Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Women of Grace

Homelessness is never easy even in the best of circumstances. Winter can be especially harsh, claiming dozens of lives every year due to exposure. Luckily, homeless shelters can be found scattered about Greensboro. A dozen women found shelter at Grace Community Church this past December. The women were mostly black and were in their late 40’s to early 70’s.
One of the people staying at the shelter is Tanya, a black woman in her mid 40’s, checked in at the shelter in November. Tanya has been a CAN for the past 30 years but lost her job at Hospice which caused a snowball effect which led her to becoming homeless. Tanya has also stayed at Urban Ministries and said, “They have great meals and plenty of love, love so thick you can cut it with a knife.” Tanya is planning on staying here so she can save some money to go back to school for nursing. The only complain Tanya had was that the women have to leave every morning after breakfast at 6:30 and go out in the cold to look for jobs until the shelter opens up again at night.
Denise Devine is originally from Mississippi. Her husband was incarcerated and got cancer when he was released. The financial strain eventually led her to becoming homeless last year. She stayed at Grace last year and is thankful that they now have showers.
Selma is from Baltimore and moved to Greensboro five years ago to take care of her elderly grandparents, both in their late 90’s. After her Grandparents passed away Selma moved in with her daughter who recently graduated from Guilford college and is raising three of her own children. Selma was forced to leave when her daughter’s husband returned from Iraq and round up in Grace Community Church which she describes as, “A nice shelter where they show us lots of love.” Selma is also grateful that Grace is strictly a woman’s shelter, “When men and women are in a shelter you lose your focus on why you’re there. When a man is in your face you can’t concentrate.” Selma’s plans for the future are simple, “I am just going to pray and keep on going. I am just glad I am not sleeping in alleys, dumpsters, or in trash to keep warm.”
Mary Anne is a disabled senior citizen in her late 70’s who has lived in Greensboro her whole life. During her years in Greensboro she has worked a variety of jobs ranging from working at laundry mat, Wendy’s, Shawnees, MCR, and Plastic Place. Her disability caused her to lose her jobs and she was unable to collect unemployment. Mary Anne’s family wouldn’t help her out so she was forced to brave the cold but was luckily approached by a volunteer from Grace asking her if she wanted to stay.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Favorite Things Celebrate National Record Store Day

The slow death of BB’s Records marked the end of independent music stores in Greensboro. Gate City Noise suffered a similar fate a few short years earlier. Local entrepreneur Jackson Lee filled this void when he opened My Favorite Things on Grove Street.
Jackson was approached by Lee Counts, a local handyman, who informed Jackson that there was an empty space available on Grove Street. Jackson held an informal meeting with Counts as well as his friend Nate Hobbs to decide what they should do with the space. Originally, the trio was going to use the area as a practice space for local bands and artists but both Counts and Hobbs dropped out so Jackson opened My Favorite Things on April 2010.
My Favorite Things isn’t just a record store, it also serves as a bicycle repair shop. Jackson, who has worked on bikes for the past 15 years, believes combing cycling and music in one store makes perfect sense, “There’s a kind of image, a certain type of person who is interested in music, interested in art, and enjoys riding their bike.”
The record store also acts as a venue for local talent. Jackson is a member of Greensboro rock act Rough Hands and has connections within the communities’ music scene and uses the store to create opportunities for local bands. Jackson decided to have 10 bands play at My Favorite Things on April 17 to celebrate National Record Store Day with the intention to increase both sales and awareness for My Favorite Things.
I arrived at the show around four thirty. It was being held outside, behind the record store. The first band was setting up on the house-sized slab of concrete which served as the stage and was hooking their equipment to a drop cord which led into the window of an abandoned house on Grove Street.
Hidden Link Park started playing at 4:45 and by then a crowd of a dozen or so had gathered. A few people sat on a long, thick log that had recently been cut down while others sat on the grass or the concrete. I was feeling way to sober so I headed to the convenience store across the street and bought a six pack. Hidden Link Park’s set was over by the time I returned.
Rocket Science, a two piece from Greensboro, was the next band up and started playing at 5:30. Rocket Science is made up of guitarist Adam Thorne and drummer Andy Lamberr. The two met in high school and has been performing in Greensboro. According to Thorne, “Greensboro isn’t exactly a zenith of music culture.
Up next was The Old 1-2 who became performing around a quarter after six pm. They had dirty blues roots and were my favorite band thus far. The vocalist wore suspenders and sung into an old timey microphone. The Old 1-2 was formed in Hickory by brothers Nathan and Chad Meyers and their friend Hawke Kelley. The band decided to move to Greensboro because, “shows in Hickory are very hit and miss but we’ve always had a lot of support from people in Greensboro. The group is heavily influenced by Tom Waits, Carl Burnside, and the Black Keys.
The next band up was Mutant League who started playing at 7:45. A steady stream of people started to pour in with 40’s, tall boys, and 12 packs in tow. I was relieved to finally not be the only person drinking at the show. A slew of 20 something hipsters sporting oh-so-ironic trucker hats, v-neck t-shirts, bad facial hair, and worse tattoos were now sitting atop the fallen log. It may have just been the booze but the whole scene made me feel like I was in an American Apparel ad for a few moments. I left in the middle of their set to buy another six pack and a pack of cigarettes. It was starting to get dark and I wanted to be prepared…
Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands performed next. The adorned the concrete stage with cabinets, lamps, and other seemingly random assortments of appliances, toys, and farming equipment. The set looked like the inside of a gypsy’s wagon by the time they were through. I recognized their drummer, Taylor Bays, and approached him to ask if I could interview him and the band after the set. He said it was cool.
It was pitch black outside by the time Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands took the stage. . Charles played the up-right bass, Taylor played drums, and Diego played the guitar while Chrystal Bright sang and played the accordion and the saw. Their music had strong Spanish, Eastern European, and Gypsy tendencies and ended up being my favorite act of the evening.
The show moved locations to Legitimate Business, a practice space and venue a block or two away from My Favorite Things, after Crystal Bright finished their set. I decided to head on home since my ride was leaving and I didn’t feel like walking down Gleenwood drunk at night by myself. I ended up not being able to interview the band but will definitely try to interview them in the near future.