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

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:

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, 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.


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, 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.

Yo, Gleeks: Mr. Schue to play Greensboro

"Glee" star Matthew Morrison will bring his summer tour to Greensboro's War Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, July 7, when he will perform songs from his forthcoming album -- along with many fan favorites from "Glee."

Morrison is best known as eternally optimistic high school teacher (and de facto glee club director) Will Schuester on the Fox comedy series.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 15, at,, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, and the Greensboro Coliseum box office.

In conjunction with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, the tour is offering regional glee clubs the chance to compete to be Morrison's opening act. For details, click here.