Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Black Keys add Charlotte to their U.S. tour

The Black Keys will perform at Charlotte's Bojangles' Coliseum on Saturday, March 24, as part of the first leg of a U.S. tour that also includes stops at New York’s Madison Square Garden and Chicago’s United Center.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at LiveNation.com, the Bojangles’ Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000. Arctic Monkeys are scheduled to open.

The shows are in support of the Black Keys’ new album, "El Camino," which came out today. Five tracks from the CD are currently streaming on the band’s website.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jackie Evancho to perform at TWC Arena

"America’s Got Talent" alum Jackie Evancho will perform at Time Warner Cable Arena on June 6, with accompaniment from a symphony orchestra in an intimate, theater-style set-up.

The 11-year-old "classical crossover" singer was recently named to Billboard's "21 Under 21" list, its annual ranking of the most powerful minors in the music industry. Billboard said her spectacular successes in 2010 and 2011 – including placing second in the "America's Got Talent" competition, the releases of "O Holy Night" and "Dream With Me," and her "Dream With Me" concert appearances – set her apart from other young performers.

Tickets for the 2012 show go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12, through Ticketmaster.com, timewarnercablearena.com, the arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Friday, December 2, 2011

South End Gallery Crawl is tonight

The final South End Gallery Crawl of 2011, set for tonight, will feature unique paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, as well as music and refreshments at more than a host dozen galleries. And -- it being December -- you can expect a hefty helping of holiday cheer.

Event runs from 6-9 tonight. Here are a few highlights:

The artists, designers and galleries of Dilworth Artisan Station will host a Holiday Open House, with three floors of interior design studios, art galleries, artist studios and showrooms on display. More than two dozen studios will participate.

Atherton Mill will offer a one-night-only Holiday Market inside the Atherton Market; a special Champagne tasting at Vin Master; an art and interior design collaboration at Elder Art Gallery featuring the Carl Plansky collection; the newly opened Savory Spice Shop; and food and drink from Icehouse and Big Ben's British Pub.

Along Camden Road, you'll find:

Also, two Christmas tree lots will be set up in South End. One is in the back of Atherton Mill next to the Market; the second is on a corner lot at Park Avenue and Camden Road.

More information: www.southendclt.com.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers to play Charlotte

Red Hot Chili Peppers will launch the North American leg of their "I’m With You World Tour" in January when they play Time Warner Cable Arena on Jan. 25. Santigold is scheduled to open the show.

The alternative rock band -- whose hits have ranged from 1991's "Under the Bridge" to 2006's "Dani California" -- last performed in Charlotte in January of 2007. Before that, the Chili Peppers hadn't made our city a tour stop since 2003.

"I'm With You" (released in August) is the 10th studio album for the group, which has won seven Grammy Awards over the course of almost three decades.

Tickets for the 2012 concert go on sale at 10 a.m. this Saturday through timewarnercablearena.com, ticketmaster.com, the Time Warner Cable Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 800-745-3000. For more information, go to www.livenation.com.

From Charlotte, the Chili Peppers will continue through the Carolinas for shows at the RBC Center in Raleigh on Jan. 27; at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia on Jan. 28; and at Greensboro Coliseum on Jan. 31.

Leonard Bearstein Returns to Founders Hall

One of Charlotte’s favorite traditions -- Leonard Bearstein and his animatronic orchestra -- is returning to Founders Hall in Bank of America Corporate Center (100 N. Tryon St.) throughout the month of December.

The 45-minute program features holiday favorites performed by Leonard Bearstein and his orchestra, including: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Up on the Housetop,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Santa Baby,” “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late),” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra will perform daily Dec. 1-31. Performance times are: 10 and 11 a.m., noon, and 1, 2, 5 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and hourly from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Performances are free and times are subject to change. For the latest information on performances, visit www.foundershall.com or call 704-716-8649.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Craft beer lovers, unite! In NoDa, in Feb.

The inaugural Queen City Brewers Festival will be held at the Neighborhood Theatre (511 E. 36th St.), on Saturday, Feb. 4. The event will feature a diverse selection of beer styles and flavors to taste and learn about from representatives of Charlotte-area craft breweries.

“Charlotte’s craft beer market has exploded in recent years,” Nils Weldy, the festival organizer, said in a press release. “Charlotte is raising the bar of beer culture not only in North Carolina, but across the Southeast, and the purpose of this event is to spotlight our emerging craft breweries. At the same time, we are bringing awareness to a Charlotte-based nonprofit whose goal is to improve the quality of life for citizens within the Charlotte community.”

Expect at least seven breweries and some 30 beers. Each brewery will showcase its full lineup, and is also being encouraged to bring one "super" flavor or style of beer brewed especially for the festival -- which takes place the day before the Super Bowl.

There will be two tasting sessions: 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Admission is $20 per session and tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8. Proceeds raised from the event will benefit Partners for Parks, which seeks to promote and enhance parks, recreation and open space in neighborhoods throughout Mecklenburg County and the surrounding area.

Details: www.QCBrewFest.com.

Monday, November 14, 2011

See new trailer for 'The Hunger Games'

The full trailer for the upcoming film "The Hunger Games" -- much of which was shot in North Carolina over the summer -- debuted today on ABC's "Good Morning America" and is now spreading like wildfire online.

Principal photography in North Carolina was completed in September; the 84-day shoot started on May 23 and included locations in Asheville, Barnardsville, Black Mountain, Cedar Mountain, Charlotte, Concord, Hildebran and Shelby.

The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley and Toby Jones. Lionsgate will release the first movie in the trilogy of adaptations from Suzanne Collins' novels on March 23, 2012.

Here's your first look:

In a press release, Lionsgate stated: "In an attempt to preserve the anticipation and mystery that fans are relishing, the trailer only shows footage from the first half of the film, chronicling events leading up to but not including the Games themselves. After giving fans their first look at all of the book's beloved characters brought to life, giving viewers who haven’t read the book vital information about the world of Panem, the trailer ends with an electrifying cliffhanger right as Katniss enters the arena."

So ... what do you think of the new trailer for "The Hunger Games"?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Waters to bring 'The Wall' to Charlotte

Roger Waters, the co-founder and principal songwriter of Pink Floyd, has announced the return of the production of “The Wall” to North America in 2012.

Third-to-last stop on the 36-show tour? Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, on July 10.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at LiveNation.com, the arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (including select Wal-Mart stores), or by phone at 800-745-3000.

The reimagined live version of “The Wall” -- which features a full band and state-of-the-art production -- has played more than 120 shows around the world for more than 1.6 million fans, making it one of the most successful tours of 2010 and 2011.

“Thirty years ago when I wrote ‘The Wall,’ I was a frightened young man,” Waters said in a press release. “In the intervening years it occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss with its concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns: Nationalism, racism, sexism, religion, whatever! All these issues and 'isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.”

The 1980 original production of the “The Wall” was performed live and in its entirety just 29 times during Pink Floyd’s 1980 tour in support of the album (and once in Berlin in celebration of the fall of the Berlin wall). The new, much-showier version debuted in Toronto in 2010.

In addition to Roger Waters (lead vocals, bass), “The Wall” live touring ensemble includes: Snowy White (guitar), Dave Kilminster (guitar), GE Smith (guitar and bass), Jon Carin (keyboards), Harry Waters (Hammond organ), Graham Broad (drums), and Robbie Wyckoff (vocals), with backing vocals by Jon Joyce, Pat Lennon, Mark Lennon and Kipp Lennon.

Prior to the Charlotte show on July 10, Roger Waters' "The Wall Live Tour" will stop at the RBC Center in Raleigh, on July 9.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lady Cats to unveil new swimsuit calendar

The lockout has put the freeze on the Charlotte Bobcats, but their cheerleaders? Still hot.

The Lady Cats -- two-time defending NBA.com Dance Team Contest Champions -- will unveil the 2011-12 Lady Cats Swimsuit Calendar during two free events at the uptown EpiCentre entertainment complex on Thursday night.

First, from 5:30-7 p.m., the women will be toasted at a cocktail reception at Mez, then from 8:30-11 p.m., they'll be the star attractions at a "runway-style" swimsuit fashion show at Whisky River, which also will screen a documentary about the making of the calendar produced by Fox Sports Carolinas.

The 14-month calendar, which spans November 2011-December 2012, will be available for sale at both Mez and Whisky River on Thursday for $15.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jeff Foxworthy's Charlotte show canceled

Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry The Cable Guy have canceled their comedy show that was scheduled for Friday, Nov. 11, at Time Warner Cable Arena. No explanation was provided.

Ticketholders: Refunds are available from the place you bought your ticket.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dan Aykroyd coming to Fort Mill, Charlotte

The actor and comedian who once chased spirits on-screen in "Ghostbusters" is now distilling them.

And this week, he's promoting them in the Carolinas. Dan Aykroyd will visit the Frugal MacDoogal in Fort Mill, S.C., on Thursday and a Mecklenburg County ABC Store in Charlotte on Friday. The former "Saturday Night Live" star will greet fans and autograph bottles of his vodka -- Crystal Head Vodka.

This isn't entirely new territory for Aykroyd; he's been involved with producing and distributing wine and spirits for more than seven years. He recently created Crystal Head Vodka "as a result of his fascination with the supernatural."

The super-premium vodka is made "with water from a deep aquifer in Newfoundland, Canada, blended with selected grains for a creamy and slightly sweet finish, and triple crystal filtered through Herkimer diamonds, which, according to New Age belief systems, embody positive energy and goodwill." It comes in a skull-shaped bottle that "celebrates the mystical legend of the 13 Crystal Heads possessed by tribal cultures such as the Aztec, the Mayan and the Navajo and recalls the celebration of the Mexican 'Day of The Dead' tradition."

Aykroyd will be at Frugal MacDoogal (3630 Festival Drive) from 1-3 p.m. Thursday. The Charlotte appearance, on Friday, is taking place from 1-3:30 p.m. at ABC Store # 4 (125 Cherry St.).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Want to see 'Paranormal Activity' 2 days early?

The new horror movie lands in theaters on Friday, Oct. 21, but lucky readers of CharlotteObserver.com can snag a free pass (good for themselves plus a guest) to the advance screening in Charlotte at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. Act fast, though -- only 20 passes are available. Head to www.gofobo.com/rsvp and enter RSVP code GFB2F5F. If it accepts it, you'll be able to download and print the complimentary movie passes using your computer. (Seating is not guaranteed and available only on a first-come, first-served basis. Details about the location of the theater will be provided if you win.) Good luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Comedy Central star coming to Charlotte

It's not showing up on the Ovens Auditorium website just yet, but Live Nation issued a bare-bones press release late Monday announcing news that will be sweet music to Comedy Central fans:

Daniel Tosh, host of the cable channel's popular video clip show "Tosh.0," will perform stand-up at the Independence Boulevard venue on Saturday, Nov. 26. Tickets are set to go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday.

"Tosh.0" is currently in its third season; the series premiered on June 4, 2009, and is the most-watched and highest-rated series on the network. It features razor-sharp humor and biting commentary from Tosh, and delves into all aspects of the Internet -- from the absolutely absurd to the incredibly ingenious.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Get a deep discount on 'Weird Al' tickets

"Weird Al" Yankovic, the singing comedian behind parodies like "Eat It" and "White & Nerdy," will bring his "Alpocalypse Tour" to Charlotte's Ovens Auditorium on Saturday night.

If you were on the fence about whether or not you wanted to spend the cash, consider this: Ovens announced this afternoon a "buy-one-get-one" offer for customers purchasing through Ticketmaster. Just use the offer code "WEIRD" when selecting the "2 for 1 Tickets" deal and pit, orchestra and mezzanine tickets are just $34.35 each, while balcony seats can be had for as little as $28.20 apiece.

Click here to shop.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scotty McCreery to perform at World Series

Scotty McCreery will perform the National Anthem prior to Game One of the 2011 World Series on Fox. The World Series begins on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

“This is absolutely incredible for me,” McCreery said in a statement. “I have had two loves in life -- music and baseball. The World Series is the biggest event in baseball, so to be there and be able to sing the National Anthem is like putting my two greatest loves together. I am looking forward to seeing which two teams will be playing."

McCreery, who won Season 10 of “American Idol” in May, became the youngest male winner and only country male winner in the show’s history with a record-breaking 122.4 million votes cast for the finale. McCreery will release his debut album, “Clear As Day,” on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carowinds plans tall -- very tall -- new ride

If you're afraid of heights, you'll probably want to stay far, far away from WindSeeker -- the 30-story "swing ride" announced today and set to open at Carowinds amusement park next spring.

WindSeeker will boast a 301-foot tower, making it 69 feet taller than Intimidator, the big red coaster that cuts an imposing figure on the park's skyline.

The three-minute thrill ride is designed to give riders "the sensation of flying," and is described in Carowinds press materials: "The ride's carriage, featuring 32 two-passenger swings, slowly rotates while climbing to the top of a 301-foot tower. Riders will experience a sense of weightlessness as the swings reach speeds of up to 30 mph, and the arms extend outward at a 45-degree angle."

"The sense of soaring 30 stories in the air will be both exhilarating and breathtaking at the same time," said Bart Kinzel, Carowinds' vice president and general manager. "This new addition will give guests an unparalleled view, making it a must-ride attraction for both families and thrill-seekers alike. The immense scale of this ride alone will be truly stunning."

WindSeeker will be located near the entrance of Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular. Construction will begin this fall, and is expected to continue through the winter. The $6.5 million ride will have a 52-inch minimum height requirement and is being designed and manufactured by Mondial, a Dutch-based amusement-ride company.

This will be the third new major thrill ride to be built at Carowinds since 2009. Carolina Cobra was added that year at a cost of $4 million; Intimidator, with a price tag of $23 million, opened in 2010.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fantasia is pregnant with second child

CNN.com is reporting that singer Fantasia Barrino has finally confirmed rumors that she is expecting a child. The news was revealed during a concert Sunday.

"God has given me this child and I don't have to hide it from none of y'all," CNN quoted Barrino as saying to fans at the outdoor show in Jacksonville, Fla.

According to the story, the 2004 "American Idol" winner did not give a due date or identify the father. Her manager did not immediately respond to CNN requests for information.

Fantasia's career has been both a fairy tale and a cautionary tale. She grew up in poverty in High Point, was raped as a teenager and dropped out of high school having never learned to read. Then -- on the strength of powerhouse vocals but also her hard-luck story as a teenage mom -- she won "American Idol's" third season in 2004.

Her debut album was a success, and she landed a starring role on Broadway in "The Color Purple." But Fantasia had financial troubles practically from the get-go -- credit delinquency involving a $240,000 Mercedes, liens on her first house, unpaid fees on back taxes on her second.

More than 3-1/2 years passed between her second and third albums. Then, weeks before the release of her long-awaited comeback album last summer, the story of her romantic involvement with a married Charlotte man came out. The 26-year-old singer landed in CMC-Pineville days later, on Aug. 9, 2010, due to an overdose of aspirin and sleeping pills.

For the full CNN.com story, click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Speedway to screen Avett Bros. show

The Avett Brothers have gotten pretty big over the past couple of years.

Their 2009 CD “I and Love and You” peaked at No. 16 on Billboard’s album charts, and earlier this year, they performed with Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan at the Grammy Awards.
Next month, they’ll get even bigger. Enormous, in fact.

On July 9, the Concord folk-rock band will perform a sold-out show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, and that show will be broadcast live via satellite to the band’s hometown on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s new 80-foot-high, 200-foot-wide high-definition video board (the world’s largest such screen).

“The speedway has been a hometown landmark for us our whole lives and we’re proud to have an opportunity for our music to echo through that historical infield,” said Seth Avett, who fronts the band with his brother Scott. Both men grew up on a farm in Concord. “For us, performing at Red Rocks and airing live in Concord is about the most ideal situation for being in two amazing places at once.”

The superspeedway will pump the audio through “concert-grade speakers to turn the infield area in front of the video board into a one-of-a-kind concert venue,” according to a press release issued Thursday.

Promoters reportedly are expecting as many as 10,000 fans to pay $10 for tickets (or $15 in July, or $20 at the gate).

Another thing promoters are expecting – maybe hoping for is more accurate (and this wasn’t in the press release): The event might help NASCAR lure some younger, cooler new fans.

Perhaps with this in mind, Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager Marcus Smith said, in describing the simulcast: “It’s going to be awesome!”

Tickets can purchased at the speedway ticket office or by calling 1-800-455-3267.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Britney coming to Charlotte in August

Britney Spears kicked off her “Femme Fatale” tour in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday night, and it must have gone pretty well: On Friday morning, she announced she will bring the tour to Time Warner Cable Arena this summer.

The 29-year-old pop princess has set Aug. 25 as the concert date; tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 25, through Ticketmaster.

It’s likely to be a provocative, hit-filled show: According to an MTV report, Spears “took to the stage (in Sacramento) on Thursday night in a collection of revealing outfits, including fishnet stockings and a sexy silver hotpants and bra ensemble, sporting a more fuller-figure than usual. She opened her 22-song set with hit, ‘Hold It Against Me,’ powering through some of her most famous tunes and ending with ‘Toxic’ and ‘Till The World Ends.’ ”

No opening acts were announced for the Charlotte show, although rapper Nicki Minaj opened Thursday night.

Although Spears brought her “Circus” tour to Greensboro Coliseum in September 2009, she hasn’t performed in Charlotte since the “Dream Within a Dream” tour came here (to the old Charlotte Coliseum) in 2002.

The press release issued by Live Nation and Time Warner Cable Arena notes that "Citi cardmembers will also have access to presale tickets through Citi's Private Pass Program. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com

Spears will play the RBC Center in Raleigh the night before coming to Charlotte (on Aug. 24).

More details: www.livenation.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bobcats to host draft party

The Charlotte Bobcats will host an NBA Draft Party at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Time Warner Cable Arena.

This free, public event will feature appearances by former NBA stars David Thompson, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd and Dell Curry, as well as live analysis of the draft by team broadcasters Steve Martin and Scott Lauer.

The draft will air on the arena’s main scoreboard beginning at 7 p.m. The Bobcats have the ninth, 19th and 39th overall selections in this year’s draft; the ninth pick will be made at approximately 8:20 p.m.

In addition to live draft coverage, attendees can test their basketball skills in the Bobcats draft combine on the practice court and meet the new 2011-12 Lady Cats dance team. Kids activities will include balloon artists, face painters and magicians, and concession stands will be open.

If you're in the market for Bobcats gear, team-worn items will be on sale at a table on the concourse, with all proceeds benefitting Cats Care programming next season, and the Team Store (on the Trade Street Plaza entrance of the arena) will be hosting a store-wide 25-percent-off sale.

For more on the Bobcats and on the draft-night event: www.bobcats.com.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lil Wayne to make lil stop in Charlotte

Rap fans, rejoice: Live Nation announced this morning that Lil Wayne will play Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Sunday, Aug. 7, with special guests Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, The Far East Movement and Lloyd to open.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 17, at LiveNation.com, the venue box office, Ticketmaster and via charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

From the press release: "Due to popular demand, iconic rapper and label owner, Lil Wayne, in the midst of a high charting radio single '6 Foot 7 Foot' and the pending release of his hotly anticipated 10th studio album 'Tha Carter IV,' will extend his 2011 North American tour, the 'I Am Still Music tour,' heading back out on to the road in July and touring through September."

The multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning recording artist has sold more than 10 million records; his last tour, which ran 2008-2009, featured 78 headline shows in nine months and grossed more than $40 million, making him hip-hop's most profitable touring artist.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Martin Lawrence to perform in Charlotte

Martin Lawrence will return to his stand-up roots with a comedy show at Time Warner Cable Arena Charlotte on Thursday, Aug. 18.

The 46-year-old funnyman -- who began his career doing stand-up on the Washington, D.C. circuit and parlayed his act into a 1983 appearance on “Star Search” -- has starred recently in the films "Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son," "College Road Trip," and "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins."

Tickets for Lawrence's show go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at LiveNation.com, the venue box office, Ticketmaster or via charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

'The Bachelor' wants YOU, single ladies

Charlotte native Emily Maynard won the heart of Brad Womack on ABC’s “The Bachelor” earlier this year. Now representatives of the hit reality show are coming to the Queen City to see if any other Southern belles have what it takes.

Casting producers from “The Bachelor” will be at the EpiCentre (210 E. Trade St.) on Thursday, June 16, searching for prospective bachelorettes to appear on the next season. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. and on-camera interviews will run through 10 p.m. at SUITE, adjacent to the rooftop Pavilion at the EpiCentre, which will be hosting its weekly Alive After Five party.

“The Bachelor” introduces one man to 25 women who are all vying for his affection. He spends time with each woman, sometimes as a group and sometimes one-on-one. Each episode culminates with a rose ceremony where the women who receive roses can stay; those who come up empty-handed are eliminated.

Additional information about “The Bachelor” is available at ABC.com. The current season of “The Bachelorette” airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on WSOC Channel 9.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

blink-182, My Chemical Romance on the way

The annual Honda Civic Tour is marking its 10th anniversary by bringing back blink-182 -- the inaugural artist from the first Honda Civic Tour in 2001 -- along with My Chemical Romance for a 40-plus date tour that will stop at Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Sept. 20.

Openers will include Manchester Orchestra, Rancid and Matt & Kim.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 11, at LiveNation.com, the venue box office, Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000. Members of the blink-182 and My Chemical Romance fan clubs will have access to pre-sale tickets on Monday, June 6; “like” the Honda Civic Tour Facebook profile to gain access to presale tickets on Wednesday, June 8 (as well as tour updates).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba! coming back to play two

Yo Gabba Gabba! -- which is to the current crop of preschoolers what "Sesame Street" was to many of us (i.e. red-hot) -- will return to Charlotte this fall.

On the heels of receiving two Daytime Emmy nominations and a Season 4 pickup from Nickelodeon, the TV stars announced a tour this week that will include more than 50 concerts, including two at Ovens Auditorium on Oct. 28-29.

Chicago, New Brunswick, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale are the only other cities in which Yo Gabba Gabba! will perform twice. The act sold out Ovens here last October.

Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets for the U.S. shows beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, through Citi's "Private Pass" program at www.CitiPrivatePass.com. Tickets will go on sale to the general public shortly after that. Visit www.YoGabbaGabbaLive.com for complete tour, ticket and VIP package information.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Race Week celebrity appearances

We've gotten info on all kinds of Race Week-related activities taking place over the next few days. Here are three noteworthy happenings that caught our eyes:

1. As part of Food Lion Speed Street, Matt Kenseth and his No. 17 Jeremiah Weed Ford will make an appearance at the festival at 4:30 p.m. Friday ... but the Sprint Cup Series Champion won't be using horsepower to get around. Instead, strongman Rendy DeLaCruz will attempt to pull Kenseth -- who will be sitting behind the wheel of his car -- 100 feet in 60 seconds or less. For every foot DeLaCruz successfully pulls the 3,500-pound stock car, Jeremiah Weed will distribute up to 500 $10 taxi vouchers redeemable throughout the weekend with Charlotte's Crown Cab (the idea being the company will get 21-and-older fans who are making a party out of the race home safely). Comedian Adam Carolla will emcee Friday's stock-car pull, which will begin midway between Stonewall Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and end at the corners of MLK and Brevard Street.

2. Race fans can meet Robby Gordon -- regarded as one of the best road course drivers in NASCAR -- and get a glimpse of what it's like to be a driver or a pit crew member from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the center court in Gastonia's Westfield Eastridge mall. The "Rev It Up" event will feature Gordon (who will bring his car, sign autographs and greet fans at about 4 p.m.), as well as NASCAR's development team from Revolution Racing, the stars of BET's "Changing Lanes." Meanwhile, kids and adults can get behind the wheel of a racing simulator or try the Pit Stop Challenge, loosening lugnuts with a spring-loaded air gun that's identical to what NASCAR teams use. Many of the mall's retailers will offer discounts during the event, up to $50 or 50 percent off. The first 100 customers who spend $150 at the mall will also receive a $10 Westfield Gift Card.

3. Grammy Award-winning artist Darius Rucker will perform the national anthem for the 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Born in Charleston, S.C., Rucker first gained fame as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the band Hootie & the Blowfish, which he founded in 1986 at the University of South Carolina. Hootie & the Blowfish received the Best New Artist award at the 1996 Grammy Awards. In 2008, Rucker announced that he would pursue a solo career as a country music performer; he received the Top New Artist title from the Country Music Association Awards in 2009. Tickets for Sunday's race can be purchased at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chris Tucker bringing standup act to town

After a brief hiatus from the stage, Chris Tucker is returning with a live comedy tour scheduled to make a stop at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday, July 9.

Tucker -- who become a global movie star thanks to the three "Rush Hour" films -- is often regarded as one of the funniest comics in the industry, known for his unique voice, fast-paced humor, and animated facial expressions.

Tickets ($45.75-$59.75) go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, May 27 at timewarnercablearena.com, ticketmaster.com, the arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or via charge-by-phone (800-745-3000).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Julie Roberts’ video debuts at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend

Country singer and Lancaster, S.C. native Julie Roberts is set to debut her "NASCAR Party" anthem at the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Saturday, May 21.
Julie, known for hits "Break Down Here," "Men and Mascara," and "Wake Up Older,” has been working on this project closely with NASCAR, who also produced the video.  The video, shot at both the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, will debut on the world’s largest screen – also being unveiled for the first time that day at the track.  Julie’s “NASCAR Party” face will be seen in high-definition using 9 million LED bulbs across 200 feet wide by 80 feet tall.
"It's been so much fun working with NASCAR on the song and video for 'NASCAR Party'!"  Julie shares her enthusiasm exclaiming, "I am so excited for NASCAR fans to see it on the big screen at the All-Star Race in Charlotte and I'm ready to share it with NASCAR fans all over the world!!!" 
Julie will be on the judges’ panel for this year’s Penzoil Ultra Victory Challenge which has NASCAR’s top drivers competing in a smoky burnout contest.  Taking part in this pre-race tradition is last year’s winner Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, and 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne – all set to duke it out to win $10,000 for their respective charities. 
In addition to all this, Julie will be treating race-goers to a full concert along the speedway’s frontstretch following the completion of the race.

Dierks Bently will perform a pre-race concert in the infield.

Tickets for all May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

Pesky wabbit is music to conductor's ears

Conductor George Daugherty and his right-hand rabbit, Bugs Bunny, are back in Charlotte this week with “Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” a concert with the Charlotte Symphony Pops that combines classic cartoons with classical music. It’s a sequel to his popular “Bugs Bunny on Broadway,” which was performed in Charlotte in 2009.

We caught up with him by phone Wednesday to discuss the sequel.

Q. So, what’s up with this show, Doc?

The sequel is about 50 or 60 percent new. It still has some of the old classics from the original, like “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “The Rabbit of Seville” and “Long Haired Hare,” but (now) Tweety’s in the concert (and we’ve added) “Tom & Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl,” which is great classic cartoon set to “Die Fledermaus” – along with the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo.

Q. Nice to change things up, huh?

Yeah, well, after 20 years of doing the same exact concert, it’s fun for me to have some new material.

Q. Any other animated characters you’d like to work with in the future?

I’ve always wanted to do Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” as a film and orchestra concert. … I am very happy with the Looney Tunes gang and Warner Bros., so I’m kind of sticking where I am. But that’s always been one of my favorites. It was based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet score, and I was a ballet conductor for a million years before I was a cartoon conductor.

Q. Did you ever imagine when you started out that cartoons would be your livelihood?

I do do other things, and I still conduct, quote, regular concerts, unquote. But thanks to (Bugs Bunny), I’ve conducted at the Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House, on Broadway, at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and for the Royal Family. I’ve conducted with arguably the greatest orchestras in the world. I’m not sure that would’ve happened in my career without this. …

It’s a project that is very, very near and dear to my heart in that we bring a lot of people into the symphony orchestra that don’t otherwise come. So I have no regrets. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. And Bugs is a very good colleague. He never changes tempos on me night after night like human soloists do.

Q. After Bugs, who’s your second-favorite character to work with?

You gotta love Elmer and you have to love Daffy. Both of them are such classic characters. And the Coyote. (Looney Tunes director) Chuck Jones always used to say to me, “We all go to bed looking in the mirror and thinking we’re Bugs Bunny, but we all wake up and look in the mirror and discover we’re either Daffy Duck or the Coyote.” The Coyote especially. How many of us keep doing the same thing over and over again? We get an anvil dropped on our head, but we do it again.

Q. Do you ever get tired of being associated with cartoons?

I really don’t. I don’t mean to be sounding all sugarcoated, but it really is so brilliantly done. I never would have been able to stick with this for all these years if this stuff was schlock. … I’ve done plenty of other things in my life where I just think I can’t stand it for another minute, and – I won’t say what those are but – but not this. “What’s up, Doc?” is music to my ears. Still.

Daugherty conducts the Charlotte Symphony Pops in “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” at 7 tonight and 8 p.m. Friday at Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $26.50-$69.50. 704-372-1000.

Théoden Janes: tjanes@charlotteobserver.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Knights' mascot to attempt world record

Charlotte Knights mascot Homer the Dragon will be attempting to set the world record for “Most Hugs Given in a 24-hour Span” this week. The current world record is 8,709.

The project, called “Homer’s Hugs for Hope,” will begin at 9 p.m. Thursday at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, during the Knights' game against the Toledo Mud Hens. Over the next 24 hours, Homer will hug his way through various places in Charlotte, including the EpiCentre, on the LYNX Light Rail, at Bank of America Plaza, and in local elementary schools. He will wrap up his journey at 8:59 p.m. Friday, during another Knights game.

The Knights are suggesting a $1 donation per hug, with all proceeds being distributed among the following charities: local schools, Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, and the Disaster Relief Initiative.

First pitch for the Thursday and Friday Knights games is 7:15 p.m. A portion of ticket sales on Friday will also go to the charities.

Here's the tentative schedule for "Homer's Hugs for Hope":

Thursday, May 19
9-10 p.m.: Knights Stadium
10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.: EpiCentre

Friday, May 20
6:30-8:45 a.m.: Local elementary schools
9:15-10 a.m.: LYNX Light Rail
10-11 a.m.: Visit Charlotte offices
11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Bank of America Plaza
1:45-2:30 p.m.: Horizon Eye Care
3-4 p.m.: Local elementary schools
5:30-8:59 p.m.: Knights Stadium

For more info on the Knights, or to buy tickets: Click here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Discovery Place exhibit opens May 25

"LIFE: A Journey Through Time" -- a new photography exhibition called set to open at Discovery Place Wednesday, May 25 -- will showcase "the transformation of Earth and its natural phenomena ... from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity."

The exhibition is an original multimedia presentation that blends art, science, and the imagery of acclaimed National Geographic wildlife photographer Frans Lanting, who for seven years (beginning in 2000) traveled the world "on a mission to spotlight new scientific insights and the history of life forms."

His destinations included some of the most desolate and rugged areas of the globe, including Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and remote Western Australia, where life-forms 3 billion years old still dominate the landscape.

The exhibition organizes 64 large-format photographs in terms of five basic elements that Lanting says make up the universe: earth, water, fire, air and space. His images include giant tortoises, prehistoric trilobites, delicate jellies, spiny octopus trees, erupting volcanoes and shimmering coral reefs.

"The 'LIFE' exhibition is a gallery display that walks the line between science and art," said John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place. "It is a beautiful celebration of the planet and its history that demonstrates the remarkable magnitude of our world's biodiversity."

"LIFE: A Journey Through Time" is on display at Discovery Place May 25 through Sept. 5, and is free with museum admission. Photography is not allowed. Details: Click here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Charlotte Comedy Zone unveils first acts

The new Comedy Zone at the N.C. Music Factory, which will open for business next month, has announced a summer lineup that includes "Jackass" star Steve-O and Public Enemy rapper-turned-reality TV star Flava Flav.

Rob Schneider, last seen in "Grown Ups" with Adam Sandler, will open the venue with a three-night stand June 23-25.

The planned venue is said to seat 400, and can accommodate a total of about 700. It will feature a dining room overlooking the "showroom."

The Charlotte Comedy Zone will be run by Heffron Talent International, which owns the Comedy Zone name and operates more than 60 locations in North America -- including one at Galway Hooker pub in Lake Norman and another at Madison's on the Corner in Fort Mill. Heffron Talent has its corporate headquarters in southwest Charlotte.

Here is the full lineup that was announced this week:

June 23-25: Rob Schneider
July 6-9: Grandma Lee
July 13-16: Jon Reep
July 21-23: John Witherspoon
July 28-30: Steve-O's "Entirely Too Much Information Tour"
Aug. 3-6: Todd Yohn
Aug. 19-20: Josh Wolf
Aug. 25-27: Flavor Flav's "Freaky Comedy Tour"

Details: Click here.
September 15-17: Broken Lizards - "Kevin Heffernan & Steve Lemme"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NASCAR Hall of Fame turns 1 year old

Wednesday will mark one year since the $160 million facility opened its doors to auto racing fans.

How will it celebrate its first anniversary?

According to a NASCAR Hall of Fame press release, it "will focus on the local and regional community. Highlights include a visit from Metro School students, special one-day admission price of $5.11 and donations to the Red Cross for tornado victims."

That's a particularly good deal on the ticket price -- one-day general admission tickets are normally $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids. $1 from every $5.11 admission will go directly to the Red Cross to fund tornado relief efforts.

Also: Shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday, in the Great Hall, various executives and board members will serve birthday cake to students from neighboring Metro School, a Charlotte school that serves about 200 students whom are significantly disabled.

Several other special events are planned for the month of May at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Here are just a few:

Monday, May 16
NASCAR Performance Taping: See Chad Knaus, Larry McReynolds, Bootie Barker and a chance to be on SPEED. Approximately 2-5 p.m. in the Great Hall. Free with general admission or membership.

Wednesday, May 18
Induction Dinner: Featuring the 2011 Inductees. 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner in the Crown Ballroom. $500 per person; table packages also available (ticket sales end May 13).

Wednesday, May 18
NASCAR Rev’d Up: 4 p.m. festival begins, 7:15 p.m. Josh Kelley performs, 8:45 p.m. Gary Allan performs, all on the Outdoor Plaza. Free.

Thursday, May 19
Bobby Labonte Appearance: Q&A and autograph session with the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup champion. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Great Hall. Free with general admission or membership.

For a full list of events, click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kings of Leon set Charlotte summer date

Kings of Leon (of "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" fame) will play Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte on Friday, Aug. 5.

The band -- which is touring in support of its fifth album, "Come Around Sundown," and recently headlined the Coachella music festival -- will be supported by opening act Band of Horses.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at LiveNation.com, the Verizon box office, Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Alive After Five returns to EpiCentre today

Fresh off an opening month at Wells Fargo Plaza, Charlotte’s Alive After Five returns to Pavilion at EpiCentre for the remainder of the season beginning at 5 p.m. today.

Jesse’s Girl will perform on the Pavilion stage, while Alternate Take will play contemporary party music and jazz standards on the main level at EpiCentre. Alive After Five -- which is celebrating its 10th anniversary -- continues at EpiCentre every Thursday evening through September.

Today's Alive After Five will also serve as a fundraiser for tornado victims in the Southeast. The event has partnered with the Charlotte Junior Chamber, which will be at EpiCentre tonight collecting donations, 100 percent of which will go to those affected by the recent outbreak of tornadoes.

Also, each Thursday during the Alive After Five season, select restaurants at the EpiCentre will offer $20 prix fixe menus. Participating restaurants include BlackFinn, Enso, Kazba, Libretto’s, Mez, Mortimer’s, StrikeCity, Vida and Wild Wing Café. These restaurants will also offer complimentary hors d'oeuvres during Alive After Five the first Thursday of every month.

Also new for 2011: Alive After Five's "When it Rains, We Pour" promotion. Pavilion has purchased two tents to keep guests sheltered from rain; when the weather's wet, guests will be offered drink specials, including discounted beer prices any time there is inclement weather during AT&T Alive After Five.

Alive After Five will also present a Block Party from 7-11 p.m. Friday at Piedmont Town Center, featuring a performance by Party on the Moon. The Friday night Block Party also serves as the kickoff of Alive After Five’s Piedmont Town Center series, which runs every Wednesday from through June 15. Band line-ups for both EpiCentre and Piedmont Town Center are available at AliveAfterFives.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Speedway readies world's largest HDTV

The final touches are being put on the world's largest HD video board as officials from Panasonic are in Charlotte this week testing the massive screen that will debut during Charlotte Motor Speedway's 2011 May race events.

The face of the approximately 200-foot-wide, 80-foot-tall screen is comprised of 158 panels and each is being tested graphically for color quality, contrast and light levels this week.

More than nine million light emitting diode, or LED, lamps will illuminate the video board during select NASCAR events at Charlotte Motor Speedway this spring, including the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 21 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29.

The 165,000-pound HD video board rises 110 feet above the track on a 500,000-pound steel frame. The screen is centered along the backstretch between Turns 2 and 3, across from the start/finish line.

Fans seated throughout the frontstretch from Turn 4 to Turn 1 will have clear viewing angles of instant replays, leaderboard updates and interactive entertainment displayed in 720P high-definition visuals.

The two biggest weeks in all of sports begins this May in Charlotte with the NASCAR Rev'd Up Concert on May 18 with Gary Allan and Josh Kelley at 4:00 p.m., at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Additional events include:

  • May 19: NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge, 7 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena
  • May 20: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Qualifying/N.C. Education Lottery 200, 8 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 21: Dierks Bentley Pre-Race Concert presented by Budweiser, 2:30 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway Infield
  • May 21: Pennzoil Ultra Victory Challenge, 6:20 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 21: Sprint Showdown, 7:30 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 21: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, 9 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 23: NASCAR Hall of Fame 2011 Induction Ceremony, 7 p.m., NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • May 26: Windstream Pole Night, 7:10 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 26-28: Food Lion SpeedStreet, Noon, Uptown Charlotte
  • May 27: Coca-Cola Family Cookout & Track Walk, 11 a.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway Infield
  • May 27: Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown, 7:30 p.m., The Dirt Track at Charlotte
  • May 28: Top Gear 300, 2:30 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 29: Coca-Cola 600, 6 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway
A full list of activities taking place in Charlotte during Charlotte Motor Speedway's May race weeks is available by clicking here.

Tickets for all May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Frontstretch tickets with the best views of the world's largest HD video board, debuting at the speedway in May, start at $49 for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Fans can also purchase two frontstretch tickets for $99 (and up) to the Coca-Cola 600.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Carolina Rebellion unveils schedule

The inaugural Carolina Rebellion festival, which sold out its 30,000 tickets more than a month ago, finally hits the Metrolina Expo in Charlotte on Saturday.

Here's the lineup for the show:

Monster Energy Carolina Stage:
Cavo, 12:20 p.m.
Halestorm, 1:50 p.m.
Skillet, 3:30 p.m.
Bullet For My Valentine, 5:20 p.m.
Seether, 7:10 p.m.
Three Days Grace, 8:45 p.m.
Avenged Sevenfold, 10:45 p.m.

Monster Energy Rebellion Stage:
My Darkest Days, 11:50 a.m.
Saving Abel, 1:20 p.m.
Hinder, 2:50 p.m.
Alter Bridge, 4:40 p.m.
Theory of a Deadman, 6:30 p.m.
Stone Sour, 7:50 p.m.
Godsmack, 9:40 p.m.

Jagermeister Stage:
Drop D, 11:30 a.m.
Art of Dying, 12:50 p.m.
Pop Evil, 2:20 p.m.
Black Stone Cherry, 4:10 p.m.
Rev Theory, 6 p.m.

Artist set times are subject to change. Will call opens at 9:30 a.m., doors open at 11 a.m. Show ends at 11:50 p.m.

Click here for a downloadable schedule.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

'American Idol' tour returning to Charlotte

"American Idol Live!" will return to Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday, July 28, when this season's top 11 finalists will perform a variety of medleys and solos that have been featured on the Fox show.

Those singers are: the six current finalists -- Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery -- along with recently eliminated contestants Naima Adedapo, Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano, Stefano Langone and Thia Megia.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, May 13, at www.ticketmaster.com.

The "American Idol" season finale will air on Thursday, May 26.

Coca-Cola 600 calls on the Cable Guy

Larry the Cable Guy will serve as the honorary pace-car driver for the 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In addition to leading the field of 43 NASCAR stars in the Coca-Cola 600, Larry the Cable Guy will take part in other activities during race weekend, including attending the pre-race drivers' meeting.

The blue-collar comedian voices Mater in the upcoming Disney-Pixar summer comedy "Cars 2"; during race weekend, the speedway will celebrate the film (scheduled for release on June 24) with a special display for fans featuring full-size replicas of movie stars Lightning McQueen and Mater. Lightning McQueen and Mater will also participate in the pre-race parade laps.

"I am excited to 'git r done' in the pace car at Charlotte Motor Speedway and lead the field to the start of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600," said Larry the Cable Guy in a prepared statement. "It will be an honor to be a part of the most patriotic pre-race show in America."

Maroon 5, Train coming to Charlotte

Rock bands Maroon 5 and Train have teamed up to co-headline a summer tour that will stop at Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Tuesday, Aug. 2, according to a press release issued this week by the band's publicists.

Gavin DeGraw will open the show.

Live Nation, which runs the amphitheatre, has not officially announced the concert, so no on-sale date has been set yet for tickets.

Maroon 5's biggest recent hit was 2010's "Misery," while Train landed in the Top 40 twice last year (with "If It's Love" and "Marry Me"). Both groups have won multiple Grammys.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Concert news: ZZ Top, Goo Goo Dolls, more

The summer concert schedule for the N.C. Music Factory's Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre is taking shape. Three upcoming shows were announced this afternoon:
  • Rock legends ZZ Top will play the venue on June 2. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.
  • Goo Goo Dolls have been booked for Aug. 9, with special guests Michelle Branch and Parachute slated to open the show. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.
  • Then on Aug. 13, Chicago will hit the stage. Tickets for this concert also will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Purchase tickets at the Fillmore Charlotte box office (also in the N.C. Music Factory), Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone 800-745-3000. Details: LiveNation.com.

In other news: Multi-platinum recording artist Usher has added Dev and The Cataracs and Tinie Tempah as guest acts on his “OMG Tour,” which stops at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday. Akon also will open. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, at the arena box office, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rascal Flatts set to return to Charlotte

Country stars Rascal Flatts are bringing their brand-new "Flatts Fest" summer tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Friday, July 29.

The band has headlined a show at Verizon every summer since 2005; they were last here last June with Albemarle native Kellie Pickler. This time around, Sara Evans, Easton Corbin and Justin Moore will open for Rascal Flatts.

According to a Live Nation press release, "The 'Flatts Fest' tour will include a new stage production design and set list" and "an interactive pre-show festival atmosphere and tailgating experience." Plans include a mobile karaoke vehicle, carnival games, photo booths, putt putt golf, food vendors, and contests.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at LiveNation.com, the venue box office, Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

The night after the Charlotte show, Rascal Flatts will perform at Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion Raleigh (on Saturday, July 30).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's new at Museum of the New South?

I was disappointed last month when I dropped in on the Levine Museum of the New South only to find my favorite part of its award-winning “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers” exhibit was closed for renovation.

The other displays – ranging from a one-room tenant farmer’s house to a civil-rights-era lunch counter – are interesting enough, but the end section (closed since mid-January) is so much more urgent because it covers 1970 to 2010. It’s always fascinating to walk through knowing that these changes happened in Charlotte so recently.

The good news is that the uptown museum will reopen this expanded end section next Friday. Here are just a few of the many new highlights:

The 10-minute intro film has been completely revised, and now features narration by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl, famed NASCAR promoter Humpy Wheeler, and radio personality Ramona Holloway.

A 1908 Union National Bank ledger displayed juxtaposed next to one of the first computer-linked ATMs.

A fire suit worn in 2009 by NASCAR driver and California native/now-New Southerner Jimmie Johnson.

The interactive “Picture Yourself in History,” which uses green-screen technology to allow visitors to superimpose themselves into a historic scene from the exhibit; they can then e-mail the image to themselves.

If you’d like a sneak peek at the updated exhibit – and have some disposable income to spend on a nice night out – the museum is hosting a 20th anniversary party called “Taste of Time” next Thursday evening. ($125 per person, or $100 for museum members.) Otherwise, make plans to visit on or after the grand reopening next Friday.

Details: www.museumofthenewsouth.org.

Also, read more about this great museum in the online version of SouthPark Magazine by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Wiggles are returning to Charlotte

One of the hottest Australian imports in the entertainment biz is coming to Charlotte this summer.

No, it's not Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John or Russell Crowe. It's The Wiggles, the four guys from Sydney who are rock stars among the 2- to 6-year-old set. The musical group will perform at Time Warner Cable Arena at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.

The band -- originally formed in 1991 and currently featuring Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Sam Moran -- has become one of the most successful children's group of all-time. It last visited Charlotte in August of 2008.

The Wiggles' Big Birthday Tour" will feature songs like "Sound Your Funky Horn," "Clap Your Hands With Dorothy" and "Hot Potato." Also slated to appear: Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Wags the Dog and all the Wiggly Dancers.

Tickets go on sale Monday, April 25 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.

The Wiggles recently announced that the U.S. school readiness initiative Reach Out and Read will be the official charity partner of their 2011 American tour. Reach Out and Read "prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to 'prescribe' books and encourage families to read together." In North Carolina, 88 hospitals and clinics participate in Reach Out and Read, serving 98,000 children annually. A portion of the proceeds from all ticket sales will be used to support Reach Out and Read Programs in North Carolina and across the United States.

For more on the Wiggles' tour: Click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Carowinds is dyeing for this world record

Carowinds is best-known for giant roller coasters like the Intimidator and Nighthawk, but the theme park is hoping to earn some Guinness-sized recognition this weekend for its massive Easter egg hunt.

Beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday, during the ninth annual "Easter Egg-stravaganza," the park is attempting to set a world record for the most amount of people dyeing Easter eggs at one time. Related activities at Carowinds this weekend will include appearances by Snoopy the Easter "Beagle" and the Easter Bunny; a Coloring Station; a DJ-hosted party for kids; and "Bunny Hop" lessons.

For details on the event, click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow book Charlotte show

Kid Rock will bring his "Born Free" tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Saturday, Aug. 27, with special guest Sheryl Crow.

The announcement comes on the heels of Rock's new single "Collide," which features Crow. The two also teamed in 2001 on the hit single "Picture."

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 9, at LiveNation.com, the venue box office, Ticketmaster or by calling charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Before coming to Charlotte, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow also will play Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion in Raleigh on Aug. 25.

Knights Fest set for Saturday

It's baseball season again, and in Charlotte, that means the annual Knights Fest will be held at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C., from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday -- followed by a scrimmage between the Charlotte Knights and the Winston-Salem Dash.

Knights Fest and the exhibition game both are free and open to the public. (The Charlotte Knights are the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.)

Event highlights include:

  • National anthem auditions from 10-11 a.m.
  • Fans can take batting practice on the field from 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Free hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks will be served at the Picnic Grill (on the third-base side) from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Knights players will sign autographs at 1:30 p.m.
  • Stadium tours will be available throughout the day.
For ticket or event information, call (704) 357-8071 or (803) 548-8050, or click here.