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Oh, Freedom 

To eat really great food

Named after the day, June 19, that Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that those enslaved were now free -- two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation -- Juneteenth is a holiday that now commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.

Charlotte's celebration of Juneteenth began last Friday in Independence Park with the International Drum Heard Around the World ceremony (Not to be confused with my old neighbor, who held a Bass Speaker Heard Around the World ceremony most every Friday evening).

Saturday and Sunday featured a parade, dance, storytelling, music, drama, food, entertainers, a children's village (more fun and games, less Lord of the Flies), a community church service, a health fair, dancers, and a fashion show, as well as...some really good food.

Even if you're of the Caucasian persuasion -- especially if you're of the Caucasian persuasion -- make it a point to check out Juneteenth celebration next year. Not only is it one of the single best -- not to mention well-rounded -- festivals in town, it serves as a good reminder that a bad back-history can become a better, more hopeful future with a little creativity, an open mind, and a commitment to having a good time.

No matter what color you happen to be.

Last Wednesday, the CL staff headed out to Knights Stadium to see the hometeam take on the Ottawa Lynx in what marketing types used to call a "businessman's special." It gained that moniker, of course, because businessmen are pretty much the only people who can leave work in the middle of the day to catch a damn three-hour-plus baseball game. Unless, of course, you're a Loafer, or, as evidenced last Wednesday, a school-age kid. There must have been 30 buses parked outside the stadium, all of which contained a group of kids all dressed in the same color (usually neon) T-shirts.

It was against this psychedelic backdrop that our staff held what is known in sales guru circles as "team-building exercises." "Alright," I thought. "I have decent gap power, even though I'm susceptible to a high fastball. Let's play ball!"

Imagine the letdown when it turned out we were merely finding ways to get revved up for our world-famous "Best of Charlotte" issue. Hmm, how to escape? "Hey you a hotdog for that shirt you have on..."

The Evening Muse and Vance Carlisle held another of their popular "Rock Songwriters" evenings last Thursday, which I try and hit whenever I can. The atmosphere is usually rather relaxed, and it's nice to see these guys (and gals) sans a full band. Plus, you get to see four or five artists -- on this evening, Amelia White, Bruce Hazel, Lindsey Horne and Brian Landrum -- all at once, making it a sort of Whitman Sampler of local talent. You see one you like, you go see them again.All the folks listed above gave fine performances, but Lindsey Horne stole the show for me. Coming off as something like a Southern-born Kate Bush at times, a slightly more grounded Fiona Apple at others, she marked herself as a comer on the local music scene. Not afraid to take on tough topics in song -- old boyfriends, old girlfriends of new boyfriends -- she immediately clicked with the audience.

Which is super-important as a songwriter, of course. We've all felt similar emotions as our favorite artists, but we like looking at and listening to good art because it helps us reconnect with those feelings, and hopefully file them in a healthier place, thanks to the creative presentation and excavation provided by the artist in question. On this night, a Horne played loud and clear.

Call her Shelby Thin. Yes, the one and only Shelby Lynne, the pixie-sized one-time Hat Country artist turned Americana Diva turned Would-Be Rock Star turned Americana Diva Again, appeared at the Visulite Theatre last Friday and somehow transcended all those titles to put on one of the better shows I've seen this year. Playing songs off her excellent I Am Shelby Lynne, the mish mash that was Love, Shelby, and her newest offering, the old-school Identity Crisis, Lynne seems to have shed the glitzy, polished Nashville sound once and for all, in favor of a roadhouse sound that fits her as well as her tight-as-Karl-Rove's-ass Levis.About that "Love, Shelby": At one point, a female fan loudly screamed "I love you, Shelby!" Far from shaken, Lynne invited the young lady up to the stage, where she then hugged the young lady and kissed her right on the lips. A pause, and then a booming male voice.

"I really love you, Shelby!"

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