I stood amongst a crowd full of people who I have known and adored for many years. Locking arms with a dear friend, I time traveled, recognizing the reality that I was experiencing something that has helped shape me into the fierce, yet empathetic woman I am today – but for the very last time in this context. At 22, I had stood in the same spot, surrounded by the same people, who I have grown to call my Milestone Family, screaming the same lyrics. As Andy the Doorbum time traveled through his discography, I skirted across the timeline of my self actualization. Tears poured from my eyes as I came to truly recognize that my life would not be what it is if it weren’t for him, and that from that moment on our music community would be forever changed. Andy the Doorbum played his last show as a resident of Charlotte and with that, he conjured a ghost – the ocean of memories he created for us all.
I was introduced to Andy the Doorbum by my good friend and Shutter 16 photographer, Dana Haidar, back when I was in my senior year of college. After a cocktail comprised of every vodka on the shelf with a dash of Red Bull, we drove around Charlotte listening to the rough recordings I now know as The Doorbooth Album. I can’t tell you the first time I saw Andy perform; I know it was at the old bookstore in Salisbury, but I can tell you that from that very moment, I began feeling something that evolved into a passion I fell subservient to shortly after.
I am not, nor will I ever be ashamed to say that Andy the Doorbum is the reason why I started writing about Charlotte music. Lost from graduating into the despair we call the recession, I was hungry for something to give my life meaning and through my introduction to Andy, I began attending shows more often than not. This was about the time Art is Shit came out.
Eventually I was at the Milestone every single night, experiencing the surge of creativity resulting from all of us sparsely employed twenty-somethings with no career in site. It felt akin to what I imagine the Harlem Renaissance felt like. It was just another day of struggling for everyone, but that day was filled with a monumental passion that was the sole focus of our lives. Andy the Doorbum was at the center of it all: a face we all know and love – a voice to scream along to, cathartically holding eachother.
I was taught in school that the role of a writer is to tell the truth about the time – to be sure that it is documented in history so it doesn’t fade away. The words of my professor rang in my head, “You’re a writer and writers have to write.” So I did. I needed to document this miraculous era of inspiration. I needed it to go down in the records of time. I needed to write about Andy the Doorbum and everything Milestone.
While it may sound obsessive, if you’ve been to any Andy the Doorbum show, you understand his powerful presence. Andy is an active muse in the purest form. He inspires people to live to their full creative potential without even trying. If there was anyone I know that could start a revolution, it would be him and in many ways, he has.
I’ll never forget my first paid article – an interview in Creative Loafing with Andy about his experiences as the Milestone Doorbum and how it correlated with his music. Andy was gracious and supportive throughout the entire interview process, inspiring me with the confidence to share my writing with the world. From then on out, no matter how many shows I reviewed, my career followed Andy’s. I did my best to document every poignant moment, trying so hard to put into words how he could touch our souls by, in his words one night, “Gettin’ drunk and hollerin’ at people.”
I traveled to Philadelphia to meet him and the Emotron. A year later, I met him in Worcester, Massachusetts to travel to New York and Philadelphia with him, Buck Boswell and Ricky Culp.
I slept next to him in “gerbil pile” sleeping arrangements. I went on mind-expanding adventures in portals at Philly house shows. Every moment was meaningful to me and I could not be more grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the era in which The Man Killed the Bird… His evolution into the massive artistic presence he has become as Alien/Native Movement was, in my eyes, a chrysalis opening to let life to a breathtaking, thought-provoking creature. The Art War was a demonstration of this creature coming to its full potential.
If it weren’t for Andy, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I’m only one of many lives Andy has touched, in Charlotte and elsewhere. So as I ramble and digress, I will stop myself before I begin to write a book on how much I love Andy “the Doorbum” Fenstermaker. I will leave you with these two scenarios in which Andy adjusted my paradigm without even knowing.
– When Dianna and I started Shutter 16 Magazine, I spoke with Andy about the vulnerability and my hesitations about putting myself out there. He simply replied, “When you smack the pool, you create ripples. The more you smack it, the bigger the ripples.”
– I hit a rough patch a few years ago. Andy checked on me to see if I was okay while he was sweeping the Milestone floor of cigarette butts as everyone cleared the building. “I just want to run away from this town but I love it so much, I feel obligated to stay” I said. Again, a simple reply from Andy, followed by a hug, “But aren’t we really just running in place?”
Andy, I could not be happier for you and wish you only every bit of goodness this world has to offer you, as you deserve every morsel. But I’ll miss you and so will Charlotte. You are our prophet of art and we will never be the same without you. One of these days, I’ll stop running in place too.
Rest in Peace, Charlotte era of Andy the Doorbum.
Gallery from the farewell show: