Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shooting in the clubs

By now, I’m sure you heard about the shooting inside Crush nightclub on Sunday night.

Apparently, two people suffered leg wounds.
When I first heard about it, I wasn’t surprised. Sundays at Crush draw what I call the white-T-shirt-gold-teeth crowd. It tends to be a young and rowdy crowd, sort of like the black equivalent to slam dancers.

I figured someone would eventually get shot at the popular Sunday night gathering.

Since the incident, I’ve learned that my assumption was incorrect. Yes, two people were injured. Yes, someone smuggled a gun into the club. But the shooting wasn’t the result of an altercation. Word on the street is that someone had a gun in his pants and he was jumping around while dancing. The gun went off.

I’m glad the shooting wasn’t intentional, but there are still some serious issues to address here.

First, I’m angry that a partier brought a gun into the club in the first place.

If Charlotte’s little wannabe-thugs would stop associating their manhood with violence, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But time and time again, too many of the young men who wear oversized T-shirts and prefer rappers whose names start with “Lil’” act as if they go to the club to fight, not party. Guys, grow up.

Second, the club must improve security. They know who they draw on Sundays. I understand how shootings occur in club parking lots, but there’s no excuse for a gun to get inside a club.

I’m glad to know that since Sunday’s incident, the security guard in charge of pat-downs that night will no longer be used at Crush, and the club plans to start using metal detectors on Sundays as well (unfortunately, a measure that's overdue).

(BTW: I realize black clubgoers aren’t the only ones dealing with this. The same night the Crush incident happened, someone was killed at the Hispanic club El Vaquero in East Charlotte.)

What else can clubs do to improve security? What else can we do to get young knuckleheads to stop tripping in clubs?

Bobcats arena blackout over

The hip-hop and R&B blackout at Bobcats Arena is finally over. Jamie Foxx will bring his Unpredictable Tour there on March 23. Tickets go on sale Feb. 9. $59.75.; 1-800-495-2295.)

A couple of television news stations and some friends of mine have talked about the lack of hip-hop and R&B acts at the Arena since it opened. Some saw the lack of bookings among those types of artists as racist; I argue that there currently aren’t any good hip-hop and R&B tours to book at the arena.

I have absolutely, positively no desire to see Foxx, but I am glad he’s coming. He’s a good fit for the arena. His fans can afford the ticket price, and he’s popular enough to draw a decent crowd.

Right now, he’s all that hip-hop and R&B fans are going to get over there. Justin Timberlake is currently on tour. (He’s not black, but Michael Jackson isn’t either.) He and Christina Aguilera are the only acts currently touring in the U.S. who would draw hip-hop fans and do well in the Arena.

What do you think? Is the arena doing enough to get hip-hop and R&B acts? Who would you like to see perform there? Post your replies below.

Paella and salsa, life is good

I swung by the French restaurant Patou Bistro in Dilworth for a Latin party. I know that sounds weird, but it was the best stop I made Friday night.

When I walked in the door, men and women dipped and twirled to tango music. A DJ, set up in a corner, spun salsa, tango and Middle Eastern music. That’s what a call a mix. Do you know how refreshing it was to not hear one song that’s playing on the radio?

That wasn’t it, though. Before I could start snapping pictures of dancers who make me look like I have two right feet, I spied a gigantic wok thing.

My stomach pulled me to the left side of the restaurant in front of the bar, where a guy gently stirred the biggest skillet of paella (well, the only skillet of paella) that I’ve ever seen. He pushed around the layers of Spanish rice, peas, prawns and mussels. I wanted to stick my face in the skillet and bob for prawns, but I have home-training, so I didn’t.

I couldn’t wait for him to finish cooking. I migrated from the paella to the dance floor as couples and groups of women switched from salsa to tango to belly dancing and back to salsa. Other folks sat in booths talking.

The party drew was the coolest mix of Latin, Hispanic, black and white people (and those were Observer co-workers!) that I’ve seen in Charlotte in a few months. The Charlotte Tango Society and Charlotte Salsa hosted the debut event, which they called the World Mix Party. I can’t wait to attend the next one.

You know I’ll let you know when it happens, but if you want to get down with the group:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mint Condition packs Amos'

Women whooped, men threw their hands in the air and everybody in a packed Amos’ Southend grooved to Mint Condition.

This was the band’s second visit to Charlotte in three years and the audience enthusiastically greeted their return. Fans were packed in Amos’s from the stage to the middle of the club and then it thinned out toward the back. The upstairs balcony was full as well.

Mint Condition is quietly becoming the Earth, Wind & Fire of ’90s R&B. Unlike most acts that had teenager girls back then; the members of Mint Condition are true musicians.

Along with the required favorites such as "(Breaking My Heart) Pretty Brown Eyes" and "What Kind of Man Would I Be,” the band unleashed a 15-minute instrumental set that traversed Latin grooves and rock. Lead singer Stokley Williams wailed on the drums and gave up the spotlight to his saxophone player.

Initially, I wondered if the show would do well because advance ticket prices started at $30. Charlotte’s urban audience is fickle. Mint Condition performed here a few years ago and they haven’t had a hit since the ’90s. The turnout surprised me. Considering that John Legend sold out in December, and now the Mint Condition concert went well, I wonder if it means Charlotte’s R&B fans will consistently support live music in nightclubs.

What do you think? Will R&B fans support more live music? Who else would you like to see perform in Charlotte. Post your replies below.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gnarls Barkley dilemma

As I was saying in Wednesday's blog: I'm sitting two rows in front of Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley at the Red Hot Chili Peppers' concert. He's obviously trying to spend a little time with his family, but I'd love to get two minutes with him for a podcast interview.

Here's what I did:
I waited until the last song and approached him. I explained that I worked for the Charlotte Observer, and that I had interviewed him a few years ago at Studio 74 nightclub. I ask him for two minutes. He remembers me, and says he's getting ready to go because they're headed to D.C. He asks if he can call me. I give him my card.

I still haven't heard from him yet.

Mayor of Detroit partying in Charlotte

Sorry guys, I've been fighting a cold this week and I'm slipping on the blog.

Last weekend was absolutely nuts. On Friday, I partied at NV lounge for the Julius Peppers birthday party. Highlight of the evening? No. 90 bought up the bar at 12:30 a.m. That meant the bar tab was on him. Julius, I love my Redskins, but you're my new favorite player.

On Saturday, I hit the Digital Divas party at the Sunset Club. Guess who was in the house? None other than Kwame Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit. Apparently, he was visiting some friends in Charlotte and came out to party. He wasn't uppity either. Kilpatrick was on the dance floor doing his thing thang.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bullriding and big beats

Congrats to Charlotte-area band Sunny Ledfurd. The band's music is on the
Professional Bull Riders Web site. You will probably hear a few of its
tracks, such as “Buck, Buck, Buck,” at the Dale Jr. PBR Clash at
Bobcats Arena this weekend.

Most overplayed songs

In honor of the Fray's performance at Ovens Auditorium on Monday, we held a features department survey at the Observer to determine the most overplayed songs in the history of mankind. The Fray sings "How to Save a Life." It’s that sappy song you hear on nearly every TV show and top 40 radio station. We published the results in Friday's E&T, and you can hear clips on the Paid to Party Podcast.

But now, it's your turn. What song do you think are the most overplayed songs ever? Post your replies below.

What would you do?

So I'm waiting for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to perform on Tuesday night at the Bobcats Arena, and Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley sits down two rows behind me with his family. His group's just opened for the Chili Peppers, and he is trying to spend some time with his folks.

I want to get two minutes with him for a quick interview, but I can tell he doesn't want to be bothered. He turns down the first person that asks him for a picture, explaining that if he poses for one then others will want shots as well. Midway through the RHCP concert, he relents and politely signs autographs for a couple of women, and poses for a few pictures with adoring fans. A little boy hangs on his arm and a woman (who acts like his girlfriend) hovers behind him.

Put yourself in my shoes. What do you do in this situation? You know artists who are on tour have little time to spend with their family. It's obvious Ceelo wants an hour to chill with his peeps and watch the show. Do you bug him for an interview or leave him alone?

Post your replies below. On Thursday, I'll tell you what I did.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Can you find love in a bar?

I’ve been reading the exchange on the “Who Needs a Husband” post. The comment by “Kevin” still gnaws at me. No, not the part about me hating men, blah, blah. That’s typical.

I’m talking about his comment criticizing me for talking to women at Fox & Hound. For some reason, I often hear people say you can’t meet anyone of substance in a club or bar. It makes it sound as if every person that hangs out or occasionally visits bars is not marrying material. At the same time, people often say single folks should meet a church-going girl or guy, as if people who go to church don’t go to clubs.

What do you think? Can you meet a person of substance at a nightclub? Post your replies below.

Frankie J Coming

Frankie J is performing at Amos’ Southend on Feb. 16. The pop-Latin sensation is riding the wave of hits such as “That Girl.” Tickets are available at

FYI: The weekend of Feb. 16 is going to be crazy. Frankie J will be that Friday at Amos’. Then on Feb. 17, NV nightclub will celebrate Mardi Gras with a huge spectacle of beads, Dixieland Jazz and masks. Wait, there’s more. On Feb. 18, Musiq Soulchild performs at Amos’ Southend, and on the same night, it’s the Bartender’s Ball at the Blake Hotel. I’m tired thinking about it already.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who needs a husband?

A New York Times article reprinted in yesterday's Observer highlighted what many of my friends and I already knew: More American women are living without a husband than with one.
One of the factors the story cited was that women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners.

I think more women realize they don’t need to be hemmed up with a dude to be happy, and they’re also willing to wait for the right man before they get married.

An unscientific survey at Fox & Hound in Ballantyne last night confirmed my suspicion.

I talked to three women, all in their 20s, and all unmarried. Two said they couldn’t find a good guy, and that most of the guys they met were jerks. Another woman said she has no desire to get married now. She said when a boyfriend's hinted at marriage, she told him to slow down.

In this week's That’s Wassup! column, we will look at this topic some more, and I introduce you to three women who are unmarried and aren’t willing to lower their standards just to be married.
In the meantime, why do you think fewer women are married? Post your replies below.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Adios Comedy Zone, Mint Condition coming

Tony Rock performed at the Comedy Zone last year. Photo courtesy the Comedy Zone

First, the good news:
Mint Condition will perform at Amos’ Southend on Jan. 25. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale on Monday at Advance tickets are $30.

Now, the bad news:
The Comedy Zone uptown closed after its New Year’s Eve show. Its lease ended, and co-owner Brian Heffron says he’s looking for a new spot. Right now, however, he’s opening five other Comedy Zones in other states, and hasn’t had time to focus on Charlotte. He has looked at several buildings, and says there’s a possibility the club may not be uptown because property is so expensive.

Boo! The Comedy Zone is a strong addition to uptown, and gives uptown partiers an alternative to bars and restaurants. It complements the performing arts facilities, and helps draw people uptown who wouldn’t normally come here. Plus, it’s so easy to leave the Comedy Zone and have drinks at a nearby bar.

My favorite show at the Comedy Zone uptown was Dave Chappelle back in April 2004.

What was your favorite show there? Post your replies below.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Partying in Ballantyne

I don’t understand Ballantyne partiers.

Saturday, I bar-hopped between Village Bistro, Vesuvio Pizzeria and Villa Antonio.

Village Bistro is the place to sit and talk with friends. I understand that, but I don’t understand the people who want to dance.

At Vesuvio, DJ E-Luv mixed current stuff such as DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out,” Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got” along with the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” Yet only 20 or so people danced.

At Villa Antonio, a woman basically let one song play, and then she played another. Think of a house party, pre-iPod. And people paid $5 for that. Everyone was dancing and having fun, but I still don’t understand why more people gravitated to the place with the skill-less DJ.

It's not just Ballantyne. People will pay good money to hear average DJs spin the same stuff they hear on the radio for free at places such as Brick and Barrel, Phil's Deli and Connolley's, but won't support DJs who really know how to spin. What's the deal? Post your replies below.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Savion Glover Coming

This is for the person who asked about the Savion show.
Savion Glover will be here February 5 at 8 p.m. at the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

See you at the show.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Spitting dirt and burning rubber

Okay, actually I almost bit the dirt and didn't burn much rubber, but I had fun on my two laps around the Toyota AMA Arenacross track (click for video). Can you see me? I'm still glowing.

I took off on the 110 CC dirt bike with the throttle wide open (OK, I was in second gear). As a I drove around the dirt track I imagined myself racing a merciless clock, going head-to-head with the dozens of real arenacross racers waiting for me to finish my little "TV" stunt so they could practice for tonight's big race. I hit the first turn with my hand steady on the throttle. I went over a little jump and then hit the whoop-t-loops (a series of small jumps).

My coach, Slim Jim of Greensboro told me earlier to keep the throttle steady and not go to fast because the jumps are so close together. It sounded good until I got on the jumps. I couldn’t keep the throttle steady. My crazy butt kept trying to sit after each jump instead of standing on the foot pegs. The back of the bike kept pitching me forward. But I made it over without crashing after nearly careening into one bunker.

I scooted through a tight turn and faced a mammoth jump. I took the first jump easily. (Ok, I drove over it). The second jump was a problem. I didn't give the bike enough gas; it stalled. Now you know why I’m glad Adam gave me a small bike: I was a second away from sliding back down the hill. I held the front brake, and tried to figure out how to re-start the bike. It wasn't an electric start. I had to kick-start it. Earlier, I’d asked a rider to start it for me because I thought kick-starts were some kind of ancient relic in bike museums. I swung the start lever out and stomped on it. The bike roared back to life. (OK, it started.) I took off down the hill, scooted around the second tight corner and back to the start gate.

Then I rode the track again.

The good folks at Toyota AMA and Ricky Hendricks Motorsports hooked me up with a couple of spins around the track. As many of you know by now, I ride a sport bike and I've ridden a dirt bike a few times. The problem was, I've only ridden dirt bikes on asphalt, which doesn't move unless you're in the "Matrix" or drunk.

On Friday, I was neither.

Adam with Live Nation hooked me up with a small 110 CC bike. Initially, I complained, but once I got on the dirt I realized A-Dawg knew what he was doing.

For those of you who don’t know, arenacross is like motorcross in an arena, which means everything is tighter.

Slim Jim and Bald Jim, two professional arenacross riders from N.C., were in charge of giving me instructions on how to survive. The only thing I wanted to know was how to do the jumps.

You know what they said: “Don’t jump.” I asked if it was because I was a woman. They said it was because I didn't know what I was doing.

They were right.

I know you guys want to see me in action. Hit up on Saturday and see me do my thing.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rock, paper, Edward Scissorhands

I was excited about seeing "Edward Scissorhands" until Observer theater critic Julie Coppens told me the production at Blumenthal's Belk Theater was a dance performance instead of a play. After spending what felt like eternity at "The Nutcracker" in December, I wasn't in the mood to sit through more dancing. Plus, I'll be seeing Savion Glover in February, so I needed a break. J-Cop suggested I go anyway, saying "Edward Scissorhands" was a production she'd been looking forward to most this year. Plus, she assured me it'd be nothing like "The Nutcracker."

I took her advice, and didn't regret it. I haven't seen the movie, and I definitely didn't know what to expect from the performance. The production was done in such a way that you don't need to know the movie to understand or appreciate the performance. The story of a misfit who is tolerated and ultimately rejected is portrayed through jazzy dance numbers that are often humorous.

That's right, "Edward Scissorhands" is a love story. Don't all misfit stories seem to revolve around love? I wouldn't mind a story about a misfit who doesn't get the girl because he's a misfit. That'd be keeping it real.

Anyway, the production made me want to rent the movie so I can see how it compared to the Belk show. Did you see the production? If so, did you like it? And how did it compare to the movie? Post your reply below.

A sad day for lesbians

I'm heading out shortly for happy hour and I'll be pouring out a little beer for my homies -- the Charlotte Sting.

In today's business section, we reported that the professional team will be disbanding and the players will be shipped to other franchises. It's a loss for the city, but it's an even bigger loss for lesbians in the Carolinas.

I know -- the WNBA doesn't like to talk about the lesbian factor. But it's no secret that WNBA games are gathering places for lesbians. Yes, the games show us the best in basketball, where we actually see teamwork and it's not all about the personalities and high-flying dunks.

But for me the games were more than that. In a city like Charlotte, where lesbians -- especially middle-class black ones -- tend to be closeted or cocooners, Sting games were places to get my flirt on and simply socialize with like-minded women.

The games drew a mix of women: some were single lesbians, others were couples, and some had children. It was a mix of lipstick and baby butches.

I'm one of the slackers who never made it to a game at Bobcats Arena, but I fondly remember the days at the Charlotte Coliseum. Halftime was the best. We'd walk around the concourse and I would typically run into someone from Columbia, S.C., or Raleigh. We'd hug, catch up and promise to stay in touch. At the next game, we'd do it all over again.

Almost as big as the games were the after-parties, which drew a mix women. Today, I have a close network of friends, but I feel for the young women and newcomers who are dying for a place to meet other women. They lost one of the best lesbian assets.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Big parties in '07

Another year is gone and the city's party scene is chugging along. Last year, didn't give us many new clubs. In fact, we seemed to lose more spots than we gained. Here are some of the big parties and shows in '07.

*Rapper Baby Boy, who sings "The Way I Live," performs at NV Lounge on January 13. Show co-sponsored by 96.1, The Beat.
*Gnarls Barkley and Red Hot Chili Peppers per
form at Bobcats Arena on Jan. 23.
*Reggae greats Beres Hammond and Marcia Griffiths perform at the Neighborhood Theatre on Feb. 2.
*The Bartenders Ball goes home. The popular boozefest, sponsored by Elevate Magazine and Entertainment and RockHouse Events, returns to the Adam's Mark, now the Blake Hotel. Feb. 18.
*12th Annual HRC Carolinas Gala
at the Charlotte Convention Center on Feb. 24.
*The CIAA tournament brings Boyz II Men, parties and more parties to Charlotte, Feb. 26 - March 3 at the Bobcats Arena. (CIAA party promoters, please e-mail me your events as a Word document.)
*9th Annual ACC Tournament Party, sponsored by Charlotte Sports Connection and Elevate, will be at theDilworth Neighborhood Grille on March 16.
*Mardi Gras party Buckhead Saloon sponsored by Elevate. March 17.
*Rich & Bennett’s 7th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. Ten bars uptown on March 17.
*DJ/producer John Digweed performs at the Forum on March 29.
Charlotte's 12th Annual Taste of the Nation will be on April 18 at Wachovia Atrium.
*MerleFest turns 25 this year. April 26-29 at Wilkes Community College in Wilksboro.
*Socialympics III, sponsored by, on July 14. Midtown Sundries Lake Norman.
*Charlotte Outdoor Adventure Festival sponsored by Elevate, at Latta Park on May 12.
*Charlotte Shout will be September 7 - 30. Blues, Brews and BBQ is September 21 - 22 (and they promise more barbecue for you to buy and eat). Culinary Arts Experience is Sept. 28-29.
*Charlotte Oktoberfest 2007 is Sept. 29 and will likely be at Memorial Stadium. I hope they have more food venues this time.
*Rich & Bennett’s 7th Annual Halloween Pub Crawl
Ten bars in uptown on October 27.
*The Santa Bar Crawl will be Dec. 1 in uptown, sponsored by Elevate and
*Rich & Bennett’s New Years Bash 2008 at Hawthorne's on December 31.

Do you have a major party this year? If so post it below.

"24" is back!

I can't wait. The new season of "24" arrives Jan. 14 for a two-night premiere. I'm doing my list of the top 10 things I've learned from watching "24."

Any suggestions? Post your reply below. Also, I'm looking for my "24" partner Conrad. If you're out there drop me an e-mail.