Thursday, May 17, 2018

Listen Up: Mickey Stephens Relives The Troubles on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 43

Posted By and on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 12:59 PM

Mickey Stephens has been through a lot, but we can proudly say it was a first for him when he came through to speak on our podcast. "I've never done a podcast before," Stephens said, as he settled into his chair in the Hygge West studio.

He may not have done podcasts, but as front man of the late-'70s Northern Irish roots-punk band The Mighty Shamrocks, Stephens has done his share of radio interviews and TV spots. Now, almost 40 years later, in the lead-up to his Charlotte band Poor Blue's album release party at Petra's, Stephens sat down to talk about The Wasteground and his experiences coming up as a musician during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which inspired the album. And don't forget to check out our story on Stephens in this week's Creative Loafing.

Also, make sure to go check out other members of our local podcast team at the Queen City Podcast Network, where we've joined up with some of Charlotte's best podcasts to showcase the city's talent on audio. Also, catch up with our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, or just by typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

Deep inside the pod: Mark Kemp (from left), Mickey Stephens and Ryan Pitkin.
  • Deep inside the pod: Mark Kemp (from left), Mickey Stephens and Ryan Pitkin.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Listen Up: Patrick Hill Takes Us Through Disctopia on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 42

Posted By and on Thu, May 10, 2018 at 12:25 PM

This week is a good episode for the tech heads, as we brought in Patrick Hill, founder of Disctopia, a Charlotte-based music platform looking to compete with the Bandcamps and Soundclouds of the world as the go-to spot for indie artists to stream music.

We talked with Patrick about how his company works and the ways in which he plans to turn it into a one stop shop for local artists to cultivate a sound and an audience.

Be sure to check out the Queen City Podcast Network, our team of Charlotte's best podcasts covering all the local angles you need. Also, catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher, or just type "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar and find us there.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Was That a Topless Woman in Center City Today?

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Samantha Paraison stood in front of the Bank of America Coroporate Center during lunchtime today to protest the arrival of the UniverSoul Circus. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Samantha Paraison stood in front of the Bank of America Coroporate Center during lunchtime today to protest the arrival of the UniverSoul Circus. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

If you walked through the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte during your lunch break today, you may have heard the booming voice of the "Jesus Saves" guy and thought it was just like any other day. But if you glanced at the eastern corner of the intersection in front of the Bank of America Corporate Center, you saw something way out of the ordinary: a nearly nude women painted up to look like a tiger.

The woman was a volunteer with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and was in town to protest the opening night of the UniverSoul Circus, a touring circus that will be in town through May 20. A press release from PETA noted that UniverSoul leases the tigers it uses in its shows from Mitchel Kalmanson, who has been cited by the federal government for failing to provide animals with basic veterinary care, depriving them of the opportunity to exercise, and confining them to foul-smelling, maggot-infested trucks.

Paraison said the painting process took about three hours.
  • Paraison said the painting process took about three hours.
The painted woman in Center City today was Samantha Paraison of Miami. She said she volunteered to tour with PETA because she's a vegan and believes in the cause. Paraison and Mysti Lee, assistant campaigner with PETA, have been showing up in the lead-up to UniverSoul opening nights for months. Paraison said the only time the pair ran into trouble was in Columbia, South Carolina, where police told her she had to put some clothes on or leave the area. Today, Paraison wore nothing but high heels, a bikini bottom, pasties over her nipples and body paint.

Paraison said the pair began the painting process at 8 a.m. this morning and didn't finish until nearly 11 a.m. They took to the busy intersection at noon, at which time Lee handed out literature to curious passersby while Paraison stood holding a sign that read, "Animals Suffer at UniverSoul Circus."

Lee said she wants to make people aware that animal cruelty in the circus is still happening, despite the fact that Ringling Bros. shut down their "Greatest Show on Earth" last May.

"A lot of people focused on Ringling Bros., and once Ringling Bros. shut down, they think that animals aren’t still being abused in the circus," Lee said. "UniverSoul has a lengthy record of animal abuse, and we’re hoping that UniverSoul ends its animal acts but continues the show, unlike Ringling Bros., which shut down." 

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Clergy Members, Former Inmates Speak Out Against Solitary Confinement in Mecklenburg County

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 4:39 PM

Local members of the clergy joined three former inmates gathered in uptown Charlotte to speak out against the use of solitary confinement in Mecklenburg County, one of multiple issues that have dogged Sheriff Irwin Carmichael in the lead-up to next week’s primary election.

Brandy Hamilton, 30, recalled an experience from 2016 when she said she was placed in solitary confinement for ignoring orders to stop singing gospel songs while in custody at Mecklenburg County Jail. This goes against Carmichael’s repeated claims, including to Creative Loafing in March, that solitary confinement is only used in cases where inmates become violent with guards or each other.

Brandy Hamilton (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Brandy Hamilton (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
Hamilton said she was in between medications for bipolar disorder at the time, and doesn’t remember some details, but does remember the Direct Action Response Team rushing into her cell after. She said that when her mother came to the jail, she was told she couldn’t visit Hamilton because she was “in the hole.”

“It was for not obeying an order, but I was singing and I wasn’t violent and I had harmed no one,” Hamilton said. “And also, I was experiencing a mental health situation, a crisis some would consider it.”

She said she does not remember anyone checking on her mental health before she was placed in solitary confinement.

Hamilton said she confronted Carmichael at a recent panel discussion at Johnson C. Smith University when he stated that solitary confinement is only used in incidents involving violent inmates.

“People shouldn’t be thrown in there for any reason, I believe, but [especially not] just for any little reason, like singing or whatever excuse they give to lock up a person in a cage within a cage with no human contact. It’s really crazy.”

In a sit-down with Carmichael in March, Creative Loafing asked him about the use of solitary confinement on youthful offenders.

“If someone assaults an officer, attacks an officer, attacks another inmate, another staff member, then yes, we have disciplinary housing, and that is when we do that,” Carmichael said. “But they’re still allowed visits with their clergy, their doctors. They still have access, it’s just they cannot see their family members. It’s a disciplinary thing.”

Two other former inmates who stated they had spent time in solitary confinement in Mecklenburg County jail also shared their experiences, followed by members of the local clergy including Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, and Rev. Donnie Garris of the United Missionary Baptist Association.
Rev. Corine Mack speaks at this afternoon's press conference. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Rev. Corine Mack speaks at this afternoon's press conference. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
Speaking from the courtyard of the courthouse on East 4th Street, Garris pointed out that there were inmates going through solitary confinement just across the street from where he stood.

“In my church, we would say that what is happening in solitary confinement, we would say it’s a sin and a shame,” Garris said. “It’s not only a shame in that it’s something to be pitied or regretted or embarrassed, but it’s also a sin in the way that we inhumanely treat a fellow human being.

“Solitary confinement isn’t rehabilitating, it’s damaging. It’s crippling people mentally and releasing them back into our communities as men and women who are forever changed.”

After Garris spoke, Rabbi Judy Schindler of the Stan Greenspon Center called on the county to immediately end the practice of solitary confinement.

"We are calling for change in the policy and practice that allows for solitary confinement," Schindler said. "No matter what you call it, and our sheriff’s office has many names for it, it is inhumane, it is psychologically damaging. It is not the jail we want to have or the city we want to be.”

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Listen Up: The Wormholes Space Out on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 41

Posted By and on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

For the 41st episode of the podcast, Ben and Chris of the Wormholes came and kicked it in the lead-up to their May residency at Snug Harbor. We talked about — and followed along musically with — the band's transition from a more traditional rock sound to their newer synth-based space electro-alternative vibe.

Be sure to get acquainted with the rest of our squad over at the Queen City Podcast Network, and catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or just by typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

[From left] Mark Kemp, Ben Verner, Chris Walters and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Mark Kemp, Ben Verner, Chris Walters and Ryan Pitkin.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Listen Up: Ahmir the King Rolls Deep on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 40

Posted By and on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 11:12 AM

Ahmir the King is growing up right before our eyes. The 19-year-old, whom CL named Best Up and Coming Rapper in last year's Best of Charlotte issue, is ready to release some new, more developed material, and he brought some along to play on our podcast.

He also brought along the squad: Fresco and Orpheus, both local rappers who have come up with Ahmir since high school — and earlier than that in the case of Fresco, his older brother. We talk about how Ahmir and the trio as a whole have used music as a coping mechanism for hard times and why when it comes to the fam, friendship comes before making music.

Make sure to keep up with the rest of our team at Queen City Podcast Network, and catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also just type "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar and you're good to go.

[From left] Ryan Pitkin, Fresco, Mark Kemp, Ahmir the King and Orpheus.
  • [From left] Ryan Pitkin, Fresco, Mark Kemp, Ahmir the King and Orpheus.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Listen Up: Charlotte Goes Experimental on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 39

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 7:00 AM

For this special edition of Local Vibes, we're checking the pulse of Charlotte's more experimental, avant-garde and art-music leanings with a panel of adventurous local musicians who know how to tinker with different tones and musical ideas — electronic musician Angela Saylor (Minthill), experimental rock artists Lenny Muckle (Lofidels, Patois Counselors) and Bo White (Calabi Yau, Yardwork, Patois Counselors, others), and free-jazz saxophonist Brent Bagwell (Eastern Seaboard, Great Architect, Ghost Trees, others). All four create inventive music that helps keep the Charlotte music scene interesting.

They are by no means the only artists doing adventurous music in Charlotte, and below this story I've linked several works worth listening to by them and other local musicians, some of whom these artists have collaborated with at one time or another. I've also linked music by a few of the pioneering artists we name-check or allude to in this podcast, including Pauline Oliveros, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ornette Coleman, the recently deceased Cecil Taylor, and Sonic Youth.

So open your ears and your minds to some different sounds from those we usually offer on Local Vibes.

And be sure to check out the Queen City Podcast Network, a new team we started up with four of the *other* best podcasts in Charlotte. Also, catch up with all our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher, or just type "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.


Patois Counselors (Bo White)

Lofidels (Lenny Muckle)

Minthill (Angela Saylor)

The Eastern Seaboard (Brent Bagwell)

Zodiac Lovers (Casey Malone)


El Malpais

Astrea Corp.

John Starosta

Craig Bove


Pauline Oliveros
Oliveros' musical philosophy focused on ideas like "sonic awareness" and "deep listening." Her early experiments with tape and electronics along with likeminded composers such as John Cage, Terry Riley and later the experimental rock band Sonic Youth, have had a long-lasting impact on music, notably musicians who work in ambient electronic music and electronic dance music.

Ornette Coleman
In the late 1950s saxophonist Coleman's quartet began making a kind of improvised free jazz that reflected the changing times — the chaos of the nuclear era — through sound. His self-described "harmolodics" sought to free music from its traditional tonal center, placing equal value on harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrasing. Some music traditionalists considered it noise; others took Coleman's ideas into other types of music, and Coleman became one of the most influential musicians of the modern era. This clip talks about the beginnings of Coleman's experimentation.

Cecil Taylor
Like Ornette Coleman, pianist Taylor, who died this month at 89, sought to free jazz and other kinds of music from traditional rules and structures. And like Coleman's music, Taylor's was criticized by traditionalists and hailed by artists seeking to explore different ways of making music.

Karlheinz Stockhausen
In the podcast, saxophonist Brent Bagwell makes a reference to Stockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartet, which the avant-garde composer after he dreamed he was hovering over four helicopters, each carrying one member of a string quartet. The composer, known for his early experiments with electronic music, wrote, planned and executed the piece in the early '90s. This is a 2012 performance of the piece by the Elysian Quartet performing in Birmingham, England.

Sonic Youth
In the late 1980s, major record labels began signing some so-called "alternative rock" bands, one of which was the highly experimental Sonic Youth, which had been influenced by Stockhausen as well as other experimental composers such as Glenn Branca. When Sonic Youth's friends in Nirvana also signed to a major label and wound up recording a No. 1 album, Nevermind, in 1990, singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain began talking in the media about his more experimental influences. The result was that mainstream pop audiences were exposed to sounds they had not heard before. Watch Sonic Youth perform its "Bull in the Heather" on Late Night with David Letterman.

"Sonic Reducer"/"Golden Apples"
We began the podcast with Lenny Muckle's experimental mashup of the proto-punk classic "Sonic Reducer" and the Country Teasers' "Golden Apples." "Sonic Reducer" was first recorded by Rocket from the Tombs, which evolved into the experimental art-rock band Pere Ubu, and later recorded by early punk band Dead Boys. "Golden Apples" is on the Scottish indie art-punk band Country Teasers' 1999 album Destroy All Human Life. Below are both versions of "Sonic Reducer," followed by a live version of "Golden Apples" and finally the Lofidels mashup, "Aurum Reducer," for comparison.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Listen Up: Kevin "Mercury" Carter Shares the Gift on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 38

Posted By and on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Just three years ago, only Kevin "Mercury" Carter and two close friends were aware of his magical singing voice. Luckily for all of us, those friends were able to convince Kevin to break out of his shell and share his talent, and that's how his first release, Mercury, came about in 2015.

In our 38th episode, Carter came through the podcast studio to chat about the heartbreak that led to Mercury, and where he wants to take his music next. He also shared an exclusive song that he recorded one tipsy Friday night and decided never to release.

We've been proud to join up with the newly formed Queen City Podcast Network along with some of the other best local podcasts in CLT, so make sure to go check them out, and you can always catch up with our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or by typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

[From left] Mark Kemp, Kevin "Mercury" Carter and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Mark Kemp, Kevin "Mercury" Carter and Ryan Pitkin.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

GRAPHIC VIDEO: CMPD Releases Footage From January Ambush of Police Officers

Jonathan Bennett was killed after opening fire on police in parking lot

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 2:23 PM

This afternoon, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released footage of an incident in which a group of officers were ambushed at the department's headquarters in January. An officer was shot in the incident, while the suspect was shot and killed.

According to CMPD, on January 11, officers with CMPD and North Carolina Probation and Parole were briefing in the parking lot of the headquarters in Uptown Charlotte when a man approached and opened fire. Officers returned fire, killing the man. Officer Casey Shue was struck by a bullet in the leg. She would later recover.

The suspect was later found to be Jonathan Bennett, who was wanted for the murder of Brittany White in west Charlotte earlier that day.

Tuesday afternoon, CMPD released three videos from officers who were involved. In the third video, from the body camera attached to officer Jeffrey Zederbaum, Bennett appears at the center of the screen almost immediately, then opens fire, sending officers running for cover. Shue can be seen at the left of the screen. When shots ring out, she runs across the parking lot.

A Superior Court judge today granted a media request for the department to release the footage. A judge denied the request in February, despite the fact that CMPD had not objected to the release.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Listen Up: Autumn Rainwater Springs Forward on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 37

Posted By and on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 10:27 AM

Autumn Rainwater (Photo by Saloan Rochelle)
  • Autumn Rainwater (Photo by Saloan Rochelle)

Spring may not seem like the right time to bring in Autumn Rainwater, but there's never a bad time to catch up with this local R&B sensation. We talked to Autumn about last year's release, Leaf, and whether all these connections to nature are purposeful.

We also discussed the local R&B scene, dating stoners and why friends are weary of leaving her a voicemail.

As always, catch up with our past episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or by simply typing "Local Vibes" into your Spotify search bar.

Also, be sure to check out the newly formed Queen City Podcast Network, featuring five of the city's best podcasts, including yours truly. There's plenty of content to keep you in the local loop until we return next week.

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