- Photo by Jimmy Williams
- Cy Rawls (right)
Benefit for Cy Rawls
Slim's—"I really don't know him that well," admits Drew Wood, frontman of Raleigh rock band Grass Widow. That didn't prevent Wood from organizing one of many upcoming benefits for Cy Rawls, a longtime local music booster who's interned at Merge, DJ'd at WXYC, written about music for The Spectator and offered his inclusive ears and broad smile to countless Triangle bands over the last decade-plus. If you've seen a show in a Triangle rock club in that time period, you've likely been in the same room as Rawls. And, if you talked to him, you certainly liked him. On Sunday, July 13, while Rawls was being prepared for a biopsy on a golf-ball size growth in his brain, he had a seizure that nearly killed him. Rawls is currently undergoing oral chemotherapy, though he returned to his parents' home in Raleigh last weekend.
Support for Rawls since his admission at Duke University Medical Center has been a testament to the beneficence of the Triangle's music community and its respect for Rawls: One day after the seizure, friends Dave and Kerry Cantwell started a blog to update people on his status. Less than two weeks later, it had drawn more than 10,000 hits and spawned a series of fundraisers: Chris Rossi, Martin Hall and a network of local volunteers will soon launch www.cytunes.org, a Web site that will allow supporters to buy songs from Rawls' musical friends; Skip Elsheimer's A/V Geeks hosted a benefit for Rawls last weekend; Glenn Boothe has offered Local 506 for Elsheimer's next beneficent screening on August 25.
Tonight, three energetic Raleigh acts—Devour, Crossed Eyes and Wood's Grass Widow—meet for the cause. Wood is asking people to bring CD cases, cash cards for Kinko's and CD-Rs so he can design a handmade, no-expense compilation of local bands to be sold for Rawls. To volunteer your band's track or your time burning discs, e-mail email@example.com. Please donate the best you can at 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Designbox Gallery—In its first two years, SparkCon has established itself as one of the preeminent venues for exhibiting the creative talent of the Triangle. With the third annual SparkCon Weekend approaching on Sept. 18, the event's organizers have taken it upon themselves to help build advance buzz. As such, the DesignBox gallery on West Martin Street has a special showing of the plans for this year's event opening tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. Visitors will get a chance to see what events are in store—and to join in grassroots efforts to make this the biggest and best SparkCon yet.
Some events announced so far for this year include the annual fashionSPARK fashion show, musicSPARK performances from such groups as Blue Mountain and Kickin' Grass, a healthSPARK holistic medicine feature and storySPARK, which includes a storytellers session from musicians, a poetry slam and even an adults-only after dark series of erotica readings and artwork. The permanent SparkCon exhibit at DesignBox runs through Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and by appointment. DesignBox is located at 323 W. Martin St., Raleigh. For more information about DesignBox's exhibits, call 834-3552, and for more information about SparkCon and some of this year's events, visit www.sparkcon.com. —Zack Smith
Murphey School—Carrboro's Transactors Improv, the South's oldest improvisational theater company, is about to invade Burning Coal Theatre's new permanent space for the first time. Not a Party Game will be a performance of short and long improvisational theater pieces by the group, which has enjoyed standing-room only performances at First Night in Raleigh for several years. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($7 for students) and available at the door. Burning Coal is located in Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh. For more information, visit transactors.org or call 824-0937. —Zack Smith
Carolina Chocolate Drops
N.C. Museum of Art—Nothing's common about the story of Durham's beloved Carolina Chocolate Drops: An African-American, old-time string band born of another such act and the tutelage of an octogenarian fiddler from Mebane, the Drops rose to unlikely popularity due to good press, aggressive touring and an onstage coupling of exuberance and education. Masters of an age-old catalogue but unafraid of a pop song (wait for the cover of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'em Up"), they turn in vivacious, magnetic performances nightly. After a cameo in Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters (which screens after the show), an appearance on Prairie Home Companion and the No. 8 spot on Billboard's bluegrass chart, the trio's homecomings have become increasingly rare. Don't miss this. Tickets are $7.50-$15. —Grayson Currin
Give It Up, Turn It Loose
Theatre in the Park—Theatre in the Park kicks off its 61st season with a world premiere from local playwright Kim Moore. Give it Up, Turn it Loose is a variation on the "six degrees of separation" idea, featuring six monologues from six different characters, played by Seth and Rebecca Blum, Byron Jennings, Shawn Smith, Debbie Strange, Sam Whisnant and Emily Gardenhire, as they reflect on "the real costs of moving ahead in life." The play is directed by Adam Twiss (who recently directed Angels in America for TIP); unlike that six-hour production, this one clocks in at a mere 70 minutes. Performances run through Aug. 10. Tickets are available at the Theatre in the Park box office at 107 Pullen Road in Raleigh, by calling 831-6058 or visiting www.theatreinthepark.com. Tickets are $13-$21. —Zack Smith