Queen City Nerve - May 29, 2024

Page 1


Reshaping downtown Gastonia’s music scene

Block Love Charlotte expands with new Day Services Center

pg. 6


Taylor Redd breaks barriers in the spirits industry pg. 16

Pg. 2 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
Pg. 3 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM TABLE OF CONTENTS NEWS & OPINION 4 The West Midlands Master by Sam Spencer Charlotte FC coach Dean Smith talks wine, snakes and clean sheets 6 Building the Block Love Family by Ryan Pitkin New day services center allows the Block Love Charlotte team to expand services ARTS 8 Saving the World Through Spoken Word by Michaela Catoe A Poet Named Superman builds a legacy in the Queen City 10 Lifeline: Ten Cool Things To Do in Two Weeks MUSIC 12 The Rooster Crows at Midnight by Pat Moran The venue and musician at the heart of Gastonia’s growing nightlife scene 14 Soundwave FOOD & DRINK 16 A Smooth Finish by Dezanii Lewis Taylor Redd looks to take Redd Rose Vodka to the next level LIFESTYLE 18 Puzzles 21 Horoscope 22 Savage Love Thanks to our contributors: Grant Baldwin, Sam Spencer, Michaela Catoe, Bekah Whilden, Malcolm Beamon, Dave Parrish, Gregory Moore, Justin Higuchi, Ralph Arvesen and Dan Savage. PUBLISHER JUSTIN LAFRANCOIS jlafrancois@qcnerve.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF RYAN PITKIN rpitkin@qcnerve.com DIGITAL MANAGER RAYNE ANTRIM rantrim@qcnerve.com STAFF WRITERS PAT MORAN pmoran@qcnerve.com ANNIE KEOUGH akeough@qcnerve.com DEZANII LEWIS dlewis@qcnerve.com ART DIRECTOR AIDEN SIOBHAN aiden@triad-city-beat.com AD SALES EXECUTIVE RENN WILSON rwilson@qcnerve.com TO PLACE AN ADVERTISEMENT EMAIL INFO@QCNERVE.COM QUEEN CITY NERVE WELCOMES SUBMISSIONS OF ALL KINDS. PLEASE SEND SUBMISSIONS OR STORY PITCHES TO INFO @ QCNERVE.COM. QUEEN CITY NERVE IS PUBLISHED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY BY NERVE MEDIA PRODUCTIONS LLC. QUEEN CITY NERVE IS LOCATED at 417 EAST BLVD, SUITE 206, CHARLOTTE, NC, 28203. FIRST ISSUE OF QUEEN CITY NERVE FREE. EACH ADDITIONAL ISSUE $3. @QUEENCITYNERVE WWW.QCNERVE.COM COVER PHOTO BY MICHAEL CARPENTER COVER DESIGN BY: AIDEN SIOBHAN


Charlotte FC coach Dean Smith talks wine, snakes and clean sheets

On May 25, after his team drew Philadelphia Union in a scoreless game at home, Charlotte FC fullback Nathan Byrne showered, put on his street clothes and made a swift departure from the team locker room with two bottles of wine under his arms. The English defender walked through a scrum of press and photographers that was so entertained by the sight that no one bothered to catch it on film.

It’s a scene that wouldn’t have made sense before Dean Smith took over as Charlotte FC head coach in December. Smith’s love of wine, especially from Italy (“Toscana, Tuscany”), manifests itself in one of the 53-year-old’s new traditions as Charlotte FC head coach: clean sheet wine for the back line.

The new coach made a promise early on in the season that he would give out wine as gifts to his defenders and goalkeepers whenever they earned a clean sheet, keeping the other team scoreless. However, Byrne had told members of the media earlier in the week that Smith was “behind on his payments” after the defense had held other teams scoreless for the entire month of May.

“I’m going out and getting a crate of wine,” Smith told us later that day, and he finally delivered a crate of wine to the squad that weekend, making Byrne’s exit all the more comical.

After 15 matches in 2024’s campaign — almost half a season — Charlotte FC fans and players have a lot of good news to drink to. Charlotte leads Major League Soccer with the fewest goals allowed of any team (13), and is on track to have their best season ever despite losing three of its four highest-paid forwards. The club has spent most of the season solidly in playoff position.

“[Coach Smith] has really good advice for us,” said center back Adilson Malanda, the club’s star defensive player. “With his experience, he [helps] us a lot … as a defensive line we are really happy that he’s here because we can see already we’ve

conceded a lot less goals this year than at the same point.”

Malanda has a point. Charlotte FC allowed 52 goals in each of its first two seasons, or an average of 1.53 goals per match; this year Charlotte is allowing significantly fewer goals, averaging .87 per match. Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina leads the league with seven clean sheets in 15 matches. Kahlina, Malanda and center back Andrew Privett — who was playing as a midfielder for Penn State just 18 months ago — have earned MLS “Team of the Matchday” honors for their defensive work this year.

It’s a significant shift for a club with a reputation for weak defense. With Charlotte’s starting back line and goalkeeper unchanged from last year, it’s hard not to see the new head coach — a former center back himself — as one of the catalysts for the change.

Growing up in the West Midlands

Smith was born on March 19, 1971 in West Bromwich, 7 miles outside of Birmingham. His family were all supporters of Aston Villa, the biggest football club in Britain’s second city, and Smith’s father Ron was a steward at Villa Park.

Smith grew up with his mother Hilary and brother David just three train stops away from the stadium, which still holds a special place in his heart.

“[My] favorite place [I’ve played or coached] is Villa Park,” said Smith. “Visiting Wembley is great as well … but Villa Park is the ground.”

Smith described a childhood playing with the other kids in the neighborhood; since he was 6, he always wanted to be a footballer.

“Like all my best friends, we were brought up by our mums,” said Smith. “My dad was out at six in the morning and back at six at night … I would probably credit all our athletic development by just

being boys, just being kids playing street football.”

Smith attended Dartmouth High School and played football for the school team. As a youngster he tried to play midfield, but told Paul Marston of the Evening Mail & Sports Argus that he “got a nosebleed every time I crossed the half-way line” in a 1993 interview. Smith would end up a center back.

After playing for his school league and a youth stint at Newcastle United, Smith started his professional career at Walsall, just 10 miles north of his family home. After playing with the under-18 squad, he had an unexpected first team debut at 17 years old on Feb. 11, 1989 in front of 14,203 fans in Sunderland, 200 miles from Birmingham.

Though Smith didn’t know he would be playing with the top squad, John Barnwell, his coach at the time, had called Smith’s parents and family to make sure they were in the stands for his debut.

Though he would play 165 more matches for Walsall, Smith said his debut on the first team at Walsall was the most memorable moment of his playing career.

“I didn’t expect to play, I played and we won three-nil,” said Smith. “It set me up on my career, and it was the only place I wanted to be then. There’s other games you can remember, but that was the main one for me.”

Debuts hold a special place in Smith’s heart, and he’s worked the lessons from his time playing into

his approach as coach.

“When Tyger [Smalls] was playing against New England, I wanted him to make sure he told his mom and dad he was starting,” said Smith. “I think it’s really important, it’s a big thing for all kids, and I think it’s an important thing that they can share with their families as well. I still try and make sure the goodness that John Barnwell did for me, I try and pass on to other players and make sure their families are a part of their debut.”

When Smith broke into the first team at Walsall, he was surrounded by veteran players, including many who played for their national teams.

“There are a lot of players who I was fortunate enough to play with when I was younger in my career who probably helped guide me a little bit,” said Smith. “I certainly learned a lot from them just training with them every day.”

After a couple years with the club, Smith was named captain at Walsall in the summer of 1993 despite being just 22 years old. He had “tried out” for the role of captain the season before, wearing the armband for three matches while the previous captain served a suspension; Walsall won all three games under the young skipper.

“Responsibility tends to drive me on,” the young Smith told Marston in 1993. “Being competitive is what my game is about, and I like to think I am getting through to the other players. But really,

Pg. 4 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


when a match starts, you need 11 ‘captains’ on the pitch, all doing their job.”

Smith’s time as a captain for multiple teams influenced how he identifies players for the role.

“With all the captains I choose, I think it’s ones that I think can go in and create other leaders rather than followers,” said Smith. “It’s the person first; what’s his mentality, what’s his drive, what are his standards?”

In his playing days, Smith had multiple nicknames befitting a captain: “Deano,” “Smudge,” a common moniker for Brits named Smith; “Ginge” due to the bright red hair of his youth; and “Goughy” (rhymes with “coffee”) based on his resemblance to another player.

“We had a Scottish center back who used to play alongside me, and he thought I looked like a famous Rangers, Tottenham, and Scotland player named Richard Gough,” said Smith. “So they called me ‘Goughy’ after Richard Gough.”

Smith left Walsall after his first season as captain, but assumed that role at his future clubs.

Deano runs with the Bulls

Smith didn’t want to leave Walsall, but the club was in dire financial straits — a recurring theme for many of the clubs in the second, third and fourth tier of English football.

“The chairman told me if you don’t go, we might go bust,” said Smith.

With a transfer fee of £80,000, Smith was a record signing for the Bulls of Hereford United FC.

“I will always be their record signing,” Smith told us; the original club dissolved in 2014.

At Hereford, Smith had 26 goals in 146 appearances across all competitions — significantly more than his two goals for Walsall.

You can also see increasing confidence on display in Smith’s writings at the time. As captain, he had a “Living Room Gossip” column in Hereford’s program that he signed with the sobriquet “Smudge,” and he wasn’t afraid to brag, concluding one column with a shout out to himself.

“Before I go I just [thought] I would like to mention my brace

against Scarborough [in a previous match]. Enough said. See you soon, Smudge,” Smith wrote in Hereford United’s March 25, 1995 program.

Smith went to Leyton Orient right after a time of financial turmoil for the club. The club had been in such bad financial straits that Orient’s owner put the club up for sale — assets and obligations — for only five pounds.

During one of our conversations, I handed Smith a program from one of his matches with Orient. It included the referee’s notes for the match, in which Smith had been written up for committing a foul. Smith remembered the match immediately.

“This was a cup game, wasn’t it?” he asked rhetorically, knowing the answer was yes. “I got sent off … if it was the cup game in the second round we won after extra time, yeah, I got sent off.”

While that red card was one of many for Smith in the fall of 1998, his stint at Orient would be the longest of his career. He appeared in 239 matches for the Greater London club and had 32 goals as captain and the designated kicker for penalties.

The loquacious Smith always has a turn of phrase ready, so it’s no surprise you can find his words in many of the souvenir programs from his playing days. Leyton Orient programs featured a column

called “Pearls from Dean.”

“They were transcribed from conversations, I quite enjoyed doing it,” Smith told us when asked about the “Pearls from Dean” column. “When I first started playing at Walsall, I used to do a column in the local sports paper every weekend, again transcribed from conversation, and I used to quite enjoy doing them.”

When I handed Smith a February 2002 Leyton Orient program opened to “Pearls from Dean,” his eyes lit up.

“It’s a good full page really, innit?” said Smith. “Wow, that’s a blast from the past. Same haircut as well.”

Goughy the gaffer

When Smith left Orient, his playing career took him to Sheffield Wednesday, then Port Vale. Smith hung up his boots in 2005 after 13 matches with Port Vale to go back to Orient as a youth coach, and shortly thereafter as assistant manager under his former teammate Martin Ling.

Ling got Smith to make the transition by calling him up after a Vale match and saying, “Listen, I’ve just watched you, your legs are going, come and be my youth team coach.”

Eventually, Smith would take over as manager at Walsall, where his playing career started, and then Brentford.

After establishing Brentford as a force in the EFL Championship — England’s second tier and a league Smith feels is equivalent to MLS — Smith became the manager at his most beloved club, Aston Villa. There, he made his biggest mark as a coach to date, leading Villa to promotion from the Championship back into the Premier League, where the team has played ever since.

At Villa, he had the chance to develop Jack Grealish, who later joined Premier League champions Manchester City on a £100-million transfer fee, at the time the record fee for a British player.

After coaching stints at Norwich City and Leicester City that saw both teams relegated from the Premier League, Smith attended his first Charlotte FC match and quickly became the club’s top candidate for the head coaching job at the end of the team’s second season.

The first time we ever spoke with Dean Smith one on one, he had just been introduced as Charlotte FC’s third head coach. He was impressed by how far the club had come in only two years and felt a real warmth at the club despite its young age and new facilities.

“I think every club I’ve worked for, I’ve invested totally into it,” Smith told us in December. “I think it helps that I’ve been involved in this game for 36 years as a player and a coach … We have to become successful, but consistent as well.”

Though Charlotte FC is Smith’s first coaching job outside of England, he was already well acquainted with the Carolinas. His son Jamie started playing college soccer in Gaffney, South Carolina in 2017 before going on to play for NC State, USL League Two’s Asheville City SC, and most recently USL League One’s Greenville Triumph.

However, despite many previous trips to Asheville and Charlotte, the Carolinas can still surprise the gaffer.

“Just walking down the greenway and seeing snakes, I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’” said Smith when asked about the differences between Charlotte and England. “I know there are snakes here, but they seem to cross my path all the time … [one time] I was walking down the greenway and had three snakes cross my path.”

Smith told Queen City Nerve he’s added an app to his phone to help identify the snakes he encounters.

Continued on page 20

Pg. 5 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


New day services center allows the Block Love Charlotte team to expand services

Deborah Phillips knows what it’s like to need help.

There was a time in her past when Phillips was forced to flee a domestic violence situation with her son and her dog, all of whom slept in a van for a few nights until they could find a room that would accept the pet.

Then there was the time when she was facing eviction and a local church promised to put her up, only to then stop answering phone calls when she needed to take them up on the offer. In that case, a cousin stepped up at the last minute and paid enough back rent to keep her and her kids housed.

These experiences helped turn Phillips, founder of Block Love Charlotte, into the crusading warrior she is today, always willing to help a neighbor in need.

“It’s like, if there’s a need, I just want to meet that need. I can’t see someone having a need and somebody telling them no,” she explains. “I’ve been there and it’s hurtful.”

Phillips is sitting in Susan’s Reading Corner, a nook tucked away at the Block Love Charlotte Day Services Center, which celebrated its grand opening on April 20. The corner is named for Susan Dillehay, a member of the Block Love family who was tragically stabbed to death in Uptown in March.

“I tell everybody, anybody that we serve, even if it’s just for a day, that’s family,” says Phillips. “We’re hoping everything that we do seals a bond or a connection. But those that we lost, that’s another thing, people don’t get to see that side.”

Though Phillips and the Block Love team moved into the space on North Graham Street in the summer of 2022, this spring’s grand opening marked a new chapter for the organization, which began as a meal service for people struggling with homelessness and has over time become an organization that offers wrap-around services.

Now members of the Block Love family can drop

by the center for free grocery giveaways, request clothing items, access the internet, take part in workforce development, seek help in the search for housing, access health care during Care Ring’s regular mobile unit visits, and access services from a number of other partner organizations.

“We’ve always had that need to express to people that we do more than just serve meals,” says Phillips. “I know what they see on our social media, but it’s not always easy to convey to people that we do more than meals, we do more than tents and sleeping bags. Just about everything that we’re now providing in this space, we have been providing in the streets … Being in this space and knowing that now it is tangible, they can actually visibly see it.”

Phillips began Block Love Charlotte as a weekly dinner service on “The Block” at Phifer Avenue between North College and North Tryon streets in Uptown in 2018. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with services for folks struggling with homelessness drying up, Phillips and her team began visiting The Block nightly.

As they became more in tune with the needs of the community, they began offering more than food, providing folks with everything from needed

daily hygiene items to clothing, tents and any number of other necessities.

They’ve also partnered with government agencies and other nonprofits around the city to help with urgent housing needs, either saving people from evictions or working to find them emergency housing in a motel or similar place in a time of desperation.

Jonathan Goggins is one Block Love family member who has gone from client to part-time employee. He helps Phillips during nightly meal service and with biweekly grocery giveaways at the

Day Services Center, among other things.

After falling victim to multiple robberies including a home invasion at his former home in Grier Heights, Goggins packed up and left. With an abandonment on his housing record, however, it was nearly impossible to find a new place for rent. He found himself hanging out at Tent City, a large encampment that sprang up along 12th Street near the Urban Ministry Center during the pandemic, though he says he never slept there.

Nevertheless, without a consistent place to stay, Goggins hopped at the chance to join the dozens of people living along 12th Street who were moved into a motel near the airport in February 2021.

That’s where he met Phillips, who was brought on to run operations at the hotel.

“She basically got to a point where she was coming out of her own pocket to pay for everything,” Goggins remembers. “That really took me back, because normally when you’re dealing with a nonprofit, if they run out of funding, they just run out of funding. They’re not coming out of their own pocket to do nothing. She’s different.”

Over the last three years, Phillips has helped Goggins access health care as he fights glioblastoma,

Pg. 6 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


helped him stay employed after he was fired from Family Dollar for accepting a $100 bill. Finally, she helped him secure stable housing at The Gaston at North End, an apartment complex run by Inlivian at the former site of Dillehay Courts, in walking distance to Block Love’s new Day Services Center.

“Even if it wasn’t for the money, I’d still work here,” Goggins says of Block Love Charlotte. “[Phillips] has more of a grassroots mentality. She has the same heart that I do. I love that about her. She’s always giving, regardless of what’s going on, always giving.”

In order to continue giving, however, Block Love Charlotte needs to be on the receiving end sometimes. After opening the new Day Services Center, the organization set its eyes on expansion, with hopes to raise $500,000 to help renovate the suite next to the center, where they can host more immersive programming like workforce development, audio and visual media training, and a barber shop that would offer free haircuts as well as an academy for aspiring stylists, among other ideas.

At the time of this writing, Charlotte City Council has proposed a $230,000 allocation for Block Love Charlotte to be included in its Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which would match its FY 2024 funding. Because it was not included in the budget originally proposed by the city manager but rather recommended as an addendum after the fact, council will still need to vote on the recommendation at a special meeting on May 30 before voting to approve the full budget in June.

While the city funding is helpful, Phillips points out that it is restricted to line items listed in the organization’s budget request, which means it can’t be used on bills for the center or emergency operations needed outside of the city, when the organization is called on to help folks in desperate situations outside of Charlotte city limits.

“When we see how fast we’re rolling through these dollars, some days I get nervous,” says Phillips. “Our unrestricted funds bucket right now looks like a wading pool; it’s very

shallow water. We need to bring that up, because at the end of the day, we’ve still got bills to pay, which isn’t included in this restricted funding.

“If I got somebody that says, ‘Hey, I’ve seen some folks sleeping outside in Rock Hill. I don’t know what to do with them. Mom’s got this baby. I hear them crying,’ I can’t tell them no. With unrestricted funds, I can at least put them in a room until I can get connected to resources in Rock Hill or Cabarrus County or Gaston County,” she continued. “But we’re so low on unrestricted funds. Right now, it’s at the point where it’s heartbreaking.”

On June 9, Block Love Charlotte will host one of its most beloved fundraisers: the annual BLC Community Car Show, which will see dozens of souped up luxury cars on display in the parking lot of the Day Services Center.

The event will also feature food trucks, games for children, vendor tents from partnering agencies and organizations and more.

“We make it family-oriented,” says Phillip. “Not saying other car shows don’t, but trust me, I have sat in that hot sun and baked with nothing to do. No, you’re going to have things to do.”

Be it during events or on a random weekday afternoon, Phillips emphasizes that the Day Services Center is meant to be a safe space, regardless of

anyone’s situation, struggle, or whatever they might feel judged or stigmatized by elsewhere.

For her, it’s all about continuing to build the Block Love family.

“We want to make it a community environment,” she says. “I don’t like hearing ‘they, them, those people.’

It’s not ‘those people.’ It’s us … Why would you not help us? It’s not always rainbows and perfect endings. You might not even get a thank you, or you may get a thank you one day and cussed out the next. But be there, show up for somebody. We do that consistently.”

Visit blockloveclt.org to learn more about Block Love Charlotte and its upcoming car show.


Pg. 7 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


A Poet Named Superman builds a legacy in the Queen City

A spoken-word artist who never anticipated being an artist, Greg Murray, also known as A Poet Named Superman, did not have a typical introduction to poetry.

A native of Neptune, New Jersey, Murray began to dabble in the medium while spending time with his college friends in 2006. A combination of the “diverse crew” and “friends to lovers” tropes, as he described them, the group’s mix of eclectic personalities was a catalyst for fueling artistic endeavors.

At some point, the girls started writing poems about the guys, prompting the guys to reciprocate. It went on for about a month or so, but Murray wasn’t participating yet.

“I’m just sitting here like Michael Jackson in Thriller eating my popcorn,” Murray said.

It soon became clear that he was more than a passive observer, however. During one sharing session, both sides realized Murray was playing the role of double agent. He had been editing for both sides, leading to both poems incorporating phrasing that originated from him.

“And they were just like, well now you’ve got to write a poem,” Murray said.

Despite initial hesitation, Murray penned his inaugural poem, “First Is the Worst.” He views it as a triple entendre, symbolizing the reluctance to start, the burdens of leadership and the childhood taunts directed at those who lead.

Something connected for Murray, who continued to compose poetry for five years before stepping into the realm of spoken word. From childhood tales of soaring across the living room to playful teasing of his “superhero complex,” his chosen alias reflected his admiration of his favorite superhero. As his poetry evolved from hobby to passion, allowing

him to distinguish between his craft and personal identity, he eventually became A Poet Named Superman.

“A friend came up to me and told me ‘You’ve got to have a stage name,’” Murray said, “‘What you’re speaking about, people are going to think they know Greg.’”

What is a poet?

A poet is described by Merriam-Webster as “one who writes poems : a maker of verses.” For Murray, however, the title goes deeper and should only be used to describe those who take the craft seriously.

“You are a person being bold enough to express your feelings, thoughts and experiences with other people. There is a responsibility that comes with that,” Murray said, “People trust you enough to be inspired by what you’re saying.”

“...Yes, with great power comes great responsibility, but with great responsibility comes great worry — worry of your impact, worry of your strength, worry of opinions, worry of your own ability…” - from “Hakuna Matata,” by A Poet Named Superman

Murray deeply values the craft, and credits it with saving his life, giving him purpose and allowing him to travel, meet and build relationships.

Neptune is a small city near the Jersey Shore, an hour south of staple destination cities like New York City, Philadelphia and Atlantic City. As of 2022, the population was less than 5,000.

“There are people who have never been outside of this small town because it’s comfortable for them,” Murray explained of his hometown. “Their idea of making it is becoming Homecoming King — very small-minded.”

Small-minded was never a term that could be

used to describe Murray, however. His mom knew as much, and when she saw him begin to act and think in a small-minded way, she did what she could to push him out of the nest called Neptune.

“She handed me a pamphlet and told me to apply for the Disney College Program,” Murray said. “She definitely wasn’t asking, she was telling.”

He was accepted into the program and moved to Orlando, Florida, where he frequented a local cafe’s open mic night.

“I only had two poems, but they were hitting,” Murray said.

After a car accident in 2010, Murray moved home. What was intended to be a two-month stay unexpectedly stretched into two years. While reflecting on his situation, he spoke to his cousin Sharon, who at the time resided in the Charlotte suburb of Davidson.

“She told me, ‘Come to Charlotte. The cost of living is cheaper, it’s a growing city and they have a poetry scene. I think you’ll really thrive here,’” Murray recalled.

In 2016, not even five years after he finally made the move to Charlotte, his sister passed away. Around the time of her passing, he created a poetry mixtape called The SuperTape, which featured artists he’d met and collaborated with while in Charlotte. He dedicated The SuperTape to Sharon.

“She built her life up in order to help people,” Murray said. “She was the sweetest woman in the world. If it wasn’t for her and what she did with her life, I wouldn’t be living the life that I am now.”

Red@28th becomes a second home

At that time, the multicultural literary lounge was located at the corner of North Davidson Street and East 28th streets, hence the name. Now located on East Boulevard in the former People’s Market space in Dilworth, Red@28th remains a one-of-akind establishment for the Queen City.

Owner Darren “Jaz” Vincent has consistently engaged Charlotte’s creative community even before opening his venue. He launched the Charlotte Literary Festival in hopes of attracting non-readers and converting them.

After a conversation with his son, he decided to create an appealing space for people who don’t typically read. Thus, Red@28th was born.

“It’s an alternative to the club or the bar, a place where you can socialize,” Vincent said. “Your home away from home.”

Meanwhile, as Murray settled into Charlotte, he recalls not being received well.

“I built a name for myself in Jersey so much that I came here and I was a little over confident,” Murray said.



He wanted to establish a welcoming environment for aspiring or newly arrived poets in the city after observing how existing venues demanded a certain level of skill before being noticed.

“I felt like there had to be a space where it didn’t matter what your skill set was,” Murray said, “You just needed a place to get something off of your chest,” Murray said.

He shopped the idea around in 2015, including Red@28th, where some friends had taken him the very night he moved to Charlotte in 2012. As with the other owners Murray spoke with, Vincent wasn’t interested.

“I’d tried something similar years before, but it didn’t work,” Vincent said. “I didn’t feel like Red@28th was ready.”

Murray was not deterred. He already had a presence at Red@28th alongside his friend DJ Bezzie Beatz. As Murray stood behind the booth with him, he witnessed the DJ fully immersed in his craft, deeply connected with the music.

“I was the type of person that never liked to talk on the mic,” Beatz said.

Eventually, Murray began to do the speaking for him, and Bezzie Beatz and A Poet Named Superman became an emcee/DJ duo that naturally fused together.

“He would know what to say before I dropped a song,” Beatz said.

They worked together for about three years before Murray presented the idea of Release Therapy to Vincent once again, a weekly open mic event for spoken word poets in Charlotte.

Vincent recalls looking into Murray’s eyes and knowing he was ready.

“I needed someone who was creative and willing to get dirty to make this thing work,” Vincent said. “He came around at the right time.”

Celebrating eight years

After celebrating Release Therapy’s eight-year anniversary in February 2024, Murray reflected on its unexpected longevity. He recalled how he had initially envisioned that it would eventually be taken over or personalized.

“I didn’t realize it was a part of the purpose of me being here,” Murray says. “The idea was to create a safe space for adults to be able to express themselves and not be judged.”

Jalisa Gomez, known by her stage name Rapunzel, discovered Release Therapy after relocating to Charlotte in November 2023. She expressed an immediate connection thanks to the palpable positive energy in the room.

“There were no judgemental people, there was no animosity,” Gomez said. “It was a mutual space and it’s been a long time since I felt that type of way.”

The next time she attended, she performed a poem about a very sensitive topic. She asked that no one in the crowd record the performance, as it was a

personal story that she hadn’t shared publicly. Everyone respected her request, which only cemented her feeling of security in a space that cultivates an atmosphere for community — sometimes even feeling like family in a room full of strangers.

Release Therapy remains a sanctuary for all, a status it has upheld for nearly a decade, though it has encountered unexpected challenges along the way.

After the celebration of the fourth anniversary in 2020, the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Murray lost both of his jobs and went back home to New Jersey. He recalls thinking Release Therapy was over, but he very quickly realized people still needed a space.

“People I met in Charlotte were texting me like ‘Yo, what are we doing with Release Therapy? I need it,’” Murray said.

Using Instagram Live as a platform, Murray brough Release Therapy back virtually, expanding the open mic to include participants from across the nation.

During one session, Brandon Leake, the first spoken-word artist to win America’s Got Talent, joined and over time developed a friendship with Murray. Later, in February 2023, Leake made a surprise appearance at Release Therapy, just before the seventh anniversary, after it had returned to inperson.

While it was still virtual in 2020, Murray and fellow artists used Release Therapy as an outlet to express and examine their feelings about the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and the response from the community around the country, including Charlotte.

Poets engaged in virtual battles, rallying support through audience donations to contribute to a GoFundMe for Floyd’s family.

The virtual events sometimes got disrupted by trolls who had no intention of performing, but once again, Murray was not deterred. After all, he had built Release Therapy from the ground up, and only he could tear it down from there.

“What people choose to do with it is not on me, I know what it’s here for,” Murray said.

“Let it remind you, that you should celebrate your victories, however grand or minuscule … Let it remind you that building a legacy don’t mean you get to choose how people remember you … and all of this is okay.” - from “Death of A Poet Named Superman,” by A Poet Named Superman

A Poet Named Superman can be found every Wednesday at Red@28th for the SuperFriends Writer’s Workshop at 7 p.m. and the Release Therapy Open Mic at 8:30 p.m. ($5 cover) and select Sundays at Dandelion Market for The Garden Party ($10 cover). A Poet Named Superman will also headline The Rooftop at Royal Tot event on June 4 at 6 p.m.


Pg. 9 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


Led by world-renowned guitarist Randy Jacobs, The Boneshakers launched in 1997 as a duo featuring Jacobs’ Was (Not Was) bandmate, the late, great R&B vocalist Sweetpea Atkinson. The band has gone through a number of iterations since, including bringing on sax queen Mindi Abair in 2017, with whom they went on to win eight Independent Blues Awards including Artist of the Year and an Independent Music Award for Best Blues Song Fan Award for “Pretty Good For A Girl” featuring Joe Bonamassa. Vocal dynamo Jenny Langer is now behind the mic alongside Jacobs, releasing One Foot In the Groove in 2022, which according to Blues Matters Magazine “is an album that every blues, funk, and soul music lover needs in their collection.”

More: $28-$35; May 30, 7 p.m.; Middle C Jazz Club, 300 S. Brevard St.; middlecjazz.com



In recent months, we’ve reported on the ways that Charlotte Symphony has been working to bring classical music to new audiences, but a lesser known organization called Phoenix Down RPG is on a similar mission with a specific focus on the gamer crowd. Blending classical with nerdy chic to tell timeless stories through music and break the molds of traditional experience, the ensemble of oboe, clarinet, viola and cello players will be on hand to provide a live score for a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament set to take place at Camp North End’s Ford Building. It’s $10 for gamers who want to participate, with all money save for transaction fees going into the prize pool.

More: $10 to play, free to attend; June 1, noon-10 p.m.; Ford Building, Camp North End, 300 Camp Road; tinyurl.com/MelodyAndMayhem



A boozy detective and a spacy psychic medium investigate a trashy Florida trailer park where someone has been slowly knocking off the aging inhabitants in this 1991 thriller. The murderous, money-grubbing property managers of the trailer park want their elderly tenants dead and gone, but they aren’t executing their killing spree as quickly as they’d like. That when an 18th-century bulimic vampire played by Queen City Nerve’s own Pat Moran joins the deadly festivities, binging and purging his way through the trailer park tenants. Silly, strange and splattered with sanguine vomit, Vampire Trailer Park is one of the most original and unique shot-on-video films of the 1990s. Moran will be in attendance for a Q&A just before he unfortunately departs Charlotte and our paper for a new life chapter in Asheville.

More: Free; May 31, 7-11 p.m.; VisArt Video, 3104 Eastway Drive; visartvideo.org 5/30

6/4 6/1 5/31 6/5 6/5 - 6/29


Originally from Greensboro, Ben Folds has become a generational talent as a singer, songwriter and pianist over the last three decades. Fronting Ben Folds Five through much of the ’90s (and again during their reunion from 2011-’13), he’s also released a number of solo albums, including his latest, What Matters Most, which dropped in June 2023. Having taught himself to play piano by listening to Elton John and Billy Joel on the radio and learning their songs by ear, Folds is now known for stretching the bounds of how rock and pop are perceived by performing with symphony orchestras, a cappella groups and other uncommon collaborators. The NC Music Hall of Fame inductee released his memoir, A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons, in 2019.

More: $30.50 and up; June 4, 8 p.m.; Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.; blumenthalarts.org

Sol Kitchen, a local Black- and veteran-owned live music production and promotion company that centers BIPOC artists and emerging talent, is launching a Black Music Month Series in partnership with Blumenthal Arts, hosting a number of shows throughout what they’re calling the “Summer of Sol.” Shows kick off on June 1, highlighting Grammy Award winners like R&B newcomer Susan Carol at Evening Muse, jazz vocalist Samara Joy at Belk Theater and rapper-turned R&B singer Eric Roberson at the Knight, with more scheduled through the end of August. Described as rich and velvety yet precociously refined, Samara Joy’s voice has not only earned her fans like Anita Baker and Regina King but garnered millions of likes on TikTok, making her perhaps the first Gen Z jazz singing star.

More: $30 and up; June 5, 7:30 p.m.; Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.; blumenthalarts.org


WFAE’s Mike Collins returns to host Charlotte’s best satirical show for the 19th time, featuring musical numbers that poke fun at politics, pop culture, sports and all things Charlotte. Written by attorney Brian Kahn, who had dreams of being the next Weird Al Yankovich before becoming a commercial litigator, the show serves as the perfect “fiscal year in review” for news-obsessed folks like us — while featuring some of the city’s most outright talented performers. We expect to see David Tepper throwing drinks while singing songs about sports gambling and Chick-fil-A traffic. We’re just hoping nobody brings up Pizza Baby. We’ve heard those two words enough this year.

More: $24.50 and up; June 5-29, times vary; Booth Playhouse, 430 S. Tryon St.; blumenthalarts.org

Pg. 10 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
6/4 THE BONESHAKERS Promotional photo 5/30
Photo by Justin Higuchi



Taste of Charlotte returns to Uptown with three days of entertainment, activities and all the food you could possibly sample. Highlights out of this year’s food vendors include the four returning 2023 People’s Choice award winners: STIR, whose salmon cakes one Best of the Taste last year; Tupelo Honey, awarded Best Entree for their shrimp & grits; State of Confusion, whose Peruvian lucuma ice cream was recognized as Most Unique Dish in 2023; and Piada Italian Street Food, honored with the Most Healthy award for their veggie avocado piada. Once you’re full, grab a wine slushie from the Wine Cellar Stage or check out any one of the dozens of performers and musicians set to perform on the main stage throughout the weekend.

More: Free to attend; June 7-9, times vary; South Tryon Street, Uptown Charlotte; tasteofcharlotte. com




The African American Book Festival was built to give the cemented and newly emerging authors, bookstores and publishers of Black culture a platform to spread the messages that are embedded in the pages of their iconography. Held at a site that means so much to Charlotte’s local Black community, attendees can expect author and publisher exhibits, author discussions and book signings, entertainment, networking and door prizes. Books available at this second annual fest will be suitable to all ages with genres including fiction, poetry, nonfiction, memoirs, self-help and spiritual offerings. Support your favorite authors, meet them face to face, get pictures, buy books at discounted prices, network with professionals and celebrate Black literary culture.

More: Free; June 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Second Ward High School Gymnasium, 710 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; tinyurl.com/CLTAfAmBookFest


6/11 6/7 - 6/9



In 2020, local R&B singer Jason Jet opened Grindhaus Studios to serve as a creative oasis for Charlotte creatives. As Grindhaus continues in that mission, Jet’s work has expanded to go beyond the walls of the studios. His FRXSH gigs serve as “the flyest open mic party in the Queen City,” with DJ Fannie Mae spinning for 10 new Charlotte artists worth familiarizing yourself with. Also check for a headlining performance from emerging WinstonSalem artist Flower In Bloom, a rising star in the R&B and neo-soul music scenes. Their music is a distinctive fusion of vintage R&B beats and contemporary production elements, with FIB’s soulful and emotional vocals serving as the cherry on top.

More: $8; June 9, 8 p.m.; Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.; neighborhoodtheatre.com


“This place is a nightmare let’s burn it all down and dance on the ashes as the world crumbles.” So read the Instagram post announcing the summer tour for NYC-based rapper, painter, make-up artist and model LustSickPuppy’s debut full-length album, Carousel From Hell. Tomasyn Hayes, whose artwork has been described as “impulsive, convoluted, and chaotic,” says they hadn’t put much thought into the name they chose to perform under as a “genreless” musician; it was already their Instagram handle. Micco Caporale described their music as “a perfect marriage between club-kid uncanniness and Juggalo attitude” that contained elements of breakcore, hip-hop, and nu metal. One thing you’re guaranteed if you attend Snug Harbor on this Tuesday evening: You will get a show to remember. More: $19.50; June 11, 9 p.m.; Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St.; snugrock.com

Pg. 11 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
AFRICAN AMERICAN BOOK FESTIVAL Courtesy of Virginia Business Expo Corp. 6/8 TASTE OF CHARLOTTE Courtesy of Taste of Charlotte 6/7-6/9 FRXSH: FLOWER IN BLOOM Photo by Bosha novART 6/9 LUSTSICKPUPPY Promotional photo 6/11


The venue and musician at the heart of Gastonia’s growing nightlife scene

From the lasting to the ephemeral, the significant to the slight, Gastonia has made many contributions to American music. While there is a vast gulf in impact and delivery between “A Mill Mother’s Lament,” the heartrending mission statement by murdered labor activist and pioneering protest balladeer Ella Mae Wiggins, and “Break Stuff,” the high energy nu-metal anthem sung by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, the two musicians share one thing: They’re both Gastonians, and they’re not the only inhabitants of the Spindle City who’ve made their mark in music and culture.

Raspberries guitarist Wally Bryson and early 1960s rock ‘n’ roll singer Diane Ray (Diane Peoples Waldrop) also hail from the Gaston County seat, and Gastonia bands past and present include rampaging three-chord renegades Van Huskins, folk-garage punks The Menders, Southern hip-hop rockers Ogres and many more. Despite the former mill town’s musical enrichment, however, there has been little sign of Gastonia’s bustling, burgeoning and creative musical community in the city’s downtown — until recently.

In the past few years, Gastonia’s quaint and historic downtown has become a destination for live music and nightlife. At the center of an organicallygrown scene that may soon rival the less-corporate heyday of Charlotte’s NoDa and Plaza Midwood is the 175-seat capacity bar and live entertainment venue The Rooster. A key ingredient in The Rooster’s growing popularity is the venue’s eclectic SingerSongwriter Open Mic, held every Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to midnight.

“We’ve got people that come from Charlotte, Asheville, Rockingham, Mooresville, even Greenville, South Carolina,” says The Rooster’s owner Michael Carpenter. “People come to our open mic just to do 15 minutes on our stage.”

They come, he says, because they’ve heard about the vibe the event has created.

“It’s a community on Wednesday nights,” Carpenter says.

He believes the supportive and eclectic atmosphere the open mic provides is due to its host, powerful singer-songwriter and Gastonia resident Jade Moore, a mother of two and professional fulltime musician since 2015.

“When I brought Jade Moore in to host, it turned in to what it is now,” Carpenter says. “Having her steer the ship has been the ultimate blessing.”

For her part, Moore acknowledges the accolade but demurs.

“I attribute the success of Gastonia’s creative scene to the artists,” Moore says. “It’s a plentiful scene here.”

She says Freeman’s Pub, which closed in April after 15 years of service, was instrumental in bringing the music scene and artists together. Freeman’s hosted an Original Songwriters’ Night, which drew local artists like Shannon Lee, Shane Combs, Kevin Marshall, Robert Johnson Jr. and Kennon Knight.

“That was where that seed was planted,” Moore says. When the Original Songwriters’ Night was discontinued, Gaston Pour House picked up the torch and hosted an open mic on Wednesday nights. When that event ceased, downtown Gastonia went through a live music dry spell, Moore says.

Happily, The Rooster launched its open mic as soon as Carpenter opened his venue in 2022. Moore had a reunion of sorts with the people she used to play with at the Pour House open mic as they all came out to The Rooster to hit the stage.

“You could see how happy everybody was to be like a big family again,” Moore says.

In summoning memories of Gastonia’s music scene, Moore acknowledges that she’s heavily involved in the city’s scene but emphasizes that it is in no way hers alone.

“It was here when I got here, and I’m just swimming through it,” she says.

Michael Carpenter’s downtown roost

In 2019, Michael Carpenter owned and ran a

successful vending machine business but he felt bored and unfulfilled. He and his wife had been avid concertgoers for a long time and they started kicking around the idea of opening a live music venue in downtown Gastonia.

In the meantime, Carpenter had gotten involved with the business communities of Gastonia and Gaston County. He appreciated that everyone seemed to be working hard to make their community thrive.

“They were doing a great job bringing in manufacturing and other industries, [but] the question I kept asking myself was, ‘Why isn’t there anything for people to do?’” Carpenter took the plunge, sold his old business and bought a building built in 1915 by the B.H. Parker Cotton Company to store cotton before loading it onto trains.

After delays including the city’s shutdown due to COVID-19, The Rooster opened on Oct. 19, 2022, and one of its inaugural events was the Carolina Headbangers Ball. Carpenter, an avowed metal fan, was thrilled that the event was a runaway success, but he has striven for an eclectic, billing philosophy for the club. As a result, The Rooster has hosted gallery shows, stand-up comedy, jazz, hip-hop, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and singer-songwriter sets.

“A lot of people have this perception that we’re a metal bar,” Carpenter says. “It’s not true. We just do more metal than anything else because that’s what people come to.”

Carpenter says it’s a challenge to book something that will bring people out on weekdays. That challenge was met and surmounted with the Wednesday night Singer-Songwriter Open Mic.

Moore first became aware of the event when she ran into the original host Cody Carpenter, a friend of her then-husband.

Moore didn’t follow up on the open mic until 2023, by which time her marriage had ended. She reconnected with Carpenter, who introduced her to Carpenter. Moore started coming to open mics at The Rooster on Wednesdays when she didn’t have her own shows and wasn’t traveling to out-of-town gigs.

“[The Rooster] started to shift focus,” Moore says. “Cody left, and Michael asked me to take on the open mic.”

Moore agreed as long as she could get one Wednesday off each month to go camping. Though Carpenter agreed, it hasn’t come to fruition. The open mics are just too good to miss.

“I still haven’t taken a single Wednesday off,” Moore says.

For the open mic, the club keeps a full time sound technician on staff and frequently has photographers at the event to take photos of every act. Outside of keyboards, the club also has a full backline. Such care and attention to detail ensures that acts will look and sound as good as possible.

“It’s a sweet space,” Moore says.

Jade Moore’s lifetime of music

“I’ve always been a musician” Moore says. “I always wrote, played and sang.”

Moore’s road to The Rooster and beyond has been marked by undeniable talent and hardship. A Navy brat, she was born in Tennessee, where she lived for just two weeks before her family bounced

Pg. 12 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


to Virginia, then Gastonia, then Mint Hill, then Charlotte, then back to Gastonia. Growing up in a mobile household, Moore took refuge behind her grandmother’s Yamaha baby grand piano. At age 5, she taught herself to play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy (Symphony No. 9)” by ear.

In addition to piano lessons, which she hated, and singing in school pageants, which she enjoyed, Moore began writing songs. Nowadays she calls most of her original compositions “diary songs” because they immortalize moments in her life marked by intense emotions.

“This Drink” falls into that category. A collaboration with songwriter Wil Putt, the tune begins amid plangent guitar, tingling and hissing hi-hats and rolling gospel piano. Moore’s lilting fluttering alto couches a razor-sharp edge:

“I lose myself in my regrets/ And chain-smoke all my cigarettes/ To blow away the pain of yesterday...”

The tune gallops to a ferocious rocking crescendo, and Moore’s commanding vocal intensifies to a hairraising pitch as she celebrates her older-yet-wiser triumph over betrayal:

“I’ll pour another glass of wine/ And play your lies back through my mind/ And smile a crooked smile as I say … Goodbye, goodbye...”

Recorded in 2020, “This Drink” remains Moore’s only released single to date.

“Music fell into my lap as a career,” Moore says. Pregnant at 19 with her first child, Mason Lee, Moore befriended another teenage mother who worked at a since-closed Matthews bar called Beantown Tavern. There, Moore met and began singing with local musician Kelly Mullen. Soon Moore was playing and singing cover songs with Mullen, traveling to gigs ranging from Virginia to South Carolina on weekends and still holding down an office job on weekdays.

“[Mullen] taught me everything I know,” Moore says, “How to work the crowd, run a show, market yourself to venues and keep people entertained.”

Moore took a break to have her son, then went back to gigging. One day, she discovered that her mother, who is an addict, was taking cocaine while watching her son.

Moore took the boy, left the family home and stayed wherever people would welcome her. She quit her day job and jumped into playing music full-time because she couldn’t afford child care. Instead, Moore paid caretakers to watch her son in the evening while she played shows.

“[Department of Social Services] will tell you to just quit your job, because if you make any

money, you’re not going to qualify for government assistance,” Moore says. “We were backed into a corner and homeless, and music saved us. It allowed me to spend every day with my boy.”

In 2015, Moore’s first year as a full-time musician, she made $12,000. Over the next two years she quadrupled her income. By the time she accepted the hosting gig for The Rooster’s open mic, she had a daughter, Mira James, with her then-husband. The divorced mother of two now has a successful solo career playing covers locally and regionally, plus originals primarily at open mic, which leaves her time during the day to raise Mason Lee and Mira James.

“Those three-hour, in the corner, me [playing] Neil Young gigs, they paid the bills,” Moore says. Recently, her songwriting has undergone a transformation.

“My priority has shifted from these diary songs … to empowering music,” she says. “It’s the most impressive music I’ve ever written — instrumentally and vocally. The noise that is coming out of me is some shit that I want others to hear.”

Moore says the open mic, which has showcased her older original and confessional material, may be the springboard for these new empowering songs. If so, the downtown Gastonia scene may be the ideal place for Moore to debut something new.

Downtown turnaround

Last fall, at Carpenter’s urging, Gastonia’s nightlife establishments collaborated on the downtown’s first bar crawl. It was wildly successful.

“Everybody killed it that night,” Carpenter says.

“We had hundreds of people in downtown Gastonia, and we got to showcase all the different things you can do.”

A subsequent spring crawl was also successful, and the businesses are planning to continue to do a spring and fall crawls.

“I really do believe that the rising tide lifts all ships,” Carpenter says.

The Singer-Songwriter Open Mic is going from strength to strength, he says, because Moore imbues it with a sense of legitimacy.

“Putting her name on the open mic sent a message to the artist community that we’re for real,” Carpenter says.

Moore feels the quality she brings to the open mic is quite different.

“I [bring] camaraderie,” she says. “I’m a mom.

Maternal nurturing is very much a thing. Every time an artist is on that stage, I take the time to speak to everybody. I try to encourage everyone. I put a full band behind people, and I’ve watched all these … relationships and communities build. My goal is for the artists to achieve their wildest dreams.”

Carpenter echoes Moore’s sentiments.

“We’re not the place that’s going to book big national tours. We’re a springboard for local artists to hone their craft, integrate in the community, work out whatever kinks they have in their sets, then tour the nation or the world and inspire the next generation of artists to pursue a career in the arts,” Carpenter says. “I want people to walk off my stage feeling like a rock star.”

Moore’s and Carpenter’s headspace is echoed in The Rooster itself. When Carpenter asked Kathleen Finch and the Charlotte Street Art Collaborative to paint a mural for the venue’s stage, he encouraged them to do whatever they wanted, but he had one small request. He asked the artists to include a lyric from The Rush song “Spirit of the Radio” at the front of the stage:

“For the words of the prophets are written on the studio wall...”

The lyric criticizes the commoditization of art while tipping a cap to Simon and Garfunkel, Carpenter says.

“It’s a statement that The Rooster is not corporate. This is a place for artists,” he says.

A less subtle sign of that dedication, evidence that Carpenter is motivated by a higher artistic calling, is right above the bar’s register. It could also apply to Moore and downtown Gastonia.

There, a familiar-looking picture of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the Blues Brothers is labeled with a quote in cut-and-paste letters: “We’re on a mission from god.”


Pg. 13 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM



Cassettiquette w/ Pierce Alexander, Local Nomad (Snug Harbor)


Beats @ Birdsong (Birdsong Brewing)


Amy Broome Duo (Goldie’s)


Gunna (Bojangles Coliseum)


Manic Society w/ Kallisto, Ratking (Evening Muse)


Justin Varnes Plays Chick Corea (Middle C Jazz)


Singer/Songwriter Open Mic (The Rooster)

Songwriters Circle & Variety Open Mic (Starlight on 22nd)



Nosey Neighbor w/ Leaving Echoes, Digital Dolls, Lamps Required (The Rooster)

Sunforger w/ Adam Cope, Academy Order, Swae (Snug Harbor)


Nashville’s Class of ‘24 (Coyote Joe’s)

Courtney Patton w/ Chance Stanley (Evening Muse)

Palmetto Drive w/ Nate Randall (Goldie’s)

War Hippies (Neighborhood Theatre)


The Boneshakers (Middle C Jazz)


No Strings Attached: Live Orchestral Rendition of ‘Dr. Dre: 2021’ (The Fillmore)


Neil Carter (Comet Grill)


Laura Thurston (Birdsong Brewing)


Lil Skritt & The Broken Heart Repairmen w/ Eric! (And Friends), Boy A/C (Petra’s)



Stryper w/ Anthony Corder, The Voice of Tora Tora (Amos’ Southend)

Battle Beast (The Underground)

The White Horse w/ Fault Reset, Blissful Thoughts (The Milestone)


Yetep (Blackbox Theater)

Shadow Play (Crown Station)

Sexbruise? w/ Future Joy (Visulite Theatre)


Bakalao Stars w/ Dorian Gris (Camp North End)


Little Bird (Evening Muse)


Randy Franklin (Comet Grill)

Crowe Boys (Evening Muse)

Charles Esten (Neighborhood Theatre)

Orville Peck (Skyla Amphitheatre)

David Taylor & the Tallboys w/ Slow Parade, Featherpocket (Snug Harbor)


Vincent Ingala (Middle C Jazz) COVER BANDS

Chris Taylor & the Rumor w/ Luther & Sarj (Goldie’s)

Scandal w/ Magic 8 Count (The Rooster)



Microwave w/ Origami Angel, Heart Attack Man, Carpool Tunnel (Amos’ Southend)

Andrew Thelston Band w/ Bald Brothers (Goldie’s)

Pixies w/ Modest Mouse, Cat Power (PNC Music Pavilion)

Condado w/ Dovecage, Icarus Airline (Snug Harbor)


DannyLux (Blackbox Theater)

Club ‘90s-2000s Night (The Underground) Dreamhouse feat. Summy, DJ B3dh3ad, DJ Extraa, Godsgreatestgift (The Milestone)


Menastree w/ Anemoia (Evening Muse)

Vincent Ingala (Middle C Jazz)


Kelsey Waldon w/ Nat Myers (Neighborhood Theatre)


Bullfrog Moon (Primal Brewery)

Fat Waffle w/ Funkwondo, Javier Pizzaro (Starlight on 22nd)


Susan Carol (Evening Muse)

Alan Charmer w/ WITH HASTE!, Axnt (Petra’s) COVER BANDS

Mishaps (Misfits tribute) w/Midnite Massacre, The White Horse, Emporia (The Rooster)

Abbey Road Live (Visulite Theatre)



Perseus w/ The Band Repent, Until They Bleed, Wither The Fallacy (The Rooster)


Hazy Sunday (Petra’s)


Soul Sundays feat. Guy Nowchild (Starlight on 22nd)


Omari & the Hellhounds (Comet Grill)


Square Roots (Goldie’s)


Gospel Sunday: The Praise and Worship After Party (Middle C Jazz)


Celestial Company (Free Range Brewing)



Robert Earl Keen (Neighborhood Theatre)


The Bill Hanna Legacy Jazz Session (Petra’s) COUNTRY/FOLK/AMERICANA

Charlotte Bluegrass Allstars (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)



Red Rocking Chair (Comet Grill)

The Bastard Suns w/ Dial Drive, Rothschild, This Island Earth (The Milestone)

Woody w/ Diet Lite, Late Bloomer (Snug Harbor)


Dale Watson & His Lone Stars w/ Trisha Gene

Brady (Neighborhood Theatre)


Ben Folds (Belk Theater)


Tosco Music Open Mic (Evening Muse)

Open Mic Night feat. The Smokin J’s (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)



The Hails w/ Oceanic (Evening Muse)


Lisa De Novo & Friends (Goldie’s)

Josh Daniel w/ Jim Brock, Kerry Brooks (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)


Samara Joy (Belk Theater)

The Mark Whitfield Duo (Middle C Jazz) POP/DANCE/ELECTRONIC/DJ

Beats @ Birdsong (Birdsong Brewing)

Niall Horan (PNC Music Pavilion)


D. Sablu w/ Patois Counselors (Snug Harbor) OPEN MIC

Singer/Songwriter Open Mic (The Rooster)

Variety Open Mic (Starlight on 22nd)



Wheelright w/ Will Overman (Evening Muse)

Lilith Rising w/ Fifty Flies, Solemn Shapes, Shadows Prevail (The Milestone)

The Woggles w/ Pleasure House, Impending Joy (Snug Harbor)

The Snozzberries (Visulite Theatre)


Paul Lover’s Influences & Originals (Comet Grill)

Songwriter’s Roundtable feat. Steve Simpson (The Rooster)


NC Bluegrass Jam Night (Birdsong Brewing) Watchhouse (Neighborhood Theatre)


Rob49 & Skilla Baby (The Fillmore) 21 Savage (PNC Music Pavilion)


Shana Blake’s Musical Menagerie (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)

Air Tropicali w/ Josh Daniel (Goldie’s) COVER BANDS

The Voltage Brothers (Middle C Jazz)



The Lenny Federal Band (Comet Grill)

Parker Barrow w/ The Blue Footed Boobies (Evening Muse)

Tosser w/ Subvertigo, Jackson Fig, Bluegill (The Milestone)

X Ambassadors (The Underground) Harvey Street Co. w/ Willingdon (Snug Harbor) Deaf Andrews w/ Fo Daniels, Weekend Friend (Visulite Theatre)


Eric Roberson (Knight Theater) POP/DANCE/ELECTRONIC/DJ

Dimension (Blackbox Theater)

Frequency 360 Presents Purple Reign (Starlight on 22nd)


The Steel Woods (Amos’ Southend)

Paul McDonald & The Mourning Doves w/ Kevin Daniel & the Bottom Line (Camp North End) Brothers Osborne (Skyla Amphitheatre)


Charlotte Symphony: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert (Belk Theater)


Peter White (Middle C Jazz)


Scott Tournet & the Spark (Neighborhood Theatre)


Drumssmoke & The Papers w/ Top Achiever (Petra’s)


Jam Garden w/ Simple Sole Duo (Goldie’s)



Sweet Dream w/ Council Ring (Evening Muse) Summoner’s Circle w/ Wor, Reflect//Refine, Violent End, Fault Union (The Milestone) Swansgate w/ Echo Kid, HNY WLSN (Petra’s)

Pg. 14 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM

Pink Beds (Primal Brewery)

Venus Invictus w/ Witness Marks, Shadows Prevail, Caelifera, Embering Effigy (The Rooster)

Apostate w/ Chris Reed & The Bad Kids, Careless Romantic (Starlight on 22nd)

By George w/ Okey Dokey, Lemon’s (Visulite Theatre)


Laura Vinson Band w/ Rod Fiske (Goldie’s)


Peter White (Middle C Jazz)


Maddix (Blackbox Theater)


Grupo Firme (PNC Music Pavilion)


Space Truck (Comet Grill)


Charlotte Symphony: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert (Belk Theater)


Fredo Bang & Kuttem Reese (The Underground) Moonlander w/ Brake, Tré Ahmad, Depreston (Neighborhood Theatre)

[suspenceful music playing] w/ DaTrackAddict, 6 Cardinal, Rey Calidad (Snug Harbor) COVER BANDS

ABACAB (Genesis tribute) (Amos’ Southend)



Jiu-Jitsu w/ Wasted Space, Pale Hell, Survival Tactics (The Milestone)

Cuzco w/ Hiding Places, BEX (Petra’s)


Jack Lawrence & Patrick Crouch (Free Range Brewing)

Allison & Jake (Goldie’s)


Soul Sundays feat. Guy Nowchild (Starlight on 22nd)

FRXSH: Charlotte Artist Discovery Showcase (Neighborhood Theatre)


Omari & the Hellhounds (Comet Grill)

Brubeck Brothers Quartet (Middle C Jazz)


Kat Hasty & Maggie Antone (Amos’ Southend) The Wood Brothers (Knight Theater) COVER BANDS

Ballantyne School of Music Summer Jam ‘24 (Visulite Theatre)



The Bill Hanna Legacy Jazz Session (Petra’s)


Charlotte Bluegrass Allstars (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)



Red Rocking Chair (Comet Grill)


Tank w/ Keri Hilson, Carl Thomas (Belk Theater)

Bryson Tiller (Skyla Amphitheatre)


LustSickPuppy w/ Uniity, DJ NPC (SnugHarbor)


Mike Strauss Trio (3102 VisArt)


Lofidels w/ Blvck Hippie, Raddre (Petra’s)


Open Mic Night feat. The Smokin J’s (Smokey Joe’s Cafe & Bar)


Pg. 15 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM



Taylor Redd looks to take Redd Rose Vodka to the next level

Any entrepreneur will tell you about the hardships that come with building a business: seed funding, analyzing supply and demand, marketing and any number of other tasks. Taylor Redd, founder and creator of Redd Rose Vodka, has experienced all of these challenges with one added caveat: having to sell herself as a competent Black woman in a maledominated industry.

“I’ve been a mixologist for 11 years,” she said. “One thing I recognize is the lack of women representation in the industry — and outside of that, even when it comes to the bar owners, the salesman, all of the places. Women dictate the cocktails, but they don’t support us.”

Redd launched Redd Rose Vodka, a strawberry lemon flavored vodka that can be consumed on its own or with a mixer, in 2018 and sold her first bottle in 2020, becoming the first and still only Black- and female-owned flavored vodka in the state of North Carolina.

“It feels like I’m supposed to be here,” she said. “It feels surreal. It feels like I am changing a narrative. It feels like I’m doing exactly what I said I was going to do.”

Redd named the product after her grandmother, Rose Redd, an entrepreneur who sold goods at flea markets and eventually expanded to operate her own flea markets. Rose inspired Taylor to strike out in carving her own path in a male-dominated industry.

“Rose created a safe space for women,” Redd said. “She inspired entrepreneurs, she was a very tenacious woman in her industry. So in honor of my grandmother and her legacy, I wanted to create that safe space and create that change and drive that narrative inside the spirits industry.”

Channeling her grandmother, Redd aims to make a more inclusive space through her product. Infusing her vodka with strawberry lemon flavors, she strives to make her product more palatable in more ways than one.

She set out to create a vodka that was not only smooth and enjoyable when drunk straight but also versatile enough to enhance any cocktail.

”Vodka is the number one selling spirit in the world, but people stray away from vodka because they know it’s very harsh and abrasive,” she explained. “But when they taste Redd Rose, not only are you enjoying the flavor profile, but you are also getting a sip of a legacy. You are getting a sip of a story that you can relate to.

“Not only that, but in the world full of spirits, how many founders do you know?” she continued. “How many founders can you touch? How many founders can you have a conversation with? And how many of them are women?”

From one Queen City to the next

Redd, who refers to herself as a “mompreneur,” came from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she worked in the courthouse. She became burnt out with the legal field and had to make a decision.

“I was working for the district court judge and I didn’t want to work for another judge, and I was trying to figure out, ‘Do I want to stay in Ohio? Do I want to leave?’” she recalled. “At the time, Ohio didn’t have a whole lot to offer, and I just wanted more.”

Ultimately, she decided to leave. Her contract ended on a Thursday and she had her car packed and ready to go by Monday. She went to Atlanta first because she had family in the area and lived there for a time when she was younger, but quickly realized she didn’t like it there any more than Ohio and didn’t want to raise her son in the area.

“I came to Charlotte on a wing and a prayer,” she said, adding that she had no family or friends here. “I had no plan when I came down here. I just packed up and left.”

Unsurprisingly, she fell in love with the Queen City and decided to stay. She took a bartending course, became a mixologist, and got an apartment.

After a while, though Redd didn’t have a plan when she originally set out for Charlotte, one began to bloom. As a mixologist, she became acquainted with Jennifer Moxley, a project manager at Sunshine Media Network whom she met in March 2020 while organizing an event that would in the end get canceled due to COVID-19.

Despite the unlucky circumstances behind their meeting, the two stayed in touch.

“We connected on a friend level, which is what is common with my clients and I, because I only work

with people I believe in, so it’s easy for us to become friends beyond that,” Moxley said.

Redd had technically already launched Redd Rose Vodka when she met Moxley, though she hadn’t done much with it just yet. Moxley remembers being impressed with Redd Rose to the point that she was shocked she wasn’t further along in her business venture.

Redd told Moxley then that her goal then was to sell a few bottles, maybe a dozen, but Moxley urged her to aim higher. Redd increased the goal to 100, ultimately

Pg. 16 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


surpassing that by selling 130 that year. Redd Rose Vodka has seen steady growth since that time, and is now regularly sold out at local ABC stores.

“Taylor has built a national spirit brand against insurmountable odds and I’m so proud of her and her work,” Moxley said. “There’s still a long way to go but she’s celebrated in so many places as a pioneer.”

‘A long way to go’

After proving herself as a mixologist, Redd had a few options for where to go next. She said she landed on launching a spirit brand because she felt it could make a bigger impact on people’s lives.

“If I open a bar or restaurant, I can only touch the area that that bar or restaurant is,” she said. “If I have a flavored vodka, I can touch the world. It just is different than having a restaurant. I can really be that more dynamic and have more offerings with owning a physical spirit that’s on the shelf.”

To make that impact, Redd is on a constant search for investors. Moxley said that Redd has an additional hurdle because she has to find people to invest not just in her product, but also in her.

“I sat in investor pitches with her and it’s disgusting how people talk to her,” Moxley said. “It’s like she is treated like this is a hobby, like it’s cute. We all hear these, ‘Oh, your little business’ comments. She deserves investors at a multimillion dollar level for her company, not just because of the quality of the product that is a solution she identified in the market, but also because of the work she’s put in to get to this point against all odds in the industry.

“And she’s a mom on top of all of it,” Moxley continued.

Redd said that it has felt like an uphill battle to make people take her seriously as an independently owned company, but also feels that can be part of her appeal if people would just give her a chance.

So many of the known spirits companies were founded decades if not over a century ago and have become so corporatized that there is no face or personality to connect with.

“Conglomerates and major corporations own these brands and create them with no narrative, no story,” she said. “They just pump out brands. They have the money for marketing. They shove the marketing down our throat. So of course, we go and buy it. But what if you could buy a brand that you know that you can actually believe in?”

Redd said that when she asks people why they

are loyal to a given spirits brand, they often can’t even answer.

“They have no idea. And then I say, ‘Well, why would you drink Redd Rose?’ It’s because you know me and it’s because you believe in the story … I’m approachable,” she said, laughing. “Talk to me. Hey, invite me out. The bigger picture is, let’s conquer the world one step at a time.”

However, Moxley warns that Redd faces more than funding and brand recognition hurdles.

“It’s not just a personality sometimes with a founder,” Moxley said. “Sometimes it is an expectation because of systemic racism, sexism, classism and the intersectionality of all of it, that so many incredible people such as Taylor are expected to be humble and underestimated because there aren’t a lot of people who look like her doing it.

“Her barrier is something I see frequently with my clients who are predominantly women or minority entrepreneurs and experts,” she continued. “Other people aren’t recognizing the value and amplifying them the way they deserve. [Redd] didn’t just wake up one day and decide to do this. She’s literally a founder’s dream story — she was a mixologist who heard a problem in the customer base and created the solution.”

Despite the barriers, Redd has no plans of slowing down her dreams.

While she owns the Redd Rose recipe, Redd currently partners with a husband-and-wife duo who make the vodka from their independent distillery in Minnesota.

Her next goal is to buy her grandmother’s land back from the city of Cincinnati so she can develop her own distillery and/or distribution center and create jobs on the same property where her grandmother created jobs.

She added that she would have no intention of leaving Charlotte, however, as she would headquarter the brand here and hopefully create more jobs.

Moxley said she is ready for her friend to take off.

“I’m excited for her success and her growth and that one investor that sees her value,” she said.

Redd feels that she is just getting started. With more events being brainstormed and more flavors being concocted, she thinks her story will plant seeds for others to grow.

“It’s not easy being an entrepreneur,” Redd said. “Especially when you don’t come from wealth. But there’s a way that you can make it happen, and you have to solely focus on that. If I can help one more person become a full-time entrepreneur, I am more than willing to do that. I’m not here to say it’s easy, but I’m here to say it’s worth it.”


Pg. 17 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM

Adv tise With Us

Pg. 18 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
J�i� Q�e�n C�t� N�r�e i� d�s�u�s�o�s a�o�t l�c�l n�w� t�p�c� o�e� c�c�t�i�s w�t� f�a�u�e� g�e�t� o� t�e Q�e�n C�t� P�d�a�t N�t�o�k�
S�a� t�e c�d�




1. TELEVISION: What is the name of the community college in the sitcom “Community”?

2. GEOGRAPHY: Which two countries in South America are landlocked?

3. HISTORY: Where did the effective end of the Civil War take place?

4. U.S. STATES: Which state comes first alphabetically?

5. FOOD & DRINK: What is an affogato?

6. MOVIES: Which movie features the character Inigo Montoya?

7. ENTERTAINERS: What is singer/ songwriter Taylor Swift’s middle name?

8. ANATOMY: What is the smallest organ in the human body?

9. LITERATURE: Which fantasy novel (later made into an HBO series called “Game of Thrones”) features a place called Winterfell?

10. GEOLOGY: What is the most malleable metal?



Pg. 19 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
MISS SOUTH CAROLINA ©2024 King Feautres Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved. ©2024 King Feautres Syndicate, Inc. All rights reserved.


Continued from page 5

Mental health and missing pieces

When we asked Smith about the biggest lessons from his playing career that he brings to his job as coach, he listed emotional control, discipline and being respectful to the players.

“I want to be a manager who I would have wanted to be managed by,” said Smith. “I have to make tough decisions, but there can be a different way you make those tough decisions and give it to the players.”

Mental health was a focus for Charlotte FC in May, with the team releasing a video sharing the story of Caroline Love, a young fan who struggled with mental health challenges but persevered through therapy and treatment despite adversity and suicidal ideation.

Caroline “went through a lot of problems that people do go through, and because people can’t see the disease of mental illness, it becomes a tough thing to talk about,” said Smith during a May 23 press conference. “Sometimes we’re not aware of the impact we can have.”

One major change on and off the pitch since Smith’s playing days is the focus on mental health and managing stress. Smith told us that, in his time, players didn’t manage emotions or stress, and hazing was more prevalent.

“It was old school then. You had to get on with it,” said Smith. “I remember the week before I made my debut [for Walsall] I got called up to train with the first team, I trained with them and then after that I had to clean 24 sets of boots and do all the laundry.”

Though the experience drove Smith to want to play for the first team even more, he added, “You had to find your own ways of coping.”

For Charlotte FC players, there is a different approach than the one Smith experienced in the ’90s. There are club staff who directly support players, including player engagement and welfare

director John Wilson, and Smith is in the process of hiring a sports psychologist (Andrea Cannavacciuolo, who was previously hired as Charlotte FC’s head of mental performance, left the club when former head coach Christian Lattanzio was sacked).

“We all think [mental health] is a really important part, because as approachable as I am as a head coach, there will be some things that my staff or players don’t want me to know,” said Smith. “I think that it is important that there’s somebody within the workplace that people can reach out to when they’re having problems.”

Since taking over at Charlotte FC, Smith has overseen the departure of three offensive designated players: Karol Świderski, Kamil Jóźwiak, and most recently Enzo Copetti. In their places, Charlotte FC has signed winger Liel Abada for a transfer fee approaching $8 million, a record for the club, and he has elevated Patrick Agyemang into the striker role.

Additionally, Smith is still seeking an attacking midfielder who can be a key piece.

“You have to build the foundations of keeping clean sheets and being tight defensively, I believe that’s what helps you win football games,” said Smith. “We’re still working on the top half of the pitch, and we’ll keep working religiously on that, but we’ve got a good base at the moment because if the opposition don’t score, you’re guaranteed a point.”

Smith told us that even though he played defense for most of his career, his perspective from his playing days is most useful to attacking players.

“I actually feel I’m more capable of giving better information to forwards,” said Smith. “I know what defenders don’t like, so I can be telling forwards where center backs don’t want to go … I think the small details are what I give to the defenders.”

“He gives us great advice,” said Agyemang. “I try to take in as much information, and bother the center backs as much as possible, and it’s all based

on what I’m learning and what I’m getting told. I think he’s doing a really good job helping us.”

That advice is going to be important as Charlotte works to create chances and score more goals; though Charlotte’s defense has had a great year, only one team in MLS’s Eastern Conference has scored fewer goals than Charlotte as of press time.

“He knows what he’s talking about,” said Agyemang. “He genuinely wants to see us learn and get better each and every day. That’s the thing that stands out to me.”


Pg. 20 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM


MAY 29 - JUNE 4

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Your sense of adventure is energized by a challenge you’ve been hoping for. A loved one has some reservations, but can be persuaded to support your move.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) Your recently unsettling period has passed. Move ahead with those plans you put on hold. An offer needs careful study before you decide to accept or reject it.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) A career move could be in the works, but you might want to question facts that recently came to light. A Libra emerges as a likely romantic prospect.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) Tense moments in relationships ease up by week’s end. In the meantime, be careful not to react in a way that will aggravate the situation.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) Children or other kin present problems that you need to deal with. Your strong protective nature reaches out to reassure them that all will soon be well.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) You’ve earned the right to enjoy some fun time with friends and family. Someone from your past remembers you with fondness. Expect a call.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) You might feel the urge to change your surroundings. If you’re not up to a major move, you could get the same effect by redecorating your home.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) Changes in your workplace could test your decision-making ability. Rely on your self-confidence to help you make the right choice at the right time.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) Resist the urge to rush to judgment about friends who might appear to have let you down. You need to hear their sides of the story before you act.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) The times favor a change for the better in your private life. However, you still might have some sticky wickets to deal with on the job. Stay alert.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) A friendship could suddenly move from platonic to passionate. The decision for any change in this situation is ultimately yours to make. Consider it thoroughly.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) You still might be reacting to a stunning revelation from a friend, but it’s time to move on. Travel offers a chance to bring someone new into your life.

BORN THIS WEEK: You’re a loyal friend. You enjoy singing and love the arts, especially when you find yourself collecting beautiful things.



ARIES (March 21 to April 19) You’re buoyed by an exciting new venture that opens up more career possibilities. But you need to come down to earth occasionally to deal with home matters.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) The week opens up a new period of opportunities, both personal and professional. Spend the weekend with family and/or close friends.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Aspects favor reasonable risk-taking, as long as you feel prepared for the challenge of a new project. Your personal life also offers possibilities for change.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) Things ease up as tensions dissipate. Continue to reach out to those who need to be reassured that the upsets of the past are over and that everything is back to normal.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) Somebody loves you, and you know who this person is. While romantic aspects are favorable, it’s up to you whether the relationship goes from static to ecstatic.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) Educational aspects are strong this week for all Virgans — especially for children, who will benefit from after-school classes in music, art or dance.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) This is a favorable period for Librans to get started on making those longoverdue lifestyle changes involving health, fitness and relationship matters.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) Things begin to settle down in the workplace. But personal situations take on new importance as a loved one shares a matter of great concern with you.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) This is a good time to reach out to new acquaintances and reestablish contact with longtime friends who have earned your trust in past years.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) You’re able to assume more control over situations that seemed to be getting out of hand recently. Take time to mend rifts with your mate.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) Romantic aspects are strong for senior Aquarians, who prove that getting older just means getting better at playing Cupid’s game. “Playmates” include Librans and Leos.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) Let your instincts guide you to a decision about a friend who makes a claim on your generous nature. Also, travel plans might need some adjusting.

BORN THIS WEEK: You have a deep, spiritual side that you sometimes hide to let your more practical aspects show through.


Get our community reporting delivered straight to your inbox every Mon., Wed. & Fri.






Pg. 21 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
Trivia Answers Greendale Community College. Bolivia and Paraguay. Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Alabama. Dessert of ice cream and coffee. “The Princess Bride.” Alison. Pineal gland. “A Song of Ice and Fire.”


Let that sink in

I’m frustrated. I’m transmasc and use silicone “attachments.” My partner is AMAB. Also relevant: We have very old hardwood floors, non-laminated. For YEARS, I have expressed frustrations about the careless ways my partner handles silicone lube. Multiple times, he has created dangerous slippery spots on the floor by spilling it. Our old hardwood floor absorbs it and it won’t come out. (I have slipped while getting out of bed because it’s now slippery there. Also, mildly annoying, stains on sheets, blankets, etc., including the brand-new sheets that we began using a month ago. Also, even more frustrating, I have repeatedly pointed out that my (very expensive) silicone parts can be damaged and have a shorter lifespan if silicone is used directly on them.

I have gone to great lengths to make sure we always have an assortment of silicone, hybrid and water lubes, as well as non-lubricated condoms that can be placed over my silicone dicks with the option to put silicone lube on the outside. I have purchased cheap plastic trays to leave lubes on so excess lube doesn’t run down the outside of the bottle. I have bought a few cheap towels that can be kept nearby so lube bottles that are tossed don’t wind up on the sheets, couch, floor, etc. And yet he keeps putting the silicone lube directly onto silicone parts and being careless about spilling on the floor, bed, couch, etc.

I am at my wit’s end. The worst part is that he is usually the one who handles cleaning floors and bedding, so he should definitely understand this! I completely lost my libido recently because he was about to put silicone lube directly on a new silicone vibrating butt plug and then accidentally spilled it on the living room floor, which I immediately scrubbed by hand. Suddenly, instead of feeling turned on, I was imagining the next

time one of our elderly mothers walk into the living room and falls down. This is no longer just about lube. This is about a total disregard for things that aren’t that difficult to manage, and if I reach the point where I have to get pedantic and say, “I don’t feel comfortable with you handling silicone lube anymore,” it’s a huge turnoff. Advice?


If your partner can’t be trusted to use the right lube for the right toy and/or the right lube for the right act, SPILLS, and if your partner can’t manage to get the lube out of the bottle and onto a toy and/ or hole without getting the lube all over the floors and the sheets and the furniture and your moms, then your partner shouldn’t be allowed to handle the lube.

You shouldn’t have to apply the lube every time you have sex — you shouldn’t have to do all lotional labor in this relationship (forgive me) — but for your peace of mind and the safety of your elderly mothers, SPILLS, you might wanna do it.

Zooming out for a second…

There are really two different issues here. The first is practical: Your partner is staining the sheets, creating safety hazards and damaging expensive toys, some of which you acquired (and wear) more for his enjoyment than yours. The second issue is symbolic: He’s not listening. He’s not taking your concerns seriously, to say nothing of your sheets, and that makes inability — or his refusal — to do something as simple as use the right lube or place the bottle on a tray or a towel despite your repeated requests 10 times more upsetting.

Seeing as your partner was AMAB, and seeing as you used he/him pronouns when talking about him, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that he’s one of those dudes who has a hard time thinking/reasoning/remembering when his dick is hard. Calling off sex when he can’t remember to use the right lube or set the bottle down on a tray

or a towel might do the trick — it might break through — but if it doesn’t, SPILLS, I would suggest making the silicone lube less handy. Keeping the water-soluble lube on top of your nightstand and the silicone lube in the drawer wouldn’t just add an extra step when he wants to use the silicone lube, it would require him to make a conscious decision that required him to think about what lube he was using.

P.S. Your letter made me think of gay men I’ve known and loved who took a hit of poppers, put the cap back on the bottle, and then opened their hand and dropped the bottle on the bed… even though it meant they wouldn’t be able to find the bottle five minutes in the future when they wanted another hit because it was lost in the sheets.

I’m a 42-year-old white cis woman. I own a small business and I’ve been living on credit cards since the pandemic. My business is struggling, and I may have to close it. The thought of going back to work for someone else after being my own boss for so long is too sad. Here I am, in middle age, contemplating bankruptcy, and the possibility of losing everything.

When trying to find a silver lining, I remember I am not married and do not have children. I don’t even have nieces or nephews. So, when I think about things from a different angle, I am free to start a totally different life. In weighing my possible options, some unexpected things have come to mind. Since I was a teenager every woman I have ever been with — every single one — has remarked on my oral sex talents. I don’t get bored or tired, and I seem to be better than most at reading subtle physical cues and responding correctly.

My current lover is an OB/GYN in her late sixties and has told me —over and over through the years — that the majority of women do not ever experience the pleasure I give her when I go down on her. And this woman had many lovers, men and women, before I came along.

I’ve never had a moral problem with sex work, but I can’t envision a life fulfilling the fantasies of men. I have no interest in men at all. However, going down on women for cash sounds like the best job in the whole entire universe. When I was a pervert teenager, looking in the back of free papers for colorfully worded personals for jerk-off fodder (which is also where I first found you), I saw ads that men placed to give oral sex to

women. Is there a market for this? I live in the San Francisco area. Should I just place an ad somewhere? Can I visit a resource center for sex workers to ask some basic questions about safety as a potential sex worker? Or are these questions moot because this — women servicing women for money — isn’t a thing and there’s no market? SCREWED AFTER PANDEMIC HARMS INCOME CHANCES

People argue about why there are so few sex workers out there serving women exclusively. One reason frequently mentioned: Women are paid less than men and therefore don’t have the expendable income needed to pay for sex. (Other reasons: Women are socialized to feel less entitled to the sex they want; the negative consequences of sex — from pregnancy to STIs to sexual violence — disproportionately impact women, which makes women more risk-averse than men; women are likelier to have moral and/or political problems with sex work.) But while the pay gap remains a fact of life (and the orgasm gap remains a fact of life for straight women), it has narrowed significantly over the years.

One result of the growing economic clout of women: the closing of the infidelity gap. While we used to think women were less likely to cheat because women were better people — because they were better at honoring monogamous commitments — we now know women were more vulnerable. It was the devastating financial consequences of divorce that kept women from fucking around and not a lack of desire. But even as the infidelity gap has narrowed along with the pay gap, the paying-for-it gap doesn’t seem to have narrowed at all.

Which is a long way of saying … you’re gonna need a different backup plan, SAPHIC. And I have an idea: You’ve been dating a doctor for years — and going down on a doctor for years — so close your business, declare bankruptcy, and tell that doctor she’s gonna have to marry your ass if she wants to keep eating her pussy.

P.S. Really sorry about your business going under — that sucks.

Got problems? Yes, you do! Email your question for the column to mailbox@savage.love; or record your question for the Savage Lovecast at savage.love/ askdan. Podcasts, columns and more at Savage.Love.

Pg. 22 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM
Pg. 23 MAY 29JUNE 11 , 2024QCNERVE.COM

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.