The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Just about every bluegrass musician has been directly or indirectly influenced by Wade Mainer. Mainer, a master of the banjo, taught himself to play his instrument of choice as a child and developed an innovative two-finger picking style. That style, combined with Mainer’s strong vocals earned him popularity as a performer and recording artist in the 1930s and 1940s.

North Carolina is home to a variety of interesting dialects, but none is quite so unique as the one found along the Outer Banks. Sometimes called the Ocracoke Brogue, the dialect is often mistaken for British, and it is rapidly declining as tourism inundates the area with a more diverse array of speakers. Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University English professor and Director of the North Carolina Language and Life Project, has been studying the Outer Banks dialect for almost 20 years.

The State Of Water

Apr 20, 2011

North Carolinians are no strangers to drought but there are many other factors that lead to water insecurity. Water pollution, contamination, rainfall levels and population growth all dictate the amount of water that is available to a community. Charles Fishman, author of the new book, “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water” (Free Press/2011), says we should be prepared for the day when water will no longer be inclusively cheap, clean and plentiful.

North Carolina halted executions about five years  ago. Capital punishment is still legal in the state, but a dispute over the lethal injection process led to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. Since then, the state’s murder rate has fallen, and investigations of the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab have
exposed mishandling of evidence in criminal cases. Matthew Robinson, a professor of government and justice studies at Appalachian State University, has been researching those facts and other data about the death penalty in North Carolina. His findings reveal that capital punishment is more costly than life imprisonment and that race and gender frequently factor into death penalty sentencing.

Soundsuit
www.ncartmuseum.org

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being labeled an “African-American artist”? That question is at the heart of a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art. It features the works of 31 contemporary artists - photography, video, sculpture and more – with each piece revealing a bit about the experience of blacks in America.

Durham writer Frances O'Roark Dowell tackles the awkwardness of high school in her new young adult novel "Ten Miles Past Normal" (Atheneum/2011). The main character is Janie, a ninth-grader who once thought living on a farm would be great. She proposed the idea to her parents when she was in elementary school, and they embraced it. Now she is an outcast who sometimes goes to school with hay in her hair or goat droppings on her shoes.

Donald Davis
www.blairpub.com

Donald Davis was born and raised in Waynesville, North Carolina. His people go back in Haywood County to the 1700s on both sides. He left home to attend Davidson College and Duke Divinity School. He was a Methodist minister for years before retiring to become a full time storyteller. He now lives on Ocracoke Island and spends most of the year traveling the country visiting festivals and leading workshops in the fine art of oral communication. Davis has committed some of his stories to paper in the new book, "Tales From a Free-Range Childhood" (John F. Blair/2011).

Mount Moriah

Apr 15, 2011

Mount Moriah is a Southern folk music band based in Durham, North Carolina. Their self-titled debut CD has rich lyrics that tackle themes such as reconciliation, religious symbolism and gender identity.

Staying Blue

Apr 15, 2011

Raleigh-based poet Gibbons Ruark grew up the son of a United Methodist minister, moving from town to town in eastern North Carolina. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his master's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He taught at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro before settling into a position at the University of Delaware for 37 years, but he never stopped writing about his North Carolina home. His work immortalizes hybrid magnolias and sun lit porches. Ruark is the award-winning author of eight books of poetry, including the most recent, "Staying Blue" (Lost Hill Books/2008).

Simon Estes was part of the first generation of African-Americans to break into opera. He's performed for numerous presidents and prominent religious figures, and he's worked with every major international opera company there is. Estes is the guest speaker this Saturday at World Voice Day, sponsored by the Duke Voice Care Center.

The audio play "The Witches of Lublin" transports listeners to 18th century Poland. Rivke is the matriarch of a family of female klezmer musicians who get themselves into trouble when the local nobleman, Count Sobieski, demands they play at his son's name day celebration. Klezmer music is traditionally male dominated, and Rivke knows that the Jews of Lublin will consider it a scandal if she plays for the Count. But denying him could have serious consequences. Host Frank Stasio will talk about the radio drama and how it tackles topics like anti-Semitism and misogyny with Sue Zizza, co-producer and director of "The Witches of Lublin"; playwright Ellen Kushner; and playwright and composer Yale Strom.


Sir Walter Raleigh never hoisted the English flag on the coast of North Carolina. He did not throw his cloak across a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I. And though he liked to smoke, he did not introduce either tobacco or potatoes to Europe from the New World. Though history has misconstrued much of the story of Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom North Carolina's capital is named, he was a compelling character nonetheless. Host Frank Stasio talks about this explorer, historian, poet, courtier and self-made man with Mark Nicholls, co-author of “Sir Walter Raleigh: Life and Legend" (Continuum International Publishing Group/2011).

Starting today, film-makers and film lovers descend on Durham, North Carolina for the annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Participants can feast their eyes on over 100 films, listen to panel discussions and partake of Durham’s abundant Southern hospitality. Full Frame is one of the only festivals in the world dedicated to nonfiction films. It started in Durham 14 years ago and has grown to international prominence. Deirdre Haj, the festival’s executive director, and Sadie Tillery, director of Full Frame’s programming, join host Frank Stasio in the studio.

Viridiana Martinez of the N.C. Dream Team recently traveled to Georgia to protest efforts there to block undocumented immigrants from receiving higher education. Martinez was arrested for her efforts and faced deportation, though she ultimately was released and returned to North Carolina. Here, she faces similar efforts to stop undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges and universities. Two bills in the North Carolina House tackle the subject, and one of them also strengthens state enforcement of  federal immigration laws. Host Frank Stasio will talk about efforts in North Carolina to crackdown on undocumented immigrants with Viridiana Martinez, co-founder and community organizer for the N.C. Dream Team; and William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

The Raconteur Of Jazz

Apr 13, 2011
www.martygrosz.com

German-born musician Marty Grosz first picked up the guitar over 70 years ago at the age of eight and hasn’t put it down since. Now he is one of today’s foremost jazz rhythm guitarists and chord soloists. Grosz has enjoyed a long career playing in big bands, trios and as a solo artist. He is also well-known for his comedic storytelling and engaging stage presence. Grosz joins host Frank Stasio to share some stories and songs from his impressive career.

The media are all over today’s 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, but a group of journalism students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been spending time studying how reporters covered the war during the four years of conflict. Frank Fee, associate professor of journalism and mass communications at UNC, and UNC students Caitie Forde-Smith and Jessica Hayes join host Frank Stasio to share what they found out about media production and usage during the Civil War.

A team of local library archivists are taking on a lengthy digital project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Every day for the next four years, they will contribute written content to a blog that features artifacts, photographs and documents related to the war. Online users can visit the Web site called “The Civil War Day-By-Day” to see what was happening during the war on a particular day and everything available to view on the blog is housed in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jimmy Creech had been an ordained United Methodist minister for 14 years before he came to understand the plight of homosexuals within his congregation. A parishioner, whom he calls Adam, came out to him in 1984, revealing the hurt and rejection he felt at the hands of a church that condemned him. Creech became a crusader for homosexual rights within the church, and that crusade led the Methodist church to strip him of his ordination.

KidzNotes

Apr 8, 2011

KidzNotes provides under-served children free classical, orchestral music training to combat poverty and build character. It operates in Durham and is based on the El Sistema model from Venezuela, which has been transforming the lives of Venezuelan school children through classical music since 1974.

The occult has been with America since the nation’s inception, thriving in the parlors of mediums, even reaching the White House. So says Mitch Horowitz in "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation" (Bantam/2009).

The Jackson family holds an important place in American music.  Its eldest child, Rebbie, has had a successful career as an entertainer that included her 1984 hit song, "Centipede," which was written by her brother, Michael Jackson. 

Anne Lamott is famous for her revealing, poetic, funny books about motherhood, faith and America. Nearly everything she writes is autobiographical, including her newest book, “Imperfect Birds” (Riverhead Books/2010), which is out in paperback and features a teen named Rosie who goes from being a likable, model student-athlete to lying, stealing and using drugs.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Full Frame

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival's annual celebration of the documentary brings artists from around the world to Durham. This year, the lineup includes a rich variety of offerings from filmmakers based in North Carolina.

Most cases of rape and sexual assault never make the news. But in recent weeks, horrific stories about victims of sexual violence have created national headlines. Some language used in the reporting of these cases and public reactions to them has caused controversy. How we articulate ideas about rape sheds light on American perceptions of violence, gender and race. Host Frank Stasio discusses the language and the law surrounding rape with a panel of guests including documentary filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons; Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University; Melissa Harris-Perry, associate professor of politics and African-American Studies at Princeton University; and Mary R. Block, associate professor of history at Valdosta State University.

conemillvillages.weebly.com
conemillvillages.weebly.com

The North Carolina Museum of History has mounted an exhibition of the photography of Lewis Hine. His bleak, black-and-white prints paint a vivid picture of young people, some not yet teenagers, covered in the lint and grime of the state’s textile mills. Meanwhile, University of North Carolina at Greensboro public history students, under the guidance of associate professor of history Benjamin Filene, have created an online project called “Community Threads: Remembering the Cone Mill Villages.”

playwright David Edgar
www.contemporarywriters.com

In David Edgar’s play, "The Shape of the Table," a country is falling to pieces. Its people are protesting and demanding a new government while the old government tries to hold on to power. It could be a story ripped from today's headlines, but it premiered in 1990 — a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The narrative deals with an unnamed eastern European country as it transitions from Communism to democracy.

Maureen Quilligan
Chris Hildreth, Duke Magazine

As a scholar of Renaissance literature, Maureen Quilligan made a name for herself by re-examining the role of women during the Elizabethan age through the lense of art and literature. As the head of the English Department at Duke University, she helped stabilize a respected institution during a tumultuous time. And as a resident of Hillsborough, North Carolina, Quilligan has helped support the small town's independent merchants, including sewing lamp covers for a new book shop.

North Carolina has a far-reaching reputation for its farm fresh, home-cooked cuisine. So, it may surprise you that quite a few fast food restaurant chains have Tar Heel State roots. On today’s show, host Frank Stasio takes a look at the success stories of national franchises like Hardee’s, Bojangles’ and Krispy Kreme as well as regional chains including Cook-Out, Char-Grill and Snoopy’s. Joining the conversation are fast foodies Blair Chancey, editor of Quick Service Restaurant Magazine, and Andrew F. Smith, author of “The Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food.” Also joining the discussion are Burney Jennings, President/CEO of Biscuitville; Eric Newman, executive vice president of Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits; Kenny Moore, founder of Andy’s Burgers, Shakes and Fries; and Tom Barbitta, vice president of marketing for Cheerwine.

Hammer No More the Fingers

Apr 1, 2011
http://hnmtf.bandcamp.com/

They’ve known each other since elementary school, and have been playing in bands together for almost as long. But after their high school days, the three members of Hammer No More The Fingers scattered to locations across the globe. Since returning to Durham and reforming in 2007, they have impressed crowds around North Carolina and abroad with their freewheeling, energetic live shows. Blending 90’s alternative rock with a sometimes punk aesthetic, they write songs with raucous guitars and ear-worming hooks.

Margaret H. Turner fought vigilantly for civil rights in Durham, North Carolina in the 1960s by recruiting local students to join the March on Washington, mentoring NAACP youth, and enrolling her own children in a previously all-white school as a way to bring balance to an unequal education system. Turner passed away last week at the age of 93.

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