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Scene & Herd 

Too Hip to be Hippies

Last week at the Visulite, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was lying ahead. The show was the Smiling Assassin Tour and featured John "Jojo" Hermann of Widespread Panic along with members of the North Mississippi Allstars and Bloodkin. With the Widespread connection, I figured the show would be wall-to-wall hippies, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Sure, there was a huge crowd on hand but instead of a trippy, groovy lovefest, it was more like a yuppie, get-out-of-my-way snobfest. A lot of the women were quite Cosmo with their big, bulky Kenneth Cole handbags that'd knock you down if you weren't paying attention; while the fellas, who largely opted for a casual look, still preferred micro-brews and imports over the usual domestics. No one was especially polite, either; they'd look at you like it was your fault when your foot somehow managed to get underneath theirs. Fortunately, the show made up for crowd. Yeah, it was just another bunch of exceptionally talented white guys who liked to play the blues and such, but having a crafty slide guitarist set this group apart. Luther Dickinson is a force to watch, and I don't think I was the only one who thought he looked suspiciously familiar; Randolph Lewis of Les Dirt Clods could pass as his twin. And if the show wasn't entertaining enough, as I was making my way to the car around 1am, I spotted a lady in a golf cart speeding up Elizabeth Avenue toward the corner convenience store. -- Lynn Farris

The play's the thang Ever wish, while sitting through an interminable hour or two of theater, that you could stand up and demand your 20 dollars back? Ever wish you could tell the playwright that the point of live theater is dialogue and plot development? Well, once a year, you can at Charlotte Repertory Theatre's New Play Festival; and so I went. Settling in at a very unlikely time -- 11am on a Saturday -- I was determined that the play in question, Michael McKeever's The Dangerous Place, better be more entertaining than the sleep I could be enjoying at my apartment two blocks away. The audience was a pretty good indicator of the interest in McKeever's play -- as far as I could tell, the only ones in the room who hadn't "wrighted" a play were myself and CL theater critic Perry Tannenbaum, who nonetheless carries himself as such. The play, while not finished, was a well-told story of a Barrymore-like family of stage actors (with the "Dangerous Place" of the title being the stage itself). More entertaining, though, was the feedback portion of the evening, when audience members gave suggestions on how to tweak the play, some of which the playwright actually seemed to like. One fellow in particular wished to get his money's worth out of the breaking down of this "fourth wall," and did everything but suggest the playwright replace all the actors with trained stunt monkeys and build his sets out of Cheetos. Would it have been that hard for you to say the play sucked and saved us another half-hour? I could have been sleeping, forgodsake. -- Tim C. Davis

You got to me. . . I thought the biggest obstacles I'd face at the Neil Diamond concert were being recognized after last week's cover story and avoiding blindness from all the sequined shirts. Wrong. Turns out my problem was avoiding blushing at an oversexed, 60-year-old Neil. At the beginning of the show, Neil mentioned that he's helpless once he hears that applause and gets all "lubricated." That statement alone probably had a similar effect on a few in the audience. Later, he explained to the men in the audience how it was OK to be sensitive, and then told the women that he "didn't mean sex, but maybe give them some when you get home later tonight anyway." He wasn't done yet. During a rendition of "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon," Neil did the usual rocker antic of singing to a 25-year-old or so girl in the front row. However, her friend got in the act too, and soon they were caressing Neil's head. One gave the singer a peck on the cheek after the song. The other, however, slipped Neil some tongue, which Diamond then returned (no lie!). I was alternately disgusted by the Lolita scene, proud of the guy for still having moxie, curious where it would have led were 15,000 people not watching, and embarrassed. Why? Two of those 15,000 were my parents. -- Tim C. Davis

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