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Gone With The Vroom! 

A personal NASCAR mixtape

Dear Scarlett, this is Charlotte. Hello, Darlin'. You know you can't win. We shall have the NASCAR Hall Of Fame, and Atlanta will, well, not burn again. How I do recall the Charlotte Pop Festival of '74, at yon Speedway, and once again, I am moved to consider what Mr. Chuck Berry means by "motorvation." (Join with me, girl, and soothe -- nay, lose! -- your wounds in the sheer adrenaline of musical celebration.)

1. Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Call Me The Breeze." Once again, the immortal Dukes of Hazzard movie soundtrack brings the true tale of young boys sailing through Eden, long before pesky "environmental" rules grew the Snake!

2. Montgomery Gentry, "Gone." How their draw-wuh-uhl doth weave, even while landing on the one, like the "Devil's Third," or "Fifth," or whutever: banned in the Middle Ages for being flat and yet not. And they keep going, in call-and-response, like a good work or gospel song should: "Gaw-un, (Gaw-un), Gaww-un? (Gaw-un)," until the straightaway, when she's truly "Gaw-un, lak a '59 Cadillac." Which leads us to...

3. Dwight Yoakam, "Long White Cadillac." Dwight sounds so shallow and desolate, you know he really is that doomed 'billy star, hunkered down under his long white hat, in the bottomless upholstery back there. In the original version, Phil Alvin of the Blasters sounds a mite too soulful and healthy, compared to the glammed-out hokum of Yoakam, keening and careening by.

4. Bruce Springsteen, "Cadillac Ranch." "Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am" has come back now, as Boss Hogg in The Dukes Of Hazzard. So even Eternity can't be too long.

5. ZZ Top, "Sharp Dressed Man." Sure, there are a number of Top car songs. This one isn't specifically a car song, lyrics-wise. But what sounds the coolest? What will not be denied? Well, you know what.

6. Brooks & Dunn, "Red Dirt Road." One of their best. No bells and whistles, no self-congratulation. No turning back, either. "That summer I turned a corner in my soul," and the dust hasn't settled yet.

7. Chuck Berry/Duane Allman, "No Money Down." Just in case the Brooks & Dunn guy starts sounding too humble, in this song we have a fearless believer in gasoline-related lifeforms who refuses to unpatriotically lower his expectations. You want to trade him a Cadillac for his Ford, you say? He'll see and raise you: "And I want a full Murphy bed/In my back seat/I want short-wave radio/I want TV and a phone/You know I gotta talk to my Baby/When I'm ridin' alone." Have you ever heard of such a thing? And even in early-60s dollars, "A ten-dollar deductible/Twenty-dollar notes/Thirty thousand liability" really is "all she wrote." The song is so cranked up, as written, that Duane Allman didn't even need to add a solo to his version.

12. Johnny Cash, "The General Lee"/Doug Kershaw and the Hazzard County Boys, "Ballad of General Lee." If I knew how, I'd take these two tunes from the reissued soundtrack of the original Dukes series and mash 'em up (in the musical, not automotive sense). Johnny moos contentedly in his trailer, attached in more ways than one to the famous Cadillac with its own name. Doug Kershaw's Cajun fiddle is a gleaming, ingenious cowbird, forever landing/taking off.

Lucky 13. Cowboy Troy, "I Play Chicken with the Train." Kids, don't try this at home, but using your imagination can be great. Troy thinks he's a rapper, and so, on this track, "Big and black, clickety clack," he chat-chat-chatters away. He gets to be the chicken and the train. What a lucky clucker!

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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