They may be dancing to disco on Kelly Call’s behalf Thursday night at Snug Harbor, the little music club off Central Avenue that Call co-owned.
One person has already gone by Lupie’s Cafe on Monroe Road to tape a flower under Call’s picture on the wall. More people have been coming by Tip Top Daily Market to share their grief. At the Visulite on Wednesday night, the show was dedicated to Call.
The sudden death Tuesday night of Kelly Call, 50, has shaken Charlotte’s music and food communities, from Plaza-Midwood to NoDa.
“Her fingerprints are everywhere,” Lupie Duran said Thursday. Call worked for Duran in the early years of Lupie’s in the 1980s – she was practically a big sister to Duran’s daughter Larkin, who now owns the cafe after her mother’s retirement.
Call died late Tuesday night. She hadn’t felt well after an event and asked to be driven home by her partner Chance Jones, then became unresponsive in the car, said Duran, who was at the hospital as friends crowded into the waiting room. She said she believes it was a stroke.
“She just didn’t wake up,” she says. “It was very sad.”
Call’s death was so unexpected that her community of friends and family are still trying to plan a memorial service. One thing is for sure: It will have to have food.
“One thing we’ve all said, ‘Oh my God, all of our social gatherings are going to be without food now,’ ” said Scott Weaver, a longtime friend and the organizer of the club’s weekly Shiprocked music party. “We may all starve without Kelly.”
Since her early years as a waitress at Lupie’s, Call has been involved with several small restaurants in town: A dedicated vegetarian, she had owned Kelly’s Cafe in NoDa with the late John Kelly, who had been a manager at Lupie’s, as well as Creation, in the building that now houses Whiskey Warehouse. She co-owned Tip Top Daily Market and Snug Harbor with Scott McConnell and was one of the original owners of Stash Pad, a vintage store.
For the Plaza-Midwood Food Swap, an occasional summer event, she not only allowed the group to use the small courtyard in front of Snug Harbor as a base, she’d bring things from her own garden and kitchen to share as well.
“Kelly was a food person,” Weaver said. “She was never one to not contribute a lot of food to our social occasions. A wedding, a birthday party, a Christmas party: She would show up with all this food even if you didn’t know she was coming.”
She also was a supporter of Doctors Without Borders, traveling to Guatemala every year to volunteer.
In Charlotte, Call left her mark on small, locally owned businesses in another way: She gave personal loans to a lot of people to start things she believed in.
Weaver called her “a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool liberal.”
“She really tapped into people she thought were creative and that she thought would work hard. She would take these chances and partner to make people’s dreams a reality.”
On Thursday, Weaver was still deciding whether Thursday night’s weekly Shiprocked would go on. But if it does, it will certainly feature disco, Call’s favorite music.
“She wasn’t that much older than us, but she was the mama,” Weaver said. “She was Mama Kelly.”