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Lifeline: Things To Do in Charlotte

May 4-May 17, 2022

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MAY THE 4TH

May 4 | 8 p.m. | Bart’s Mart | Free

If you enter the costume contest for this Star Wars-inspired celebration, can you dress up as a character from Hardware Wars, the micro-budgeted 1978 parody of the franchise mothership where Chewchilla the wookiee monster resembles Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster and Princess Anne-Droid’s hair-do consists of two cinnamon rolls attached to each side of her head? No matter, this non-cultural appropriation alternative to Cinco de Mayo also includes Star Wars-themed music from Patt Attack, the movie that started it all playing on two TVs, $2 “Death Star” PBRs and more.


PAINTERS REFUGE: A WAY OF LIFE OPENING RECEPTION

May 5 | 6 p.m. | Gantt Center | Free

Drawing on the Bible, the world of fashion, Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, Abstract Expressionists, and Willem de Kooning, in particular, North Carolina artist Reginald Sylvester II specializes in large-scale canvases in which figures jostle and struggle to emerge from thickets of abstract brushwork. Sylvester’s choice of materials is also unique. His works gain gravitas from the meaning imbued in the exposed stretcher bars and military tent shells he uses. The opening reception kicks off Sylvester’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States.

Artist Reginald Sylvester II
Reginald Sylvester II (Courtesy of Gantt Center)

‘DOT’

May 6-21 | Times vary | The Arts Factory at West End Studios | $25-$30

A holiday gathering of a black, middle-class West Philadelphia family is fraught with more tension than usual. That’s because the siblings, spouses and friends visiting iron-willed matriarch Dotty are grappling with the latter’s steady decline due to Alzheimer’s. There are enough subplots and themes to fuel a dozen soap operas in Colman Domingo’s play, but this story, directed by Charlotte’s own Tony Award-winner Corey Mitchell, is played for genuinely moving and empathetic comedy. As Dotty’s children fight to balance care for their mother and care for themselves, the fading matriarch struggles to hold on to her memory.


BOMBADIL, BLUE CACTUS

May 7 | 8 p.m. | Petra’s | $25

I first encountered Bombadil a decade ago. Back then, the Durham combo that shares its name from a J.R.R. Tolkein character, took a kitchen-sink-hits-the backwoods-approach, throwing banjo, trumpet, ukulele and pan flute at twee pop, spastic waltzes, Preservation-era Kinks and everything in between. That eclecticism has remained, but now it’s better focused. Bombadil has matured, crafting poetic lyrics touching on resignation and resilience, over a solid bedrock of folk rock, alt-country harmonies and heartfelt pop. Bombadil often favors thoughtful arrangements, but they still take off on tangents midway between 1960s freak folk and The Band.

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BLACK CINEMA SERIES: ‘THE GREEN PASTURES’

May 8 | 2 p.m. | Gantt Center | $7-$9

The Green Pastures is a crowd-pleasing all-Black-cast film made when meaningful roles for Black actors were all but nonexistent in Hollywood. Adapted by white co-director Marc Connelly from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the 1936 drama draws protean power from its folkloric depiction of scriptural material, presented as a series of Sunday School Bible stories linked by spirituals. The presentation may be genius in its simplicity, but the film derives its emotional punch from performers such as Rex Ingram (Sahara, The Thief of Baghdad) and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (The Jack Benny Program).

Lobby card for the 1936 film The Green Pastures
Lobby card from the 1936 film ‘The Green Pastures.’ (Wikimedia Commons)

ANTHONY GREEN, LAURA JANE GRACE, TIM KASHER

May 11 | 7 p.m. | The Underground | $25

Life is a merry-go-round in a package entitled The Carousel Tour, which features three dynamic singer-songwriters steeping beyond the bounds of the alt rock/emo bands they usually front: Green (Circa Survive), Grace (Against Me!) and Kasher (Cursive and the Good Life). Actually, the carnivalesque branding is on point. Each of these performers has weighed in candidly on life’s kaleidoscopic and often absurd nature, none more so than Kasher. His latest album, Middling Age, tackles thorny issues like losing loved ones and feelings of personal stagnancy and uncertainty with empathy, humanity and wit.

Tim Kasher
Tim Kasher (Photo by Erica Lauren)

EUROVISION KARAOKE

May 11 | 5 p.m. | The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art | Free

To those unfamiliar with the Eurovision Song Contest, its’ a popular European group and solo singing contest where singers perform live. You’d think this would spotlight the crème de la crème of Europop, and sometimes it does. Artists like ABBA (“Waterloo”) and Katrina and the Waves (“Love Shine a Light”) have won. Inspired by the upcoming 66th edition of the ESC, taking place in Turan, Italy, Wednesday Night Live at The Bechtler features a local twist on Eurovision in which the museum’s lobby transforms into an after-hours club with live karaoke followed by a dance party.

Ruslana at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012
Ruslana at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons)

CRAYOLA IDEAWORKS

Opens May 13 | Camp North End | $25 and up

An exhibit that involves science fiction, technology and world building, Crayola Ideaworks takes crayon-centered interactive activity beyond merely drawing stuff on walls — but it taps into that wellspring of unbridled creativity you may remember from your childhood. Upon entering the exhibit, attendees are transported to the Colorverse, where they can be anything from a weather reporter on Mars to an underwater engineer at Sea Base. Guests are assigned Craymojis, characters that represent the creative aspects of their personalities, which then guide them through a personalized family-friendly journey in which they encounter problem-solving activities.

Crayola IDEAworks
Crayola IDEAworks (Courtesy of The Franklin Institute)

CHARLOTTE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: ‘THE STORY OF BABAR’

May 14 | 11 a.m. | Knight Theater | $10-$33

Beloved kid-lit character Babar began as a bedtime story invented by author Jean de Brunhoff’s wife, Cecile. After Babar’s mother is killed by a hunter in a scene that surely traumatized children just as much as the death of Bambi’s mom, Babar goes on to have adventures spanning more than 45 books. The playful pachyderm’s exploits are set to the elegant music of Francis Poulenc, who crafted music praised for its memorable and emotionally expressive melodies. Poulenc flourished in the decades following WWI before participating in the French resistance movement during WWII.


WEEDEATER, HIGH TONE SON OF A BITCH, JD PINKUS

May 17 | 9 p.m. | Snug Harbor | $25

The Butthole Surfers’ version of  70’s chestnut “American Woman” trumps The Guess Who’s original. As dissonant guitars scrape and straggle, vocalist Gibby Hanynes jabbers like a tiny cartoon character bitching beneath layers of booming drums. Those drums come courtesy of JD Pinkus. After a decade with the Texas noise terrorists, Pinkus left the abrasive Buttholes in 1994. His diverse and dizzying career since has included a stint with doom grunge gods the Melvins, an album with proto-industrial guitarist Helios Creed and an Asheville-recorded “space grass” banjo album entitled Fungus Shui.


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