WALTER Magazine - September 2019

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Your Future

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STAIRWAY TO THE STARS Let’s build a stairway to the stars And climb that stairway to the stars With love beside us to fill the night with a song We’ll hear the sound of violins Out yonder where the blue begins The moon will guide us as we go drifting along Can’t we sail away on a lazy daisy petal Over the rim of the hill? Can’t we sail away on a little dream And settle high on the crest of a thrill! Let’s build a stairway to the stars A lovely stairway to the stars -Ella Fitzgerald

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Volume VIII, Issue 1

Bob Karp (GUITAR); Jeffrey Lynn Media (SAXOPHONE)



67 76






Banjoist Hank Smith


SHOP: Swanky, Y’all An N.C.-centric T-shirt shop


Mary Williams: In words and song


Merge Records at 30


GIVERS: Filling a Need BackPack Buddies feeds students


Jazz musician Dontez Harris


QUENCH: Wine Not? The Triangle’s first urban winery



GIGS: The Natural An undercover racquetball pro


SAVOR: All in the Family Bella Monica’s Italian-American fare


NOTED: Meet Jacob Larry Wheeler catches up with the Cary-raised author of Sissy


Letter from WALTER




Your Feedback


Happening Now

117 The Whirl 130 End Note: Grounded in Green

On the cover: banjoist Hank Smith; photography by Ben McKeown



Joshua Steadman (CAMPING); S.P. Murray (DAVIS)


104 12 | WALTER


HOPSCOTCH: CELEBRATING 10 YEARS Superfans reflect on the indie fest. by Josh Klahre & Robb Leandro photography by Gus Samarco


BEHIND THE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL Locals who support the IBMA. by Susanna Klingenberg photography by Bob Karp


CULTIVATING A CLASSIC A grand garden gets family-friendly. by Katherine Poole photography by Jaclyn Morgan

104 PLAYFUL PAINTING Artist Eleanor-Scott Davis by Addie Ladner photography by S. P. Murray 110 A LAKE ESCAPE Camping and fishing with family Words & photography by Joshua Steadman

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Madeline Gray


WINnovation, above, and the edit team at WINi (left to right: me, Laura Wall, Katherine Poole and Catherine Currin). Find our events at


d i v Vi TurnYour Floor Into



t would only be a slight exaggeration to say that I moved here for the music. Turn to page 78, and you’ll see why: In a piece written by my husband, Josh, and his best friend, Robb, about their experiences at Hopscotch, you’ll learn that it was through this annual pilgrimage to Raleigh that Josh came to love this town—and he pulled me and our girls along with it. We’re grateful for it! We didn’t really plan for this to be the music issue, it just sort of happened, between Hopscotch’s 10-year anniversary, Merge Records’ 30th birthday, the main stage at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival being free for the first time, plus a string of artists we’ve been meeting through the NC Arts Council’s Come Hear NC campaign. I think that the breadth of talent and genres that grow in our area—alongside other top-notch forms of cultural and arts expression—is one of the things we can be most proud of. Swing over to page 67 to learn about a few of the local players, so to speak, in the field. One thing I noted: almost all of our featured musicians are teachers. Appropriate, since September gets us all in back-to-school mode (students or not). In that vein, we have a roundup of locally-written nonfiction to learn something new (pg. 48), a profile on the BackPack Buddies program (pg. 52) and Larry’s Wheeler’s notes after catching up with Jacob Tobia, who he met as a student still exploring their identity (pg. 62). The other thing fall means for us here at WALTER: Gearing up for a busy season of events that bring our magazine to life—head to for details. Here’s a preview: An entrepreneurship summit, an insider tour of the Executive Mansion and an excursion to Kinston (back by popular demand!). We hope you can join us for one—or many—of these exclusive WALTER experiences!

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Ayn-Monique Klahre Editor







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WALTER is available by paid subscriptions for $20 a year in the United States, as well as select rack and advertiser locations throughout the Triangle. Subscribe online at

Editorial Assistant KATHERINE POOLE


For customer service inquiries, please email us at or call 919-836-5613.

Contributing Writers

Advertising Coordinator ROBIN KENNEDY

Address all correspondence to: WALTER Magazine, 421 Fayetteville St., Suite 104 Raleigh, NC 27601




SEPTEMBER 2019 Published 10 times a year by The News & Observer Publishing Co. A McClatchy Company

WALTER does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Please contact Ayn-Monique Klahre at for freelance guidelines. © The News & Observer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the copyright owner.

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W R I TE R Lori Wiggins is a veteran journalist whose joy is storytelling that celebrates hidden gems. Born in Charlotte, raised in Raleigh, and educated at UNC-Chapel Hill, Lori’s Carolina-girl roots expanded as a staffer for newspapers in South Carolina. In 2002, she returned home as wife, mama and, ultimately, her parents’ caretaker. Lori penned the Midtown Muse community column for the The News & Observer for nearly a decade, and contributes to other publications and literary ventures as a writer and book editor. Writing for WALTER is a goal realized. “I hope Mary D. Williams’ story is a reminder that music is a universal form of self-expression that edifies and endures.”

W R I TE R Charles Upchurch is a writer and public relation executive who works in downtown Raleigh. His magazine journalism, including numerous articles for WALTER, has covered the finer points of cocktail making, the perfect oyster roast, the perils of ascending Mount Everest, the lost art of cane pole fishing, what it’s like to die and other essential reading. His profile of Dontez Harris, Raleigh’s unofficial jazz laureate, is a reminder that music is a doorway standing open, inviting us in.

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JACYLN MORGRAN / P HOTO G R A P HE R In her third assignment for WALTER, the Greenville-based family and wedding photographer explored one of Raleigh’s most beautiful private homes and gardens. “Anne and Scott live in a true oasis. Their outdoor fireplace is a sculptural work of art and their garden was so abundant they sent me home with a bag full of veggies. I love being with people in their natural habitat, especially when they’re super-passionate about it.”

P HOTO GR A PH ER Jeffrey Williamson is originally from Reidsville, N.C., and attended Elon University for Undergraduate and Graduate school where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Interactive Media. He enjoys photographing concerts, weddings and editorial portraits through his company, Jeffrey Lynn Media Photography. He has a Yorkie Poodle named Tuxedo and has resided in Raleigh for the last five years. “Photographing Dontez Harris at Transfer Co. was an amazing experience. It was great to capture him in his element and I enjoyed seeing the audience groove to the soundtrack of their Friday evening.”

Courtesy contributors


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YOUR FEEDBACK @waltermagazine We love seeing our community enjoying WALTER! Tag us in a photo with your issue of the magazine and we might just give you a shoutout!

Designer Justin LeBlanc and WALTER writer Susanna Klingenberg

Gary, featured in our July/August cover story on A Place at the Table

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the Modern Masterpiece story from our July/August issue, we neglected to mention the full team involved in the home’s construction and design. They are: Architectural designer Carter Skinner of Carter Skinner Residential Design; Design/ build team Jon Rufty, Parker Shanahan and Rob Bond of Rufty Homes; and interior designers Judy Pickett of Design Lines and Michelle Murphy of Demi Ryan.


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The Triangle’s creativity festival is back, in a new venue


PARKcon is here, it’s weird and it’s awesome. Hosted by the Visual Art Exchange (VAE), SPARKcon is a celebration of creativity featuring hundreds of artists through diverse events. Previously held on Fayetteville Street, this year SPARKcon will be held in the Warehouse District September 13-15. Brandon Cordrey, executive director of VAE, says that since the Warehouse District has been VAE’s neighborhood for eight years, bringing SPARKcon to the area was “a natural fit.” This year, the festival has also paired up with Art Intimacy—a local nonprofit focused on equitable art—to create a more inclusive program. There will be sensory-friendly packs available and guests can use the BlindSquare event app, which assists low-vision and blind individuals with navigation. SPARKcon allows each part of the creative community to plan its own “SPARK” showcasing different talents, including


musicSPARK, fashionSPARK and comedySPARK, to name a few. “It’s always for the community, by the community,” says Cordrey. Organized by a group of volunteers, from fire safety engineers to circus performers, SPARKcon is executed through an open-source leadership structure, allowing talent and audience members to come together to create and experience events. Three-and-a-half blocks of the burgeoning neighborhood will be closed off and over 30 indoor venues will host events. Arts, crafts, circus, comedy, dance, design, fashion, film, music, theatre—if you can dream it, you can find it at SPARKcon. —Sasha Schroeder All SPARKcon events are free and open to all; no pre-registration is required. Food trucks and street food will be available as part of tastySPARK.


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No matter where you fall on the tomato/vinegar line, you will want to queue up for The Story of Barbecue in N.C., an exhibit at The City of Raleigh Museum running now through September 29. Track the history of barbecue from its Caribbean roots to the current East versus West style in this installation by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. And if your inner pitmaster is inspired, you can pick up T-shirts and sauces from barbecue joints all across the state while you’re there. See website for museum hours; free; 220 Fayetteville St.;

NCra Presented by




Smith Hardy (BBQ); David James Swanson (RACONTEURS)






DECEMBER 14-29, 2019





The Raconteurs have new stories to tell September 3 at Red Hat Amphitheater. The alternative rock band made up of the enigmatic Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler has recently released its first studio album in more than a decade, Help Us Stranger. 7 p.m.; from $35; 500 S. Salisbury St;

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FEATHERS, FASHION AND CONSERVATION Did you know that an early 20th century women’s hat trend changed the way we care for bird populations? Find out more at Feathers, Fashion and Conservation, a special event at Yates Mill County Park September 4. 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of an endangered Carolina Parakeet, the last known of its kind. It is also the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Migratory Bird Act, a law written in response to overhunting of birds for their feathers, which were used in the production of women’s hats. Learn how the law allowed bird species to recover and changed the fashion industry. This family-friendly event is free, but registration is required. 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.; free; 4620 Lake Wheeler Road; programs.aspx

Getty Images

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Getty Images (KIDS); courtesy Carolina Hurricanes (5K)





See website for Expo hours; from $5-$25; 1025 Blue Ridge Road;

Calling all Caniacs: The Carolina Hurricanes Canes 5K is September 8. Presented by UNC REX Healthcare with assistance from Raleigh Orthopaedic, this family-friendly event benefits the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation, which supports educational and children’s programs in our community. Registration includes a ticket to a Hurricanes game, race swag, a chance to win raffle prizes and a post-race breakfast and a beer for racers over 21. The 5K covers the PNC Arena and surrounding areas and there will be 100- and 200-yard Caniac Kids Dashes, inflatables and special appearances by Stormy, the Pepsi Storm Squad and Hurricane players past and present. See website for complete race schedule and registration; from $35; 1400 Edwards Mill Road;

Whoever said that youth was wasted on the young never experienced the N.C. Kids Expo, a kid-centric shop, learn and explore event at the Exposition Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds September 7-8. The Expo will feature local businesses and national companies that provide services and products geared towards children and families. Discover new sports groups, activities, camps and classes offered in the area; meet local dentists and doctors; and gather great ideas for Junior’s next birthday party. There will be plenty of fun on the Expo floor as well, including an art corner, hands-on science experiments, photo ops with favorite characters and performances and magic shows on the main stage.


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PAPERHAND PUPPET INTERVENTION Local performance group celebrates 20 years With larger-than-life puppets that dance, fly and float across the stage, Paperhand Puppet Intervention (PPI) is a visual treat for all ages. Made from papier-mâché, cardboard, bamboo, paint, cloth and recycled items, the nature-inspired figures are moved by stilt dancers and black-clad puppeteers across the stage, accompanied by a live orchestra. On September 6, the group will perform We Are Here, a pageant marking the group’s 20th anniversary, at NCMA’s Museum Park Theater. We Are Here is a call for the audience to be more conscious of its surroundings, says Donovan Zimmerman, co-founder and co-director of PPI. “That’s what the ‘Intervention’ part of our name is all about,” says Zimmerman, who says that the group’s core values are promoting justice, equality and peace. “In many ways we’re here to help speak for the trees, foxes, squirrels and water. We Are Here attempts to connect people with the idea that all of those things have value and are important.” Along with co-director Jan Burger, Zimmerman and the rest of the PPI group have been hard at work all summer craft30 | WALTER

ing the show, from its original score to the unique puppets that bring the story to life. PPI’s studio is based in Saxapahaw, and volunteers are welcome to help the team create, paint and assemble the puppets alongside its four studio artists, eight interns and 15 puppeteers. Zimmerman says that over 200 people pitch in on different community workdays, and in addition to volunteer hours, the group relies on community donations— this year, they raised more than $30,000 on Kickstarter to bring We Are Here to life. Decades of community involvement and performances have strengthened Paperhand’s following: PPI has been performing at NCMA for the past 13 years, and at the Forest Theatre in Chapel Hill for 20 years. We Are Here will run at NCMA September 7-9, and you can catch PPI performing weekends at the Forest Theatre until September 29. —Sasha Schroeder For more information, visit

courtesy Paperhand Puppet Intervention



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Legendary guitarist Buddy Guy will be singing the blues with special guest Shemekia Copeland at the Durham Performing Arts Center September 10. Guy is one of the last of the great bluesmen (including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King) that inspired a generation of young guitarists that grew up to be Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. The title of Guy’s latest album sums it up: The Blues is Alive and Well. Plan an evening in Durham to confirm it is so. 7:30 p.m.; from $39.50; 123 Vivian St.;



6:30 PM



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For information visit or contact Meme Khalaff | 919.828.5932 2319 Laurelbrook Street, Raleigh, NC 27604


RUBIES The Carolina Ballet opens its 2019-2020 season with Rubies September 12-29 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Rubies is one movement of Jewels, a three-act ballet created by George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet and considered the father of American ballet. Set to the music of Igor Stravinsky, dancers are dressed like dazzling jewels. The program will also include a new collaboration between artistic director Robert Weiss and co-artistic director Zalman Raffael as well as Weiss’ Thais Meditation and his Classical Ballet set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev. See website for ballet dates and times; from $36; 2 E. South St.;

Paul Natkin (GUY); Armes Photography (BALLET)


Courtesy N.C. Museum of History


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Did you know that the real reason pirates wore eyepatches was to maintain night vision while at sea? All ye landlubbers can find out more salty truths at the N.C. Museum of History’s City of Oaks Piratefest July 14 at the Big Field at Dorothea Dix Park. Seize all the booty: swashbuckle, sword fight, sing sea shanties with the notorious Pirate Band, make a pirate-y craft and meet Captain Blackbeard. Food truck fare will fuel the fun and help keep scurvy at bay. Yo ho ho, ye won’t need pieces of eight to attend, but registration is encouraged. All hands hoay! 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; free; 2105 Umstead Dr.;

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Variety proclaimed, “It’s hard to imagine that within the next couple of years Kacey Musgraves won’t be one of the biggest stars in music.” Catch this rising star at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary September 14 on her Oh, What a World: Tour II. The country music singer-songwriter is racking up awards, critical acclaim and sell-out crowds, so don’t wait to follow your arrow to the show. 8 p.m.; from $30; 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary;

Can’t contain your excitement for the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival later in the month (see pg. 86) Get your grass on early at Sertoma Amphitheatre at Bond Park on September 14 for PineCone in Cary: The Trailblazers. Based out of Wilkesboro, N.C., this quartet of young musicians take their name seriously—honoring their roots in bluegrass, folk and jazz while blazing a trail with their own progressive acoustic sound. Don’t miss the 2018 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year at the newly renovated amphitheatre for its first outdoor concert of the year. Bring family, friends, picnics (no alcohol, please) and your clogging shoes.



7 p.m.; free; 801 High House Road, Cary;




Do you feel like we do? Feel all the feels for rock legend Peter Frampton as he jams out at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on his Frampton Farewell Tour September 14. He’ll have the Talk Box turned way up to show us the way.

The North Carolina Symphony will kick off its new season September 20-21 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts with Concerto for Two Pianos. Acclaimed pianists and husband-and-wife duo Lucille Chung and Alessio Bax join the symphony for Francis Poulenc’s exuberant and playful Concerto for Two Pianos. The evening also includes a performance of Sea Sketches by Grace Williams and Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.

7:30 p.m.; from $23; 3801 Rock Quarry Road;

8 p.m.; see website for ticket prices; 2 E. South St.;



courtesy (MUSGRAVES); courtesy The Trailblazers (TRAILBLAZERS); Scott Gries/Invision/AP (FRAMPTION); courtesy N.C. Symphony (PIANOS)


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Bug out at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences


ugFest is back for its 24th year September 21 at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Last year’s festival drew more than 30,000 visitors, and Kari Wouk, Senior Manager of Educational Collaborations at the museum, says they’re hoping for even more this year. The festival focuses on a specific arthropod (that’s any bug with an exoskeleton, if your science is a little rusty) each year, and the 2019 focus is the beetle. “After all, the beetle is one of the most diverse species on the planet,” says Wouk. From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., the museum and its surrounding streets will be transformed into a bug-topia: over 100 exhibits on beetles and arthropods, activities for kids like arthropod Olympics


and bag beetle battle (a buggy take on a potato sack race), an evening bugcooking demo and most importantly, the acclaimed Café Insecta. Café Insecta has long been a fan favorite of BugFest, with insect cuisine prepared by local chefs. Wouk says a favorite dish from BugFest a few years ago included crickets: “A chef from a Thai restaurant requested their crickets still alive, to feed them spices before cooking them into their dish.” Food truck chefs like Mr. Mongolian and Pho Nomenal Dumpling will team up to cook bug-themed dishes for the adventurous eater. Wouk says to expect dishes like bug burgers, three-cheese cricket quesadillas and green tea millworm donuts with black sesame ice cream. For more chances to try bug-

themed dishes, join the two chefs the night before, for a “Critter Cookoff,” where they’ll be challenged to cook up a tasty dish with a secret ingredient. It’s not just for gross-out purposes: “Eating bugs puts less pressure on the environment, making insects’ climate footprint even smaller,” says Wouk. While BugFest may be best known for its wacky activities and surprising snacks, Wouk says it’s just another way to teach kids about the importance of bugs and all living begins. “We want people to be aware of arthropod conservation and show them ways to get involved,” she says. “Bugs need a lot of love.” —Miranda Evon For more info, visit

couresty N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

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Pick up your ride-or-die and motor downtown for the 15th annual Capital City Bikefest September 20-22. Sponsored by Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson, Bikefest is a family-friendly celebration of biking culture, drawing motorcycle and vintage car enthusiasts from all over the country. Highlights include: the Patriot Ride, the Custom Dynamics Show of Lights Parade, the Wall of Death stunt bike show, Tattoo Fest and a pre-1972 car show. Musical acts, plus plenty of food and beverage options, will keep everyone’s motor running. Bike for good: All proceeds and donations benefit the USO of North Carolina and the United States Veterans Corps. See website all Bikefest information;



The 17th Annual Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run takes place September 21 at Sanderson High School and the Shelley Lake Greenway. The event began as a tribute to the late Gail Parkins by her family to “channel grief and to give back to Duke for the overwhelming support they gave us,” says Parkins’ daughter Mel Bacheler. Since then, it has grown into an event that has raised over $4 million, all of which benefits the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at the Duke Cancer Institute. The registration fee includes a T-shirt, pre-race doughnuts and a post-race lunch. The competitive 5K begins at 8:30 am, followed by the 2-mile walk at 10:30am. With children’s activities and a DJ spinning tunes for all ages, it is a celebration for everybody, but especially the over 100 ovarian cancer survivors that are recognized at the grand finale. 7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.; $40 race registration; 5500 Dixon Dr.;

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courtesy Capital City Bikefest (BIKEFEST); Big Star Studios (WALK)



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A chance meeting between acclaimed North Carolina artist Rhiannon Giddens and the Italian pianist and percussionist Francesco Turrisi in Ireland sparked a musical partnership that explores the unexpected connections between the early American banjo and the Sicilian tamburello. Pack a picnic (alcohol not permitted) and come savor this unique pairing at the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Theater in the Museum Park September 25. 7:30 p.m.; from $32; 2110 Blue Ridge Road;

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The Art of Cool festival describes itself as “fusing forward-thinking R&B, neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, alternative and spoken word greats over the course of a dope, culture-filled weekend.” The three-day festival about music, artistic expression, community and cultural engagement will be happening in downtown Durham September 27-29 in various event spaces, including the Carolina Theatre, Motorco and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The 2019 lineup includes Jill Scott, Black Violin, Ari Lennox (above), Flint Eastwood, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, Michael Eric Dyson and DJ Talib Kweli. Cool. See website for all festival information; 828.261.4776 • 2220 Hwy 70 SE, Hickory, NC 28602 •

Hickory Furniture Mart • South Side • Level 2

courtesy NCMA (GIDDENS); courtesy Art of Cool (COOL)

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The 5th annual garden party at RLT Raleigh Little Theatre’s Groove in the Garden kicks off its fifth year of live and local music September 21. Eight local bands are set to play in the Rose Garden, opening with alternative indie band Arson Daily and closing the festival with Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ honkytonk sound. RLT Executive Director Charles Phaneuf says he looks forward to the locally-focused event every year. “Groove in the Garden is exciting because you get to see a lot of bands from the area who are handpicked by our talented partners at The Pour House.” Adam Lindstaedt, owner of The Pour House and founder of Groove in the Garden, says he chooses local bands for the festival that have previously performed at his venue. “The music comes from here, and we’re proud to showcase and have them represent our state.” Spend the day enjoying homegrown music, complete with 35 local vendors including food trucks like pizza from Pie Pushers and barbecue from Longleaf

Swine, plus beer from Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing (guests are welcome to bring their own food, but no outside alcohol or glass, please). Activities for kids are available like hula hoops and an arts and crafts station. There are even treats for your pup—yes, this is a dog-friendly music festival! The festival has grown since its inception in 2014: the bands are more diverse, Lindstaedt says, and now represent a wider genre of music that North Carolina has to offer. The festival is particularly special to Lindstaedt as he selects the bands that play. “Seeing the bands we’ve been working with the past few years, from playing shows for five people on a Tuesday evening to growing and developing a larger fan base, is worthwhile,” he says. “My goal is to get them to where they’re too big to play at my venue.” —Miranda Evon 2-8 p.m.; from $15; 301 Pogue St.;

Ana Caicedo

Happening NOW

SEPTEMBER GROOVE-Y LINEUP Main Stage: Stephenson Amphitheatre 2:00 p.m.

Arson Daily 3:15 p.m.

Urban Soil 4:30 p.m.

Hot At Nights 18 Piece Orchestra 5:45 p.m.

Kooley High 7:00 p.m.

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers Rose Garden 2:45 p.m.

Into The Fog 4:00 p.m.

Clint Roberts 5:15 p.m.






919 . 8 3 2 . 3 4 61 | R E L I A B L E J E W E L R Y . C O M

Happening NOW


Come one, love all at the 2nd annual NC Pride at Night Festival on September 28. Pride at Night is an almost two-year-old nonprofit that serves to support and unite Raleigh’s LGBTQ community. The first Pride at Night Festival was held last year in commemoration of Raleigh’s first gay pride celebration in 1988. This year’s family-friendly event is held in downtown's Warehouse District and features community and food vendors, entertainment and music, including the headliner recording artist and Broadway star Todrick Hall. “It’s really just about loving one another as humans,” says April Norris, vice-chair of the event. “Uniting together and supporting each other is one of the easiest things in the world to do—no matter what your background, no matter who you are.” 4 - 10 p.m.; free and open to all;


STORYTELLING FESTIVAL At Saint Mary’s School you can immerse yourself in a vibrant learning and living experience. Our innovative curriculum and real-world learning opportunities let you explore new ideas and interests in a community that values and respects your unique voice and talents. You want to better understand the world and your place in it. We can help. Find what you need at

Did they live happily ever after? Find out September 28 at the Storytelling Festival at Oak View Park, presented in partnership with Wake County Public Libraries. Enjoy a day in this magical place far, but not too far, away and listen to stories from professional storytellers. And that’s no tall tale. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.; free; 4028 Carya Dr.;

Getty Images (FESTIVAL); Danielle Vasseur (PRIDE)


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SEPTEMBER WORLD TOUR Think globally, act locally. September is a month of festivals that bring international flair to the Triangle. A few picks…

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Raleigh Greek Festival The 38th annual Greek Festival features food, music and dance. A portion of the proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity. September 6-8 N.C. State Fairgrounds

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Brazilian Day NC Festival Celebrate Brazilian Independence Day with the Triangle’s Brazilian community. Enjoy the art, music and authentic foods of this vibrant culture. September 7 Durham Central Park, Durham

La Fiesta del Pueblo This fiesta is the Triangle’s largest Latinx cultural festival. The free event showcases popular and folk music, dance, children’s activites, and food. The event is sponsored by the nonprofit El Pueblo, which supports leadership programs in the Latinx community. September 22 Raleigh City Plaza

Asia Fest Celebrate Asian culture, diversity and history with Dragon Boat competitions, food, stage performances, crafts, games, art, cultural exhibits and merchandise. September 28 Koka Booth Amphitheatre

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Even if it’s been decades since you picked up a schoolbook, that first fall breeze can make you feel like learning something. Consider some new nonfiction from one of these local authors.

Former The News & Observer reporter and Piedmont Laureate Scott Huler retraces an English explorer’s 550-mile trek through the Carolinas. Learn what’s changed—and what hasn’t.

On shelves next month, UNC-Asheville professor Daniel S. Pierce recounts the history of moonshine in our state and the lively mix of characters that kept stills going from Prohibition to the present.

This October, Saltbox Seafood Joint chef Ricky Moore brings his popular fare to home cooks. The talent behind the Durham restaurant and food truck shares tips on frying, grilling, smoking and more.

The famous pitmaster of Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., Sam Jones debuts his first book, sharing his secrets of North Carolina-style whole hog barbecue.

Out this month, James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame member Jean Anderson merges two N.C. maker pasttimes in an story-driven guide to cooking in clay.

From drivable dunes to arcane history, Raleigh native Glenn Morris will surprise even seasoned beachgoers with this wellresearched guide.




When homes at The Cypress of Raleigh come up for sale, they tend to be snapped up quickly. That occurs because the rewards of home ownership in this highly desirable senior living community are many. Of course, it’s a wise investment for you and your family. But mostly, you’ll love The Cypress because of the idyllic lifestyle. Long walks along lovely WYP]H[L SHRLZ ÄUL J\PZPUL JYHM[LK I` [VW JOLMZ HUK LUKSLZZ ZVJPHS VWWVY[\UP[PLZ 7S\Z HUK this is a big plus indeed, exceptional healthcare right on-site, should you ever need it. All good reasons to check out The Cypress of Raleigh now, before another great home passes you by.

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SWANKY, Y’ALL A T-shirt shop with a distinctly Raleigh point of view by SARAH NAGEM photography by SMITH HARDY


he way John Pugh tells it, his T-shirt business never would have taken off without a Fritos lunch box. Pugh crafted that metal pail from his childhood into a guitar that he played during gigs as an amateur musician in downtown Raleigh bars more than a decade ago. Often, he’d bring along a small screen-printing kit to make T-shirts on the spot when he was strapped for cash. The goal: “Sell two shirts so I could drink some beer,” he says. Fast-forward a few years; now Pugh 50 | WALTER

and his wife, Jennifer Robinson, run House of Swank on Hargett Street. You’ve probably seen their T-shirts, many featuring North Carolina and Raleighcentric phrases like “919, Y’all” and “Bless Your Heart.” But don’t let the store’s moniker fool you—there’s nothing particularly swanky about it. House of Swank got its name from Pugh’s former stage name, Johnny Swank. (One of his earliest shirts said, “Johnny Swank Blues.”) Pugh started out making T-shirts that he wanted to wear, avoiding the colors of local universities. He experimented

with North Carolina-themed designs, including a mason jar for moonshine and an outline of the state. Soon Pugh and Robinson were spending their weekends hawking shirts at festivals and other events, and they moved the business into two other downtown locations before it opened on Hargett in April 2018. Pugh says he is always coming up with new designs, and he takes pride in helping customers express themselves and where they come from. He’s created designs for many towns, including Garner and “Wiltson” (that’s Wilson, if you’re looking

at a map). One shirt says “Raleigh Not Charlotte” in a nod to the not-so-secret competition between North Carolina’s two largest cities. “John found a way to monetize his snarkiness,” Robinson says. At the heart of House of Swank is an intense love for North Carolina. Pugh grew up in Guilford County and has lived in cities from the mountains to the coast. Robinson, an Ohio native who met her husband in graduate school, spent a summer traveling North Carolina to document the area’s largest trees as part of a state project. While they share an adventurous spirit—Pugh has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, and the couple once spent 10 weeks paddling down the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico—they’re happy to call the Old North State home as they raise their sons, ages 2 and 5. “We are an incredibly diverse state,” Pugh says. “I’m totally smitten by it.”

Pugh and Robinson are smitten by Raleigh in particular. “Raleigh is weird. Raleigh is awesome,” Pugh says. They live about a mile from the store and have witnessed the area’s explosive growth over the past decade or so. Robinson, who handles the finances for the business, said that at first she figured House of Swank would have a five-year lifespan, but it clearly has more staying power. As the business evolves, House of Swank is finding a new way to honor Raleigh: by bringing in local artisans to sell their goods at the store, including locally-made postcards and tourist paraphernalia (a recent visit uncovered Wicks for Wags, a chemical-free candle company that donates part of its proceeds to animalrescue efforts). Being in the state they love, growing a business and supporting others who are just getting started is a just-about perfect trio for the couple. “I truly love what I do,” Pugh says.

At the heart of House of Swank is an intense love for North Carolina.


Nourishing local schoolchildren with weekend food assistance by ILINA EWEN


he chime of the Friday school bell isn’t music to the ears of all children—for many students in Wake County, it can signal facing an empty cupboard for the weekend. One in four children is at risk of hunger in central North Carolina. If you have volunteered in a school or chaperoned a field trip, chances are you have spent time with a child who was anxious, exhausted or unfocused due to chronic hunger. Mondays are the worst for school nurse visits and discipline issues; that’s often because students that rely on getting their calories from school meals have not eaten much over the weekend. “BackPack Buddies is the first line of defense for kids experiencing the stress and trauma of food insecurity,” says Julie Cox, former Advocacy Manager at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), the organization that started the program in 2006. BackPack Buddies currently serves 2,900 students per week among 80 52 | WALTER

schools in Wake County. Every Thursday, volunteers deliver bags of food to schools to be distributed before the Friday dismissal bell rings. The goal is to send each student participant home with enough food for the weekend: six meals, including protein, vegetables, fruit, breakfast items and snacks. “Healthy food is a right, not a privilege,” says Cox. The IFFS serves seven counties in this region, working at the district and school level to identify students and determine a plan. It takes a village, as they say, to make it happen. Schools, local churches, nonprofits and civic organizations raise money for the program. The IFFS uses its relationships with Food Lion, Harris Teeter and other providers to purchase groceries at a discount, while workers and volunteers pack and distribute it. Volunteers at the school deliver the bags to classrooms so teachers can discreetly tuck them into elementary schoolers’ backpacks (for middle and high schools, they offer on-site pantries). For many students,

confidentiality is key to maintaining a sense of dignity and avoiding stigma. Each BackPack Buddies program has its own story: The Cecilia Rawlins Fund (CRF), for example, is a nonprofit started by a group of moms at Wiley Elementary School. They found that some students struggled to pay attention during tutoring, so they started bringing a snack to each session. When they saw an improvement in focus and performance, it sparked a discussion about food insecurity. “So many of us take for granted that we have access to food when we are hungry,” says Kathy Foglia, a teacher at Wiley Elementary School. Working with the principal plus social workers and counselors, the group identified the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle as a partner to provide weekend meals, then established a fund in honor of retired Wiley principal Cecilia Rawlins. The CRF now funds BackPack Buddies meals for 30 students each week. “The Cecilia Rawlins Fund helps remove hunger from

Courtesy BackPack Buddies


the equation so students can focus their attention on learning,” says founding board member Kathleen Lowe, who notes that this enhances not just that student’s experience, but the dynamic of the entire classroom. St. Michael’s Episcopal Church supports BackPack Buddies at Washington and Wiley Elementary Schools through volunteering and funding from the congregation. “St. Michael’s loves this connection to the community,” says Elizabeth Matthews, who manages logistics. Hunter Elementary School has had a program for over 17 years, making it one of the oldest in Wake County. “We’ve had 40 to 80 students each year in our program, and that has meant weekend food security for each of those kids,” says school social worker Trinity Pellas. “We hope that this consistent access to food impacts not only their nutrition, but their school performance… We also hope it helps them feel loved and secure, so they know that we care enough to make sure that they never go hungry.” The Junior League has sponsored their program and others for years. “The kids felt like they were taken care of, and school felt like an extension of family,” says Cecilia Joyce, a former teacher at Hunter who worked with many BackPack Buddies recipients. And that’s the point: above all, the program makes kids and families feel like people in the community care. “BackPack Buddies is more than just a source of food— it’s a symbol of hope, relief and happiness,” says Amber C. Simmons, Child Hunger Programs Manager at the IFFS. One fourth grade student commented that because of BackPack Buddies, he feels a sense of relief rather than dread as the weekend approaches. A mom of another student says the program allows her to better provide for her family: “I am so grateful that I haven’t had to worry about groceries.” And a third grader commented that he likes the variety he gets. “We mostly have beans at our house, so I really like getting the food each week that we can eat with the beans. We eat it all!”

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WINE NOT? Tradition continues for the Triangle’s first urban winery by ALEX DIXON photography by BOB KARP


hatham Hill Winery may not be what first comes to mind when imagining a winery: No rolling hills lined with rows of grapevines, no winding dirt roads. Instead, it’s a straightforward storefront on Chapel Hill Road. What it does have: an inviting outdoor seating area, an indoor tasting bar, and a chilly, old-school barrel room in back. In two decades, Chatham Hill has made a name for itself as an urban winery, part of a trend of producing wines in high-density areas that’s seen success in the likes of New York and D.C. It of-


fers an accessible way to taste new wines without driving out to wine country. “When people hear ‘urban winery,’ it can be confusing,” says head winemaker Richard Maestri, who says he primarily sources grapes from the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area in the foothills of N.C. Chatham Hill, which was opened in 1999 by Marek Wojciechowski and is now owned by Wally Myers and Marti Hunter, claims to be the first winery in the Triangle, as well as the state’s first urban winery (since then others have popped up, including plēb urban winery in Asheville and Davidson Wine Co. in

Charlotte). Maestri started as a volunteer eight years ago, then rose from assistant winemaker to his current role, and the brand has built a loyal following through its wine club—some members have belonged since the very beginning—weekly barrel samplings and live music Fridays. Not tending a farm frees Chatham Hill to experiment with different grapes, yeasts and oaks as well as a variety of techniques (from extended barrel aging to fruit infusions). “You want to keep the quality people are used to, but you also need to keep the interest going,” says Maestri. “It’s a balancing act.”


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6I[HPU [OL 7YVWLY[` 9LWVY[ YLX\PYLK I` -LKLYHS 3H^ ILMVYL ZPNUPUN HU`[OPUN (SS PUMVYTH[PVU PZ ILSPL]LK [V IL HJJ\YH[L I\[ PZ UV[ ^HYYHU[LK ;OPZ PUMVYTH[PVU ZOHSS UV[ JVUZ[P[\[L H ]HSPK VɈ LY PU HU` Z[H[L ^OLYL WYPVY YLNPZ[YH[PVU PZ YLX\PYLK ;OPZ information and features and information described and depicted herein is based on proposed development plans, which are subject to change without notice. Actual development may or may not be as currently proposed. No guarantee is made that the features, amenities, or facilities depicted by an artist’s rendering or otherwise described herein will be built, or, if built will be the same type, size, or nature as depicted or described. © 2015 Blowing Rock Resort Venture, LLC.



Pro shop stringer & racquetball champ Brent Walters by MELANIE JONES


photography by SMITH HARDY

ou might recognize him from the Alexander Family YMCA, smacking the ball against the backboard. Or maybe you’ve chatted with him at the North Hills Club, where he strings rackets and manages the pro shop. But running into Brent Walters won’t reveal the truth: He’s a multi-title winning racquetball champ, living a low-key existence right here in Raleigh. At 13, Walters was waiting for a lightning delay to pass at the neighborhood pool when Lee Tent, son of the club’s general manager, invited him to play racquetball. He was hooked. At the time, there was an incentive program to grow the sport: free balls and prizes in exchange for time on the court. He was in: “I am super-competitive!” He began hanging around the courts for up to 40 hours a week, picking up games from the old guys, and soon discovered he had a natural talent. As a teen, Walters played men’s tournaments in the Fayetteville area just to compete. At East Carolina, Walters played on the intramural team (racquetball wasn’t a varsity sport) and his 56 | WALTER

freshman year, he played four matches without losing a point. His grades kept him from participating in the regional collegiate tournament, so he dropped out of school sophomore year. Walters moved to Raleigh in 2001, playing tournaments and stringing rackets to pay the bills. He eventually became an official pro tour stringer and referee, mostly in order to pay for his own tournaments. “Most people don’t realize how good this guy is. He’s better at racquetball than most of us are at anything we do,” says Allen Willis, a friend from the North Hills Club. “And he’s just so nice about it as well.” Walters credits his success to a high-intensity fitness regimen and balanced diet—too modest, friends say, to admit that he has incredible, natural talent. Through hard work and a competitive nature, Walters has amassed quite a record: 10 state singles titles, 13 state doubles titles, 8 national doubles titles and 7 national singles titles. “I play for self-joy, I like winning more than I hate losing,” says Walters. “I am grateful that the sport has allowed me to travel and make friends along the way.”

For your calm reflections







ALL IN THE FAMILY Bella Monica serves Italian-American fare inspired by Nana’s kitchen by CATHERINE CURRIN


photography by TAYLOR MCDONALD


was very lucky to grow up in a large Italian family,” says Corbett Monica. “My grandmother was the matriarch, and everyone came to her house after church on Sundays. Every week it would change on who would show up, but there was always someone there.” And no matter who came, there was one constant: loads and loads of food. In New York and New Jersey— where Monica and his wife, Julie, are from—Italian-American restaurants are pretty common. But down here, they’re more of a novelty. So just a year after the couple moved here in 1999 with hopes of opening a restaurant, they opened Bella Monica (named after Julie, the “beautiful Monica”) as an homage to the family-owned joints they missed. “It was always going to be Italian,” he says. “Bella Monica is the food that we grew up with, it’s our heritage food.” When they bought the location that would be their restaurant, it was a takeout pizza place in a shopping strip at the corner of Edwards Mill and Duraleigh Roads. “We really piecemealed it together as we grew,” says Monica. The unassuming restaurant has evolved to include a small bar, some booths, an outdoor patio and a private room for special events. The walls are adorned with rotating local art; dozens of Italian wine bottles are proudly displayed behind the bar. It’s cozy, it’s unfussy and it’s a welcoming spot that has become a neighborhood favorite and a celebration-night destination for Raleighites over the past two decades. Monica loves his regulars and has enjoyed watching families grow up through the restaurant, visiting for birthdays, anniversaries and even prom dinners—the same sort of family atmosphere his grandmother established in her home. While the restaurant has never done formal advertising, Monica says word of mouth has been their best asset. “It’s been important to be able to grow like that in this community. It’s honest, it’s genuine.”

In regards to the menu, it leans Italian-American, to be distinguished from Italian-Italian—“You’d be hard-pressed to find a Chicken Parmesan on a menu in Italy!” laughs Monica. Here, you can enjoy a plate of piping-hot lasagna

Opposite page: Corbett and Julie Monica, co-owners of Bella Monica; this page: a dinner spread at Bella Monica including bruschetta, pizza and salads.

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 59

smothered in cheese and gravy (that’s tomato sauce, for the lay folks) with a hefty glass of house red wine, their signature Caesar salad topped with roasted red peppers or warm, house-made focaccia, topped with olive oil, onion and chive. Monica says his executive chef Alex Martinez is making the family proud after 16 years with the restaurant. Alongside perennial favorites, Martinez invites new recipes into the mix every now and then based on travels and food trends—like lowcarb options among the pasta-forward

selections, or unique takes on old favorites (see: the crab flatbread, their pizzaesque version of a crab cake). Monica says his favorite dish changes regularly, but right now he’s on a kick with the shrimp and calamari entrée: sautéed seafood served on a bed of squid ink linguini with Calabrian sausage. I got to taste this one on my visit—order it! Many of the menu items nod to Monica’s ancestral roots, like the stuffed tuna peppers (bite-sized spicy and sweet peppers filled with Sicilian tuna salad), a favorite along the Italian coast. There’s an entire section

“Bella Monica is the food that we grew up with, it’s our heritage food.” —Corbett Monica

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH BRUSCHETTA Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 ounces pancetta, diced 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced thick 3/4 cup ricotta cheese 5 ounces dried cranberries 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped 1/4 cup local honey 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butternut squash halves on a large baking sheet flesh side up. Add olive oil, season with salt and black pepper. Roast 35-40 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender. Once squash has cooled, scoop out with a spoon and dice into 1/2-inch sized pieces. Render the diced pancetta on low heat until crispy. Slice ciabatta bread into 12 half-inch thick pieces, arrange on a large baking sheet and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 6-8 minutes. To serve, top ciabatta with butternut squash, ricotta, pancetta, cranberries, honey and sage.


This page: Squid ink linguine with sautéed calamari and shrimp; opposite page: “Mom’s Meatballs”

titled ‘Favorites from Nana’s Cucina,’ including the Baked Ziti (Monica refers to it as “mac and cheese”), the first thing he learned to cook with his grandmother. He chose his mother’s method of preparing meatballs and gravy, however. “My grandmother cooked them in the sauce, but my mom pan-fried them before adding the sauce,” says Monica. “I do it my mom’s way because it adds another level of texture and flavor.” In 2017, the Monicas opened Stellino’s in West Cary, the sister restaurant to Bella Monica. It’s named for his teenage daughter, Stella. “Both restaurants are named for my girls,” says Monica. The menu mimics Bella Monica’s for the most part, and there are still the classic favorites like lasagna and stuffed shells, but with more space at this location comes more creativity in the kitchen. “Because

we’re in a new shopping center, we had a blank slate. We were able to design and build the whole space out, with a cool mix of rustic and contemporary design—something I noticed on my travels to Italy,” says Monica. “We also had the capacity to bring in a fryer, something we don’t have at Bella Monica.” That means the menu includes additions like Arancini (fried risotto balls) and fried calamari. Monica says with the success and loyal following of Bella Monica, it was a natural progression to open a second restaurant in a new neighborhood. “There’s so much great community here. When we moved here and opened Bella Monica, we wanted people to come into our restaurants and feel comfortable, enjoy themselves and have some delicious food. It’s all about communities taking care of communities.”

APPLE CROSTADA Find recipes for the Pastry Dough and Egg Wash at Filling ingredients 8 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons brown sugar cup sugar teaspoon cinnamon 2 tablespoons rolled oats 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1/3 1/4

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the apples, flour, brown and white sugars, cinnamon, oats and softened butter in a bowl and toss well. Place the apple mixture in the center of the Pastry Dough disks, leaving a 3-inch flap of dough around the edge. Fold the extra dough over the apple mixture, forming a rustic, uneven rim around the crostata. (The apples will not be completely covered with the dough.) Paint the dough edges with the Egg Wash. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Serve warm with vanilla gelato.

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 61

NOTED NCMA Director Emeritus Larry Wheeler catches up with a Cary native who’s getting national attention

Meet Jacob


Oriana Koren


acob Tobia, Cary native and current resident of Los Angeles, is the author of Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story, published this year in hardcover by Penguin. This autobiographical account of Jacob’s reckoning with their gender identification from childhood to their present adult self is humorous, but consistently sensitive. And brave. In telling their personal story, Jacob engages us in topics much discussed these days: gender nonconformity, fluidity, male/ female labels and queerness. Just how does one communicate gender in the contemporary world? And how does one live to thine own self truly? Jacob has a thing or two to tell us about these matters. By the way: When I refer to Jacob as they or them, it is not a mistake. These are the pronouns for stripping away gender-specific identity. It’s not intuitive for me, but I am learning, committed to embracing the new way. Sissy has created quite a stir. The New York Times compared Jacob’s writing to that of David Sedaris, the internationally-acclaimed author from Raleigh. Various television appearances—including an interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show—plus a major presence on Instagram have propelled Jacob into celebrityhood. And to think, I knew Jacob when. I met them in 2008 when they were a senior at Raleigh Charter High School and working as an intern for their State Sen-

ator, Richard Stevens of Cary. Richard, a friend, called me one day to see if I would take some time to chat with a bright young person who was exploring their identity. “Of course,” I replied. (I, too, had done a good bit of gender searching over a lifetime as I accepted and expressed my gay self in a largely straight society.) Jacob came to NCMA and we had a lively and entertaining gab about all kinds of things. Then I lost track of Jacob. At a recent civic club meeting, Richard mentioned to me that Jacob had just published a book, entitled Sissy. Whoa, I thought. I ordered it immediately. In Sissy, Jacob catches us up on their “just live it” life in a panoply of colorful, exquisitely crafted stories that describe Jacob’s growing confidence in being gender-fluid. At Governor’s School in 2006, a summer program for gifted and aspiring high school leaders, Jacob determined to dress more boldly, express their gender-nonconforming heart and advocate for gender honesty. This was a public coming out, as it were, which shaped the college admissions essays that soon followed. Jacob was accepted at major Ivy Leagues and their kin, and ultimately chose Duke, where they received full financial backing. There they continued to express the full Jacob in dress, attitude and full-throttled advocacy, which was honored by the university and community. In 2014, Jacob graduated summa cum laude. I should mention, as Jacob does in Sissy, that to graduation they wore a two-piece pink suit à la Jackie Kennedy, but with a much shorter skirt and heels. Otherwise, Jacob looked very male. When President Obama invited them to the White House? Heels, of course, with to-be-expected slacks and jacket. These stories and more are hilarious when told with appropriate embellishments in the book: Jacob running down the halls of the UN in high heels while completing a prestigious internship there, and running across the Brooklyn Bridge in red high heels to raise money (over $10,000) to rehab an LBGTQ center in New York that was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Jacob received beaucoup attention

for this good deed, including an appearing sales were strong enough to put it ance on MSNBC and a mention as NY1’s in the bestseller columns of several “New Yorker of the Week.”) lists—and to capture the attention of Jacob moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to Hollywood. On a recent book tour in work as a social media producer on Season Wichita, Kansas, they received a happy 4 of Transparent while surprise: About a hunfinishing Sissy. Two dred people attended the years later, the book reading in this presumably is a hit. I thought it conservative, flyover city. would be interesting Jacob’s book-signing to reconnect with the at Quail Ridge Books kid I had met a decade this spring was a huge, earlier, so I sought sold-out-to-capacity-andJacob out and called beyond event. Jacob was them in LA. We chatthrilled by the celebratory ted for quite awhile. homecoming. When I was (They are quite chatty.) recently in Provincetown, Jacob is excited to Massachusetts, a town on be developing concepthe Cape heavily populated tual screenplays for by gay folks, I saw Sissy in television adaptations the window of a bookshop. of Sissy with encourSo I popped in to ask about agement from HBO, the reception of the book. among other network There was great interest, sources. We both agree and everyone looked forward Queer characters to meeting Jacob. Insufferthat the timing is ideal for such a show, given able name dropper that I am, and themes are the success of Transpartold my Jacob story. They proliferating in Iseemed ent, Pose and Euphoria impressed. every medium of (which features Raleigh Even with their growing native Hunter Schaefer, American enter- fame, Jacob is still a homea trans girl playing— town kid. Jacob loves their tainment. ‘Tis a family and their church. brilliantly—a trans girl). Queer characters and They’re still close with their good era for themes are proliferating dad and brother. Jacob’s talent to mom, in every medium of Jacob loves North Carolina American entertaindespite its checkered history be showcased. ment. ‘Tis a good era on LGBTQ issues—they for Jacob’s talent to be tout the state’s underrated showcased. progressivism and richly As Jacob points out, developing a pilot textured quality of life to its critics. Jacob without guarantees or financial backing is wild about NCMA, of course. Calls it is stressful. Waiting for the—we hope “my happy place.” inevitable—series order, they are working So Jacob, will you ever come back to heads-down while consulting on genlive amongst us, I inquire. Absolutely, der diversity issues and doing product they shout back. Jacob wishes there were endorsements on social media for extra more production opportunities in the income. They are a face and voice for area, but looks forward to the day they Fluide, a cosmetic line popular with the can work and live here—ideally in a transgender community. big house with a wraparound porch in Asked how many books they have sold, Durham with a glass of Jim Beam in hand Jacob noted that the publisher did not like to greet us. to disclose early numbers, but that openCan’t wait to join you. Hurry home. SEPTEMBER 2019 | 63






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Listen Up Gus Samarco

The Triangle may be known for tech, but it’s the music that gives this area its soul (...and indie, and jazz). Flip through to meet some of the players putting our local music scene on the map.

The banjoist for a new generation Exploring history with words and song Merge Records celebrates 30 years A jazz legend returns to Raleigh Two superfans take on Hopscotch Five faces of Wide Open Bluegrass

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SEPTEMBER 2019 | 67

STRING THEORY Banjoist Hank Smith nurtures the local music scene by SAMANTHA GRATTON photography by BEN MCKEOWN


t all started in 1994, when Hank Smith received a pawn shop banjo for Christmas. He didn’t play at the time—but he couldn’t put it down, either. “It was something of an anomaly. I don’t have a musical family,” says Smith, who grew up in Florence, South Carolina. While everyone around him was listening to grunge, Smith was teaching himself how to pluck Nirvana songs on the banjo. And when a friend loaned him a Béla Fleck album, he knew it: this was the kind of music he wanted to play. He 68 | WALTER

slowly learned more traditional fingerpicking bluegrass-style songs, mostly through monthly jam sessions for the Southeastern Bluegrass Association, getting good enough to play gigs on the side as he moved through college and then graduate school. He moved to Raleigh in 2006, after commuting to play in jam band Barefoot Manner for four years. With Smith on the banjo, they created a modern bluegrass or, “newgrass,” sound. In the ten years since Barefoot Manner left the road, Smith has continued to live and work in Raleigh.

In 2015, Beer and Banjos was just getting off the ground as a weekly night of music at former Irish pub Tir Na Nog. Smith had completed leadership training with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and decided to pour his skills into the local music scene. When the pub closed that same year, he helped find Beer and Banjos a new home at The Raleigh Times, where you’ll find him every Tuesday, hosting new talent alongside the house band, The Allstars. Smith looks for up-and-coming artists, both locally and regionally, in anything

from bluegrass and Americana to acoustic and singer-songwriters (recently: Magnolia Project, Momma Molasses and Counterclockwise String Band). “If we think it sounds cool and they have something to say, we’ll book them.” “It’s been fun because we’ve had some bands come through that are now notable in their own rights,” says Smith,

like Fireside Collective from Asheville. Beer and Banjos has grown to not only serve as a weekly home for artists, but to also produce a showcase event during IBMA and give out annual awards. In 2018, Beer and Banjos was franchised, expanding into The Pit in Durham. “It’s an event that people know they can count on,” says Smith. “And we’ve ended up with a cadre of artists that are helping to create the scene as well.” He even met a few of the members of his band, Hank, Pattie & The Current, through Beer and Banjos. In June, they released their fourth album, Rise Above, a modern-bluegrass-meets-soulcrossover sound that features Smith on banjo, Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw on violin and vocals, Robert Thornhill on mandolin and vocals, Billie Feather on guitar and Jonah Freedman on bass and vocals. When he’s not playing banjo or fostering the local music scene, Smith is training the next generation. He

teaches banjo as an adjunct instructor at UNC and through private lessons. He’s even managed to connect with his inspiration, Béla Fleck, first at IBMA in 2013 (when Smith divulged to the artist that he’d started a Béla Fleck and the Flecktones tribute band) and again in 2018 through the Béla Fleck Blue Ridge Banjo Camp. So when Fleck came to play a concert at UNC this past January, Smith lined the legend up for a master class with his students. Twentyfive years after he first started playing banjo, Smith says it feels like he’s come full circle: he now has Fleck’s phone number. “It blows my mind.”

HEAR FOR YOURSELF Watch Hank Smith perform along with his band Hank, Pattie & The Current—and catch a special jam session with Béla Fleck—on our site

8411 Glenwood Ave., Ste. 107 Raleigh, NC 27612

108 E. Chatham St. Cary, NC 27511

1201-J Raleigh Rd. Chapel Hill, NC 27517

4209 Lassiter Mill Rd., Ste. 130 Raleigh, NC 27609





IN WORDS & SONG Mary Williams teaches and inspires with her genre-blending performances by LORI D. R. WIGGINS photography by GABRIEL NELSON


f you ever share a space with Mary D. Williams, listen. And learn. What you’ll experience is a soul-electrifying blend of traditional gospel songs laced with slave spirituals. They’re woven into sobering, yet often upbeat, lessons about how music both sustained 70 | WALTER

and empowered slaves, energized the Civil Rights Movement and spawned social change. “Music is a part of every era of our lives. Music can be heard when speech cannot,” Williams says. Alternating between sage storyteller and contralto songstress, Williams

shares how slaves spoke, lamented and hoped with each other—and God— through tunes that floated over the fields for hundreds of miles and generations beyond. She shares how the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a black a cappella ensemble, introduced African-American talent to

a world accustomed to minstrel shows. She shares how the Wings Over Jordan Choir, the first black professional choir, used its songs of praise to support the Civil Rights Movement and codify the instrumentation and harmonies that now distinguish gospel music. “They used the music of the enslaved as a weapon of social change,” says Williams. The gospel singer, historian and educator believes this music can build community now, just as it did then.

Local roots Williams was raised in rural Garner, the oldest of two children to John and Ellen Dobbin. She grew up on the knees of grandparents who lived in Johnston County—a place still notorious for its billboard welcome until the 1970s: “This is Klan Country, Love It or Leave It.” She remembers facing discrimination while shopping with her grandmother; in those moments, her grandmother simply pulled Williams closer. But back at home, Williams would hear her grandmother in the kitchen, humming tunes, with a moan. No words. “‘When you moan, the devil don’t know what you’re talking about,’” she recalls her grandmother saying. Williams’ father sang in The Dependable Quintet for as long as she can remember—he still sings in the church choir today. She credits a middle school chorus teacher for urging her to sing. She graduated from Garner High School in 1979, then spent a year at college before returning home to work. In 1982, Williams married Alvin D. Williams; they had three sons, each six years apart, then two grandsons. Over the years, Williams balanced family life with a 30-year career as a medicaid case manager. And all the while, Williams was “still performing music near and dear to me,” she says. She sang at churches and community events, made award-winning rounds on the gospelfest circuit and recorded three solo albums. Even so, she says, “I felt I didn’t belong.” Her repertoire of slave spirituals and traditional gospel songs was

different from the contemporary gospel flooding festivals and airwaves. But Williams persisted, rejecting suggestions she follow the crowd. In 2005, Williams met historian Timothy B. Tyson, author of Blood Done Sign My Name, which explores the 1970 murder of a 23-year-old black veteran by three white men in his hometown of Oxford, North Carolina, at a community racial reconciliation event at William Peace University. She sang; he discussed his book. The two joined forces soon after, traveling the country on conversation-style book tours. The next year, Williams and Tyson were asked to develop a course curriculum to help bridge the racial divides that lingered in the wake of the Duke lacrosse case. Called The South in Black and White: Politics, History, and Culture Along the Color Line in the 20th Century South, the class was first taught at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham to students from Duke, N.C. Central University and UNC-Chapel Hill, and is now a course offering to students from Durham Technical Community College as well as community members. In 2015, Williams graduated with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in American Studies, and minors in history and African-American studies. On Mother’s Day this year, she earned a master’s degree in Folklore from Carolina. And her unique talent for storytelling through music has earned her recognition far beyond the Triangle.

Teaching with her talents “Every time I work with teachers, I want Mary there,” says Christie Norris, director of Carolina K-12, a Public Humanities program at UNC-Chapel Hill charged with educating teachers through professional development opportunities. This past summer, Norris enlisted Williams to present Carolina Voices: Exploring the History and Heritage of the Tar Heel State. In it, she explored aspects of a shared history often swept under the rug. “She’s helping teachers

invest in and engage with hard history in a welcoming and productive way,” Norris said. “Music can empower, and also disarm us, so we can come together around tough issues.” In July, Williams sang songs of “protest and promise” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as a performer at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. “Mary has a way of explaining the music without being didactic, and follows it with a gorgeous voice that leaves the audience captivated and enthralled,” says Sabrina Lynn Motley, the festival’s director. Whether she’s holding a mic at a podium or emerging from the wings, Williams’ presentations are always interactive, and always begin with song. The audience is encouraged to join in. After guests sang along for a portion of Down in the Valley to Pray at her Kennedy Center performance, Williams explained why: “These songs started with individuals and built a community just as we just did,” she says. “No one handed you any music or compositions or lyrics, but we passed this among ourselves and we now have this one thing in common. It allowed us to become a community.” From the Oxford American’s Statewide Singing Circle at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater to a recent trip to Montpellier, France, as part of Pavillon Populaire’s I Am A Man exhibit, Williams’ indelible mastery of music and history has carved a place for her in spaces she never imagined she'd enter. “I’m honored,” said Williams. “I’m just so overwhelmed by the opportunities; I could not have written this for myself. I’m just so in awe of the Lord giving me the gift and then Him giving me these opportunities to use my gift.”

LISTEN & LEARN Experience one of Mary Williams’ spoken word and singing perfomances on

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 71

STRIKING A CHORD Merge Records celebrates 30 years by CATHERINE CURRIN photography by EAMON QUEENEY


n 1989, Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan met while working at Peppers Pizza in Chapel Hill. They didn’t realize the friendship would turn into starting a band: The two formed Superchunk that same year, an indie rock group known for putting Chapel Hill music on the national map, with Ballance on the bass


and McCaughan on vocals and guitar. The quartet, with Jim Wilbur and Jon Wurster, released its 11th album, What a Time to Be Alive, in February 2018. As the band got off the ground, they also created a record label, Merge Records. Originally, it was a way to record their own music as well as make tapes for their friends’ bands. “When

we started out, bands would get paid by the copies they could sell at their show,” says McCaughan, so having cassettes on hand was key. Merge’s first office was in Ballance’s home in Chapel Hill, and over the years Merge grew to expand into its current downtown Durham office space in 2001. Thirty years later, both the band

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and the label continue to thrive. Merge Records now represents over 100 artists from all sorts of genres and regions. While they always support local talent, Merge also represents groups from Canada, Scotland and across the United States, including Grammywinning Arcade Fire from Montreal, Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger and Raleigh’s The Love Language. To celebrate how far they’ve come, McCaughan and Ballance hosted a four-day music festival across Durham and Carrboro venues this past July. The event featured over 30 of the label’s artists, including the Mountain Goats, Waxahatchee, Teenage Fanclub and, of course, Superchunk. Ballance says they’re also launching a subscription service to commemorate the anniversary, where music lovers will receive a year of special releases. The duo says that the festival—which they host every five years—is one of the highlights

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of being a record label. “It’s great to see so many bands that we work with, some we might otherwise see only once a year,” says McCaughan. “It’s so rare to have them all in one place, getting together in North Carolina.” When asked why the two didn’t start the business in a music city like Nashville or Los Angeles, McCaughan and Ballance don’t hesitate. “As far as I’m concerned, you can start a record label anywhere,” says Ballance. “Living here, where there’s a lower cost of living and slower lifestyle, helped us to develop Merge in the way that we wanted to.” McCaughan says that there’s more than meets the eye in terms of the local music community. “This area is a great place to have a record label—there are so many great local bands, venues and radio stations. There’s just a lot of support for local music and art in general here. I feel lucky that this is where Merge is.”



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JAZZ MASTER Teacher and saxophonist Dontez Harris by CHARLES UPCHURCH photography by JEFFREY LYNN MEDIA


ontez Harris is a jazz virtuoso. His story unfolds like a dramatic score, punctuated by tales of prison troubadours, seedy nightclubs, posh private schools, the great performance halls of Europe and the return of the native son. If you’ve caught Harris on saxophone at Transfer Company Food Hall on a Friday night, you’ve likely been transfixed by his interpretations of the masters. Bird. Coltrane. Cannonball. And yet, at 61, despite a decades-long career as 76 | WALTER

a performer, Harris remains first and foremost a teacher. Never married, he has no children by blood. But there is an extended family of hundreds of former students—and current ones—that share the DNA of his influence. Over oysters and beer at Locals Oyster Bar inside the food hall on E. Davie Street, I asked Harris which instruments he teaches. “All of ‘em,” he says, then pausing. “Except oboe and French horn. I don’t do double reeds.” Guitar? “Nah, no guitar,” he confirmed. I asked because he had told me about Uncle Charlie, his

first musical mentor as a child growing up in South Raleigh. It was 1969; Harris was 11 years old. Charlie Jeter, known as “Guitar Charlie” in long-lost local clubs like The Cave and Burnette’s, had picked up music theory while in prison. “Some country-western cat taught him. When he came out, he knew everything.” It was Jeter who first invited him into a world with its own esoteric language and elegant mechanics. Harris remembers his uncle playing Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness on a Fender Stratocaster and sensing, even at 11, that there

was something in music that makes life bigger. Besides, Uncle Charlie was having so much fun. That world—and Harris’ fluency within it—would spirit him to places many only dream of. In junior high, guitar wasn’t an option, so Harris chose the sax. By age 13 he was playing nightclubs with Guitar Charlie. When the ABC raided a joint, he would scramble under the tables. As a teenager, Harris began exploring the sonic terrain of swing and bebop. While at Broughton High School, he attended a band camp at Shaw University and was offered a chance to practice with their concert and jazz ensembles. He played in the Shaw marching band as a high schooler, and formed a jazz quartet that performed recitals at Broughton. After high school, he told his mother, a medical secretary at Dorothea Dix Hospital, that he’d rather get a job than go to college. “She gave me that look, you know,” Harris says. “Like, I don’t think so.” With a letter from his music instructor at Shaw, Harris was accepted at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Focused more on music than on academics, he ended up transferring to the University of the District of Columbia shortly after. Though he never graduated, Harris soon found himself in demand as a music educator in public and private elementary schools in the D.C. area, where he taught for a decade. He moved to the Rappahannock community in Northern Virginia and taught at preparatory academies for another decade. He earned accolades as an actor in summer stock theater, playing the baseball legend Satchel Paige and starring as Hoke Colburn, the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy. He even played saxophone at the White House while Bill Clinton was president. Over the years Harris has studied with trombonist Calvin Jones (known for his work with Ray Charles), toured with Millie Jackson, shared stages with the O’Jays, Stylistics and Bobby Womack and helped the reggae band Black Sheep rise to prominence, all while continuing to teach. During this journey,

one experience stands out. While teaching in D.C., Harris was contacted by Wayne Davis, one of the back-up singers for Roberta Flack. (To put it in perspective: Flack’s other singers were future Grammy winner Regina Belle and a young vocalist named Luther Vandross.) Davis was looking to put together a youth choir and band to tour Europe, and he heard Harris could help. He was right. Harris and Davis worked to put together an instrumental quartet and a 20-person choir comprised of 12- to 14-year-old African-American student performers from the Washington area. For five consecutive years, they toured Europe during the holiday season, performing in some of the world’s most historic music halls, cathedrals and opera houses, travelling to Paris, Lyon, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Vienna, Geneva, Munich and Milan. “One time, the kids really wanted to ride the bumper cars at a carnival, but nobody had any money,” says Harris. “So, I took some of them down to a street corner, lined them up and they started singing. We passed a hat and ended up with enough to ride the bumper cars for three hours and get snacks and drinks for everybody.”

The next year, in Vienna, Harris was out for a walk with some of the adult chaperones when they rounded a corner and heard singing. “It was beautiful, so we stopped to look,” he says. There stood a group of his young choir members, singing in flawless harmony—Joy to the world, the Lord is come!—with a hatful of money on the sidewalk. “I had to confess that they learned it from me,” Harris says. He fondly recalls reunions with former members of the choir, many with children of their own now, and the gratitude expressed for an experience that helped shape their lives. Harris returned to Raleigh only a few years ago. Today, he teaches at Sam Ash Music Stores and leads children’s programs at St. Matthew AME Church and Resurrection Lutheran in Cary. One congregation is predominantly black; the other mostly white. They come together on occasion, the children performing as one group. In their faces and in their harmonies, Harris recognizes the joy he felt at their age, hearing Uncle Charlie summon an exotic diminished or augmented chord from his Stratocaster just for him, accompanied by unbridled laughter, knowing that young Dontez was standing at the threshold of the magic door. SEPTEMBER 2019 | 77


Two superfans reflect on the unique sp pirit of Raleigh’s independ dent music festivval— —an nd why theey tu urned d it into an ann nual tra adition


SEPTEMBER 2019 | 79


ere’s why we love Hopscotch: it’s a festival unlike any other. There are no contrived art projects festooned on a field, no muddy tents to call home for three days, no branded step-and-repeats for people to show off their unique festival “looks.” This is a festival made by people immersed in live music, for people who love live music. The premise is simple: come see a ton of carefully-curated bands perform their hearts out, try to catch as many as possible and open your mind to unfamiliar groups, formats and genres. We find that the smaller, more intimate venues foster a unique sense of community as you discover amazing new sounds alongside fellow listeners. The vision for Hopscotch was born in 2009, when Greg Lowenhagen, then new to the staff of Indy Week, proposed the idea of a music festival to Steve Schewel, founder of the paper (and current mayor of Durham). “It was amazing how supportive Steve was of the idea from the moment I pitched it—he gave it the green light immediately,” says Lowenhagen. He partnered with INDY’s then music editor, Grayson Currin, for curation, and together they tapped into the can-do spirit of other folks in town with connections in the music world—like Paul Siler, co-founder of Kings—who volunteered their time, knowledge and energy to make it happen. To us, Hopscotch embodies the same industrious, build-it-if-you-dream-it spirit that put this region on the map as a hub for entrepreneurs and start-ups. A few different festival names were batted around in the early days, but Lowenhagen and his team quickly arrived on Hopscotch—not as an homage to the children’s game, but as a sly reference to the 1960s Julio Cortázar novel of the same name, which invites readers to peruse its chapters out of order to get the author’s full intent. The festival shares that spirit: with more than 300 bands playing 12 venues over three days—it’s not uncommon to 80 | WALTER

My First Hopscotch: Robb


pring of 2010. I was 31, married, slowly stepping back from late-night DJ slots at WXDU, settling into life as a corporate attorney. My wife and I were expecting our first child. After three years, Raleigh was becoming home. It was an easy city to settle into, but it wasn’t mine, yet. Word of Hopscotch’s debut seemed promising: A three-day music festival full of bands you mostly hear on the lower end of the FM dial in college towns across America. It was made for me! But then I realized: it was scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day, right when our baby was due. I put it out of my head. There was no chance I’d be able to beg off for even one of the 70 or so shows I was dying to see if my wife was in labor. Lucky for me, our little girl decided to show up a week early. Seeing a full show was out of the question, but it’s Hopscotch, you can be creative, so I convinced my wife to let me take the baby for a walk. I had my first Hopscotch experience on the sidewalk on Fayetteville Street, pushing a stroller as the sun began to set, listening to Broken Social Scene playy one of my favorite songs, 7/4 Shoreline. I was filled with joy: seven days in and I’d shared something special with my daughter, even though she didn’t know it yet. Walking back to our apartment, bummed that I couldn’t see more, I called Josh in New York and Richie in Nashville and made them promise: If Hopscotch came back a second year, we’d all be there. They agreed, and thus began what turned into an annual guys’ weekend, a musical staycation we’ve kept up for nearly a decade.

My First Hopscotch: Josh


Previous page: The Flaming Lips in 2018. This page: The War on Drugs in 2014. At right: Robb (left) and Josh with their daughters in 2014. (Not pictured: Richie, who doesn't live in Raleigh... yet).

ew York City, the evening of September 11. I’m just getting back from dinner and the phone rings—Robb. He knows this is a tough day for me (I’d witnessed the attacks nine years earlier), he just had a baby. I assume he’s calling to talk about one or both of these topics… but no. “Duuuuude…," he says. “Something very amazing is happening in my town right now. Public Enemy literally just walked down the street in front of my building with a marching band. Last night Broken Social Scene played outside. If this happens again next year, you’d better get your butt down here…” And, thus a tradition began. While this will be the 10th anniversary of Hopscotch, it will be the 9th for me. Until we moved here, Hopscotch marked my annual migration from NYC to Raleigh, where Robb would put up me and Richie in his home, the weekend we’d all confidently claim was our favorite of the year. I fell in love with Raleigh through these annual visits; it’s part of the reason I moved with my family down here from NYC. This festival is the lens through which I’ve watched Raleigh evolve and grow—and become the place I now call home. Visit for a diary of our typical Hopscotch weekend.

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St. Vinvcent on the main stage in 2014.


rticular, ch, in pa oming t o c s p o c “H e of bands has a lot one place. They’r s d in n r togethe up with old frie g catching road and makin o e t h t in g m pin fro s by bum leigh.” e n o w e n er in Ra each oth ice Jones n —Ca d

Our Top 10 Most Memorable Sets This task was almost impossible. We started with a list of 35 sets and made some brutal edits to arrive at this final list. There were many heart-wrenching honorable mentions.* When we asked others to share their most memorable sets, a similar anguish came over them—“Oh man… too many to list!” But here you go, anyway:

Twin Shadow (2011) Future Islands (2011) Matthew E White (2012) War on Drugs (2014) St. Vincent (2014) Jamie XX (2014) Sylvan Esso (2016) Big Thief (2016) Japanese Breakfast (2017) Snail Mail (2017) *One honorable mention: Titus Andronicus playing Born in the USA at the stroke of midnight on Sept 11th, 2011.

have eight i bands performing simultaneously—it’s up to the listener to forge their own path from show to show. You can make Hopscotch an indie festival; you can make it a hip-hop festival, you can even make it a doom metal festival— or, if you’re like us, it can be a mix of everything. (That being said, as a service to the attendees, the organizers tend to group similar genres in the same venue.) The other great thing about Hopscotch: bands love it as much as the fans do. “Hopscotch, in particular, has a lot of bands coming together in one place. They’re catching up with old friends from the road and making new ones by bumping into each other in Raleigh,” says publicist Candice Jones, who manages a lot of the communication between festival organizers and bands. Jones will see Saturday night headliners in the front row of the Thursday night opener, and says it’s not uncommon for an earlier band to decide to extend their stay to catch the rest of the festival. Hopscotch resonates with bands; it’s not just another stop on their tour. Perhaps it comes down to a sort of fan-audience symbiosis: In lieu of mega-stages lording over masses of fans contorting to get a look at the performer, you’ve got artists playing their hearts out in intimate venues, steps away from an enraptured audience. We love Hopscotch because of the energy it feeds into the city: it transforms Raleigh into a hotbed of creativity, sound and aspiration. The air is drenched in musical expression, soul, passion and optimism. Hopscotch is a celebration of Raleigh, what it is and what it could be: growing, friendly, inclusive, rooted SEPTEMBER 2019 | 83

in a local scene that’s blossomed here for decades, but embracing of up-and-comers and established stars from around the country and the world. Nathan Price, director of the festival, says that there are any number of inputs that instruct the final line-up. “But ultimately, it comes down to artist trajectory and quality, trusting the ears of a group of friends with varied tastes and booking the ones that are sure to deliver a special set,” says Price. For the smaller club shows, the goal is to introduce the audience to a performer who has either been flying under the radar or is in the early stages of their ascent. The headliners are just as varied and curated: In years past, we’ve seen bands that helped pave the way for 84 | WALTER

“Ultimately, it down to artist comes and quality, tr trajectory usting the ears of a group of fr ie varied tastes an nds with d booking the ones that are sure to deliver a specia l set. new genres (like MC50, audience were possessed; audie —Nathan Price ” De La Soul and The drums pulsed and synths Breeders) and acts that are seeth seethed; it seemed more a séance than a show. Fast-forward now current bold names on the three years and that same band is on Letscene (Run The Jewels, Miguel uel and St. St terman delighting the Late Night audience Vincent come to mind). and blowing up Twitter. You might just stumble on an act and Over the past ten years, venues have catch lightning in a bottle. That was the come and gone (hello, Wicked Witch; Future Islands set we saw in 2011: We RIP Tir Na Nog), ownership has changed rolled up to Lincoln Theatre and caught a few times, and, of course, hundreds one of the most unique and electric perof bands have made their way through, formances we’d ever witnessed. Here was a lead singer bounding around the stage, but the format and spirit of Hopscotch one moment completely wrapped up in endures. It seems that the festival grows himself, alone on a pedestal of contembigger each year, filling Raleigh with plation; the next rushing the front row to curious and passionate fans that feed snarl a lyric into the microphone, inches local businesses. Under the stewardship from a face in the crowd. Performer and of Price and many of the people who have

Left: Run the Jewels in 2017. Right: Future Islands in 2011. Below: Big Thief in 2016.

been there from the get-go, Hopscotch still delivers the unique musical-cultural experience that hooked us nearly a decade ago. And the jubilation that accompanies the weekend hasn’t faded—we’re just as giddy about the pending weekend and inquisitive about the line-up as we were for the first one. That’s the point: explore the city, let go of expectations, jump from one genre to another. See bands we love and love bands we’ve never seen before. We expect that by this next Sunday morning, we’ll be filled with the same fantastic combination of exhaustion, satiation and wonder that we’ve felt every year. For that we toast you, Hopscotch: HAPPY 10th!

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Meet a few of the locals keeping this Southern tradition alive all year round



Jef Walter practices with youth musicians.

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his year’s Wide Open Bluegrass Festival promises to be the most accessible yet: two days, 120 bands, seven free street stages, six downtown venues and all the impromptu jams you can handle. “We are raising the bar on ‘wide open’ with free general admission seating in Red Hat Amphitheater—along with an open mic stage and array of accessibility services— aimed at reducing barriers to participation,” says William Lewis, long-time executive director at PineCone, the Raleigh-based nonprofit that coproduces the festival with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and other partners. And while it’s often the big-name, visiting bands that get the most press, in the Triangle, we know that it’s the local folks who give the festival its heart. Here are a few neighbors whose talents and energy fuel this can’t-miss weekend of bluegrass.


The Traditionalist Outside Lorraine’s Coffeehouse & Music in Garner, eager high schoolers jump into Jordan Driving School cars in the parking lot to start their lessons. Inside, little kids zoom around with ice cream, students hunch over computers, buzzing on coffee, and older ladies—all regulars—play Rummikub. A chalkboard reminds visitors of Friday’s bluegrass concert, Sunday’s church service (the preacher used to play with David Allan Coe) and Monday’s Family Bingo; a hundred framed country music headshots look onto a small stage, overseeing the daily shift from bustling coffeehouse to packed-out music venue. Behind it all is Lorraine Jordan, café owner, guitar player and mandolin whiz, who fronts internationally-recognized bluegrass band Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road. Known as the “Lady of Tradition,” Jordan is a passionate advocate for classic bluegrass, the kind with tight harmonies and acoustic instrumentation in the style of Bill Monroe. At a time when a growing variety of banjo-infused music is called “bluegrass,” Carolina Road staked their ground with the hit Truegrass, featuring several heavy-hitters in the classic 88 | WALTER

style—Tommy Long, Junior Sisk and Danny Paisley. The wistful chorus, by songwriter David Stewart, speaks to those who’d like to see the genre stay true to its roots: Now they’re tearing down tradition / Lord, it feels just like a sin. / Why can’t bluegrass be true grass again? Truegrass was #1 on the Heritage Bluegrass chart for four consecutive months. Bandmate Randy Graham laughs, “It became a bit of an anthem.” But Jordan is quick to explain that preserving old ways doesn’t mean excluding innovation: “Listen, there’s room for us all! Just don’t leave us out.” PineCone chose the “Lady of Tradition” to start a new one in the spirit of her coffeehouse: an open mic stage in the heart of the street festival. Jordan has booked well-known bands for half of the stage’s lineup; every other slot is open to musicians who didn’t land one of the festival’s coveted spots. Jordan hopes the welcoming atmosphere will help the festival to stay true to its name—wide open, for visitors, headliners and aspiring musicians alike.

The Mentor Jef Walter has a gift: he’s a really good explainer. By day, he’s a scientific writer,

distilling complicated medical knowledge in a way readers can understand. On nights and weekends, he coaches budding musicians, untangling the complex techniques of bluegrass music. Walter’s knack for making complex challenges seem simple has attracted a group of young musicians who view him as a mentor. Seeing these musicians grow in their art and find community with one another brings Walter a deep satisfaction—one that even he can’t totally explain. Walter leads the PineCone Youth Bluegrass Jams and coaches The Carolina PineCones, a youth bluegrass band born of the PineCone summer camps. The group has evolved from an outlet for practice into a sort of bluegrass ambassadorship, performing across the state at Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Motorco Music Hall, The Pour House and of course at Wide Open Bluegrass. Though Walter loves seeing The Carolina PineCones grow as musicians, he also views the group as a place to practice being human: “Bluegrass is a microcosm for everything else in life: it’s interacting with people,” he says. “It’s making decisions for yourself, it’s being accountable for things you said you were going to do.” Sam Stage, a 16-year-old fiddler in the group, doesn’t take their committed leader for granted: “Jef has always been willing to be on stage with my youth band, even back when we were pretty terrible. I’ve learned a lot from him about giving what you have to give, right where you are, in the community that matters to you.” Seventeen-year-old banjo player Anthony DeCesaris echoes that admiration: “Jef devotes so much of himself to young people who are interested in continuing the tradition of bluegrass music, and I’m grateful for all his help and wisdom.” Walter’s a musician himself, part of the Beer & Banjo All-Stars that plays every Tuesday at Raleigh Times (alongside Hank Smith, see pg. 68). As a bass player, Walter usually finds himself in the back of the band, not at the mic

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Left: Jef Walter Right: Andi Wrenn

cracking jokes. But that’s just the way he likes it. For Walter, Tuesday nights are a way to keep up with the community that has nurtured his talent as both a musician and a mentor. And after all, he still gets to be the frontman for the next generation of Triangle musicians—and the future of bluegrass is better for it.

The Volunteer At last year’s festival, Andi Wrenn faced a room full of upturned, expectant faces and took a deep breath. Fifteen music-loving kids were waiting excitedly to start a jam circle with banjo legend Earl Scruggs—who was, due to a scheduling mishap, currently on the other side of town. But Wrenn—a financial planner by trade and problem-solver by nature— didn’t miss a beat. She ducked into the exhibit hall hoping to find a willing substitute, spotted Ned Luberecki, 2018 Banjo Player of the Year, and convinced 90 WALTER 00 || WALTER

him to lead the youth jam and talk about his work. Soon the room was full of delighted, banjo-picking kids and seriously relieved parents. Just another day as a festival volunteer for Wrenn, whose love of bluegrass is perhaps exceeded only by her love of helping other people. When her husband passed away in 2015, a grieving Wrenn knew she needed a fresh outlet for her energy and a new way to meet people. So she joined the hundreds of volunteers at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival and—true to form—dove in head-first. She quickly became a team leader, then a “super volunteer,” first in charge of all the volunteers for the street fair and, most recently, for the conference. In her leadership role, Wrenn welcomes and organizes volunteers, demonstrates their specific jobs, keeps them on task and answers lots and lots of questions. Paul Shiminger, executive director of IBMA, believes that volunteers

like Wrenn are the key to making the festival and conference run smoothly: “The more seamless it appears on the surface, the more there is going on behind the scenes.” But Wrenn is quick to say that being behind the scenes is not all work: “Volunteers get free tickets to the Bluegrass Ramble! With bands in so many downtown venues, it’s a good way to find out what you like.” She laughs, “There’s so much great music, you could stay up all night!” This year, in addition to leading conference volunteers, Wrenn is taking her commitment to a new level, leading a sleeves-up financial planning workshop specifically for musicians at the IBMA business conference. “Self-employed people don’t often think about what they can do with their money,” Wrenn laments. So she’s offering her considerable expertise for free, in hopes that those who make the music she loves can keep on playing for years to come.

The Flavor

they’re competing against repeat champs “Bar-be-cue is not a verb.” and many more seasoned teams. The Patrick Dowdee said it with a smile judges—who have all gone through exand a wink, but he looked like he meant tensive training—are tough, the scoring it. His friend and system leaves little teammate, William room for error Hammock, agreed and the 12-hour Much like the bluegrass with a good-namarathon from community, the whole tured grin: “If hog delivery to it’s a verb, you’re judging demands hog community prides probably a Texan.” strategy, focus and itself in handing down Dowdee and flexibility. “One tradition, teaching old Hammock first wrong move, and cooked together a you’re gonna catch ways and being generous few years ago for your hog on fire,” with their advice. their church barHammock warns, becue fundraiser, shaking his head. where they realOf course, ized they had similar approaches to the winning isn’t everything. Kendrick art of whole hog handling. Along with points out that proceeds support the Intheir sons, Sean and Duncan, they blew ter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Bluegrass away the competition—and when they Fund, and that all competitors—even headed to the regional competition, Fur those who don’t win—help preserve a & Spur BBQ (named for the NCSU and USC mascots) was born. A win this year at the Duplin County From left to right: William Hammock, Duncan Hammock, Cause for Paws competition ushered Fur Patrick Dowdee, Sean Slater & Spur BBQ into the bigtime: the Whole Hog BBQ Championship, perhaps the tastiest part of the bluegrass festival. Since 1985, the Championship has been held in different parts of the state. But when IBMA came to Raleigh, the City reached out to the NC Pork Council to make the competition part of the weekend. “BBQ and bluegrass—they both say N.C.,” says Jen Kendrick, the Pork Council’s communications manager. This year, festival-goers have a new way to enjoy this cooking showdown: visitors who buy a Whole Hog wristband can wander through the tents, sampling 28 barbecues and sauces, and meeting competitors from across the state while they fill their bellies. Dowdee and Hammock started cooking as a way to spend time with their teenage sons, but now that they’re headed to the state championship, Dowdee says they’re in it to win it. “We want a whole lot of fun—and first place.” The trophy and $2,000 prize won’t come easily to these first-timers, as

long tradition: “Pork has been so important to North Carolina’s history, and we want to keep that heritage going.” The fellowship these cooks share is as palpable as the smell of sizzling pork. They compete side-by-side all year, sharing admiration of a perfectly crispy skin, frustration with complicating winds and jubilation for each others’ victories. Much like the bluegrass community, the whole hog community prides itself in handing down tradition, teaching old ways and being generous with their advice, even in the middle of a high-stakes competition like this one. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the prize in mind. “Oh, we’re cooking to win,” says Championship veteran Kevin Wooten of Pickin’ & Grillin’ BBQ. “But my advice to Patrick and William is to not be afraid to ask for help. We’re all learning, and we’re all in this together.”

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Tatiana Hargreaves brings an energy to her music that sneaks up on you. Behind her flying fingers and masterful technique is a deep well of curiosity: about her art, its Hargreaves’ forwardtradition and her own looking approach to music assumptions. On stage, imbues her playing with that curiosity translates into a playfulness life (and even a little that draws audiences roguish mischief) that’s in, and has launched a treat to experience. the Chuck Taylor-wearing 24-yearold to the forefront of a new generation of bluegrass and old-time musicians. Despite her age, Hargreaves has already covered a lot of ground: she’s toured with greats like Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, won numerous awards for performance and served as a musical ambassador through the State Department’s Dosti Music Project alongside musicians from India and Pakistan. Most recently, she collaborated on an album with clawhammer banjo innovator and fellow curious soul Allison DeGroot. “It’s often hard to transport the energy of a jam onto the stage,” admires DeGroot, “but with Tatiana, none of the intimacy disappears; she’ll meet you at every step of the way. What a joy to make music with this deep and thoughtful musician!” Even though Hargreaves is young—or perhaps because of it—she thinks a lot about how the traditions of her art can be sustained in a way that’s just and inclusive. Her approach to music preservation is Tatiana Hargreaves Lorraine Jordan shaped by a degree in ethnomusicology, Lorraine Jordan a wide-ranging musical taste (a current Lorraine Jordan playlist includes Lizzo, Celia Cruz and The Stanley Brothers) and the recent news that impact the communities whose muheadlines, which have amplified the darksic we’re playing? How can you contriber side of preserving Anglo traditions, ute to Appalachian communities?” rooted in white supremacy. They’re weighty issues, and they have Uncomfortable though it is, Hargreaves the potential to weigh down Hargreaves’ believes it’s critical for young musicians to performance. But in fact they do just the lean into the tension of that space and ask opposite: Hargreaves’ forward-looking hard questions about the music traditions approach to music imbues her playthey love: “Who’s not here? How does 92 | WALTER

Michelle Lotker

The Fresh Take

ing with life (and even a little roguish mischief ) that’s a treat to experience. Whether she’s helping shape bluegrass culture for a new generation or jamming on a national stage, Hargreaves brings her refreshing curiosity with her, and bluegrass fans—now and in the future— get to reap the benefits.


Stonework, a fountain and brick-lined paths with unusal plantings fill a back yard that’s both formal and functional

Chapel Hill sculptor Robert Mihaly created the 40,000-pound, 22-foot-tall fireplace. It depicts Dante’s Divine Comedy: The front shows paradise and purgatory with the hand of God welcoming the three figures heavenward. The back, equally intricate, depicts hell.

Cultivating a


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he stately home tucked in one of Hayes Barton’s oldest streets ticked all the boxes for Anne and Scott Wein: They wanted a welcoming home for entertaining, expansive grounds to satisfy their love of gardening and plenty of space for daughters Helen (12) and Hadley (9), along with Hank, the family poodle, to play. The property also had a koi pond—something Scott Wein had always wanted. Plus, it was in a location they loved, right across the street from where they were living. So in 2017, when the opportunity presented, they purchased the home from their neighbor. The historic 1922 home sits on .79 acres. The previous owner had a grand vision for the grounds and sought out prominent North Carolina artists to bring it to fruition: Renowned landscape architect Chip Callaway designed the front yard, a formal layout highlighting an elm tree-lined front drive with manicured boxwoods, and for the back yard, they commissioned sculptor Robert Mihaly to build a massive limestone fireplace depicting Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Weins shared that grand vision. Both grew up in families of gardeners—he kept up a vegetable garden in medical school and she is a longtime member of the Green Thumb Garden Club, which her grandmother started 63 years ago—so they were prepared for the challenge of updating and maintaining the impressive garden. Working off preliminary site plans, Scott Wein and John Boone of Precision Landscaping, LLC designed a terraced seating area with the fireplace as the focal point. From there, a brick path leads to a rose garden, raisedbed vegetable gardens and a koi pond with a fountain feature. Throughout, boxwoods, rhododendrons, laurels, perennials and palm trees—an unexpected element planted by the previous owner—create a casual atmosphere. True gardeners that they are, the Weins do all the yardwork themselves. (Though they admit they have help with the lawn and big jobs like mulching.) “Having a yard our size, there is always something to do,” says Anne Wein. “But we love it. We don’t even like to leave the house on the weeknds. It’s our little oasis.”


This page: “We both like to garden and we enjoy being outdoors. Our favorite thing to do is to be in the yard working while the kids play outside,” says homeowner Anne Wein. To that end, the Weins expanded the paved areas of the home to accomodate scooters, bikes and a basketball goal. The Georgian-style home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Weatherspoon House. It was built using Flemish bond brickwork, a decorative bricklaying technique no longer widely used, according to homeowner Anne Wein. The circular drive provides ample space for Scott Wein to park his 1961 Cadillac Seville. Opposite page: Landscaper John Boone volunteered to climb the big White Oak to install the swing for the childen.

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“We hope to enjoy the yard for many years to come—we would like for one of our girls to get married here someday!” —Anne Wein


Opposite page: With the help of landscaper John Boone, the Weins fully restored the pond and fountain, adding accent lighting, decorative rocks and a climbing Lady Banks rose above the brick structure, which bloom a delicate yellow in the spring. This page: The pond is planted with lily pads and stocked with koi and frogs. The Weins recently installed a removable mesh cover to protect the koi from overfishing by the local Heron population. The Wein’s seven-year-old Standard Poodle Hank considers the feature his own personal drinking fountain.

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This page, clockwise from above: “Every day we have fresh flowers,” says Ann Wein, who enjoys the bounty from her rose garden, which was planted and is cared for by Witherspoon Rose Culture. The hybrid tea roses pictured above include Chicago Peace, Let Freedom Ring and Over the Moon. Detail of an angel from the stone fireplace by Robert Mihaly. A Foo Dog stands guard by the brick path leading to the vegetable garden. Opposite page: The Weins enjoy entertaining around the fireplace and host frequent get togethers, from small gatherings to watch football on a discreet tv to welcoming hundreds of neigbors for the annual Hayes Barton Halloween parade.

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Opposite page: Scott Wein surveys his tomato plants. Last year’s crop was decimated by animals, so he designed and built the protective cage. This page: The raised beds are made of Techo-bloc, a highly durable concrete, which “will outlive us,” jokes Anne Wein. Through summer and fall, the abundant garden overflows with produce, including herbs, Japanese eggplant, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, carrots, a strawberry vine and blueberry and blackberry bushes. SEPTEMBER 2019 | 103

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Playful Motherhood and a soul for poetry infuse Eleanor-Scott Davis’ colorful abstract art by ADDIE LADNER photography by S.P. MURRAY SEPTEMBER 2019 | 105


t the base of her easel is a toddler-sized wooden rocking chair, a row of her abstract paintings and a child’s art cart; to the side a bed for afternoon naps and cartoons. For nearly three years, Eleanor-Scott Davis has been painting out of her home studio, something she’s turned into a thriving business. Since the beginning, Davis created her work with her three daughters, first Avery, now 5, then Julia, 4, and Derby, 1, at her feet and by her side. “Painting became a way to put beauty out in the world and to let my kids be who they are,” she says. Motherhood doesn’t just inspire her paintings, it’s integrated into every stroke. “When I look at my work, I can see when there was peace and I was alone, when someone needed a snack or when I had to separate the kids,” says Davis. While many parents keep their work and family life separate, these two spheres in Davis’ life are unable to exist without the other, and her paintings have become her sort of chronicle of motherhood. “My children have become a huge part of my artistic process. I’m such an im106 | WALTER

“I see landscapes in all my paintings,” Scott says. “There’s something I feel when I enter my home county, that straight horizon, and the smell of the turkey houses… There’s nothing like it.” pulsive person and don’t think about my next move. But because they’re with me to break up my work, it makes me step away and come back with fresh eyes,” she says. Though her days may be driven by the little women in her home, Davis doesn’t have a necessarily feminine style—even

when she uses pink, she eschews delicacy or daintiness. Her acrylic-on-canvas pieces are filled with saturated pops of ochre, blue and green; she finds she’s drawn to colors that mimic her upbringing among the lush landscapes of Eastern North Carolina. Abstract or not, “I see landscapes in all my paintings,” she says. “There’s something I feel when I enter my home county, that straight horizon, and the smell of the turkey houses… There’s nothing like it.” If you’re at Davis’ house during bath time, she’ll likely be reciting Shel Silverstein’s famous poem, Crowded Tub: There are too many kids in the tub / There are too many elbows to scrub. That hints at another talent: Davis has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and originally wanted to be a poet, but found it was not an easy job to write with young children—nor was it particularly easy to sell a poem. “Looking back, I couldn’t make it as a poet,” she says, laughing. But she finds parallels between these two forms of self-expression: her art is abstract and open to one’s imagination, just like a poem. “It’s vague enough for people to interpret it in their own way,” she says. These days, she taps her creative writing talents to articulate the stories behind her bodies of work. One collection was inspired by the “fleeting and tedious”

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Eleanor-Scott Davis in her studio with daughters Julia (left), Derby (on lap) and Avery (right).

concept of time; another by the concept of balance, both in her use of color and shape and in the many facets of her life. “I’m always attracted to symmetry; it’s not pleasing but interesting,” she says. The works in the collection are poetically and poignantly titled, including: Hanging By a Thread, The Only Way Out is Through and All Things Considered. While balance may be challenging and time fleeting, Davis’ painting brings her joy—and that, alongside her family, is enough. “I think it’s OK for art just to make people happy, and that’s what art is for me.” Davis’ work can be found on her website,

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Join WALTER for an evening of LocalLy-sourced dining from Locals oyster bar, longleaf swine BBQ and FulLsteam Brewery



6:30 P.M.

wEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23 Transfer Co. FoOd HalL For tickets and more information, please visit:




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A photographer and his family take an (almost) perfect staycation on Jordan Lake

LAKE Carla Hendrix

few weeks ago, the team at WALTER asked me to take photos of my family camping and fishing. I’ll preface the following by mentioning that we are not a family that camps much. But my wife Carla, daughter Olive, 12, and sons Vaughn, 10, and Townes, 7, were game. That’s how, on a fine Friday afternoon in early August, I found myself at Great Outdoor Provision Co., a local retailer that knows how to access wild places, talking canoes and hammocks with staffers Bittu Ali and John Millsaps, who set me up with enough rented gear to get going. We chose to have our outdoor staycation at Jordan Lake. It was the easiest for us to get to and had the most open water; a must, since I had planned to meet up with my friend Rob Barton for some fishing on the second day. We opted for the primitive campsites at New Hope Overlook: hot dogs cooked over a campfire, roasted marshmallow and chocolate s’mores were essential bargaining chips for convincing my family this was a good idea. After parking, we took a short hike through the available campsites, picking one with the best view of the water, and what we thought was a good, flat, hardpacked dirt area close to the fire pit. We then set up our two tents with efficiency (we’d practiced at the house), and started a fire right away. Well, not right away, but after ten to fifteen minutes of burning through a few sheafs of paper, twigs and, finally, paper napkins while trying to ignite the small pile of wood sold to us at the park office (you’re not allowed to gather wood or bring your own, but you can buy some at the entrance for a nominal fee). But it was close enough to “right away” that it really gave us hope for an epic camping weekend. It was a memorable one, as you’ll see. While I portaged the surprisingly heavy two-person canoe to the campsite by myself (looking up the definition for “portage” should give you a great idea of what that looked like), my wife and kids set up sleeping bags in the tents, explored the lake edge, and took a few photos of their own. Pretty soon, golden hour had come and gone and we decided to singe some hot

ESCAPE Words & photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN

THE FIRST EVENING Hot dogs at the fire and scenes from our spot in the primitive campsites.

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Carla Hendrix (TENT)

dogs, consume them with gusto (everyone was starving) and retire to our tents. The girls went into one, and boys into the other. The drizzle began when we were getting into our tents. As we arranged ourselves and talked about the day, I had a smile on my face. What could be better than this? Time with my family and a bit of a photo essay to knock out in the morning. It was going to be a great weekend. The drizzle changed to a steady rain. I assured my youngest that all was fine; we just had to stay away from the edges. “Touching the sides of the tent lets the moisture in,” I said with confidence, and, looking back, a great deal of self-importance. We closed the top flap we’d opened earlier in anticipation of a cool breeze. The steady rain began to get heavier. It got really loud in the tent. We could no longer shout over to the girls’ tent and laugh about the day. “It’s cool,” I said. “This should ease off soon.” We all moved to the center of the tent. Then the rain actually slacked off. It got quieter. We all relaxed a bit. No problem. And then: With a big whoosh of sound, the big, wet hand of Mother Nature squashed our little campsite. A bucket was upended on us. A river of rain fell from the sky. Inside our tent, the sound was deafening. Everything was wet. Townes eventually got so close he was lying on top of me. At one point, there were tears (no, they were not mine). Vaughn eventually climbed on top of me, too. It was some kind of odd-looking Dad/sons sandwich, and none of us cared about anything other than trying to keep our arms and legs out of the increasingly large puddles forming next to our sleeping bags. After about twenty minutes, we’d had enough. The rain won. I called my wife’s cell phone. The girls’ tent was five feet away, but the rain was too loud to hear anything. “We’ve got to leave,” I shouted. I didn’t know if she heard me. I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t hear anything other than occasional yelps from the boys, and the hard-driving rain. I grabbed my camera bag, the boys put on shoes, and, half-dressed, we started fast-walking back to the car. It was pitch-black (of course), and the path back to the lot was full of water. We stepped in most of the puddles we found. Finally we made it back to our truck, and fortunately, it was only about SEPTEMBER 2019 | 113

9 p.m., so the campsite gates weren’t closed yet. We were able to get out. Everyone was soggy, but also really happy to be home, and we all fell asleep, hard. The next morning, if you can believe it, we went back. The site was a wreck, and everything we’d brought was wet, but we were still game. We upended the tents to dry them out, dr and took turns an paddling around pa in the canoe and hanging h around at a the edge of the lake. l I snapped one o golden moment of Olive m and Townes in the hammock. (Thirty seconds later, he pushed her out.) We had h d one near-disaster di t with ith the kids paddling the wrong direction in the canoe, a dropped paddle and a few loud shrieks, but we managed to get them back to shore. Rob met up with us that morning, and we spent a few hours fishing. The kids had a blast! It turns out Rob is much more into fishing than I realized—he has a bass boat with a trolling motor and participates in fishing competitions. He’s even won a few. He also knew a lot about Jordan Lake and gave us history lessons about the area. There’s a whole town underneath the water, including railroad tracks, roads and homes, all flooded to create the lake. Rob knew where to look for fish and showed the kids exactly what to do: how to bait the the line, cast, how to look for the little dip in the line when a fish takes the bait. It felt like each of them caught a fish every time they put their poles in the water. At the end of the second day, we packed up the campsite and headed out. Everyone was tired, but happy. The kids were proud of the fish they caught. Carla and I were proud of their bravery in the face of a real disaster. It was amazing how, even though we were only about thirty minutes from home, we felt like we were in a different world. Around here, you don’t have to go far to escape the routine. Although after that weekend, the kids have been acting a little more grateful for the routine. 114 | WALTER

A DAY ON THE LAKE Reading, paddling and fishing with our friend Rob—the morning went much better than the night before!

THE WHIRL Photo Specialties

WALTER’s roundup of galas, gatherings, fundraisers and just-for-fun events around the Triangle.

Honorary Chair Audrey Wall Black is joined by football players DaBreyn Belfield and Michael Lorenz in celebrating Broughton High School’s 90th birthday

118 Raleigh Little Theatre’s Fitz-Simons Society Dinner 118 Sister City 30th anniversary 120 Broughton High School 90th Birthday Celebration 122 Raising Hope 123 French/West/Vaughan’s Take Your Dog to Work Day Celebration 124 REX Hospital Open 126 Art of Living Well Speaker Series featuring Lou Holtz

The Whirl is online! Visit SEPTEMBER 2019 | 117

THE WHIRL RALEIGH LITTLE THEATRE’S FITZ-SIMONS SOCIETY DINNER Raleigh Little Theatre held its annual dinner to recognize its generous supporters, encourage investment in strategic initiatives and honor its artistic director, Haskell Fitz-Simons. The dinner was hosted at the Executive Mansion June 4 by First Lady Kristin Cooper, who serves on the theatre’s advisory board.

Members of the Fitz-Simons Society

Areon Mobasher (RLT); David Rhode (SISTER)

Emily Phaneuf, Kristie Nystedt, Georgia Donaldson, Niki Torres

Steve Zaytoun, Lisa Zaytoun

Georgia Donaldson, Kristin Cooper

Peder Zane, Janine Zane

SISTER CITY 30TH ANNIVERSARY A delegation from Raleigh traveled to Compiegne, France—one of Raleigh’s Sister Cities—to celebrate the 30th anniversary of sisterhood. The weekend was filled with festivities, including a Joan of Arc festival, a meeting in City Hall with Mayor Philippe Marini and other city officials and several celebratory meals.

Gretchen Chapman, Mayor Philippe Marini

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Nicolas LeChatelier, Arielle François, Gretchen Chapman, George Chapman, Mayor Philippe Marini, Dave Rhode, Donna Rhode, Cara Nina Gentile, Tim Plonk

Thanks for making a difference in our community Bank of America recognizes our community’s female entrepreneurs. Community leaders like you are a vital resource and inspiration to us all. Thanks to you, progress is being made and our community is becoming a better place to live and work. Visit us at

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THE WHIRL BROUGHTON HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES 90TH BIRTHDAY Broughton High School celebrated its 90th birthday March 23 at The Fairview. The Broughton Capital Foundation hosted the sold-out event that included four generations of alumnae. Honorary Chairs, Smedes York and Audrey Wall Black led the fun and HL Caterers (Broughton alum) provided a Southern feast. A procession of current Broughton leaders and athletes served as a reminder of Broughton’s mission and impact on our community. Broughton’s 2019 National Cheerleading champions performed an impromptu show. The event was co-chaired by Laurie Barwick and CC Bailey Parker.

Roger Black, Smedes York, Rosemary York, Ivy Black

Corinna Bailey, Laurie Barwick, CC Parker

Photo Specialties

Rick McElroy, Sally Duff, Audrey Black

John Pace, Lisa Pace, Caroline Farmer, Ellen Nulty Mosley, Mark Mosley, Judy Mullins

Ashley White, Leigh Ann Smith, Mary MacLean Asbill

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Ed Bailey, Tom Fisher, Susan Fisher

Student leaders

Kathie Raymond, Martha Crampton, Greg Crampton

Jan Garside, DeAnn Alphin, Lisa Ralls, Virginia Strickland

Thad Woodard, Jan Woodard, Rhett Warner, Greg Warner

Heather Warwick, Ashley Warwick, Joe Hodge, Anna Ball Hodge

Jennifer Doerfler, Mike Doerfler

Nancy Baird, Barbara Bunn, Mary Clayton

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THE WHIRL RAISING HOPE First Lady Kristin Cooper was the special guest at Raising Hope, a dinner and silent auction benefiting The Hope Center at Pullen, which supports youth aging out of foster care. Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner served as emcee for the event held at the Glenwood June 6. Jessica Holmes, Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, received one of three Bridge of Hope Awards.



Grant Llewellyn, conductor Alessio Bax, piano Lucille Chung, piano G. Williams: Sea Sketches Poulenc: Concerto for Two Pianos Elgar: “Enigma” Variations Weekend Sponsor: Clancy & Theys Construction Company Concert Sponsor: The Templeton of Cary


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Raisaunya Jones, Joseph McNeill, Erin Witcher, Meredith Yuckman, Kristin Cooper, Delana Epps, Alexandra Lane, Kelliann Miranda, Kellie Burris Charles Dickens Photography

Rune Bergmann, conductor Philippe Quint, violin Barber: Violin Concerto Chaplin: Suite for Violin and Orchestra Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2



Emmanuel Fratianni, conductor Tommy Tallarico, host, creator, and producer Experience music from the most popular video games of all time, featuring Mario™, Zelda™, Halo®, Warcraft®, Final Fantasy®, and more! Kristin Cooper, Jessica Holmes

Elizabeth Gardner, Meredith Yuckman, Kristin Cooper



Wesley Schulz, conductor Leslie Odom, Jr. joins the Symphony with a specially curated selection of Broadway and jazz hits. Concert Sponsor: Causey Aviation – Private Jet Management

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Josephine Rutledge, Paige Rosemond, Lisa Cauley, Warren Ludwig

LOOKING for an ITB LOT or TEARDOWN for a NEW HOME BUILD? FRENCH/WEST/VAUGHAN’S TAKE YOUR DOG TO WORK DAY CELEBRATION Thousands of dogs across the U.S. reported to work June 21 for Take Your Dog to Work Day. Joining in the celebration were the employees at the headquarters of French/West/Vaughan. The integrated marketing agency hosted the pups of employees for the day and had a donation drive to collect pet food and toys for Second Chance Pet Adoptions, the oldest no-kill rescue organization in Wake County. Activities included a pup parade, ice cream social, photo ops and an outdoor pool for the dogs.

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THE WHIRL REX HOSPITAL OPEN Thousands of golf fans attended this year’s REX Hospital Open, May 30 to June 2 at The Country Club at Wakefield. The professional golf tournament raised money to support the new UNC REX Cancer Center, which will expand access to muchneeded oncology care for patients from across Eastern North Carolina. Raleigh’s Grayson Murray came in second, just behind winner Sebastian Cappelen.


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September 20 The Umstead Hotel & Spa Join us for an evening of inspiration and creativity as local female entrepreneurs share their stories, from challenges and successes to ideas and lessons.

THE WHIRL ART OF LIVING WELL SPEAKER SERIES FEATURING LOU HOLTZ The Cardinal at North Hills, a continuing care retirement community in Raleigh, hosted Lou Holtz, one of the most successful college football coaches of all time, June 26. The former N.C. State coach spoke to a crowd of around 200, often filling the room with laughter. This event is a part of the Art of Living Well Speaker Series.

Hank Tilson

Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz, Al Williams

Lou Holtz, David Forrest

Lou Holtz, Ron Moore

Tom Ford, Lou Holtz

A day with

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Trunk Show Friday, October 4 Saturday, October 5 10-6


OCTOBER 2019 Home & Garden issue

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Sensational Stack

The bugs in your home A quaint English Garden + Bottle shops around town

Julie Vos

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Grounded in Green


he first weekend in August, Moore Square reopened its ample walkways after a two-year renovation. One of the original city parks envisioned by surveyor William Christmas, the four-acre plot has been transformed with a generous lawn, oak-shaded perimeter, burger joint and daily programming around fitness, kids, art and more to draw crowds once again. “We want everyone to enjoy the park, whether they live downtown or are just visiting for the weekend,” says Jenna Kostka, the park’s director, who notes that this is the only park in Raleigh with an events manager. Around the park, you’ll find nods to the past, including inscriptions of quotes and historical notes in the granite thresholds and a table topped with a slab of oak from a tree cut down in the makeover. Kostka’s favorite quote comes from an archival The News & Observer piece that likens the park to the city’s lungs. “Because that’s just what the park is— a spot where you can go and breathe.”

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