Carrboro Commons

Ridin’ the J Bus: J.R. and his saxophone

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Features,J Bus,Music,Uncategorized by jock

Michael Bloom
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Back during the Jazz Age in New York City, you took the A Train to get to Harlem. But to get most everywhere in Carrboro, you take the J Bus. In the spirit of Charles Kuralt’s dictum that everyone has a story, Commons reporter Michael Bloom jumped on the J Bus and selected a rider to interview at random.

Jesse “J.R.” Rainey would love to go back to the summer when he was 12 years old.

It was the first time he was introduced to the saxophone, while sitting in church.

Jesse "J.R." Rainey has been playing saxophone for eight years. He's also a jazz enthusiast. He plays a sonata-style Lagara sax (Staff photo by Michael Bloom).

“I told myself then and there that this is what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.

Now 19, the Chapel Hill resident is an eight-year veteran of the instrument and considers himself a student of jazz — his favorite musical genre.

He brings his saxophone almost everywhere he goes, especially on the J Bus, traveling to and from University Commons, where he lives. Currently unemployed, Rainey frequently plays on Franklin Street in front of the Varsity Theater with other aspiring musicians.

“Saxophone was all I was ever really good at,” he said. “It allows me to escape. I see myself playing it my whole life. And I want to make it big.”

Rainey said he has grown a lot as a player since he picked up his first sax in 2003. He has seen his craft transform from being an amateur to a respected musician.

“When I started I was just awful,” he said. “I didn’t know which end to play out of. I stepped to the sax because in school I wasn’t really too popular, so I didn’t have a lot going for me. That’s when I said I really want to be serious about saxophone.”

Rainey was a member of the Southeast Falcon Marching Band in high school at Southeast Guilford High in Greensboro as a saxophonist. He plays a sonata-style Lagara saxophone and said his dream would be to play a Selmer Super Action 80 saxophone, which costs around $3,000.

He has played at Zydeco Downtown Restaurant and Jazz Lounge in Raleigh, along with various church bands and nightclubs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. He started performing at 14 and said he’s moved past his nerves and has dreams of playing in front of a large audience.

“I would love to have a sellout concert at He’s Not Here on Franklin Street,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be nervous. I would be more ready than I’ve ever been.”

Rainey’s favorite living jazz musician is James Carter, saying he admires his old-time, traditional style. He also likes New York rappers Jay-Z and Max B, trying to incorporate hip-hop into his repertoire.

But his all-time favorite musician is John Coltrane.

“He started jazz,” Rainey said. “He was one of the first cats doing his thing, and I really respect him for that.”

Rainey was born in Greensboro, but lived in Brooklyn for seven years. He’s since moved to Chapel Hill and  lives with his grandparents.

He said he loves the peacefulness of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. He loves how music savvy Carrboro is, saying it helped him get acclimated to a new community.

He said he looks for jobs on Franklin Street frequently, but hasn’t gotten lucky yet. He wants to save up to go to UNC-Chapel Hill, but said being a “big-time” musician overseas is his ultimate goal.

Until his next move, it’s Franklin Street’s stage where he will showcase his craft.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for this,” Rainey said. “Growing up I didn’t really have much of a social life, so playing saxophone took up most of my time.

“But I think it’s paying off.”

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Ridin’ the J Bus: 14-year-old Treshawn has big plans

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 in Carrboro children,Features,J Bus,Lifestyles by jock

By Allison Russell

Carrboro Commons Co-Editor

Back during the Jazz Age in New York City, you took the A Train to get to Harlem. But to get most everywhere in Carrboro, you take the J Bus. In the spirit of Charles Kuralt’s dictum that everyone has a story, Commons reporter Allison Russell jumped on the J Bus and selected a rider to interview at random.

Although they may not know it, the people who ride the J Bus are in good hands when 14-year-old Treshawn Hackney steps onto it.

“I could probably fix the bus if it broke down,” says Treshawn, who is interested in a career in mechanical engineering.

Treshawn Hackney, 14, rides the J Bus home from middle school everyday. He aspires to be a mechanical engineer and loves playing football. “I come up with ideas that are brilliant,” Treshawn says.

An eighth-grader at McDougle Middle School, Treshawn rides the J Bus home from school.

“My parents trust me.…They know I won’t get into any stupid stuff while I’m on the bus,” he says.

Treshawn is the youngest of four children, and he is the only child to still live at home with his parents, Darlene and Mike.

“Sometimes, yes, I like being the only child [to live at home], but sometimes, no, I don’t,” says Treshawn pensively.

The 14-year-old spends his time at home doing homework and playing football or paintball with his friends.

“I love sports, and I would definitely consider myself athletic,” says Treshawn, who wears the number 52 jersey as a tight end on his middle school’s football team.

His favorite professional athletes include LeBron James and Michael Vick, whom Treshawn believes should be forgiven for his past of dogfighting.

“It’s very sad,” Treshawn says of the dogs that were hurt, “but everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance.”

In addition to being an avid athlete, Treshawn enjoys working with his hands to create projects such as model cars and airplanes.

He first became interested in hands-on projects after his brother taught him how to fix a car.

“My brother is a mechanic, and he helps fix my parents’ car when it breaks down,” Treshawn says. “He taught me how to fix a car when I was 7 years old.”

In class, Treshawn thrives on coming up with quick ideas to enhance project designs. He says he first noticed his ability to creatively improvise after he learned how to repair a car’s engine.

“I come up with ideas that are brilliant,” he says, with self-assurance that suggests he is twice his age.

Treshawn, who can solve a Rubik’s Cube, says his favorite subjects in school are math and science, and he especially enjoys studying chemistry.

“Right now [in math class] we’re doing geometry….In the end, with the equations, they always tie into each other. You can see patterns within them.”

Although Treshawn likes living in Carrboro, he says if he could go anywhere in the world he would go to Los Angeles.

“There are lots of famous people there, and I’d like to see how their life is like, what they’re doing when they’re not working.”

His favorite movie genre is horror, and Treshawn says he would like to meet Isabelle Fuhrman, child star of the movie Orphan.

“Some of my friends met her and they say she’s really cool,” he says.

If Treshawn follows through with his desire to meet the celebrities of Los Angeles, he says he won’t want to come back to live in Carrboro.

“I don’t want to stay here forever,” he says with a quick glance out of the bus’s foggy window. “I want to explore other places.”

Ridin’ the J Bus: Professor searches for discoveries

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in Features,J Bus,Lifestyles by jock

By Louie Horvath
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Back during the Jazz Age in New York City, you took the A Train to get to Harlem. But to get most everywhere in Carrboro, you take the J Bus. In the spirit of Charles Kuralt’s dictum that everyone has a story, Commons reporter Louie Horvath jumped on the J Bus and selected a rider to interview at random.

Emily Buss enjoys taking the J Bus around Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and she says she wants to “stay here forever.” Staff photo by Louie Horvath

As a newly minted graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s doctoral program, Emily Buss thought she would be participating in a brief two-year fellowship at UNC – Chapel Hill. Twelve years later, she is still here.

Now an associate professor at the UNC department of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, Buss said she views Carrboro and Chapel Hill as the same place she originally fell in love with — including its transit system.

Part of the appeal was the transit system, Buss said.

“I like being able to take the bus,” Buss said. “I don’t like having to drive every day. It seems like a waste of time, gas and money. I like living in a town where you can get from one side of the town to the other in a reasonable amount of time.”

“You can get your hands around a town this size,” Buss said.

She has done just that, meanwhile giving the entire Chapel Hill-Carrboro area a warm embrace.

“Hopefully, I can stay here forever,” Buss said.

An avid gardener, she pointed out that the Carrboro climate is more conducive to a garden than both the Philadelphia area where she went to college and her Richardson, Texas, childhood home.

Buss said that during the summer she can create her own salad made out of only garden-grown food with lettuce, carrots and tomatoes.

“You can’t grow that in Philadelphia,” Buss said.

Even though she does not interact much with students as an associate professor at UNC-CH, she seems more than happy to spend most days in the lab searching for new discoveries in the ear, nose and throat field.

“I spend most of my time in the lab,” Buss said. “I’ll give occasional lectures, but most of the time when I work with students, they are coming to do projects in our lab.”

She said on that day, she spent most of her time trying to figure out how Cochlear implants are able to give deaf people the ability to hear, even though the implants are sending only rudimentary signals to the brain.

“It has been around for a while, but there is very little that is understood about how they work,” Buss said. “Some of the studies that I’m looking at have to do with which conditions they work best under.”

People associated with the university comprise the majority of riders on the J Bus since teachers, students and workers alike all take the J Bus to get back and forth to campus.

It is a distinction that Buss seems to relish and her excitement about going into the office every day is evident in the way she talks about her job.

“Every day it’s something different,” Buss said. “The bread and butter of research is what you don’t know the answer to. It’s always a challenge, and I like discovering new things.”

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Ridin’ the J Bus: Meet the walking man

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 in Features,J Bus,Lifestyles by jock

By Alex Linder
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Back during the Jazz Age in New York City, you took the A Train to get to Harlem. But to get most everywhere in Carrboro, you take the J Bus. In the spirit of Charles Kuralt’s dictum that everyone has a story, Commons reporter Alex Linder jumped on the J Bus and selected a rider to interview at random.

Mark Quattlebaum’s truck broke down for the last time on the side of N.C. 54 in 1993. The mechanic was not optimistic about its future, so Quattlebaum had it scrapped. He has not needed a replacement since.

Mark Quattlebaum, 51, likes to ride the J Bus up to Carrboro to buy groceries at the Weaver Street Market. He returns loaded up with even more bags. Staff photo by Alex Linder

Instead he gets around town in the oldest fashion way – by walking. Quattlebaum, 51, may not be famous in town, but his figure striding up the road with a couple of bags slung across his shoulders certainly has become a familiar sight in the community.

“I’ve built up a reputation,” he said. “People will see me on the side of the road coming into town and sometimes they’ll pick me up and give me a ride, but it’s okay if they don’t.”

Jeff Griggs, 54, of Pittsboro, remembered seeing Quattlebaum plenty of times before deciding to stop and see if he wanted a ride. “He kind of reminded me of Forrest Gump,” he said. “Just more localized.”

If Quattlebaum had an eHarmony account it would begin with, “Enjoys long walks… anywhere.” He estimates that he walks nine miles a day. On a good day his total can easily go up to 12 or 15 miles. “I’ve done it for so long, I don’t even mind it anymore,” he said.