Afternoon Tea with the Green People at the O. Henry
Jeremy Hunter gingerly balances a cup of tea in his palm and slouches in the suede couch in the lobby of the O. Henry Hotel on a recent Sunday afternoon. With dirty blond locks falling to his shoulders he’s dressed nattily in a suit jacket and a red, white and blue neckerchief over his bare chest and made up with thick purple eyeliner accented by streaks of gold.
He peers across the low table stocked with three kinds of teas and two stands of light snacks ‘— dark chocolate truffles, cucumber sandwiches, scones with raspberry jam and butter and the like. His doe eyes dart mischievously as he appraises his fellow band members in the Green People and two other guests. He holds forth in a fake English accent suitable to his frayed but gentlemanly sensibilities.
‘“When we do go on tour we’re gonna have to put this on our rider ‘— afternoon tea,’” he says. ‘“They don’t just do this kind of thing automatically, you know.’”
Hannah Bennett, a courtly pianist and friend of the band, giggles at the thought.
Hunter, who also goes by the name Dragonfly In a Coconut Tree, was only moments ago discussing the band’s most recent jaunt across North Carolina, on what the singer has called ‘“a burrito circuit’”: the Juggling Gypsy, a hookah bar in Wilmington and a burrito joint in Boone called the Black Cat. He has expressed a hope that by playing with two well-regarded bands, the Valentines and Thunderlip, Green People can ‘“move up the food chain in Wilmington.’”
The Green People play a style of glam rock that comes across as both reckless and aristocratic, with a healthy dash of utopian good feeling. In live performance, the raspy-voiced Hunter preens with unabashed delight. Josh Wright, AKA Joshy Roxy, plays the impenetrable and somewhat troubled guitarist. His approach explodes with untamed wah-wah, fuzztone and the occasional virtuoso lead. Daryl Keeter, or DK, dispatches bass notes with mathematical precision and his playing occasionally wanders into funk territory. Steve Price, AKA Dirty Kincaid, thrashes his drum set in the best tradition of ’70s stadium rock.
The band is in a celebratory mood today. Their second anniversary is coming up on Dec. 3, and they intend to celebrate by playing a show at Solaris with out-of-town guests Thunderlip from Wilmington and Starlyn Garvy from Sophia. Today, they’re taking advantage of the elegant accommodations at the O. Henry to have Bennett shoot some publicity photos.
Price, who at 42 has about twice as many years under his belt as the rest of the band, points out that the common thread among the Green People is that they all have some kind of artistic training. At the moment Joshy, a silent enigma hidden behind sunglasses, is sketching in the band’s shared notebook.
‘“For instance, I have an associate degree in commercial arts, but of course I’m driving a truck for Greensboro Plumbing Supply,’” Dirty says. Likewise, DK is working on a bachelor of arts in computer science at UNCG and Dragonfly is working on a sound engineering degree at GTCC’s Larry Gatlin School of Entertainment.
The mention of Gatlin’s name prompts Dirty to recall that he once played a version of a song that begins with the line, ‘“Older women make beautiful lovers,’” ‘— also covered by the Gatlin Brothers, he believes ‘— when he was in the Rumour Band.
Other than Dirty’s tenure with the Rumour Band and Dragonfly’s admission that he honed his talents in the coffeehouse scene of Fayetteville, where his father works as a building inspector and his mother is a health worker, the origins of the Green People remain rather vague.
‘“The band has always been around ever since the first person dreamed of music,’” Dragonfly says. ‘“We’re from the dream world. About forty years ago the band came into some turmoil. Our fair Dirty Kincaid fell in love with this young dreamer. He decided to follow her into this world. I don’t know why you had to do that, Dirty. We had it pretty good in the dream world without having to hold down day jobs and such.’”
‘“I did it for love,’” Dirty replies.
Dragonfly continues: ‘“We had to keep the band together, so we followed our drummer. We stumbled on Dirty in an alley in Greensboro beating on some trashcans. We were born twenty years after Dirty. He’s always worried that people will think we’re his sons.’”
Throughout Dragonfly’s tales, Dirty tends to nod his head and smile, and sometimes interject a wry crack.
‘“The glam solidified when Steve and I were discussing how Brooks & Dunn should do a cover of David Bowie’s ‘All the Young Dudes,”” Dragonfly says. ‘“These country dudes are inherently gay.’”
Dirty adds: ‘“The rumor is that Kenny Chesney is pitching for the same team.’”
The discussion of the homoerotic qualities of country music is interrupted when Heather, the host, returns with a steaming pot of organic passion plum tea. Dragonfly invites her to attend the show at Solaris. She demurs that she’ll be in class all day and will have a chemistry lab until 10 p.m.
‘“Perfect!’” the singer exclaims.
Later the conversation comes back around to the second anniversary show and Dragonfly turns to the drummer.
‘“So Dirty, have you decided if December third will be your coming-out party?’” he asks.
‘“I don’t know, what about you?’” he parries. ‘“We already know about you.’”
Dragonfly shrugs and smiles.
‘“Keep ’em guessing.’”
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