty

FINALISTS The Kraken, Tobacco Road Sports Café, Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom

Pizzeria Mercato

Best sPOrts Bar in Wake COunty

FINALISTS Capp’s Pizzeria & Trattoria; Carrboro Pizza Oven; Napoli Pizzeria & Gelateria

Players Retreat

Best Pizza in Wake COunty Lilly’s Pizza

Sister Liu’s Kitchen

FINALISTS Oakwood Pizza Box; Poole’side Pies; Trophy Brewing & Pizza


FINALISTS Carolina Ale House, My Way Tavern, Sharky’s Place

Best Chinese Restaurant in Durham County

Best steak in Durham COunty NanaSteak

Best salaD in the triangle Happy + Hale FINALISTS CoreLife Eatery; DICED (D3) Salads, Wraps + Bowls; Manhattan Cafe & Catering

Best sanDWiCh in Durham COunty Toast FINALISTS Eastcut Sandwich Bar; KoKyu Na’Mean; Lucky’s Delicatessen

Best sanDWiCh in Orange/Chatham COunty

Best seafOOD restaurant in the triangle

Merritt’s Grill

Saltbox Seafood Joint

FINALISTS Neal’s Deli, The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering, The Wooden Nickel Public House

FINALISTS 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Locals Oyster Bar, Saint James Seafood

Best sanDWiCh in Wake COunty

Best small Plates/taPas in the triangle

La Farm Bakery

Mateo Bar de Tapas

FINALISTS ALIMENTARI AT LEFT BANK, Manhattan Cafe & Catering, Village Deli and Grill

FINALISTS Barcelona Wine Bar, Brewery Bhavana, Juju Durham

FINALISTS Mateo Bar de Tapas; Metro 8 Steakhouse; Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Best steak in Orange/Chatham COunty Bin 54 Steak & Cellar

FINALISTS Elaine’s On Franklin; Farm House Restaurant; Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill

September 9, 2020


Best steak in Wake County Angus Barn

FINALISTS Rey’s Restaurant; Sullivan’s Steakhouse.; Vinnie’s Steak House & Tavern

Best sunday BrunCh in durham County Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

FINALISTS Elmo’s Diner; Monuts; Vin Rouge

Best sunday BrunCh in orange/Chatham County

Saltbox Seafood Joint Best Seafood Restaurant in the Triangle

Acme Food & Beverage Co


FINALISTS Elmo’s Diner; The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering; Venable Rotisserie Bistro

Best sunday BrunCh in Wake County Tupelo Honey FINALISTS Coquette; The Fiction Kitchen; The Piper’s Restaurant and Tavern

Best sushi in durham County

Best Vegan-friendly restaurant in durham County

Best Veggie Burger in durham County

Best Wine list in the triangle Angus Barn

Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas

Bull City Burger and Brewery

FINALISTS Elmo’s Diner; Only Burger; Town Hall Burger and Beer

FINALISTS Bar Brunello; Barcelona Wine Bar; Vidrio

FINALISTS Dos Perros; Earth to Us; Goorsha

Best Vegan-friendly restaurant in orange/Chatham County

M Sushi FINALISTS SakeBomb; Shiki Sushi; Sushi Love

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Best sushi in orange/Chatham County

FINALISTS Mediterranean Deli, Bakery; and Catering, The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering; Spotted Dog Restaurant & Bar

Akai Hana Japanese Restaurant

FINALISTS Kurama Sushi & Noodle Express; OiShii; Spicy 9 Sushi Bar & Asian Restaurant; Sushi Nikko

Best Vegan-friendly restaurant in Wake County The Fiction Kitchen

Best sushi in Wake County Waraji Japanese Restaurant

FINALISTS City Market Sushi, Kai Sushi & Sake Bar, Sushi-Thai Cary 24

September 9, 2020

FINALISTS Fount Coffee + Kitchen; Irregardless Café; The Remedy Diner

Best Veggie Burger in orange/Chatham County The Spotted Dog

Best Wings in durham County Heavenly Buffaloes

FINALISTS Al’s Burger Shack; Buns; Elmo’s Diner

FINALISTS The Blue Note Grill; The Dankery; The House, Tomato Jake’s Pizzeria

Best Veggie Burger in Wake County

Best Wings in orange/Chatham County

The Fiction Kitchen

Heavenly Buffaloes

FINALISTS BurgerFi; MoJoe’s Burger Joint; Vegan Community Kitchen

FINALISTS The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering; Wings Over Chapel Hill; The Wooden Nickel Public House

Best Wings in Wake County Over the Falls

FINALISTS Apex Wings Restaurant & Pub; Krafty’s Burgers and Brews; WINGIN’IT Bar And Grille


YIN DEE | 10970 Chapel Hill Road, Ste. 106, Morrisville 919-237-3023 | GoFundMe:

Upcoming Virtual Events Patti Saysombath, owner of Yin Dee PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

9.9 9.10 9.11 9.13

Waiting Tables Morrisville’s best-kept secret is getting out as locals rally to help Yin Dee through the shutdown BY ANNA MUDD


ince opening in Morrisville’s MarketPlace shopping center in 2017, the Laotian and Thai street food restaurant Yin Dee has become a local favorite, with four and a half stars on Yelp and rave reviews across various platforms. But the small family business almost had to permanently close because of the COVID-19 shutdown until loyal locals rallied to save it. Alyssa Graham’s family has been in the restaurant business for 15 years. They formerly owned Champa Thai & Sushi in Raleigh. Graham’s mother, Patti Saysombath, and grandmother, Sandy Syvongsa, opened Yin Dee in April 2017. “Nothing fancy—just good food,” Saysombath says. Not long after the opening, Syvongsa passed away. Now Saysombath owns Yin Dee and works there prepping, cooking, and cleaning alongside her sister, Bounnet Boutavong. The family’s restaurants have been a huge part of Graham’s life since she was a child. “I’ve spent countless days doing homework in the office there,” she says. “My twenty-second birthday was [at Yin Dee] last year. We’ve done Friendsgiving there.” Graham felt powerless as the summer slipped away and the restaurant bore the financial toll of the pandemic. One day in late July, her sister, Morgan Snellbaker, who works at Yin Dee, came home and said that their mother had told her and another employee that the restaurant might have to close. Before the pandemic, Saysombath says, Yin Dee was thriving, but May and June brought an 80 percent drop in sales. They tried everything from reducing hours to offering preorders. Saysombath and her godsister, also a Yin Dee employee, have both gone without pay since March. They’ve had to dip into savings to keep the business afloat. A self-pro-

claimed optimist, Saysombath wanted to do whatever it took to keep the business going. But shutting down seemed an inevitable point on the horizon. Desperate, Graham decided to try something new. She took her Twitter off private, typed out everything that had been happening, and then pressed send. She also started a GoFundMe, unsure of what goal to set. It wasn’t easy—both Grahams and Saysombath felt reluctant to ask for help, especially when times are tough for the restaurant industry at large. Initially, Graham didn’t tell her mother about the fundraising efforts. When Saysombath found out about the GoFundMe, which has raised $2,870 of $3,500 to date, she was moved by the support. Regular customers commented that they would make a stop soon, people from other cities shared the post, and even people from other states contributed donations. “I cried. It makes me want to cry now,” she says. “I’m very gracious, very humbled. That will help with paying back all the credit card bills.” In just a few days, Graham’s post was shared and liked thousands of times, and the outpouring of support was evident at Yin Dee. “The parking lot was filled,” Graham says. “It had been dead for months because of COVID-19. We were very overwhelmed, in the best way.” While the community support has helped, Yin Dee’s sales are still down 50 percent from what they were before the pandemic. Many of its customers were office workers who are working remotely during the pandemic. Saysombath, who says several employees have high-risk family members, has no plans yet for a full reopening. Instead, Yin Dee offers takeout or private dining, in which customers can rent the space and order from a set menu. They also want to get outdoor dining going in the future, for which they remain hopeful. “In the past two weeks, business has been good,” Saysombath says. “I hope it keeps up. As long as I can pay rent and hopefully get back on payroll, I’ll be happy.” W

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September 9, 2020



Live Off Stage Launching their fall seasons in a pandemic, performing-arts presenters scramble to adapt very old habits for a very new world BY BYRON WOODS


very June, local performing arts patrons traditionally face the annual tragedy of choice: having to select a handful of shows from the flashy websites and eye-catching mailers that tease a bewildering smorgasbord of more than 200 events from regional universities and presenters. To say the least, 2020 has been different. After the pandemic wiped all live shows off the books in March, midsummer came and went with little or no word on future seasons from regional mainstays including Carolina Performing Arts, Duke Performances, and NC State LIVE. Presenters’ websites slipped into an eerie state of suspended animation, leaving patrons with little insight into the future. When season rollouts have taken place, they’ve tended to be both incremental and uncharacteristically glitchy. After PlayMakers said that passes for a series of six virtual productions would go on sale September 1, ticketing remained offline for two additional days, and the language on the company’s webpage about individual and season tickets was confusing. Meanwhile, patrons may have wondered if the five virtual musical offerings visible last week on the Duke Performances website were the only events they had on tap for the fall, or if two “virtual coffee breaks” featuring winners from a “Wolfpack’s Got Talent” contest were the only things to come from NC State LIVE. But behind the disarray, as presenters try to adapt very old habits for a very new world, frantic work has been going on to make and salvage production plans. “The performing arts is an industry very much in crisis right now,” says Bobby Asher, the new director of Duke Performances. 26

September 9, 2020

“Our entire field has been turned completely on its head.” Amy Russell, the director of programming at Carolina Performing Arts, cites the sudden closure last week of Columbia Artists, a 90-year-old classical music institution that represented Leonard Bernstein and Leontyne Price, as evidence of the deep threat the pandemic poses to such institutions. “It’s just a completely different business, overnight,” Russell says. “You feel like you’re in triage mode: What can I do? Who haven’t I talked to? Who do I need to check on?” PlayMakers Rep has to raise $1.5 million to cover a shortfall from canceled spring productions to keep the company “resilient over the next few years,” according to producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch. Its six-show season involves turning Paul Green Theatre into something like a soundstage for livestreamed and filmed productions. The season includes four solo shows, starting with a remount of Kane Smego’s Temples of Lung and Air beginning September 28. NC State LIVE has a different response to the financial pinch; it plans to operate on virtually no revenue this year, according to director Sharon Moore. “I’m not convinced that we can greatly monetize livestreaming events,” Moore says. “There’s so much out there now, and it’s so overwhelming.” The program will continue through student fee allocations and stepped-up fundraising efforts among supporters. “We’ll get through this, and the arts will still be here,” Moore says. In the meantime, NC State LIVE will offer free, online, monthly “happy hour” presentations in which artists can directly engage with audiences. The series begins

Rennie Harris PureMovement


at 5:30 p.m. October 6 with musical excerpts and conversation with Las Cafeteras. There will also be pop-up performances by local artists, including a September 17 gig with George Hage from Jack the Radio, for those still on campus. But Moore’s most exciting initiatives are two-year-long social justice residencies in which cellist Shana Tucker and choreographers Tommy Moore and Murielle Elizeon will work with campus and community partners on “issues of value, belonging, voice, and how bodies can tell those stories, to ask how we find a better way to live in the world together going forward.” At Duke Performances, Asher and colleagues have commissioned high-quality films of artists initially booked for live performances. The season begins September 12 with Attacca Quartet performing Beethoven and North Carolina composer Caroline Shaw. Other events in jazz, dance, and world music will be announced monthly during the fall. At Carolina Performing Arts, conversations with artists and patrons about the support they need have led to two initiatives. Details of a livestream series of artist interviews and performances hosted by Tift Merritt will go public on CPA’s website on September 10. The presenter will also sponsor two programs of adult online classes under the name “Feedback: The Institute of Performance.” The first course, starting October 6, deals with the element of “liveness” in

performance. The second, beginning October 29, addresses arts economies. Tuition is free, but online registration is required. When the American Dance Festival canceled its summer season of live performances, choreographer Monica Bill Barnes had to shelve a scheduled world premiere. But the choreographer repurposes movement and interviews associated with the work in the virtual run of Keep Moving September 30–October 4. In the coming weeks, ADF will produce four other virtual events, including a reimagined performance of hiphop choreographer Rennie Harris’s Funkedified and the premiere of dance film by Mark Dendy and Stephen Donovan. The goal, according to Executive Director Jodee Nimerichter, is to provide “a broader combination of experiences, including performances, that reengages artists and builds platforms of collaboration across countries.” That includes an international partnership between choreographer Dana Ruttenberg and Netta Yerushalmy. With each of these presenters, a shift that began in some cases years before the pandemic has picked up urgency: a change in emphasis from individual, one-night performances to extended interactions between communities and creators while making work. Local presenters realize staying yoked to a professional infrastructure based on single make-or-break events leaves them vulnerable. Still to be resolved: Can they devise a different model that succeeds? W


Her Take: On Carolina Hip Hop proved remote operation could be achieved much more easily than first thought. I think we will generally see facilities with fewer people and more on-air content being generated centrally instead of locally.” That trend makes local, independent voices like Chavis’s more important than ever, and while he was a caught a bit off-guard by the layoff, he quickly pivoted. Before he was on K97.5, he did a college radio show in Norfolk, Virginia called The Talk of the Town, which he rebooted—reuniting with the original cohosts—as The Talk of the Town, Unfiltered, which he streams on YouTube and Facebook. So far, former No Limit Records artist Mystikal and actor/comedian Jay Pharoah have been featured guests. Chavis is also leading workshops on “cultural competency basics” to help people understand how media and pop culture influence racism and bias, and he and his wife have launched a T-shirt line that builds on their prior “Black Love” brunch series. I caught up with the husband, father of two, and proud stay-at-home dad to discuss his radio journey and his impeccable hustle. ILLUSTRATION BY JON FULLER

I Can Live Without My Radio Former K97.5 radio personality Dion “Showtime” Chavis reinvents himself in the midst of a pandemic BY KYESHA JENNINGS


eptember marks the seventh month that Americans have been under some sort of stay-at-home order. COVID-19 has led to historically high unemployment, leaving 30 million people without a steady paycheck. The forced stillness has made creatives re-envision entrepreneurship, their brands, and how they market themselves. A month before Dion “Showtime” Chavis got laid off from K97.5, where he was an on-air personality, the Raleigh hip-hop radio station had furloughed employees because of the pandemic. With more than 10 years of radio experience and an impressive ratings record, Chavis felt relatively safe. But the pandemic might be accelerating a pre-existing trend in radio. A recent article in the industry publication Radio World quoted a corporate executive at a major radio group: “It is pretty clear that corporate radio is trending to more centralized operations in general, similar to what iHeartMedia is doing,” the executive said. “If anything, this pandemic

INDY: What was going through your mind when K97.5 let you go? DION “SHOWTIME” CHAVIS: A part of

being in this field is that you have to foresee the things that are coming. And I think it’s important, particularly in a field that many folks say is dying, like radio, that you kind of look at the writing on the wall. I never wanted to be the person who was caught off-guard, and then I’m left trying to figure out how to pay my mortgage. This had been on my mind for at least five years prior to them letting me go. Also, I wasn’t passionate about it, to be honest with you. I felt like I lost my passion. I lost my fight for doing what I was doing because I’ve been doing it for so long, and it just started to become redundant. Sometimes, when you don’t move and it’s time for you to move, God will find a way to move you. We put ourselves in these situations where we get stuck and comfortable, and then God comes and he’s like, “Nah, player there’s some other work for you to do.” Did you have a game plan in place?

No, it took me minute to process it. Because if someone tells you that you’re going to lose your main stream of income, right? Your mind should automatically go to, “All right, well, what am I going to do to

keep food on the table?” I got a wife, two kids, and a dog, so I got to be sure they straight. I took a couple of days. I talked to my wife about it and began to process it. You know, your routine changes. I had the same routine for five years. You have been super productive since the layoff, with the revitalization of The Talk of the Town.

It’s so crazy how things just have a way of coming full circle. The Talk of the Town was a morning show that I created over 10 years ago. My cohosts and I, Rich Girl, D. Marie, and DJ Green, had this chemistry. When I moved here, we didn’t pursue it anymore. But for the last 10 years we have all remained in contact even though we were pursuing different things. You know, people grow up and kind of move on with their lives. But during the pandemic, of course, everybody was in this whole “Let’s go live” thing. And of course, DJ D-Nice set it off with the Club Quarantine parties he was doing. That was the inception of everyone saying, “All right, let’s create some content where we go live.” So I reached out to all of them individually, and I said, “You know, what do y’all think about doing a Talk of the Town reunion show? People hadn’t seen us together in over 10 years. The way that we ended the show was kind of abrupt back in the day. Nobody ever knew what happened. People still come up to me or hate me to this day and say, “Oh, I miss y’all on the radio. I miss Talk of the Town.” It felt like this was the perfect way to kind of seal what our legacy was as a unit. You know what I mean? So we linked up and we did a virtual reunion show. The show was supposed to be for like an hour and ended up being like three hours on Facebook Live. The chemistry was still there. It was super crazy. Afterwards, I said, “Well, what do y’all think about turning this reunion into like a real thing? A real piece of content that we produced and work on?” And everyone agreed. We started doing our show every Thursday night, and the show is something that’s growing organically. We started off with maybe a couple of views every Thursday. And now, one of our most recent episodes where we interviewed Mystikal during the airing of the No Limit Chronicles has 49,000 views. W

September 9, 2020



Raund Up Hot-air balloons and David Mamet in two new releases from the beat-music bastion BY YAIR RUBINSTEIN AND BRIAN HOWE


Your Week. Every Wednesday. 28

September 9, 2020

n September 4, Raund Haus cofounder Hubbble released “The Plot (Thickens),” a gorgeous new hypnotic house single. Inspired by the dreary cityscapes of Glengarry Glenn Ross, David Mamet’s expletive-laden satire of American capitalism, the song’s elegiac mood evokes desolate rainsoaked streets, abandoned storefronts, and empty subway cars. The two main ingredients are a string sample from the film’s jazz noir soundtrack and a four-tothe-floor kick drum. Other than a brief half-tempo interlude, Hubbble wisely restrains the song from taking too many twists and turns. Instead, he allows the groove to patiently stretch out so we can luxuriate in its dark atmosphere. What really distinguishes “The Plot (Thickens)” are the gauzy textures Hubbble wraps around the entire track. The strings sound slightly degraded, as if the producer brushed reel-to-reel tape with a few strokes of sandpaper. The low end feels distorted—not enough to overpower the mesmerizing ambiance, but just enough to add a little extra unease and forward momentum. Extra dimensions of sonic decay are produced by soulful saxophone lines that dip in and out. If the Burial comparisons aren’t obvious by now, Hubbble still carves out a unique space in a crowded field of sonic sorcerers. The muscular rhythmic drive of “The Plot (Thickens)” gives the song dancefloor credibility; its somber pensiveness and unrelenting bass could readily find a home in a typical DJ set, perhaps in that indefinable phase after the peakhour techno bangers have all been rinsed,

but the melancholic comedown has yet to fully make its appearance. Of course, given the reality of our current locked-down existence, the track’s dance-floor readiness will remain confined to the listener’s imagination. But Hubbble has created a club-worthy track whose introspective melodies and distinctive textures can still be enjoyed in the (dis)comfort of our own homes. —Yair Rubinstein


uess good things do come in threes: In mid-August, not long before local electro-poppers Body Games released an EP in retro-game form, and Sylvan Esso recreated its “Ferris Wheel” video in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Durham beat-music label Raund Haus quietly dropped FootRocket’s Block Adventurer OST: Adrift, its own entry into the video-game game. It’s the soundtrack for a forthcoming Minecraft-style indie game where apparently you “build hot-air balloons to travel to distant islands,” and this sense of

soaring motion couldn’t be a better fit for the local producer whose zeal for freerunning always translates into his zippy, nimble footwork and dreamy hiphop productions. Video game music has come a long way since the bleeps and honks produced by the Nintendo Entertainment System’s rudimentary five-channel sound chip, and instead of being straitened by the form, Foot seems freed by it, unleashing an emotive soft-synth odyssey packed with gooey melodies and punchy, propulsive rhythms. We get glassy ambient sunrises, dewy boom-bap, yearning wordless anthems, and blue-lit nighttime vibes, all imbued with the solitary wonder peculiar to video games. Find it and Hubbble’s new single on Raund Haus’s Bandcamp page, along with another new release, On the Map. The beat tape by b0nds x fushou is a moody take on instrumental hip-hop, as studiously classic as FootRocket is musically unbound. —Brian Howe W

September 9, 2020




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September 9, 2020


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September 9, 2020



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