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Caped Crusaders and Loud Birds

Plus, music, fish, beer, and comic books


Mitch Easter is a peculiar guy. Something of a North Carolina version of Phil Spector but with better chops (mutton and otherwise) and sans a current murder rap, Easter has been a major player in the state's music scene ever since he recorded a little pop album by the name of Murmur for some kids calling themselves R.E.M. or something at Reflection Sound Studios.

Last Friday, Easter was in town with his Fiendish Minstrels to open for Bellglide, a local band whose CD he just produced, at the Double Door Inn. Evidently, Easter decided that the occasion was worth dressing up for, and outfitted himself and his band in matching red capes. Evidently, minstrelsy ain't easy, and, truth be told, the pimp attire did add some nice contrast to the band's 80s-fried sound. Perhaps Slappy, the vocalist from Bellglide, should have taken a cue from Easter -- clad in a metallic minidress, she barely kept it all covered during her many jumps about the stage. Then again, she looks much better in a minidress than Easter probably ever would.

Saturday, I headed to something called the Octoberfishfest -- no, the Octoberfest Fish Fry. The Octofishtival? Oh, screw it -- I went to a beer and seafood festival behind Park Road Shopping Center, and, very when-in-Rome-like, drank beer and ate seafood. This was another one of those festivals that's part of the lamentable trend of charging folks to get in, even though the folks still have to pay again for their food and drink. That said, however, the beer was topnotch. The food, provided by Casco Bay Restaurant, was also rather tasty. There was even a celebrity sighting of sorts. Craig Madans, the Democratic candidate for mayor, was out pressing the flesh. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because his name is on every other freakin' billboard in Charlotte.

Unlike his Republican counterpart, Mayor McCheese -- er, McCrory -- Madans evidently realizes that people under 30 also vote, even if they do drink beer. I even saw him clap for a couple of bands, which is a hell of a lot more support than Hizzoner gives the musical arts (hello there, symphony). Of course, to be fair, there weren't any beach music bands playing.

Comics bigwig George Perez dropped into Heroes Aren't Hard to Find Sunday to sign some comics and chat with fans. Yes, fans. Comics signings are not unlike book signings, when you get down to it. The author or artist spends the majority of his or her time in private, creating magical worlds to give color to their emotions. Then, a couple of times a year, they get to go sit in a chair and sign their name and listen while people tell them how great they are. Perez, whose super-detailed style is the stuff of legend in comic book circles, had no shortage of folks -- black, white, young, old, male and (gasp!) female -- praising him, and he responded in kind. One kid, clad in baggy hip-hop wear, literally bounced away from the table after getting his comics signed. As in, feet off the ground. Who knew that being a comics penciller could inspire such a reaction? It used to be that kids drew their own comics because they didn't have chicks, not because they wanted a cool way to meet them.

In the "damn right this column can serve my own selfish interests" category, I am turning to you, dear reader, for help. I was walking over near Ericsson Stadium the other day, and heard a horrendous, loud noise coming from the grove of trees directly across the street. Once I got closer, I noticed that the sound was actually super-amplified bird noises, emitted from speakers high in the trees. My question? Simple enough, really. What gives? Are we trying to attract more birds, or scare them off? Or has Charlotte finally gotten so homogenized that some folks prefer canned bird noise to the real thing? The first correct answer e-mailed to -- "I don't know" doesn't count -- wins a copy of Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, barely used. (Caveat: this is the "clean" version, which was bought by accident in a Wal-Mart. Hey, I was traveling!).

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