If you closed your eyes it could have been 2000, at Wild Magnolia’s on the Corner, with Allison King piercing the limits of the normal human vocal range and Bill Jordan doing that sure-fingered Walter Becker thing he always does when his wife is singing. There was the clink of glasses and the soft roar of a game on the TV, and raucous cheers from full tables around the room. And if you listened close you could hear the Sound Guy giving voice to a complicated romantic lament.
But when you open your eyes, you’re in Karonda’s on the northeast edge of Greensboro, staring at a plate of nachos, and somehow 20 years have gone by and we’re all squinting at menus and shouting in each other’s ears like a bunch of… old people.
Which, of course, we are. And an awful lot has happened between then and now.
My own history with Allison King goes back only so far — to the last years of ESP magazine around 2001, where as my editor she generously accepted my padded-out, 3,500-word features designed to maximize my 5-cents-a-word rate. And I was there when she filled rooms like the Rhino Club, the Clubhouse and Wild Mags, by then a standard on the scene.
My wife was here when Allison King made her mark on Greensboro in the 1980s, with a wild set of curls, sass for days and a voice like an elegant weapon. Like everyone else here, she remembers.
With her wild curls mowed down to a more manageable look and her signature glasses now a more sensible style, Allison resembles a teacher a lot more now than she used to — she is, in fact, a teacher for Guilford County schools these days.
It’s a fundraiser — nothing new in the Greensboro music scene, then or now — but this time it’s Allison herself who needs the help. Breast cancer. Bad insurance. It’s enough to bring her out on a Sunday to rock the room one more time, in front of the old gang.
And sure, it’s daylight on a Sunday instead of midnight at the bar, and yeah, a lot more people are sitting than dancing in the aisles. And maybe, just maybe, some of us are hoping to get home in time for “60 Minutes.”
And then we close our eyes again, and the decades melt away.
You can donate towards Allison King’s medical expenses through the Go Fund Me page.