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.