Friday, January 28, 2011

The Avett Brothers book Charlotte show

The Avett Brothers are coming back to Charlotte for a show at Bojangles’ Coliseum on April 9.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. next Friday (Feb. 4) through Ticketmaster. Prices range from $25 to $45. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will open.

It’s the first full Charlotte show for the Concord-based band since they played Bojangles’ in August 2009. They played a set at Manifest Discs this past October to promote the “Live, Volume 3” CD and DVD, which was taken from the Bojangles’ show.

The band – brothers Scott and Seth Avett, plus Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon – has been touring all over the United States and Canada, including a sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. They also toured in Europe and Australia.

The band formed in 2001 and put out 10 CDs before their first major-label release, “I and Love and You,” came out on Columbia Records in September ’09. Dolph Ramseur, the band’s manager, said it has sold 310,000 copies worldwide, including 272,000 copies in the U.S.

Ramseur said the Avetts have started working on a new record with Rick Rubin, who also produced “I and Love and You.” Rubin is co-chairman of the Columbia label and has produced hit records for artists including Jay-Z, Johnny Cash and Metallica.

-- Tommy Tomlinson

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who's on the 2011 Miss Sprint Cup roster?

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans and motorsports media will get their first look at this year's Miss Sprint Cup three-woman roster tonight at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Whisky River nightclub in uptown Charlotte.

Last week, Sprint announced that South Carolina native Paige Duke will return to the Miss Sprint Cup program for a second season. The identities of the other two selections will be revealed at tonight's event.

Formed in 2007, Miss Sprint Cup is the "NASCAR fans' friend on the inside" and represents Sprint at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events throughout the season. The Miss Sprint Cup roster takes part in the Sprint Experience at each series event, interviewing drivers and greeting fans throughout the race weekend. The women also are featured in the video section of, interviewing drivers, celebrities and personalities at tracks around the circuit.

Whisky River -- located at the EpiCentre at 210 E. Trade St. -- will open its doors to guests at 8 p.m.; the first 200 fans in attendance will receive a free gift from Sprint. There also will be other prizes and giveaways, and anyone with a Sprint cellphone will receive drink specials.

NASCAR fans can connect with Miss Sprint Cup on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Get a sneak peek at the circus

UPDATE at 4 p.m. Tuesday: Ringling animals are now scheduled to walk between 8 and 8:30.

"The Greatest Show On Earth" is in Charlotte this week, and tonight, circus fans can celebrate the performers' arrival during the traditional "Grand Animal Walk."

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will unload its animals from the mile-long train at Third and Graham streets. The elephants -- and other exotic creatures -- are scheduled to make their way down Third, turn left onto Poplar Street, turn right onto Trade Street, head down to Time Warner Cable Arena, turn left just beyond it onto Caldwell Street, then make a final left into the back loading dock of the arena. (Note: Times and routes are subject to change without notice.)

The 140th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey offers nine performances at TWC Arena this week: 7 p.m. Wednesday, 7 p.m. Thursday, 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are on sale at,, the arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 800-745-3000. For details on the show, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Noteworthy nightclub opening uptown

The first of a number of concepts planned for the so-called "District 300" block of Center City opens its doors this week.

RE:PUBLIC, at 314 N. College St., is described as "a stylish yet un-hoity haven for everyone from habitual celebrators to casual clubbers who are looking for a little extra oomph in their nightlife and a whole lot more creativity in the contents of their cocktail glasses."

Designed by Scott Weaver, RE: PUBLIC "combines the aesthetic of a swank mid-'70s ski lodge with the appeal of a modern Manhattan hideaway." Artisan tequila and cerveza cocktails created by mixologist Stefan Huebner will feature exotic ingredients -- egg whites, jalapeno, and cherry
bitters, to name a few.

Counter Culture roadside kitchen will serve "Route 66-inspired" fare during RE:PUBLIC's operating hours beginning in March, with a menu conceived by partner Andy Kastanas and chef Jason Pound of Soul Gastropub and Cosmos Café.

RE:PUBLIC will host an invite-only "friends and family" event on Wednesday, while Miami-based progressive house DJ Robbie Rivera will play Friday. Saturday's official grand opening party will feature San Franciscan DJs UR Friends and The Les.

Tickets for Friday's event are available at and invitations for Saturday's party are available at

The so-called "District 300" block sits on College Street between 6th and 7th. Other "new entertainment concepts" are expected to open around RE:PUBLIC over the next few months.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wanted: Romantic love stories, with a twist

It's less than four weeks until the one day a year we dedicate to love: Valentine's Day.

The Observer would like to hear from/about Charlotte-area residents with truly unique stories of romance. For example, two people who divorced each other, then later on made amends and remarried. An elementary schooler with a novel take on love. Someone who still knocks on doors and does singing telegrams. Tales like this.

People associated with the selected story will be contacted for an interview and photographed in the next three weeks, with their story featured in the newspaper around Valentine's Day.

If you know of an extraordinary couple, or an extraordinarily romantic individual, e-mail with a summary of your story (not more than 100 words) along with names and phone numbers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is it Showtime for Charlotte?

As you may have heard, the city of Charlotte is getting its close-up this month thanks to 20th Century Fox -- which has a film crew in the area shooting a pilot for the Showtime cable network.

Reporter Caroline McMillan provided details about the production of "Homeland" in a recent Observer story; on Tuesday, one of the series' executive producers gave us a few more pieces of info.

Howard Gordon, who was executive producer and showrunner for "24" during its eight-season run, said North Carolina was an easy sell for his team.

"It matched the location we wanted, the tax credits were great, and Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, who are two of our lead actors, are based in New York (so) it was a commutable distance for them," he said. "We scouted Wilmington as well, but the architecture and everything worked better here."

Charlotte is standing in for the Virginia-D.C. area, Gordon says.

In addition to south Charlotte's Mountainbrook neighborhood -- where two homes are being used as the primary domestic settings -- filming is taking place at locations including the Ritz-Carlton in uptown, the Carolinas Aviation Museum adjacent to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and the shuttered Philip Morris USA plant in Concord (which is doubling as the CIA headquarters, Gordon says).

Shooting originally was to start on Jan. 10, but the recent snowstorm hit the area that morning, and production was shut down for two days. Otherwise, Gordon says, "It’s been a wonderful experience. ... It's great and it's a terrific crew and it's interesting in a non-Hollywood town to see a film crew."

Gordon says filming of the pilot is scheduled to wrap here on Feb. 2. Production then moves to Washington, D.C., for a day, then everyone flies to Israel for two days of shooting (Israel will stand in for Baghdad).

As McMillan reported, once they've finished filming and editing the pilot, Fox will show it to the executives at Showtime. The network would probably make their decision in mid-March.

If they order a series, pre-production would start in April and the crew would likely film June to October. The first episodes would begin airing on Showtime around the end of August, while they're still in production.

Gordon says the plan is to continue shooting in Charlotte if the show gets picked up. "I'm protecting myself by lowering expectations. But we're optimistic."

The show stars British actor Damian Lewis as a U.S. Marine sergeant who comes home a war hero after having been held as a prisoner of war in Baghdad for eight years, during which time he was presumed dead. Danes, who won a Golden Globe on Sunday night for the HBO movie "Temple Grandin," plays a CIA agent who suspects that he's plotting an attack on America.

Interested in working as an extra in the Showtime pilot? Submit your photo and information to You also can keep up with casting news and needs on the Homeland Casting Facebook page. As of Wednesday night, the production was "still in need of Professional/CIA/Government types and folks with newer American made cars."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jimmy Buffett to return to Charlotte

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre will once again transform into Margaritaville this spring.

Live Nation announced this afternoon that Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band will perform at the Charlotte venue at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 21, as part of the singer's "Welcome to Fin Land" Tour.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at, all Ticketmaster outlets, and charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Nature Museum plans to do chicken right

Feel like chicken this weekend?

The Charlotte Nature Museum will highlight the diversity and popularity of this feathered friend during its montly "Creature Feature" event, set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

Scheduled highlights include: live chickens on display, from the Rhode Island red (America's best-known breed, which lays brown eggs), araucana (which lays blue eggs and has feather tufts near their eyes), and dominique (popular for both their eggs and their meat); museum birds Nellie, a barred owl, and recently born button quails; and presentations from naturalists who will teach guests about habitats, behaviors of local birdlife, and raising chickens in your own backyard. There will also be a "story time" session and a puppet show for kids.

"Creature Feature" activities are free with museum admission ($6 for ages two and older, free for anyone younger and museum members).

Charlotte Nature Museum is at 1658 Sterling Road, adjacent to Freedom Park in the Dilworth/Myers Park area. Click here for the website.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

9 short films, all made in Charlotte

Movies aren't often made in Charlotte, but nine short films were shot here recently using local talent, and they're now available to view online.

Each is less than 10 minutes in length, and each will be vying for 11 awards -- including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Picture -- at an event set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Whisky River nightclub in uptown.

At least 75 percent of each film had to be shot within 60 miles of Charlotte, and all had to incorporate a queen of spades playing card in a key way. Eight judges voted on the "Made in Charlotte" awards, including Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway of 107.9 The Link.

Admission to the "Made in Charlotte" event is $10 in the door, and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. The EpiCentre (where Whisky River is located) is at 210 E. Trade St., near Time Warner Cable Arena.

The event -- presented by the non-profit Charlotte Film Community -- was originally scheduled for this past Monday, but was postponed due to the winter storm.

For details on the "Made in Charlotte" project and to check out the films, click here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hey, ladies: Wanna play some roller derby?

Race City Roller Derby (RCRD), a Charlotte-based women’s flat track roller derby organization founded last summer, has launched a player-recruiting drive.

To be eligible to participate, interested women must be at least 19, have health insurance, and be in "reasonable" physical condition. Skating experience is "helpful," but not necessary.

The organization currently fields the Charlotte Speed Demons, which will be competing on the national level; it will launch a second team late this year that will compete regionally. The Speed Demons kick off its 2011 season on Feb. 26, when it takes on the Columbia, S.C.-based Bad Co. at First Ward Recreation Center (610 E. 7th St.). Tickets are $10 in advance here, or $14 at the door.

To express your interest in participating, e-mail your name and phone number to Details: Click here.

More than 40,000 women currently are competing in roller derby in the U.S., according to RCRD.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Can you sing like Justin Bieber?

Yo, Justin Bieber fans: Stop singing the pop star's hits while staring at yourself in the mirror -- or posting videos of yourself singing them on YouTube -- and make plans to be at Northlake Mall this Saturday afternoon.

That's when a competition takes place among teens ages 13-17, who'll sing versions of "Baby," "U Smile" or "Never Say Never" for a chance to fly to Los Angeles to attend the premiere of Bieber's new movie. ("Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" opens in theaters Feb. 21.)

Registration begins at 1 p.m. in the Grand Court on Northlake's lower level; the contest starts at 2. Contestants may pre-register by e-mailing their legal name and age to

One of the contestants will wind up going to L.A. -- this isn't some regional qualifier where the winner moves on to another round. No, the Charlotte winner gets a trip for FOUR to the premiere on Feb. 9, including airfare and a two-night hotel stay. One national grand-prize winner also will win a brief meet-and-greet with Bieber at the premiere.

For contest details, click here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The wait for Lauryn Hill is over. Or is it?

Lauryn Hill, who made one of the greatest albums of the ’90s, is scheduled to take the stage at Amos’ Southend on Saturday night.

Doors open at 9. The hip-hop diva actually will go on at … 9:30? 10? 11? Midnight?

If it’s 1 a.m. by the time she breaks into her first song, don’t be surprised. At a recent comeback concert in New York, she kept fans (including soul superstar Prince) waiting for almost four hours. When she finally took the stage, she responded to some boos by saying, “Don’t do that. That’s disrespectful. I spent my entire 20s sacrificing my life to give you love. … I personally know I’m worth the wait.”

The 35-year-old Hill has long been an enigma.

A member of the acclaimed rap group the Fugees from 1992-97, the New Jersey native released a debut solo album in 1998 titled “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” that yielded the No. 1 smash “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and garnered 10 Grammy nominations. It went on to win Album of the Year, beating Madonna’s “Ray of Light.”

And then … she went off the grid, so to speak.

She dabbled in several other art forms, got pregnant, fired her management team, absorbed herself in Bible study, took on a spiritual advisor, and stopped listening to music. She resurfaced briefly for a 2001 MTV Unplugged concert, and then again in the mid-2000s as the Fugees got together for a short-lived reunion.

Which brings us to Saturday night’s concert.

Tickets are $67.76 each including fees, which makes it the most expensive Amos’ show in recent memory. (Average price to see the other upcoming acts on the venue’s schedule: $16.22.)

Will Hill be worth it? Depends, I guess, on just how long we have to wait.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Kids, Backstreet Boys plan NC show

New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys -- which collaborated on a show-stealing performance for "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest" last weekend -- won't make a visit to Charlotte in 2011.

But the two iconic groups will perform just up I-85 at Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday, July 23, one of 16 new dates added to their "NKOTBSB Tour."

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Jan. 15 at, the Greensboro Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.