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Drum This Into Your Head 

Plus, photo nazis and a booming benefit

NightBEAT 2004 at Memorial Stadium last Tuesday featured the best in regional and national Drum Corps. (The Charlotte event was a quarterfinal competition, leading up to the World Championships in Denver.)

I've never been a fan of band music, unless there's a football game happening somewhere nearby. Evidently, everybody else was a fan, as Memorial Stadium was packed to the gills, with thousands of fans braving delays, thunder, lightning and rain to cheer on their favorite band.

I had no real stake in the event, other than being a big fan of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk," wherein they get the USC Trojans marching band involved (deciding, I guess, that keeping their own dysfunctional, five-member band all on the same page wasn't enough of a challenge). After a fun time at NightBEAT, I'm hereby challenging all musicians to go check out this music next time you get a chance. It's relentlessly tight and emotional, despite being played by dozens at once.

To boot, nothing gets you as pumped. Needing relief, I went home and popped Madden into the PlayStation, chose the Panthers, and went to work. If this year's Panthers are as successful as I was, Jerry Richardson might want to look into this. It ain't Nelly, but why argue with results?

The North Carolina Gun Collectors show took place Saturday and Sunday at the Merchandise Mart and, being an open-minded sort, I decided to attend. I had a few bucks in my pocket, so I bought a Swiss Army knife, something I've always wanted, plus a container of pepper spray, which was on deep discount. After buying the spray, I noticed the expiration date on the stuff was February 2000. I asked the man for a refund, but he informed me that all sales were final. I attempted to argue with him -- not too hard, what with all the guns around -- that I'd have about as much success fighting off carjackers with a pepper grinder, but he wasn't folding. Flummoxed, I decided to take some pictures. Wrong move.

After walking down a couple more rows, I noticed a man following me. Finally, he approached me. "Son," he said -- when persons with guns say "Son," you're inevitably about to get it -- "you can't take pic-tures at a gun show."

That's silly, I thought. Why the hell not? I can carry a goddamned concealed weapon in here -- buy an assault rifle, even! -- but I can't take pictures? And so I asked him: "Er...why?"

"You just can't," he said. I then remembered he's probably from the school that doesn't, you know, like people asking obvious questions. "We're at war, son, and you're to do as you're told!" And so I got to thinking -- what could possibly be the reason? Were they afraid I was scouting for al-Qaeda? I'm pretty sure those guys could come up with a more subtle plan than hooking up a white guy with a punk rock T-shirt and a cheap Canon to scope out their potential wares. Was some illegal activity going on they didn't want publicized? Everything seemed on the up-and-up to me, but then again I can't tell an AK-47 from a pellet gun.

I offered that I thought the First Amendment was at least as important as the Second, but he wasn't buying it. And in the end, it's those with the guns that win such arguments. Which, of course, is just the way they like it.

WSGE 91.7, the little station in Dallas, NC, that's perhaps the biggest area proponent of local music (last Friday, they played an entire day of regional delicacies) held their annual benefit at The Evening Muse on Sunday. Being (for two hours a week, anyway) what is termed an "on-air talent" for the station (off-air is a different story entirely), I wanted to check out the "Bennie," maybe lend a hand in some other way than playing freak-out music when everyone's asleep. Mostly, I just lent two hands, clapping for the great array of local talent -- Lindsey Horne, John Dungan, Tyre Fyre, Les Dirt Clods, David Childers -- that the station had assembled.

Twice, however, I was asked by Dungan to get on stage and introduce an act. Both times, I declined. It's one thing to speak into a microphone when you're staring at a cinder-block wall inside a studio. It's another thing entirely to have everyone's eyes on you, waiting to hear what's going to come next. Congrats to WSGE, and to all the local musicians who do this sort of thing on a nightly basis. No matter how the rest of the Monopoly Media might feel about it, you are appreciated.

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