Archive for the 'A&E' Category

Triangle workshop puts kids on stage for the summer

By Kate Searcy
Carrboro Commons Writer

Ten-year-old Lucas Griffin may not be a household name yet, but that hasn’t stopped him and other area youths from brushing up on their acting skills in a summer acting program that is the collaborative effort of Carrboro and Chapel Hill arts organizations.

searcy_conservatorybest.jpgWhile pianist Mark Lewis plays the keyboards, “Music Man” hopefuls, left to right, Chelsea Alston, Jabari Foust and Khalid Williams practice vocalizing during auditions for the musical. About 40 youths will be involved in this summer’s musical production.
Staff photo by Kate Searcy

“I [applied] to be in a movie with George Clooney,” Griffin said. “I didn’t make it, but he laughed a lot when he saw my video. He said it was funny.”

Griffin and about 40 other children and teenagers, mostly from the Triangle area, auditioned March 15 and 16 to take part in the Summer Youth Conservatory program, a summer workshop that runs from Jun. 23 to July 23 and allows young actors and actresses to rehearse and perform on the main PlayMakers stage at the Paul Green Theatre at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The workshop is put on by the Carrboro ArtsCenter and PlayMakers Repertory Company. The program is for ages 9-18, and the fee is $1,100, which pays for tuition and housing for the students over the summer.

This is the second summer that the program has been offered, according to Jeri Lynn Schulke, director of the Youth Drama Conservatory at the ArtsCenter.

This year’s performance will be the American classic “The Music Man.”

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Youth poetry contest set to spark creativity

by Stephanie Kane
Carrboro Commons Writer

In an initiative to promote youth in the arts, the Town of Carrboro is conducting its first Carrboro Youth Poetry Contest. Submissions are due by April 4.

kane_poetry1.jpg Recreation supervisors Dana Hughes (left) and Kim Andrews have developed programs to support writing and poetry among Carrboro citizens.
Staff photo by Stephanie Kane

Three winners from the elementary, middle and high school levels will be announced on May 4 in conjunction with festivities for the 13th annual Carrboro Day. The awards ceremony will include public readings of the winning poems as well as publication in The Carrboro Citizen and the distribution of various other prizes.

Kim Andrews, a recreation supervisor of the Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department, is currently receiving the poem submissions. However, she credits Neal McTighe, Carrboro poet laureate, with proposing the competition.

“It was Neal’s prerogative as poet laureate to get youth involved in poetry,” Andrews said, adding that the Parks and Recreation Department would support this initiative however they could.

McTighe and the Carrboro Day Committee will be judging the poems.

Though this is the pilot year for the event, both Andrews and McTighe said they anticipate the contest becoming an annual tradition, one that might spark additional youth poetry programs in the future.

Most Carrboro High School English classes incorporate poetry into the crowded curriculum, although educators and students believe more could be done.

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Carrboro’s Monet showcases photos

By Allison McNeill
Carrboro Commons Writer

“One publication in National Geographic would be worth 20 scientific publications,” says Dave Otto, a photographer and retired research scientist. Otto’s exhibit of nature photos from the Bolin Creek area opened at Carrboro Town Hall Feb. 8, and the photographer is thrilled.

mcneill_ottobest.jpg Dave Otto, photographer, has fond memories of the day he took “Monet a Bolin Creek.” As he says, “I was surprised to see a Monet painting floating on the surface.”
Staff photo by Allison McNeill

The show, titled “Bolin Creek and Woodlands: Natural Treasures,” includes numerous pictures of the creek, as well as local plants and wildlife. The exhibit will be on display through March 28.

The photos, which were taken over the last few years, have been printed on canvas using the giclée method, which gives the photographs the appearance of paintings.

Although he has not always been a professional photographer, Otto said that he has been interested in photography since childhood. “My mom gave me a Brownie Bucks camera when I was 8 years old and I have been taking pictures ever since,” Otto said.

Rather than make photography his career, Otto decided to work for the Environmental Protection Agency. He retired last year after 40 years with the government.

“I’m delighted to be retired to be able to devote my time to things I love,” Otto said.

Originally from Massachusetts, his work with the EPA brought him to Raleigh. He then settled in Carrboro in the late 1970s after working on a study that focused on the effects of lead exposure on the cognitive functions of children.

The photography display in Carrboro Town Hall is Otto’s first official exhibit.

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Trinidad native brings Caribbean music to Carrboro

by Shera Everette
Carrboro Commons Writer

As a fire blazed in the background and conversations filled the dimly-lit room on Feb. 22, diners at Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Raleigh were treated to sounds from the Caribbean.

everette_reggaebest.jpg Mickey Mills of Carrboro captivates the crowd at Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Raleigh with music from the Islands, mix of reggae and Caribbean.
staff photo by Shera Everette

“I love coming here and listening to his music,” said Mary Truesdale, who was having dinner with friends on the restaurant’s outside deck. “I’ve never met the musician, but I’ve seen him a lot, and hearing him in this setting is like being in the islands. I’ve never been before, but I imagine it’s just like this.”

The musician Truesdale was referring to is Mickey Mills of Carrboro. Every weekend, he serenades the crowd at Bahama Breeze with a blend of Caribbean, soca and reggae music played on his steel drums and electric keyboard.

Mills said he enjoys the atmosphere at Bahama Breeze, especially on the enclosed deck where he plays. He said the deck, dotted with tropical plants, is more relaxing and serene than the main restaurant.

“It has a very nice vibe here,” he said.

When he is not at “The Breeze,” Mills is busy with other engagements, either by himself or with his band, Mickey Mills & Steel. On Feb. 9, the band teamed up with Jamrock, Dub Addis, Cayenne and the G-Toy Band to celebrate the seventh annual Bob Marley Birthday Bash at Cat’s Cradle. Mills said the event was a huge success and gave honor to his greatest musical role model.

“Bob Marley has been one of my inspirational guides because of his music,” Mills said. “He has prophetic music that can be helpful now and speak to people, or that can speak to the future. That’s what my music is.”

The Trinidad native began playing the steel drums as a child, and when he was 12 years old he became a steel-drum soloist with Trinidad’s Solo Harmonite Steel Orchestra. The group toured all over the Caribbean and America. In 1970 his father sent him to America with the band to pursue his dream as a successful musician. Mills eventually settled in New York, where he worked with musicians, including Mick Jagger. Mills also worked with Harry Belafonte on an educational program in Brooklyn that introduced inner-city students to various types of music.

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Cat’s Cradle concert benefits Relay for Life

by Alexandra Mansbach
Carrboro Commons Writer

At first glance, the students and locals enjoying music and conversation at Cat’s Cradle Feb. 19 appeared to be hanging out like it was any other Tuesday night.

But this was not your typical bar night—most of the proceeds went to Relay For Life, which will take place in Chapel Hill in March.

mansbach_relayband.jpg Russell Baggett and Jeremy Buenviaje of the Honored Guests play at the concert fundraiser for Relay For Life at Cat’s Cradle last Tuesday night.
Staff photo by Alexandra Mansbach

“We’re usually open to things like this,” said Cat’s Cradle manager Derek Powers. “On average we do about two a month.”

Powers allows charities to use the venue for no cost, and on nights like Tuesday, Cat’s Cradle’s only profit comes from purchases made at the bar.
The event, “Cancer Sucks ’08,” charged a $5 cover fee at the door, which went directly to Relay For Life. Pizza sold for a dollar a slice and Relay For Life T-shirts sold for $12 a piece, or two for $20.

About 50 tickets were sold on campus prior to the event, but the small amount didn’t worry Amy Bugno, event chairwoman for this year’s Relay For Life planning committee. “College kids don’t usually like buying things in advance,” she said.

About 125 people ended up attending. The crowd was filled with students and local residents, some attending for the fundraiser and others attending for the music.

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Performance portrays local black history

by Shannon David
Carrboro Commons Writer

The ArtsCenter unveiled the hidden history of Carrboro and Chapel Hill through a multimedia performance titled, “Because We’re Still Here (And Moving)” on Friday, Feb. 15.

The performance incorporated original stories from the Carrboro and Chapel Hill communities with music, photographs, rap, poetry and dance.

david_hidestorybest.JPG The “Because We’re Still Here (And Moving)” performance used student actors as well as local actors from the community and incorporated original stories from the Carrboro and Chapel Hill communities with music, photographs, rap, poetry and dance.
Staff photo by Shannon David

“Because We’re Still Here (And Moving)” was the result of a two-year project in which local high school students and UNC-Chapel Hill students worked together to uncover stories by interviewing members of the local black community.

Lynden Harris, founder of the ArtsCenter’s Hidden Voices series, said the oral histories resulted in more than 1,400 pages of material. The stories were compiled with other information given to Hidden Voices such as photographs, scrapbooks and diaries.

“We talked to just an amazing wealth of community, and we are so fortunate,” Harris said. “Some of the people in this show are actually the students who went around and talked to the elders and gathered their stories.”

The performance not only featured oral histories of the community, but also screen-projected images of the actual people and places that were portrayed.

Roxanne Tatum, a resident of Chapel Hill, attended the performance and she said the images were very powerful in combination with the music, poetry and rap.

“Dramatic arts is a great vehicle to impact and educate,” Tatum said. “It is important for people to know their histories, not just African-Americans, but everyone.”

Tatum is not the only viewer praising the performance. Harris said that the ArtsCenter has been inundated with positive feedback in the form of letters, blogs and phone calls.

Harris said that many viewers have been asking for more performances, and as a result, the ArtsCenter is looking into an encore.

Staff videos by Shannon David

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Basement craftsman makes guitars

By Jordan Lawrence
Staff Writer

Wes Lambe restores an antique guitar from the mid-1800s in his basement workshop. Lambe builds and repairs guitars for The Music Loft.
Commons Photo by Jordan Lawrence

While many people use their basements as recreation rooms or areas to store their aged possessions, Wes Lambe chooses to use his in a different fashion.

He builds guitars.

While this is not a traditional way to use one’s basement, Lambe is not your average homeowner. He is a luthier, or someone who crafts stringed instruments.

The Durham native makes guitars and bass guitars, both in acoustic and electric varieties, in addition to cellos, mandolins, and amplifiers, in the garage and basement of his Chapel Hill home. He sells the majority of his creations through the Music Loft in Carrboro, where he holds the post of head luthier.

Lambe said that the space is an upgrade over previous working arrangements.

“When I first had my smallest shop, I started making mandolins,” he said of the small shed behind his first house that became his shop in 1998. “I didn’t have enough room to make a guitar fit.”

Lambe slowly worked his way up to the basement arrangement that he now uses, taking up residence five years ago.

“I had a little shed at the first house and a bigger shed at the next house and a bigger shed next house,” he said.
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Cradle showcase benefits bands and cats

By Jordan Lawrence
Staff writer

David Smith and Benjamin Newguard of Chapel Hill play guitar with their band, The Epics, as part of the Mar. 18 Sunday Showcase.
Courtesy of Michael Sanford

Hailing from Carrboro, Delorean knows better than most area bands the magnitude of a chance to play the Cats Cradle stage.

“It gives you a feeling of accomplishment because of the fact that the Cat’s Cradle has a reputation for bringing in a lot of big name acts to the Chapel Hill area,” said Adam Satterwhite, drummer for the Carrboro band Delorean. “It’s like a status marker.”

Delorean got its shot to play at the legendary music venue on East Main Street as part of the monthly Sunday Showcase a few years ago. This Cat’s Cradle event, which takes place on its namesake day once a month, gives concert-goers the opportunity to see eight local bands for $2.

“It was started as an opportunity for local bands to play here at the Cat’s Cradle,” said Derek Powers, director of operations for the venue. “It is often times the only opportunity that some local bands will get to play here.”

The show, which was first held in 1997, starts at 4 p.m. and runs until midnight, giving each band 45 minutes on stage. The lineup for this month’s show on March 12 consisted of The Epics, With These Hands, Beloved, The Royal Sun, Red Star Movers, Places to Live, Sketchbook, as well as Delorean, which returned to the lineup.

Powers said that although attendance varies depending on what bands are performing, usually about 20 people come for the entire show, and 30 to 40 fans come for one band and then leave. The biggest crowed the music venue ever had was about 400.

The opportunity to play at Cat’s Cradle, which is renown for bringing in well-known acts such as Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and TV on the Radio, is seen by local bands as a great chance to expose themselves to a wider audience.

Durham band, Red Star Movers, play the Sunday Showcase at Cats Cradle on Mar. 18.
Courtesy of Katie Fullington

“I personally think it’s one of the most influential clubs in North Carolina,” said Nick Wagner, guitarist and vocalist for a Greensboro act, The Royal Suns. “It almost creates a music scene just being there on its own.”

Lee Gunsel of a Durham band, Red Star Movers, said he was thrilled to take the Cat’s Cradle stage because he is from Durham and attended shows at the venue many times.

“Going there seeing shows for like four years, it was cool to be on the other side of the audience, to be on stage,” Gunsel said.

Some bands said they were surprised at how little pressure they felt while playing at Sunday Showcase.

“It’s a pretty relaxed environment; it’s not that nerve-racking,” said Benjamin Newgard of a Chapel Hill act, The Epics. “They have some great equipment.”

Besides affording a great opportunity to up-and-coming artists, Sunday Showcase provides an opportunity for Cat’s Cradle to give back to its community, Powers said. The proceeds from the event are given to the Carnivore Preservation Trust of Pittsboro, a halfway house for large cats such as leopards or jaguars that are abandoned by irresponsible owners.

“It costs a lot of money to run that facility,” Powers said. “That’s why we decided to give them the money from the Sunday Showcase.”

Curtis Armstead of the Sanford band, Places to Live, said that playing along side the different bands that are brought together for Sunday Showcase was one of the best parts of playing the gig.

“They have a good variety of bands,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get to do it again at some point.”

A firm date and lineup have not been determined for next month’s Showcase.

For more information on Sunday Showcase and other Cat’s Cradle events, visit

More information on the bands who played this month can be found at the following Web Sites: Delorean at, Red Star Movers at, The Royal Suns at, Places to Live at, The Epics at and Sketchbook at

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Lyrics contest looks for surreal entries

By Sara Gregory
Staff Writer

Singer and songwriter Billy Sugarfix says he wants the next song he writes to be silly.
“The weirder the better,” he said.
Sugarfix, also known as Bill McCormick, is hosting a contest and looking for the weirdest, wackiest, wildest lyrics to set to music.
Known for his role in the band Evil Weiner and more recently for his role in the rap he performed with housemate Brian Risk called “It’s Carrboro,” Sugarfix is sponsoring the Song Poem Bizarre Lyrics contest through his blog, Surreal O’Rama, and asking for submissions from anyone and everyone.
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