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The 'CL' Fall Guide is Here 

Mark Your Calendars

It's pretty weird how quickly it got cold the first week in September.

Maybe it was Irma making her presence known before she swirled her way up toward Charlotte. By the time you read this, Irma will have come and gone, and God knows what kind of devastation she will have left behind. Here's hoping not much. Because we have a fall season to celebrate.

For CL's Annual Fall Guide, we're offering a ton of events for you to mark on your calendar. In particular, an amazing mix of music is coming to town. We're usually touting local music in these pages, but our Top 10s and seasonal guides allow us the opportunity to point you to some good national acts. And this fall, you can choose among a wide variety, most importantly Jay-Z, who brings his 4:44 tour to the Spectrum Center Nov. 16 — that is, if the Spectrum's still standing after Irma.

Music lovers of all kinds will find something to catch between late September and December. The second-most anticipated show (and first, to my liking) is Rhiannon Giddens, the former Carolina Chocolate Drops frontwoman whose latest album, Freedom Highway, has been a constant on my playlist since it came out in February. The Greensboro native will bring her hard-hitting Americana songs of social justice to the Neighborhood Theatre on Sept. 30.

If angsty punk is your thing, then you won't want to miss Against Me! at the Neighborhood Theatre on Oct. 18. And there's even more variety: two great but very different Latino acts, Brazil's Seu Jorge at the Underground Oct. 3 and Mexico's Cafe Tacuba at the Fillmore Oct. 6; cutting-edge jazz with Robert Glasper during the Art of Cool fest finale at the Neighborhood Oct. 7; and ear-splitting metal from Mastodon at the Fillmore Oct. 4.

If local music is what you need, singer-songwriter LeAnna Eden's ambitious Black Alternative (or Bla/Alt) Festival at Camp North End has you covered. (She first announced it on our LeAnna Eden episode of CL's "Local Vibes" podcast.) The singer has put together a fantastic roster of mostly local black rock bands to celebrate artists that are often marginalized in the lily-white rock world. I talked with Eden at Common Market a few weeks before the event and she emphasized that Bla/Alt will not just be a Charlotte version of Brooklyn's famed Afropunk festival.

"This is not about copying what Afropunk does. It's about celebrating black alternative bands, most of which are from here," Eden said. "We have so much talent here that goes virtually unrecognized." Not only that, but Bla/Alt is being put together and run by a team of four very diffent black women. "It's a local celebration of black artists of all kinds, and something Charlotte has needed for some time."

This week's Fall Guide is not just about music, though. We have a full sports section with details on the Panthers season, plus lots of theater events, festivals, food and more.

And speaking of food, for this week's food section we assigned a music and arts reporter to do the restaurant profile, and the assignment took writer Grey Revell home to his Mexican-Cuban roots in Los Angeles. He takes a look at Azteca, the longtime, locally owned Mexican chain founded before Charlotte became inundated with great little Mexican joints. As he writes in the piece, "I'd have to travel back in time, to a family birthday or Christmas celebration, to get food as good as what I got at Azteca."

In the music section, Kia Moore and I write about the second annual Soul Junction, a music fest showcasing Charlotte's west side. The festival's aim is to tie the historic African-American neighborhood's past to its present and future. Featuring local as well as national acts, Soul Junction celebrates this city's legacy of great black music, remembering the heady days of Wilbert "Kansas City" Harrison at the Excelsior Club on Beauties Ford Road, and presenting young present-day musicians such as Charlotte singer-songwriter Arsena Schroeder."

And in the news section, Ryan Pitkin tells the story of Davidson College student Carlos Miranda, whose life journey has brought him from Vera Cruz, Mexico, to South Carolina, and now to one of North Carolina's most esteemed private colleges. Young people like Miranda — and another local student, Florencia Inige, who attended a recent DACA rally in Charlotte — now face uncertainty due to the current U.S. president's backward momentum on immigration policy. The president's announcement that he would rescind former President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has put recipients like Miranda and Inige in an emotional bind.

Both Miranda and Inige were able to attend college thanks to a Red Ventures Golden Door scholarship, which the company awards to high-achieving DACA recipients. Over the past six years, the program has sent 158 undocumented students to schools of higher eduction. The company's CEO, Ric Elias, tells Pitkin that the current president will not deter Red Ventures from continuing to provide assistance.

"While political uncertainty and discord is stalling progress on critical issues," Elias says, "we'll keep moving forward to help more undocumented students get the higher education they deserve."

And Creative Loafing will keep moving forward on our coverage of these critical issues — throughout the fall and beyond.

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