11/14/08: Flava in Winston Salem and the Greensboro Hood on Lock/Mid-Atlantic Music Conference in Charlotte

Conferences, Shopping, Travel

It was another grey and rainy day, and after checking out of the hotel, I drove down to a breakfast cafe near the hospitals, and then started my day of work.
To my surprise, I discovered that The Record Exchange in Winston-Salem was still open, even though I had thought all of the stores in that chain had closed. I was informed that a couple of them had become part of the Plan 9 chain based in Virginia. After a mid-morning break for a latte at Cafe Prada west of downtown, I headed over into the hood on the east side of Winston-Salem where there was supposed to be a record store called Miss Lady’s Creations. I found that it had closed down, so I left the promotional materials with a hip-hop clothing store in the same shopping center, and then I drove to Greensboro.
On the westside near the airport was a store called Hood Locker, and after I visited there, I drove across to a Biscuitville restaurant for a chicken biscuit. The manager there was from Germantown, Tennessee, and his brother had been best friends with Tim Auvenshine, the Select-O-Hits sales rep who passed away a couple of years ago. It really is a small world.
The rain was much heavier now as I made my way to two other Hood Locker locations which sold both clothing and music. Then I headed downtown where there was a new record store called Da Beat Music, but although the lights were on and the music playing inside, the doors were locked, and knocking didn’t bring anyone to the door. So I ran across the street in the rain to a coffee bar and enjoyed another latte before beginning the drive down I-85 toward Charlotte.
I had not known that there were panels scheduled for Friday at the Mid-Atlantic Music Conference, so when I first arrived in Charlotte, I had stopped by EZ Records in Eastland Mall. Then I got a call from Kysii Ingram asking me where I was, so I rushed to the Crowne Plaza hotel and checked in, but I soon found that the conference events weren’t being held at the hotel, but I a place called the Imaginarium a few blocks away.
I managed to make it into the opening panel before it was over, and afterwards I and a couple of the other panelists decided to go to dinner. There was supposed to be a Saltgrass Steakhouse out at Pineville, but when we drove out there, we found it closed and abandoned, so we had to settle for Longhorn Steakhouse instead, which was decent. Afterwards, I had a hard time finding any coffee bar open after 10 PM even though it was Friday. I finally found one in the area just below downtown off of South Boulevard, and even they closed at 10:30, but I managed to make it there before they closed. Then a frightful storm came up, so although it was past closing time, we all stayed there for awhile until the rain let up enough to leave.
All the jazz clubs in Charlotte seemed to have gone out of business, so I went back to the hotel and to bed.

11/13/08: Finding Brecht in Chapel Hill/Offbeat in Durham

Shopping, Travel

The morning was grey and overcast, and it had been raining, but it wasn’t at the time I checked out of the hotel. There was a restaurant called the 501 Diner down the road from the hotel, and I ate breakfast there, and then drove on into the downtown area of Chapel Hill, which somewhat reminded me of Bloomington, Indiana.
The CD Alley store that I needed to visit wasn’t open yet, so I drove further down the street into Carrboro, where there was a cool used book store, and there I purchased several books by Bertolt Brecht. There was a coffee house across the street from the bookshop, so I stopped there for a latte, and by then CD Alley was open. Next door to the record shop was a Marxist-Socialist-Anarchist bookstore called Internationalist Books, and in there I found a book that I had been looking for about the Wilmington Ten case. The other music store in Chapel Hill, Back Door Music, turned out to be used only, and the rain had picked up somewhat when I visited there.
I then drove on to Durham, first to Bull City Records, which proved to be a vinyl only store, and then to Offbeat Music, which is one of the best record stores I had ever been in. The store was located in Brightleaf Square, former Liggett & Myers tobacco warehouses that had been turned into a collection of hip boutiques, shops and bistros. The store was full of used classical and jazz CDs, as well as great imports, and it was all I could do to keep from spending all my money there. A Brazilian bistro across the courtyard had good espresso and gelato, and then I drove on over to Raleigh, with the rain even heavier. I stopped at Schoolkids Records near the North Carolina State campus, as well as a coffee bar and two used record/bookstores, and then I drove through downtown over to the eastside, where there was a store called Mr. Freeze’s, not far from a housing project.
Further out on the northeast side was a store called Big Katt Records, and once I had left some promotional things there, I headed eastward toward Greensboro and Winston-Salem, making a brief detour into Burlington to stop at Keith’s CDs & Tapes. Finding a decent place to eat dinner proved to be far more difficult than I had imagined.
I passed on through Greensboro into Winston-Salem and got checked into my suite at the Residence Inn. I then decided to eat dinner at The Loop Pizza Grill, which was outstanding, and then I drove downtown looking for live jazz or at least a coffee bar. Winston-Salem’s downtown was dead, looking like it had experienced a half-renaissance that died aborning. Few places were open, although I did find a coffee bar, but, by the time I located a jazz event (in Greensboro) it was too late to go back over there. I finally drove back to my hotel and went to bed.