Friday, March 30, 2007

Tilt's grand opening

If you ever went to Liquid Lounge, you probably won’t recognize the place the first time you walk into Tilt. The change isn’t as dramatic as the Mythos to Forum renovation, but it's a huge improvement.

On Thursday, I joined a couple hundred people at the grand-opening party, and the place looks great. Tilt's owners are Dixie’s Tavern’s Lucas Johns, Anthony Karey and Chris Peavey, and Adam Parker of Time lounge, and the time and money they put into the renovation shows.

Tilt has hardwood floors throughout the main room. The curtained area to the left of the main entrance is gone, and so is the VIP area that took up half of the dance floor. The colors are warm chocolate-browns, and large art installations and mirrors hang on the walls. The patio now has better canvas over the roof.

Tilt feels roomier than Liquid. There are bistro tables throughout the martini lounge, and several flat-screen TVs. The renovations surprised me, but the music on Thursday night was an even bigger surprise: I expected the typical hip-hop, but the DJ spun “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Shout” and rock music. It was refreshingly odd music mix.

Donkey show worth the drive to Salisbury

I can’t tell you what “The Donkey Show: A Midsummer Night’s Disco,” currently playing at the Meroney Theater in the Salisbury, was about.

I can tell you that on Thursday night I laughed more during the play -- a disco version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – than I did during the movie “Norbit.”

Here’s what I know: There are three couples, and each person lusts after someone else's partner. Two beefy guys in pale blue leisure suits and Afro wigs call themselves the Vinnies and think they're sexy. A fairy on roller skates gives people Funky Cold Medina, which makes them all pass out and then wake up in love with their partner. Oh, and there's a conga line through the audience and a Cirque Du Soleil-style dance number complete with masquerade masks and costumes.

Like I said, it was confusing. Since everyone wears glittery outfits, platform shoes, bell-bottoms and sings songs such as “Staying Alive,” “Car Wash” and “I’m Your Boogie,” does the play really need to make sense? The play takes place on a disco dance floor, which extends into the orchestra seats of the theater. Audience members sit on the stage and get to dance with cast members. If you’re not careful, one of the Vinnies might sit on your lap.

Piedmont Players' production of “The Donkey Show” is kitschy in a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” way. It’s worth the 45-minute drive from downtown Charlotte. Arrive early enough to grab a glass of wine at the Blue Vine next door to the theater. It makes the play funnier.

Did I mention there’s a dance number set to the music of the Mos Eisley cantina scene in “Star Wars”? Well, there is. R2-D2 makes an appearance, too. So, does a donkey.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

McSwain case leaves a lot of unanswered questions

Matt Bolick has a lot of explaining to do.
So does 15-year-old Bethany McSwain.
And so does McSwain’s mama, Jill.

Bolick and the McSwains are at the center of a he-said-she-said tale of underage drinking, partying and bad judgment.

Two things are certain.

*Bolick, 39, an assistant manager at the Forum, was led away from the nightclub in handcuffs on Saturday. (That doesn’t look good for the city’s club industry.) He faces three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and four counts of giving or selling alcohol to a minor. Bolick is out on bond.

The Observer reported that Bolick is accused of allowing three girls - ages 14, 15 and 16 - into the bar and giving them mixed drinks. WBTV reported that Bolick is accused of taking the trio to his apartment and giving them alcohol, and then leading all three into the Forum.

*Taxpayers’ money was wasted because police searched for Bethany McSwain after her mother said she disappeared from home last Thursday. Bethany was found safely at UNC Charlotte early Tuesday morning after several students reported seeing her there.

Those things are certain, but how we came to that is confusing.

Jill McSwain has told the media that she discovered on Bethany’s MySpace page that her daughter was partying at the Forum and that she met Bolick on MySpace.

Bolick isn’t talking.

An e-mail statement issued by the Forum management on Wednesday read:
“On Wednesday, March 21st, The Forum staff was approached by a woman who stated that her 15-year-old daughter was inside the club. She was located, removed from the venue and then left with her mother. On Friday, March 23rd, the mother returned to The Forum to look for her daughter again. The girl was not inside the venue and has not returned to The Forum since she was removed on March 21.”

The club said it has no evidence that the allegations made against Bolick are true. The assistant manager is under temporary suspension. Club management also said that, contrary to media reports, the Forum has not been contacted by Alcohol Law Enforcement regarding any investigation or violations related to this matter.

Like I said, it’s confusing, but three people have some explaining to do. Bolick is a longtime nightclub veteran. Before joining the staff at the Forum, he worked as a DJ at Liquid Lounge. It’s unconscionable that he would knowingly give minors alcohol or take three teenage girls to his place.

Bethany has some explaining to do as well. Why is a 15-year-old sneaking into nightclubs? The only thing a 15-year-old is going to find at an adult nightclub is trouble. And has she really been chillin’ at UNC Charlotte the last few days while people looked for her?

Mama Jill isn’t off the hook either. If she dragged Bethany out of The Forum last Wednesday, how did her daughter disappear the next day?

If my mother had dragged me out of a club on Wednesday night, I’d still be recuperating in the hospital on Thursday.

Post your comments below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Plaza-Midwood getting piano bar

Plaza-Midwood is becoming the place to be. Another club is opening there in the next month.

Petra’s Piano Bar and Cabaret is scheduled to open on Commonwealth Avenue next to the Penguin on April 13. Chris Hollar a Greensboro native, and Robb Huddleston, a Gastonia native, are opening the bar, which is modeled after Rose’s Turn and the Duplex. Both are piano bars in New York’s West Village.

At Petra’s, bartenders and cocktail waiters will sing sets throughout the night. The music will range from ’60s love songs to Broadway tunes to contemporary songs.

Guests will also be able to make requests and sing with the piano player. Huddleston said he will be bringing friends from New York to perform in cabaret shows and one-man shows. The club will also have a cabaret room with performances.

It’s going to be a fun place for the theatre crowd and the people who hang out in the Plaza-Midwood area, said Huddleston, who said he co-founded the Muddy Cup coffeehouse in New York. It also featured live entertainment.

Petra's is the second club announcement in the last week for Plaza-Midwood area, and as I said last week, I'm working on getting the information for one other place. I've often written that Plaza-Midwood could surpass NoDa in hipness.

Why do you think Plaza-Midwood is becoming so popular? Post your replies below.

(Also coming soon: Tilt, at Trade and Tryon, is scheduled to open officially on March 29. Get your invitation at

Monday, March 19, 2007

John Edwards at the Forum

Holding a fundraising campaign at the Forum sounded like a good way to draw young hip voters, but most of the folks who showed up for the John Edwards fundraiser on Monday evening were far from hip.

The event drew a mix of voters who looked like card-carrying members of the Young Democrats of North Carolina and card-carrying members of the Old Democrats of North Carolina (FYI: there’s no such association). The 75-100 people who turned out to see Edwards were stiff and serious looking. Although Boyd Tinsley’s band cranked out jamming covers of Marvin Gaye and more, no one seemed willing to dance. Tinsley is a violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, and Tinsley’s band is worth seeing.

The few people who were dancing during the band’s performance happened to be Edwards’ staffers. I snapped a picture of one campaign staffer dancing, and she freaked out saying that she couldn’t have her picture taken. After resuscitating her with a defibrillator, I deleted the picture. Whoa.

If Edwards’ or any other candidate seriously wanted to draw new and hip blood they should bumrush places. For example, instead of holding a scheduled fundraiser at the Forum, they should takeover the Forum on a Wednesday night. It’s college night so everyone should at least be age 18. The campaign peeps could buy a round of drinks for everyone; Edwards could deliver the same speech he’s delivered in a zillion other stops and have his staff register voters on-site. They could do the same thing at the Penguin, the Milestone and Tremont Music Hall. (Please note: I don’t cover politics so I’m not sure if providing free beer and registering voters is illegal, but if it is then don’t register voters, but keep the beer.).

Tinsley’s band played for more than an hour and then audience members watched a short video montage of Edwards’ speeches and interviews. After chilling in Pravda lounge, Edwards appeared about 8:30 p.m. While Tinsley performed, Edwards posed for pictures and shook hands. Then he took the stage and said what you’d expect: Bush is ruining the country, Congress needs to step up, everyone deserves healthcare, and we have to save the Earth, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, Edwards sounds like he believes what he’s saying but considering that we’d just heard the same variation of that speech on the video montage, it didn’t sound authentic.

Oh lastly, Edwards’s folks ought to change up his wardrobe. Levis and a blue pinstriped shirt aren’t hip or casual. At least give the dude a fat belt buckle with the Wright Brothers airplane on it and a funkier shirt. What does he have to lose?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Paddy’s Day round-up

The scene was sedate when I arrived at the Attic about 8:30 p.m. The crowd ebbed and flowed in bars through out uptown on Saturday night. According to Paid to Party’s Throw Some D’s, there was an hour and half wait to get inside Cans at one point on Saturday. By 9 p.m. there was no line. When I headed home about 12:30 a.m., there was a line outside of Cans.

This is the first time in seven years that St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday. Some bars opened at 8 or 9 a.m. Judging from the looks on the face of Attic co-owner Tommy Timmins, many bar and restaurant staff worked all day to accommodate the mass of people.

I started at Galway Hooker Pub about 5 p.m. then worked my way to uptown, and finished at Dixie’s after midnight.

Where did you go for St. Patrick’s Day? And how was it?

St. Paddy’s at Galway Hooker Pub

To everyone I met in Galway Hooker Pub on Saturday afternoon, I apologize if I smelled funky. I came straight to the pub after teaching a motorcycle class at Mitchell Community College that afternoon.

When I arrived at Galway, there was a line to get inside. Once inside, I met St. Patrick - he didn’t have any snakes. The pub drew a mix of families with children, couples and throngs of young people having a good time. The band Spin played a mix of Irish drinking songs and oldies, such as Simon & Garfunkel.

I learned the song “Whiskey In a Jar.”

A Family Affair

Ron and Debbie stood near the wall in Madison’s about 9 p.m. Saturday watching UNC take on Michigan State and soaking up the atmosphere. They proudly wore their Rich & Bennett St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl T-shirts. It was their first time, and maybe Debbie’s last, on the crawl that drew more than 2,300 people uptown.

Organizers say it could be the largest crawl in the U.S. ever and the second largest in the world. By 9 p.m. most of the crawlers dispersed to bars throughout uptown, but they had a day full of memories. Mayor Pat McCrory toasted off the crawl at Dixie’s at 1 p.m. Then he posed for pictures with crawlers for more than an hour. As Paid to Party scout Throw Some D’s said, the bar crawl toast was McCrory’s Bill Clinton saxophone moment.

Friends of Ron and Debbie took pictures with McCrory. The older couple came up from Rock Hill to participate in the crawl with their daughter and son. Ron sounded hopeful that he’d return next year, but Debbie sounded tired.

Who wouldn’t be? They started the crawl at 1 p.m. That’s a lot of Guinness.

St. Paddy’s at Madison’s

Since the Attic was slow, I stepped next door in Madison’s. The crowd was also sedate and many people watched the UNC basketball game. Then O.A.R.’s song “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” came on. A guy near the front of the lounge started dancing alone. A group of men and women near the bar were dancing with each other. Two girls jumped around. Nearly everyone sang the lyrics “I say of, you say a I say revolution, and you say Jah I say of, you say a I say revolution.”

I realized that for white people that song is what Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go” is for black people. When it comes on, people start dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.

The O.A.R song resuscitated the crowd at Madison’s. By the time Detroit Red and I headed next door to Attic, the group of wild folks moved from the bar to the center of the club near the flat screen TV. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly across the room and hit the wall. I thought a person had slam danced into the wall. Then I realized a partier threw the cardboard cutout of the Sam Adams man into the wall. They picked it up and began karate kicking it. One guy did some sort of breakdancing thing.

Big shouts to Tyler, an avid Paid to Party reader who I met in Madison’s.

St. Paddy’s at Connolly’s

By the time we arrived at Connolly’s about 10:45 p.m., there was a line to get inside and it cost $20. The patio, tent, upstairs and downstairs were all packed. The wait for a drink and the bathroom were never-ending.

John King stood on the patio wearing a kilt and talking to friends. He and 30 other firefighters and friends from New Haven, Conn., came down to Charlotte to surprise Shannon Richards for her 25th birthday. King and his friends are tight with Richards’ dad Billy. She recently had a bone marrow transplant so they wanted to surprise her.

Upstairs in Connolly’s, Detroit Red spotted Jennifer Martini. He swears she’s Brooke from “Real World: Denver.” She showed me her license and said she wasn’t. You decide.

St. Paddy’s at Dixie’s

A guy stood up in a booth inside Dixie’s Tavern and started singing. A female friend tugged on the hanging lamp and pointed it at partiers to put them in the spotlight. The security guard walked over and gave them a menacing look.

At 11:30 p.m., Dixie’s was crazy. There was a line outside. They stopped letting people in because they said they were at capacity. People spilled onto the patio and filled every cranny of the pub. Dixie’s was the start and for many people the end of Rich & Bennett’s pub-crawl.

One woman was asleep in a booth, and then her friend pulled her up and dragged her onto the dance floor. The music was all over the place -- rap, rock, pop, country and hillbilly country. Partiers danced and sang to it all.

My cutie of the night was Lucas. See his picture on Party Pix. He’s adorable.

Shout outs to Full Court Press. If you were telling me the truth last night, sorry you lost your job at Quaker Steak and Lube because of one my columns. Better luck at your current gig.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Real jazz at the Excelsior

If you’re looking for straight-ahead jazz, the kind that Bill Cosby always raved about on “The Cosby Show,” then Wednesdays at the Excelsior club is the place to be.

Charlotte’s Michael Porter’s Porterhouse outfit performed to a crowd of about 30 people on Wednesday. The small audience was appreciative and the musicians laughed and enjoyed themselves onstage.

The city has numerous smooth jazz bands who play instrumental versions of hit R&B songs, but finding bands to play traditional jazz is tough. Porterhouse played ’60s-style traditional jazz.

The crowd at the Excelsior is a bit older than what you would find at the Jazz Cafe and at other restaurants that feature jazz combos, but the music is better (I’m not a smooth jazz fan), and the atmosphere is warm.

Good happy hour at Mimosa

In one night, I had two different happy hour experiences. Both taught me the importance of asking questions and not taking no for an answer.

I’ll start with the good experience.

Mimosa Grill is my new happy hour spot. Diners filled the bar area, the booths and the patio. It was so crowded it was standing room only by 7 p.m. on the patio and at the bar.

I chose Mimosa because I heard about its $4.75 appetizer menu from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They also have daily drink specials. L-boogie and I feasted on generous portions of mussels and calamari. The mussels were delicious, but the calamari’s breading was soft and the dipping sauce had too much mayo.

My favorite item was the $4.75 cheeseburger with Applewood bacon and sweet potato fries. The burger was seasoned well and had a tasty sauce. It was slightly over-cooked, but for $4.75, I didn’t mind washing it down with a beer. My friend ordered the chicken sandwich. She didn’t like the seasoning, and both of us loved the sweet potato fries.

Here’s why I said I learned a lesson at Mimosa. I knew about the happy hour special because I’m on Mimosa’s e-mail list. When we were seated on the patio, the waiter gave us a regular dinner menu.

When I asked about the special, he said he needed to check. He immediately returned with a happy hour menu.

He took our orders and brought the mussels and calamari out as appetizers, and then the cheeseburger and chicken sandwich as entrees.

The lesson I learned was to always ask your server about happy hour specials if you're hanging out afterwork. That was my good happy hour experience.

My bad happy hour experience occurred later Wednesday night at McCormick & Schmick's uptown.

What's your favorite after-hour happy hour spot? Post your replies below.

Bad happy hour at Mickey Schmicks

After leaving Mimosa, I dashed over to a poetry competition at the House of Jazz (Read that blog entry). Then I met some friends at Allure restaurant and lounge. Hardly anyone was at Allure, so I told four friends to go to McCormick & Schmick's for its late-night happy hour, which I’ve always said is one of the best deals in town.

Kitch and I went to the Excelsior Club for jazz night. (Read that blog entry.) After leaving the Excelsior, we met our friends at McCormick & Schmick’s. My friends said the bartender told them there weren’t any happy hour specials.

I asked the bartender, whom I recognized, what was up. He said the happy hour was from 9-10 p.m.

My friends arrived about 9:30 p.m. and said they specifically asked him about a happy hour special. He told them there wasn’t one. Next, I asked if we could order off the dinner menu. The bartender said the kitchen was closed. I didn’t think much about it, so Kitch and I walked to Madison’s for drinks.

Fifteen minutes later, one of my girlfriends calls to tell me that another couple ordered off the menu after we left Mickey Schmick. I was livid.

First off, I recommended my friends go there for the happy hour and they're told there isn’t one. Then I’m told the kitchen is closed, but another couple orders food.

I returned to speak with the manager. He apologized profusely and said the bartender should have offered us the menu since the restaurant was still serving food to other customers. He also said he didn’t understand why the bartender, who definitely wasn’t a rookie, told my friends that there wasn’t a late-night happy hour. (I have my thoughts on that.)

The manager informed me that he comped my friends' meals and offered me a complimentary meal as well to apologize for the bartender’s unwillingness to serve us food.

I appreciate the way the manager handled the situation because such bad service from the bartender left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth that night.

The lesson from that experience is if you’re gut tells your that something’s not right, ask for a manager.

What's your favorite late night food spot? Post your replies below.

A hunk of black man

Don’t do crack because you might lose your children.
A hunk of black man is better than a plate of fried chicken.
If a married man says he’s waiting on the divorce to be finalized, don’t believe him.

Those are a few of the lessons I learned on Wednesday night at a V101.9/Power 98 poetry competition. More than a dozen poets (experienced and unexperienced) competed at the event, which was hosted by Charlotte slam master Bluz and held at the House of Jazz.

I was one of three people judging the poets. Several offered uplifting words about being better men and women. Others recited odes to their lovers. A handful were so bitter that one of my fellow judges said the poems read more like journal entries. I agreed, but we all applaud anyone with the guts to get in front of a microphone. It’s not easy.

The final competition is Wednesday. Registration is 6-6:45 p.m. Spoken word begins at 7 p.m. The best poets will participate in the literary cafe at For Sisters Only on April 14 at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart.

Hey, aspiring poets: I know you’re passionate about your words, but consider doing a funny poem. You will stand out. And please, please, don’t read your poem from a sheet of paper or notebook. It kills your delivery and stage presence.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tom Joyner kidnapped me

With a microphone in both hands, K-Ci Hailey stood on stage at the Jazz Café on Wednesday and thanked radio personality Tom Joyner for playing his music for so many years. Hailey sang a few signature “ooohhs” and “yeaaahhhs.” Then Joyner leaned toward the mike and sang a couple of his own.
The hundreds of fans who crowded the stage, snapping pictures and watching applauded.
It was like that at the Jazz Café on Wednesday: the young paid homage to the old, and the old paid homage to the young. Behind Joyner and Hailey were two generations of Charlotte-area talent: national recording artists Sunshine Anderson and Calvin Richardson, as well as rising stars Rudy Currence, the band Uncommon Jazz and Q92 radio personality Jaye Delai.
Hundreds of people streamed into the club for Joyner’s meet and greet, which ended Anderson's performance. The line stretched down the sidewalk toward the rear of the club, and didn’t recede until Joyner left.
During the evening, Joyner sat at a table near the front and hosted the event. When he wasn’t on the mike, he accepted handshakes, hugs and introductions from fans who visited his table.
Anderson, known for her hit “Heard It All Before,” gave fans a brief taste of her new album, “Sunshine at Midnight.” She also thanked fans for supporting her ¬¬– especially since she hasn’t released an album in nearly six years.
After her performance, Joyner, who broadcasted from Q92’s studio this morning, returned to the stage, and Anderson, Hailey, Currence, Delai and Uncommon Jazz surrounded him. Everyone wanted to be near the man who had the first nationally syndicated black radio show. Before there was Steve Harvey, Russ Parr or Michael Baisden, there was Joyner. He always used his show to start listeners’ days off with a smile, and provided insight about politics and issues affecting African Americans.
When Joyner left, Anderson and the other artists shared the mike and sang, while Uncommon Jazz played in the background.
That’s when Joyner kidnapped me.
The plan was to join him in the car for a quick interview. I ended up riding with him back to his hotel and interviewing him during the drive. We talked about the rise of black radio personalities and the two things prohibited on his radio show.
You can hear the interview next week on the podcast Paid to Party 4 Yo’ Ear!
Today, talk shows seem to dominate radio more than music. What’s your favorite radio talk show, and why? Joyner, Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Larson, Ace & TJ, Matt and Ramona? Post your replies below.

Juicy stories from a chauffer

After Tom Joyner went to his hotel, I quizzed his chauffer on the drive back to the Jazz Café. I’ve always said I want to be a bartender when I retire, but I might consider driving a limo.
Here’s what I learned about the people he’s driven around town:
Celebrity with the worst attitude: Singer Jeffrey (can you woo woo) Osbourne was snooty.
Coolest celebrity: Singer Shania Twain.
Craziest thing that’s happened in your car: Two couples did the wild thing while he drove them in stretch limo. Then they wanted to stop at a rest area.
Weirdest request: Drugs.
What's the craziest thing you've ever done in a limo? Remember it's a family newspaper so make your items PG-13. Post your replies below.

Liquid Lounge now Tilt, Gilda re-opens

Those of you who say Charlotte needs more martini lounges are getting your wish.
Liquid Lounge at Trade and Tryon is now Tilt, an upscale martini bar with a whole new look. Dixie 's Tavern's Lucas Johns, Anthony Karey and Chris Peavey -- along with Adam Parker of Time lounge -- partnered to open Tilt.
Renovations include removing the window coverings so patrons can look out onto Trade Street , re-doing the hardwood floors at the entrance, building a new bar, replacing the VIP sections with lounge chairs and bistro tables, and turning the back patio into a beer garden with a new canvas awning. There will be TVs, and the color scheme is chocolate. The music will range from R&B to house to top 40.
Johns said it's going to be a place to go before dinner, or if you don't want to go to a rowdy club.
Tilt will be competing against Tutto Mondo, Therapy and Loft 1523, but Johns says customer service will set Tilt apart from the other establishments.
Across town in NoDa, Gilda lounge has the same name, but a new attitude.
Owner Wes Taylor, of 710 lounge, reopened the lounge a couple of weeks ago. He is focusing on consistency with his hours (5 p.m.-2 a.m. seven days a week) and top-notch customer service. He wants Gilda to offer neighborhood-pub friendlessness in an upscale lounge. He's planning a Latino night, a service industry night, and a half-price martinis night on Thursdays.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What's missing uptown?

In her newcomer’s column last week, the Observer’s Leigh Dyer wrote about Daddy’s American Bar & Grill. It’s Stefan Latorre’s new sports bar at the corner of Church and Fifth. It used to be Twist and, before that, City Tavern.

Several readers wrote to Leigh complaining that uptown doesn’t need any more sports bars. We have Fox & Hound, Stool Pigeons, Picasso’s, Champions and the Graduate.

Instead, some readers requested a martini bar for 30-40 year olds, but that market is saturated as well. Center City already has Tutto Mondo, Therapy and Loft 1523. Plus, every upscale restaurant’s bar has an extensive martini list.

What does uptown need that it doesn’t already have? Here’s what we have so far: two Irish pubs, a ton of upscale restaurants, martini bars, a couple of neighborhood pubs, three mainstream dance clubs and two delis that turn into dance clubs (and a live music venue is coming.

What’s missing that would really be supported?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Nas coming to Charlotte

Rapper Nas brings his The Hip Hop is Dead Tour 2007 to Neighborhood
Theatre on April 11. ($38. 704-358-9298;; or
Baseline Cuts Barbershop: 704-567-9919.)

The upcoming show -- and EPMD’s performance here for CIAA weekend --
provides a good opportunity to talk about the state of hip-hop.

On Nas’ new single, "Hip-hop is Dead," he laments rappers today who brag about the women
they’ve slept with and their jewelry. At the EPMD show at Amos’ Southend
on Friday, rapper Erick Sermon also called out young rappers, saying
that anybody could rap, but not everyone can be an MC.

I understand where they’re coming from because that quality hip-hop that
tries to uplift young people and educate young minds disappeared from
radio stations more than a decade ago. But the issues that Nas and
Sermon have with rap music have always been a part of hip-hop.

Hip-hop isn’t dead. We still have Nas, Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5, Little
Brother, Outkast and countless underground rappers who aren’t grabbing
their crotches and talking about the kind of car they drive.

What do you think? Is hip-hop dead? Post your reply below.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The party's over until next year

I wrapped up the CIAA with my girl and Kitch at the Digital Divas Panache brunch at Blue restaurant this morning. After four days of partying and stopping long enough to do stuff for the paper and shower, it felt good to arrive somewhere and not feel rushed to go another event.

For more than an hour the three of us chilled and munched on omelets, waffles, shrimp, roast beef and more. A smooth jazz band played in the bar area. We sipped Bloody Marys and margaritas and recapped the weekend. We finished our brunch with a Royal Flush shot and toasted surviving another CIAA.

This year was better than last year. The day parties were hype and there were more parties in the heart of uptown. Several people, I interviewed said this year’s was better than last year’s as well. The one major complaint that I heard was that some hotels weren’t welcoming to people who weren’t guests at their hotels and that promoters were charging way too much money for their parties.

What do you think? Did you attend the CIAA tournament here last year? If so, how did 2007 compare? Was this your first time at the tournament? If so, how did Charlotte do?

Post your replies below.

Breakfast with the Omegas

The Omegas know how to throw a late night breakfast party.

After the Backyard Band show at Amos' we made a beeline to the Omega Psi Phi fraternity house for their late-night breakfast party. It was about 2:30 a.m. and I was starving. The Omegas were a model of efficiency. We walked in, paid $20, got a ticket and walked to the back. In the back, we gave a man our ticket, he handed us a plate and pointed us to the buffet.

I filled my plate up with grits, eggs, chicken wings, bacon and sausage, and then plopped into an oversized leather chair. I was the happiest person in the world. The grits were on point and so were the chicken wings. In all of my life of partying, I have never been fed that fast at a late-night food event. Had I gone to Waffle House, Coffee Cup, Mert's or IHOP, I would have waited forever to be seated and served.

After eating, we headed to the dance floor to shake it a couple of more hours before heading home about 4 a.m.

Next year, the Omegas are going to get tired of seeing my face.

Backyard Band at Amos' Southend

A guy wearing dark glasses and holding a cigarette between two fingers ducks low and weaves through the crowd to the rhythm of Backyard Bands cowbells and congas. He stops in front of his friends, jumps around with them and then weaves through the crowd again.

This is a go-go show baby, and if you’re standing still trying to look cool or cute, then you need to go home.
Inside Amos’ guys pump their hands in the air. Women dance with men or their girlfriends. The club is crowded from front to back, but there’s plenty of room to dance and Backyard gives fans plenty of reasons to dance.

In the world of go-go, I like Chuck Brown, Rare Essence and Junk Yard Band. After watching Backyard’s two-hour performance on Saturday, I’m adding them to my list. The band features Slim Charles, who played Avon Barksdale’s bodyguard on HBO’s “The Wire.” His scratchy voice complements the other talkers in the band.

They performed their own songs, but the crowd get even more hyped when they sing go-go versions of “Show Me What You Got” and “Throw Some D’s.” A guy stops me and tells me to write in my article that go-go is underrated in Charlotte. I dap him up and promise to do so.

And speaking of Charlotte’s under appreciation of go-go will someone please buy all of the Charlotte DJs some new go-go music? I’m so tired of hearing “Scenario” and “Water Dance” every time I go to a party. Those are not the only go-go songs out there, and they’re older than dirt.

Saturday party round up

Once again, CIAA partiers took over uptown Charlotte. One of my boys said it was a beautiful sight to see black people packing every bar, restaurant and club that they could on Saturday night. Since I spent Saturday night partying south of the Square, I missed the uptown action. Here's what I heard:

TOMMY FORD, who played Tommy on the TV comedy “Martin” stopped by the World’s Largest Finals Party at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, according to Tammy Greene of the Jazz Café. At least 241 people watched the game, ate and caught up with old friends at the party, which was in the stadium’s north lounge. After the party, Ford hung out at the Jazz Café.

Speaking of the Jazz Café, Green said 400 people attended the VSU Alumni Meet and Greet day party on Friday. It was the biggest single-day event ever at the Jazz Café, and that includes shows featuring a national artist.

PAID TO PARTY SHOOTER E-DUBYA said the best party she went to this weekend was the So So Day Affair at Jillians. The party was a farewell to N.C. Central University, which will no longer be in the CIAA after this year. E-Dubya said the party was so hype and DJ Flemingo was on it. Everybody was just pumped, and the party was relaxed not stuffy. Partiers formed a "Soul Train" lane. E-Dubya said she went to the bathroom and when she came back partiers had formed a circle and people were breakdancing.

E-Dubya hit up the A-List’s CI 2007 Extravaganza at the Omni hotel on Saturday night. It was a madhouse. A lot of people who bought advance tickets were turned away because the party was so crowded. Inside, everyone was looking cute, and E-Dubya said it was more fun outside of the party than in the hotel.

At 3:30 a.m., E-Dubya found her way to Allure, which was also packed. She said they were serving food. Every time, E-Dubya was ready to go, DJ Flemingo played another cut that dragged her back to the dance floor. She didn’t leave until 5:45 a.m.

PAID TO PARTY SCOUT SEARCHIN’ said the Best of Both Worlds party, presented by the Coalition of Young Black Professionals and D&G Entertainment, started slow, but picked up as the night went on. The party was fun, and there was plenty of food. She said DJ Boney B played way too much Jay-Z, and he played the same songs repeatedly. Oh, and the emcee was annoying too.

PAID TO PARTY ROLL DAWG KITCH said the uppity vibe that surrounded Friday night at the Crown Royal Barbershop at Emerson Joseph was gone Saturday. Kitch said during the Saturday edition the DJ played dirty south rap. Women and men danced. Saturday’s happy hour had more of a dance party feel than Friday’s party.

Now, it's your turn. Where did you party Saturday night? How was it? Post your replies below.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Fools shooting uptown

Some fools were shooting uptown early Saturday morning. A woman suffered an eye injury from broken glass as result of the incident, which occurred about 3:05 a.m. near Dixie's Tavern.

She was riding in a party bus that was struck by at least one bullet. A close friend of mine was on that bus and said a bullet hit his seat. He's shaken and not sure if he wants to come uptown tonight.

What makes it worse is that neither of us are surprised by the shooting. It seems like no matter how hard black people work to provide upscale events, i.e. no wanna-be gangsters, the little punks won’t stay away.

Now, I have a friend who’s worried about his safety uptown and there’s a woman nursing a wounded eye instead of having a good time.

Don't these idiots know they're the reason why so many white club and restaurant owners are reluctant to open their doors to black promoters? Incidents like this and the shooting at Crush a few weeks ago are the reason why we don't have a black-owned nightclub uptown. White people are scared of ignorant black people.

Guess what. Black people are scared of them too.

When I was working on the tournament party list, I went back and forth with a promoter about the language of his listing. He wanted me to write that it was open to all CIAA alumni. I told him non-CIAA alumni might think they couldn't attend. I suggested saying the party was for people ages 25 and up. He agreed, but then called me back later. He said only wanted people who were college graduates because he didn't want to deal with anyone who hadn't graduated from college coming in and acting like a fool in his party.

I know he's making a broad generalization, but I understand where he's coming from and it makes me sad. There is already a disconnect between the hip-hop generation and the Civil Rights generation. His comment, and the fact part of me agrees, makes me realize that we're facing a class disconnect within the hip-hop generation.

The CIAA tournament is a time to party and watch good basketball, but it also celebrates the legacy of historically black colleges. These schools give motivated black boys and girls hope for a better life. We have got to find a way to reach the black boys who have no hope because they are killing all of us, not just themselves

The Soul Train line outside of Blue

She looked so sexy sashaying through the Soul Train line on the sidewalk in front of Blue Restaurant about 3:45 p.m. on Saturday.

The men and women forming the line cheered as she walked past. She had her lips pursed in that “I know, I’m sexy,” way. Then she slipped and fell.

She sat sprawled on the concrete. The cheers from the men and women standing on the sidewalk and the ones sitting inside Blue’s open air patio area quickly turned into gut-busting laughter.

A guy rushed helped her up. Reginald Hester, Soul Train line instigator, snatched some fresh cut flowers out of a vase on one of the restaurant’s patio tables. He tried to hand them to her. She turned him down, and then walked the line again. Everyone cheered her on.

The Soul Train line was the best part of the Digital Diva’s Uptown Saturdays party at Blue Restaurant. It’s probably a scene the Digital Divas don’t even know about. Nearly as many were outside of Blue on the sidewalk as were inside the bar and restaurant. The speakers were propped in the patio’s windows. People passing by could hear the music. Frank Leggett and Hester created a Soul Train line and dance party with their friends and anyone else who gathered on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

I’m guessing the sidewalk gathering wasn’t what the Digital Divas organizers planned. Judging from the look on Blue owner Alex Myrick’s face, I don’t think he was too happy, but before the restaurant closed the patio windows and posted a no re-entry sign on the front door, the sidewalk was the place to be.

It wasn’t as crowded as the bar area, and people actually danced out there. Inside Blue there wasn’t enough room to dance plus the crowd seemed too cute to dance.

On the sidewalk, it was anything goes.
Hester hustled anyone through the line including a guy wearing a fur-ish coat and shorts. (Yes, he looked as crazy as it sounds.) An aspiring Lil’ Jon. A white willing to shake her thing with the ’bruhs. And an older white lady who almost made it through the line until one of the guys took her shoe off to reveal her purple furry socks.

A mini freak-nik on College Street

For several hours, College Street felt like a mini Freak-Nik on Saturday afternoon. CIAA partiers filled the sidewalks in front of Blue Restaurant, Buckhead Saloon and Mert’s.

Since it was such a nice day, some people chilled outside of the parties, many of which charged admission.

Inside Buckhead Saloon, Carson Rawls and Keona Williams kept the dance floor jumping at the 7th Annual SaturDAY party. By 3 p.m., the front area of the bar had a strong crowd. There were only two bartenders and people were stacked three deep waiting to order drinks.

Rawls danced with any and every woman he could entice onto the floor. And he got his boys out there too. He did everything from jackhammer style pelvis thrusts to ’80s dances. He wore an Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity shirt halfway on his body and a big grin on his face.

On the other side of the dance floor, Williams danced with her girlfriends. She shook her body so hard, she could give Beyonce some serious competition. She made me want to soak in Epson salt on her behalf.

The Original Hopewell Group Day Party drew an older, but equally enthusiastic crowd to the Breakfast Club. Well, no one shook like Beyonce, but they did dance. Partiers spread out among all three floors and outside on the patio. It was pleasantly full about 4 p.m. Thankfully, the Breakfast Club had four bartenders. That was good planning.

Down the street at Menage, Carlos Allen and Doug Wimble, both of D.C., got their go-go fix thanks to the DJ. The party was still going strong when I arrived about 5 p.m. All three levels were open, but people stayed on the first two levels.

EPMD at Amos' Southend

Keith Murray stage diving, Erick Sermon whining, Doug E. Fresh beat-boxing and DJ Scratch putting on a show that made DJ Kid Capri hug him.
The EPMD concert at Amos’ Southend was a classic hip-hop fans’ dream. For two hours, EPMD and friends had the crowd jumping, singing and rapping along to songs they grew up with.
Like many other places, there was a tiny crowd at the beginning of the show when the duo began about 11:45 p.m. Friday. By 1 a.m., the room was full from the stage back to the soundboard.
Kid Capri, who performed at the Ford Fan Experience Friday afternoon, made a surprise appearance and hung out with EPMD on stage. Fans got exactly what they wanted to hear and more during the show.
EPMD’s Sermon and Parrish Smith, who now lives in Charlotte, performed hits “You Gots to Chill,” “Unfinished Business,” “Crossover” and others. During the song “Crossover,” the duo gives a shout-out to Kid Capri. When EPMD got to that part of the sung, Capri stepped into the spotlight. Without a mike in his hand, he mouthed the words: ”Im strictly hip-hop, I'll stick to Kid Capri,
Funk mode, yea, kid, that's how the Squad rolls….”
Then Capri shook hands with fans from the stage and signed an autograph before returning to the back near the DJ booth.
As good as it was to see EPMD back on stage, the best parts of the show didn’t involve them. The duo gave DJ Scratch the spotlight and he killed it. He worked the turntables with his back turned them, he manipulated the mixing board with his nose, spun around while mixing and never missed a beat.
Rapper Keith Murray also made a surprise performance. He was crazy, bouncing around the stage and diving into the audience. He raised the energy level tenfold and fans loved it. All you could see was a sea of hands waving while he was onstage. Of course, he performed hit signature cut “The Most Beautifullest Thing.”
My only issue with EPMD performance was Sermon’s attitude. He spent too much time talking on the mike and complaining about bougie rappers and fans, today’s rappers and the small crowd. I have nothing but love for Parrish, who was humble and gracious with fans, but Sermon seems to have forgotten that the duo hasn’t had a hit in forever.
After EPMD, a dapper Doug E. Fresh took over the mike. He performed his hit, “The Show,” but he mostly acted as a hype man. He told the DJ what songs to play and kept the crowd pumped.

Be careful tonight

Do not ride dirty tonight. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police were pulling people over left and right on Friday and searching cars and trunks. Please do not drink and drive or ride with drugs. The police aren’t playing. Also, be careful where you park. Tow truck drivers were cruising around town looking for a reason to haul cars.

Party round up - Where did you go?

After EPMD performed, I swung by the Digital Divas’ Stogies & Stilettos at the Sunset Club about 1:30 a.m. It was crowded, but not overwhelming. Men and women danced, pockets of women danced and others stood and watched.

The parties I missed:

Chris Jenkins of Charlotte Vibe went to 1st Fridays at Southend Brewery. He said it was a nice size crowd, but not as packed as it has been in the past.

A Gem Am I’s Rhonda Mayo went to Dynasty 5’s Raheem DeVaughn show at the Charlotte Hilton uptown. She said the crowd started light, but by the time he performed at 12:30 a.m. it was packed. As usual, he put on a good show. She also stopped by the Big Chill for the Biz Markie party sponsored by Executive Entertainment. She didn’t arrive until about 1:45 a.m. and the party was winding down, but there were still a lot of people there.

Paid to Party’s Lady Love spent Friday night at Wine Up for the In the Lyfe party. It drew a smaller crowd than usual. Two poets and a singer performed.

Paid to Party’s Searchin’ was all VIP up in the invitation-only Wachovia party at The Westin. She said the party drew young and old folks. Men wore suits and women wore dresses. Anthony Hamilton was there and mingled with the crowd.

What party did you attend? And how was it? Post your replies below.

Allure wasn't ready

Allure’s concept was great, but its execution was frustratingly bad early Saturday morning.

Three friends and I arrived at the restaurant and lounge about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday for their late-night breakfast and after-party. It was one of the events I was most excited about this weekend. I loved the idea of continuing the party at a place where I could also eat and still get my dance on.

When we arrived there was a short line at the door, but the security guard quickly checked IDs and got people inside. That’s where the efficiency ended.

Since the breakfast started at 2 a.m., I figured people we would be able to order our food relatively quickly. I was wrong. After flagging down a waitress, I was told the restaurant needed an additional 20 minutes to finish getting the food ready.

I should have left then. That was my first mistake.

About 3 a.m. waitresses began handing out express menus. The choices were chicken and waffles or a southern breakfast with eggs, grits, bacon, turkey bacon and toast. The turkey bacon option was a nice touch and I assumed the simple menu would mean a quick turnaround. Wrong again.

At 3:15, no one had returned to collect our menus and when I tried to give them to a waitress she was already too overwhelmed.

After getting the run-around about a refund, I finally gave our orders to the bartender. He was cool. He served Red Bull, juice and water, took food orders and stayed calm.

Promoter Kenny J finally offered me a refund, but by then I had placed an order and figured I should wait for the food. That was my second mistake. We didn’t get our food until 4 a.m.

By then, I was cussing, fussing mad and vowing never to return to Allure. I’ve calmed down and I will probably try it again because I’ve heard they have a good jazz crowd. I won’t be back this weekend except to tip the bartender. (I was too irritated and forgot to do it when I left.)

During CIAA weekend, I expect to wait to eat, especially at a downtown establishment. I don’t expect restaurants to not be prepared. Since Allure is a new restaurant, it would have been smart to do a buffet. If they were worried about food portions, they could have had waitresses fixing the plates in the buffet line. With a buffet your kitchen can concentrate on cooking, not filling orders.

I hope Allure is better organized by tonight because Friday was only a taste of what’s about to hit them in 15 hours.

Tonight, I’m going to try my luck at the Omega Psi Phi breakfast after-party.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ladies you're missing out

Models in purple dresses passed out cocktails with Crown Royal and cranberry juice. Stylists trimmed beards and arched eyebrows. A DJ spun and Doug E. Fresh took over the mike.

That was the scene at the Crown Royal happy hour at Emerson Joseph on Friday evening. The only problem was there weren't enough ladies there. I know Emerson Joseph is a men's salon, but ladies received free eyebrow arches, not that I'm into that sort of thing. The idea of someone cutting away my eyebrows is scary. Saturday is the last night of the Crown Royal happy hour. You have to RSVP 866-752-1345.

I'm not a Crown Royal fan, but I liked the Crown Reserve with a splash of ginger ale.

It's naptime and then the real partying begins. EPMD hits the stage at 11 p.m. at Amos.

E.U. versus Tanglewood

I’m chilling inside the Extravaganza Depot about 4:15 p.m. listening to E.U. crank out “Family Affair.”
I am in my element with a grin on my face and small plate of food in front of me. Then Power 98/V101.9 general manager Terri Avery presents me with a dilemma. We’re talking about how much we love go-go and how crazy the weekend is going to be when Avery tells me Tempo has about 1,000 people inside right now.
I look at the dance floor inside Extravaganza. My eyes begin to mist. I’m from Maryland and I love go-go. I’ve never heard E.U. live, but there are only a handful of people on the dance floor. The rest are standing in the corner or sitting at tables eating grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and baked beans. ( Speaking of E.U., Jonathan Tate, who said he's Sugarbear's manager, said the band will definitely be performing at the Grady Cole Center on Saturday.)
The band just got started and folks are slowly pouring inside. I can stay here, listen to E.U. and hope the party picks up. Or I can race across town during rush hour and catch the last of the Original Tanglewood Fish Fry at Tempo.
I wolf down my hotdog, grab a bottle of water and hop on the bike. By the time I arrive at Tempo about 15 minutes later (traffic is crazy), there’s still a line of people outside waiting to get in. The party started at noon and was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. Inside, couples dance to Slick Rick, Lil’ Wayne and Rich Boy. All of the tables are full, the bar area is nearly impassable and the patio is more than half full as well.
It’s Friday baby and the parties are on and poppin’.
I’m off to barhop uptown before I head over to the Crown Royal Reception at Emerson Joseph.

Steve Harvey: "I'm a Christian, but..."

You have to get up early to hang with Steve Harvey. A line of people snaked down the front of the Charlotte Convention Center early Friday morning to watch a live broadcast of "The Steve Harvey Morning Show." Harvey, whose show airs on Charlotte’s V101.9, has a top-rated morning radio show -- and on Friday, he showed fans why.

He started telling jokes at 6 a.m. and didn’t stop until after he walked out of the building five hours later. He opened and closed the show with inspirational words about spiritual faith and believing in yourself. Harvey mixes social commentary, such as the demise of today’s music, with his jokes.

Charlotte’s John P. Kee opened the show with a gospel song that got the crowd on its feet and dancing at 6:10 a.m. About an hour later, Ruben Studdard performed "Change Me," "Make You Feel Beautiful" and "Sorry 2004."
For the remaining hours, Harvey and his crew entertained audience members by reading from e-mails and conducting a talent show in which they skewered contestants.

This is Harvey’s second year performing at the Ford Fan Experience as part of the CIAA.
"I had such a good time last year," he said. "I asked them if I could come back."

My favorite lines of the morning:
*"Some of ya’ll got on evening wear. It’s a little early for sequins."
*"It’s a different mind-set coming from light-skinned people."
*"I’m 'a do me an album. Jamie Foxx got one."
*"I’m a Christian, too, but I use the forgiveness clause."

A crackhead at the Forum

Weaving through the dance floor at the Forum on Thursday, I spotted a man who I've watched push a grocery cart full of junk down the gritty streets of Baltimore every Sunday for four years. On Thursday night, Andre Royo had a drink in one hand and someone else's hand in the other.

Royo, who plays the crackhead "Bubbles" on HBO's "The Wire," stopped by the AKA party at the Forum on Thursday night. He, like co-star Corey Parker Robinson, is in Charlotte supporting N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company's efforts to educate the African-American community on building wealth through life insurance. Robinson, who plays Det. Leandor Sydnor, was at the AKA party, too.

At the Forum, Royo exchanged hugs, half-chest bumps and handshakes with partiers who recognized him. Fans of "The Wire" will notice that his wild mane is gone. He said he had to cut it because his tresses limited his acting opportunities to crackheads and characters going to jail or already in jail. He said he’ll be playing a businessman in some upcoming projects.

But be ready, "Wire" fans: Royo said the series finale is coming.

AKAs do it again

I'm trying to order drinks at the VIP bar at the AKA's party at the Forum on Thursday. On my right, a guy and his friend buy 10 bottles of Moet. There's one bartender who is opening all of these bottles and pouring the champagne. A line of people wait to order drinks. A bar-back starts pouring Moet so the lone bartender can help other customers. The guy next to me asks if he can buy a $600 bottle of Cristal for $400.

I look at him like he’s crazy, and so does the bartender. First, the bar is swamped and we don’t time for you to ask dumb questions and try to haggle. You’re not buying a used car. Second, if you can't afford to spend $600 on a bottle of champagne, I'm guessing you don't need to spend $400 either. Stop trying to prove you have more money than the next guy, order you a Heineken, and go sit down somewhere.

While we're talking about the dumb things guys do at the club, I must unleash my monthly lecture on rude male behavior in nightclubs. Guys, why do you grab on women? That's straight-up ignorant and inexcusable. I don't care how drunk you are. And why is it that if a woman forcefully removes your hand or tells you not to touch her, you get your feelings hurt and talk loud to prove your manhood? If you really want to be a man, stop acting like little boys, and be polite.

Back to the party.

After ordering drinks and walking through the club, my girl, several of her friends and I carve out a niche in front of the bar. The club is so crowded that the overhead ducts are sweating and dripping. Groups of Omegas bark. Pockets of guys stand around the bar buying shots for each other and jumping around. Couples take to the floor. Every now and then, a couple of fraternity members do a few steps. DJ Stacey Blackman plays a mix of old-school and top 40. When he puts on E.U.'s "Da Butt," the crowd goes crazy. Even guys are poking their rumps out and shaking it.

We dance in a circle. A girl who's tore-down drunk walks past, does a double-take and says "heeyyy!" She starts dancing with us. She drops to the floor, winds her pelvis, and you can imagine the rest. After a while, she moves on. We keep dancing. Polite guys ask if they can join. Rude ones try to jump in. A nutcase stares with his mouth open.

Gotta love the club.

Alpha happy hour

I was going to shave my legs on Thursday. Actually, I was going to let the Gillette shaver lady shave my legs. I was at the Ford Fan Experience at the Convention Center, where a woman was shaving and trimming men's beards for free at the Gillette booth.

I figured if Gillette really wanted to prove how good the Fusion razor is, they could give my legs a trim. I haven't shaved them since high school so the hair's long enough to cornrow. I sauntered over to the booth and offered the Gillette shaver lady this rare opportunity. She wrinkled up her nose in disgust, told me no, and gave me a coupon to buy a razor.

DJ Biz Markie

These JCSU students probably weren't even born when Biz Markie put out his big hit, "Just a Friend," but that didn't stop the two from grooving to Biz's DJ skills at the Ford Fan Experience on Thursday.

No love from Gillette

I was going to shave my legs on Thursday. Actually, I was going to let the Gillette shaver lady shave my legs. I was at the Ford Fan Experience at the Convention Center, where a woman was shaving and trimming men's beards for free at the Gillette booth.

I figured if Gillette really wanted to prove how good the Fusion razor is, they could give my legs a trim. I haven't shaved them since high school so the hair's long enough to cornrow. I sauntered over to the booth and offered the Gillette shaver lady this rare opportunity. She wrinkled up her nose in disgust, told me no, and gave me a coupon to buy a razor.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Anthony Hamilton at the Ford Fan Experience

Unfortunately, he didn't perform. He was just hanging out with his wife and his crew checking out opening day of the Ford Fan Experience.
While Hamilton walkled around pairs of people sat on sofas inside the Charlotte Convention Center, their eyes glued to TV screens. They mashed buttons furiously and let out groans when shots went awry.
Today was the first day of the Ford Fan Experience, and dozens of people spent their time playing video games in lounges set up throughout the exhibit hall.
Along with gaming, visitors lugged around heavy plastic bags full of freebies - I took home a backpack, T-shirt, duffel bag and sunglasses.
Once again recruiters for the armed services were there. Bank of America and Ford had booths as well. The Ford Fan Experience is a showcase for the CIAA tournament sponsors, so there aren’t many vendors there, but there are a ton of great free performances, such as DJ Kid Capri and Doug E. Fresh.
I caught the tail end of the Little Brother performance and watched rapper-DJ Biz Markie spin for a small but appreciative crowd. If you’re a Biz Markie, fan he’ll be at the Big Chill on Friday and Amos’ Southend on Saturday.

Where my ladies at?

This year’s Wednesday night was way better than last year for the CIAA tournament. Last year, my friends and I started at Fire & Ice, which had a light crowd, and finished at the Forum because all of the CIAA parties were dead.

Last night, the four parties we attended had decent crowds. The ones that drew the ghetto-fab partiers had the biggest turnout and the most energy. It’s something about that hardcore rap that makes people want to sweat and dance. You can’t be cute when songs with lines like “knuck if you buck” come on.

My other observation from last night is that men outnumbered women at nearly all of the parties. That’s unheard of unless you’re at a strip club.

Ladies, where were you?

Where did you party last night? Where are you going tonight? Post your replies below. Email your party photos:

A toast to good living

My only complaint about the party at Verona was that when we arrived at 1:30 a.m. there was only one guy behind the bar. He was excrutiatingly slow. A woman bartender was somewhere else and joined him later, but that’s not acceptable. Considering that alcohol sales stop at 2 a.m., the bar has to be staffed for the last-minute onslaught.

I noticed a guy standing in the corner of the bar who looked like he worked there. He turned out to be a manager or someone with enough clout to get me my drinks faster. To thank him, I bought a round of SoCo lime shots.

This was his toast:
To lyin, stealin’, cheatin’ and drinkin’.
Sounds bad right? There’s more.
It means: lying in arms of the one you love, stealing away from bad company, cheating death and drinking in the moments that take your breath away.

At 1:45 a.m. that sounded so deep.

What’s your favorite toast? Post your replies below.

Wednesday’s surprise

After leaving Menage, Kitch and I were headed to the Sunset Club on South Boulevard because he heard the 2nd Annual Kickoff Party had a nice crowd. I parked in front of Verona on Fifth Street so we stopped in the First Impressions Party, which was hosted by Ambience Entourage.

Side note: My boy Young Tank is part of Ambience. He used to be on Power 98’s street team, but now he works for rapper Ludacris. I first met him years ago when worked at Wing Zone near my crib. And I’ve followed his career since. When I saw him outside of Verona on Wednesday, I had to stop by and support his event.

Back to the party: Verona was my surprise of the night because judging from Ambience’s Web site, I expected an upscale clientele. The crowd was ghetto fab.

And baby, they danced, oh did they dance. The windows were foggy, the people were sweaty and the DJ did an excellent job of keeping the crowd from getting too crunk. My favorite dancers were a group of girls who jumped around harder than the boys. They were cute and petite so guys tried to push up on them, but they were content doing on their own thing.

To top it off, the DJ ended the night with slow music. For real, slow music. I can’t remember the last time I heard slow music at a hip-hop party. But you know what, people danced to Pretty Ricky too.

Where did you party last night? Where are you going tonight? Post your replies below. Email your party photos:

Menage will be crazy

Judging from the crowd at Menage on Wednesday night, the club is going to be crazy this weekend. We arrived about 1 a.m. and upstairs was packed. Downstairs wasn’t open. A few women danced on the stage area. A group of people was all the way upstairs partying on the balcony thingy that overlooks the dance floor.
In a phone conversation earlier Wednesday, I told promoter Frank Ratchford, who hosted the party with Adolph Shiver, that Menage would do well on Wednesday.
My theory was that the young hardcore rap crowd that wants to get sweaty, grimy and dance to songs that make you jump around has no place to go on Wednesdays in Charlotte.
The reason I say Menage will be crazy all weekend is that Wednesday’s party was crowded and the only celebrities promoted were Panther’s Thomas Davis and the Jaguars Deon Grant. We have NFL celebrity parties here nearly every week so that doesn’t impress me. But can you imagine how the club is going to be this weekend with Mims tonight, Tigger on Friday and Fat Joe on Saturday – whoa!
Where did you party last night? Where are you going tonight? Post your replies below. Email your party photos:

Celebrity sighting at Levine party

Kitch and I tipped out of The Lux party about 12:30 a.m. to stop by the 2007 CI Wednesday Night Explosion at the Levine Museum of the New South. DJ D.R. spun old school hip-hop. This party felt less crowded than the one at LaVecchia’s, but the people at the Levine came out to dance, not talk.
About a half dozen couples danced, pockets of women grooved together and a couple of guys danced alone. The Charlotte Chapter of the National Black MBA Association hosted this event, which drew the oldest crowd I saw on Wednesday night. My celebrity sighting of the evening occurred there. Actor Corey Parker Robinson, who plays detective Leander Sydnor on HBO’s “The Wire,” was chilling in a corner drinking a beer. He’s not a CIAA alum, but he was in town to support N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company's efforts to educate the African- American community on building wealth through life insurance.
Where did you party last night? Where are you going tonight? Post your replies below. Email your party photos:

Lux at LaVecchia's

The Luxe party at LaVecchia’s on Sixth Street was the first place that Kitch and I stopped in our Wednesday night party hopping. The ladies of A Gem Am I and Vicious Entertainment, along with Raleigh-based Dynasty 5 hosted this event, which provided a low-key start to what turned out to be a ghetto-fab night.
Nearly a hundred people milled about the bar area of the seafood restaurant, talking and sipping martinis about midnight. DJ Chase spun top 40 hip-hop and R&B, but only a couple of people danced at any given time. At this party exchanging hugs, flirting and talking was more the norm than dancing. Most of the people there seemed to be from Charlotte so it was a chance to catch up with folks I hadn’t seen in a minute, such as Brian Springs who used to own Groove Merchants. I also met Allen Mason from Dynasty 5.
Where did you party last night? Where are you going tonight? Post your replies below. Email your party photos: