Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fantasia to sing on 'Idol' tonight

Charlotte's Fantasia Barrino will perform during "American Idol's" live results show tonight on Fox, her first appearance on the show's stage since a scandal last year linked her romantically to a married man.

The Season 3 winner will sing "Collard Greens & Cornbread," the latest release from her 2010 album "Back to Me," following previous singles "Bittersweet" and "I'm Doin' Me."

In "Collard Greens & Cornbread," Fantasia sings about a dysfunctional relationship:

I never put up with b.s. from anyone But I take it from you (Ain't that some love) I never had no one put me through what you do But as long as it's you (That's some real love)

Jamie Foxx and of the Black Eyes Peas also will perform on "Idol" tonight, when two finalists will be eliminated.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Discovery Channel star to visit Charlotte

Sean Casey, the large-format filmmaker best known as the star of the Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" series, will visit Discovery Place on Thursday to host a screening of his new IMAX film "Tornado Alley."

The IMAX movie follows Casey, his researchers, and their fleet of special vehicles and cutting-edge weather instruments as they travel into the heart of a tornado.

The screening of "Tornado Alley" will take place at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at The Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome Theatre at Discovery Place. Casey, who will introduce the film, will lead a post-show question-and-answer session with audience members. Admission is $10. Details: 704-372-6261, Ext. 300.

Casey's Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) will be parked outside the museum's Sixth Street entrance at 6 p.m. for photo opportunities prior to the screening; doors to the IMAX Dome Theatre will open at 6:15 p.m. In addition, the TIV will be parked in front of the museum on North Tryon Street from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, and from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, April 1.

For more information on "Tornado Alley," click here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hey, kids: Selena Gomez is coming

Selena Gomez & The Scene will bring their summer tour to Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre Charlotte (in the N.C. Music Factory) on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

It'll be a big summer for Gomez: In addition to the tour, she'll release her third album with The Scene in June, and will star in the Nicole Kidman-produced romantic comedy "Monte Carlo," in theaters this July. She also is currently in production of her hit Disney Channel original series "Wizards of Waverly Place."

Allstar Weekend will open for Selena Gomez & The Scene at the Uptown Amphitheatre. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at, the Fillmore Charlotte box office, Ticketmaster, or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cirque du Soleil returning in August

A day after closing night for the run of its show "Totem" at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Cirque du Soleil has announced that its critically-acclaimed touring production "Alegría" will present eight performances at uptown's Time Warner Cable Arena this summer.

"Alegría" is a Cirque du Soleil classic (created in 1994) that has been seen by more than 10 million people worldwide. It features an international cast of 55 performers and musicians from 17 countries and showcases breathtaking acts including the Synchro Trapeze and the Aerial High Bars, in which aerialists swing more than 40 feet above the stage.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.

Tickets are $35-$79 for adults and $28-$64 for children 12 and younger. Discounts for military, seniors and students. A limited number of "premium" tickets are also available for all performances.

For show and ticket information, visit

Coming: Sade, Kevin Hart, Warped tour

A few recent concert announcements from Live Nation:

Sade ("Smooth Operator," "The Sweetest Taboo") will play Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday, July 31, as part of the second leg of the English R&B band's first tour in 10 years. John Legend will open the show; in February, he won Grammy Awards for best R&B album ("Wake Up!"), best R&B song ("Shine") and best traditional R&B vocal performance (“Hang On In There”). Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Comedian Kevin Hart -- who has played goofballs in more than a dozen films, including last year's "Little Fockers" and "Death at a Funeral" -- will perform stand-up at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday, May 15. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

The 2011 Vans Warped Tour will return to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte on Thursday, July 28. This year's main stage acts will include such varied acts as Gym Class Heroes, Less Than Jake, Relient K, the Ready Set, and the Devil Wears Prada. For a full list of bands playing the Charlotte show, click here. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

Tickets can be purchased from, Ticketmaster, the venue box offices, or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Raise your glass: New beer fest on horizon

Our state's craft breweries will be in the spotlight this spring at the inaugural North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, set for May 14 at Rural Hill in Huntersville.

Brewers will include Highland Brewing Company of Asheville and Carolina Beer & Beverage of Mooresville. Musical acts slated to perform are headliners Chatham County Line and Eric Lindell, along with Charlotte's own New Familiars, Moonshine Racers, Sol Driven Train, The Mantras, and Do It To Julia. The Saturday event will run 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Advance tickets are $45 per person and "Under 21" or Designated Driver tickets are $30 per person. (On May 4, prices increase to the "at the gate rate" of $60 and $40.) To buy or for more details: Tickets include an exclusive sampling glass. On-site camping is available by reservation; food and merchandise vendors will be on hand.

Proceeds support the preservation of Historic Rural Hill.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cirque du Soleil slashes prices on 'Totem'

Cirque du Soleil has been getting rave reviews for its latest production, which is nearing the end of a run at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Between now and Sunday, eight opportunities remain to see "Totem" ... and they'll be far more affordable than previous ones: Cirque is offering a 50 percent discount on most seats. Adult tickets now range from $27.50 to $45 using the promotional rate, while kids get in for $19.25 to $31.50.

Service fees still will add up to $13 per ticket, but this is a great deal and makes the show even more worth the money than it was before. Remember, Cirque du Soleil only visits Charlotte once every few years, and the Grand Chapiteau shows (like "Totem") -- I think -- are superior to the arena productions.

Click here to take advantage of the discount.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Clinton Kelly coming to Macy's at SouthPark

Charlotte’s fashionistas and fashion-fearful are invited to meet Macy’s style expert and host of TLC’s What Not To Wear! In honor of the “Macy’s Million Dollar Makeover with Clinton Kelly” contest going on now, Macy’s shoppers will have a chance to have their own Clinton Kelly makeover through a brief one-on-one consultation with the fit and style guru on Thursday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Customers will take a commemorative photo with Clinton, and he’ll even give a little gift to help you put his advice into action!

        Plus, shoppers who purchase $75 in women’s apparel or cosmetics from Estee Lauder the day of the event will take home a copy of Clinton’s recently released book, Oh No She Didn’t: Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them!*

        Clinton’s time will be limited, so shoppers will be received on a first come, first serve basis. To RSVP, call 305-577-1818 or visit

Friday, March 11, 2011

iPad 2 creates geek frenzy on launch day

Gadget nerds like to line up to be among the first to get their hands on new electronic toys, and the gadget nerds were out in force today for the launch of Apple's new iPad 2.

They lined up days in advance in some cases, and a woman in New York City got entrepreneurial, selling her spot at the head of the line for $900.

The second-generation tablet -- which is thinner, lighter and faster than the original iPad, but doesn't bring much else to the table except front- and rear-facing cameras -- went on sale at The Apple Store, and at Best Buys, Targets and Wal-Marts in the Charlotte area at 5 p.m. today.

Area customers also could order the iPad 2 online directly from Apple beginning at 4 a.m. this morning, but those shipments won't be fulfilled for several days, according to the company's website.

Me, I'm a gadget geek, so I was up at 4 placing an order for a new white iPad. But when I realized it wouldn't arrive at my doorstep for at least a week, I began plotting to be in one of the many lines that would be forming.

Anyway, I told my boss I was going to leave work early and go iPad 2 hunting, making a promise to write a quick blog entry about it. My story isn't very interesting: I got to the uptown Best Buy (at Metropolitan) right around 4, jumped into a longish but not terrible-looking line, and was informed within seconds by a roving store employee that I was No. 60.

I was hoping for one of the new white ones, but by the time the person handing out tickets got to me shortly before the doors opened at 5, the only white model left was the $700 64GB model. Too rich for me. So I opted for the black 16GB ($500).

An hour and a half later, I walked out with my new toy -- and a plan to sell the white one for a profit, assuming that the new color continues to be in short supply for at least a little while (if not, I'll just to return it to Apple).

If you're still reading by this point, you are either really bored or you have some interest in the new iPad as well. Assuming the latter is true ... did you get your hands on one today? Or are you happy with your iPad 1? Or are you waiting for the iPad 3? Or none of the above?

Music royalty coming soon to Charlotte

Prince hasn't had a new Top 40 hit in 15 years, yet it still feels like an enormous deal that the iconic pop musician who cranked out hits like "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss" during the 1980s and '90s has announced he will play six shows in the Carolinas over a 10-night period.

And how's this for instant gratification? The Charlotte concert -- at Time Warner Cable Arena -- is less than two weeks away.

The 52-year-old "Purple Rain" star's "Welcome 2 America" tour will follow this schedule:
  • Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., on March 21.
  • RBC Center in Raleigh on March 23.
  • Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte on March 24.
  • Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro on March 26
  • Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C., on March 28
  • North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C., on March 30.
Tickets go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at and, except for the Columbia date (those seats will be sold at

Today's announcement comes on the heels of three Oakland, Calif., shows and six shows in the New York area. The Carolinas shows will mark a homecoming for two members of "The New Power Generation" -- drummer John Blackwell and vocalist/tambourine player Shelby Johnson are both from South Carolina.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Charlotte family hatches global relief plan

J.D. Lewis, a noted Charlotte-based acting coach (and a single dad), has created a unique project called "Twelve In Twelve" that have him and his two sons doing humanitarian work on all seven continents over the next year.

The seed for the idea was planted when Lewis' older son, Jackson, 13, who "came to me and asked if we could do something to make a difference in the world," says Lewis, who moved his company -- The Actors Lab -- from L.A. to Charlotte nearly four years ago.

After much soul-searching, Lewis hatched a plan: "Pack up the house, set out with little or no resources, and find out what was truly needed in the world and what we could do to make a real difference."

Lewis, Jackson, and his youngest son, Buck (age 8) leave July 1 to travel to 12 countries in 12 months to do humanitarian work. They will spend one month each in Russia, India, China, Cambodia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Australia, South Georgia Island, Paraguay, Peru and Haiti. They will be living and working in orphanages, hospitals, hospices, schools and in townships; a documentary film crew will be present to record their experiences.

"The goal of the trip is to inspire others to make similar efforts abroad," Lewis says.

For more information, and to (eventually) follow their travels through photos, videos, and blogs, visit:

You can also support the family's efforts by participating in a fundraiser called 12K for Twelve in Twelve at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on April 23, the day before Easter. Activities include a 12K trail race, a 1.2-mile "Bunny Hop" and a huge Easter Egg Hunt. For details on that, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What does one N.C. truck driver earn?

"What People Earn," PARADE's yearly salary report featuring Americans' salaries from coast to coast, will be packaged in this Sunday's Observer ... and it'll have a bit of local flavor: Sean Nelson, a 43-year-old truck driver from Charlotte who earns $61,000 annually, is in this year's report.

In addition to Nelson, the issue will feature a glassblower from Waterbury Center, Vt., who earns $59,700; a NYC celebrity stylist who earns $150,000; a blogger from Vancouver, Wash., who earns $24,600; a tattoo artist from New Orleans, who earns $40,000, and a dance studio owner from Richmond, Tex., who earns $100,000; and many more.

Beginning later this week, visit for more real people and their salaries.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Outdoor concert season taking shape

Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre added two concerts to its summer slate over the weekend:

First, Phish will bring its 2011 tour to the venue on Friday, June 17, before heading to Raleigh for a show the next evening. Fans who purchase a ticket to this concert will be able to download a free MP3 of the entire show (a fully mixed soundboard recording) from, shortly after the band steps off stage. Phish's 2010 outing was named by SPIN as one of "25 Must-See Summer Tours."

And then on Sunday, Aug. 21, Journey and Foreigner will perform on the Verizon stage (with special guests Night Ranger).

Tickets for Journey and Foreigner will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 12, while Phish ticket sales open at 11 that same morning. Where to buy:, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Big-time 'Bachelor' spoilers -- you've been warned

This post contributed by online producer Deirdre McGruder.

I used to be a fan of the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" franchise, but tired of the predictability, the cookie-cutter contestant "types" (the Drunk, the Crier, the Ho, the Psycho, the Needy One) and most of all, the manipulative editing. And, you know, the forcing of near-strangers to declare their love and enter into engagements that last 15 minutes.

Even though I no longer watch, I do still read episode recaps (including Television Without Pity's and Brooke Cain's with The Raleigh News & Observer). Also, before the seasons even start, I visit Reality Steve. I don't know who this dude's sources are, but the last few seasons he's gotten some reliable scoop on what's going to happen. This season of "The Bachelor," Steve broke it down episode by episode early on, and for the most part, what he's said would occur has.

This is where it gets interesting. All season long Steve has said Chantal O'Brien, the rich chick with the dad who used to play pro football, would be Brad's final choice. On Monday, though, he posted that his sources found out they were wrong, and that Brad actually chose Emily Maynard (pictured), the single mom from Charlotte who's very popular with the viewers. And that they're engaged. Steve wrote a mea culpa of sorts, in particular apologizing to Chantal for making folks think she was engaged when in fact Brad had chosen someone else. He also shared interesting little tidbits, like Emily's house in Charlotte is supposedly on the market. Yesterday he posted more info from the finale, including:

  • Brad had Emily's dad fly to South Africa so he could ask permission to marry his daughter. Footage of this won't be part of the finale, however.
  • There is a rose ceremony, unlike the first time, when Brad dumped both chicks because he wasn't into either one of them (the sanest act ever performed on this show, if you ask me).
  • Ricki, Emily's 5-year-old daughter, won't be there in South Africa when Brad proposes and Emily says yes.
  • Filming ended Friday, Nov. 19. Brad and Emily stayed in South Africa a few extra days, and Emily was back in Charlotte the day before Thanksgiving.
BTW, Steve also has details on the "Women Tell All" episode that airs Monday. According to him, Ashley -- dumped in this past Monday's episode -- will be the next "Bachelorette."

Now, Steve's sources have occasionally been wrong, most notably when they said Ali, the last "Bachelorette," wouldn't choose Roberto, the hottie from Charleston, S.C. (As far as I know they're still together, but God, I can't keep up.) So take the knowledge about Brad and Emily with as much skepticism as you'd like. We'll all know for sure when the finale airs March 14.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Josh Groban to sing for Charlotte this June

Time Warner Cable Arena continues to piece together a powerhouse lineup of concerts for the middle part of 2011: This week, the venue announced it will welcome Josh Groban and his "Straight to You" world tour on Friday, June 10.

According to a press release, the operatic pop star's show "will bring the feel of a theater experience to an arena setting through stage design, lighting, and projection, as well as through (Groban's) spontaneity and interactivity."

Groban, 30, recently performed the National Anthem at the 60th annual NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. He also will be a guest host on "Live with Regis & Kelly" on March 4. His last concert in Charlotte was in September 2007, also at TWC Arena.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, March 4, through,, the arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.