Friday, November 30, 2007

Springsteen tix announced

Tickets for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are $67 and $97. They go on sale Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. The concert is April 27 at Bobcats Arena. www.ticketmaster.

As I announced in a Paid to Party blog last week, this is their first full tour of the U.S. and Europe since 2003, and many of the U.S. and European dates have already sold out. The band’s new album Magic came out Oct. 2, and features the single "Radio Nowhere."

However, the band will be without keyboardist (and original E Street Band member) Danny Federici who will be seeking treatment for melanoma.

Giving a voice to black life

A who’s who of black Charlotte turned out for a red carpet screening of “All About Us” at Ballantyne Village Theater on Thursday.

Former mayor Harvey Gantt was there, along with former mayor pro tem Patrick Cannon, in addition to club owners, promoters and others. They all came out to see the indie film, by the husband-and-wife team of producer Michael Swanson and writer-director Christine Swanson. They also came to see the film’s stars, Ruby Dee and Boris Kodjoe. Both hung out for a Q&A and a cake and coffee reception afterward. It was a semi-formal event, with many people wearing evening dresses and suits.

The film drew praise from most of the people who got to see it. During the Q&A, Dee talked about the importance of having more films that explore the complexity of relationships among black men and women. She also talked about how Hollywood rarely expresses interest in those types of films.

During the reception, sponsored by Baileys, she posed for pictures with fans. Her fans quietly shook her hand and talked with her. Kodjoe’s fans, however, squealed as they gathered for shots. It was funny and fun to see women dressed in cocktail dresses acting like schoolgirls.

The movie begins an open-ended run of at least two weeks tonight at Ballantyne Village Theater.

Must-see concerts

After the Stevie Wonder concert Wednesday night at Bobcats Arena, several friends and I sat at Prevue lounge talking about the best concerts we've ever seen, and the concerts were glad we had a chance to see.

For example, if I died tomorrow, I'd go out glad to have seen Michael
Jackson, Prince, Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder. And the best concerts
I've ever seen have to be Michael, Prince, Tina and Chuck Brown.

Jummaune from Tempo said he's glad he's seen Stevie and Luther Vandross.
His best-ever concerts: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and Dave Chappelle's
impromptu performance at his club a few years ago. (He swears he
isn't just plugging his club!)

Kitch said he's glad to have seen Prince, Michael, Stevie and Luther. The two best:
Prince and Michael.

What about you? What artists are you most glad to have
seen live? And what was the best concert you've ever been to? Post your
replies below.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lovin' Stevie

Stevie Wonder reminded fans why love conquers all.
He did it from his opening monologue about how his late mother's spirit told him "Nothing can separate us, not even death," to him performing two hours' worth of music about love.

Few artists can walk onstage and begin their concert by chatting with the audience, but that's exactly how Stevie Wonder started his show at Bobcats Arena on Wednesday. With his daughter Aisha Morris (no longer the baby cooing on "Isn't She Lovely") holding his arm, Wonder talked about losing his mother, Lula Mae Hardaway. An image of his mother flashed on the video screens.

It was one of many stories he told during an unforgettable performance, in which he couldn't possibly play every song fans wanted to hear. But he performed a bunch of them. I was most excited to hear "Superstition," "As" and "All I Do." Oh wait, and "Love's In Need of Love Today." Ugh, there were so many.

The biggest flaw in the performance was that his band didn't include horns. On songs, such as "Superstition," the keyboard's synthesized horns don't punch you in the chest the way the real instruments do on the album.

Surrounded by a seven-piece band and three backup singers, including Morris, Wonder made thousands of people feel like one family. His concert drew parents with children, couples, young adults with their parents and friends of all ages and ethnicities. Some were dressed in their Sunday best, matching suits with hats, and others were casual.

He played his harmonica and piano. At one point, he stood up on the piano bench to sing. He bantered with the audience throughout the night, and took a couple of swipes at the South. Before singing a countrified version of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," he told fans that he expected them to like country music. At the end of the show, he thanked fans who skipped Bible study to come out to the concert. (I guess he heard ticket sales were slow here.)

As usual, he was political. He talked about current issues and lamented the war in Iraq and the lack of affordable healthcare. Addressing these problems were part of his message about the healing power of love. It was a message he delivered through his music.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good luck Americana

I like the concept for The Americana in Pineville, but I’m not sure it’s going to work.

It’s got good food and good music. Always a plus.
But it’s not close to uptown, and they want way too much money.

Road Dawg and I went there late Friday. We were two of maybe six people there at about 11 p.m. We ate the black-eyed pea battered shrimp appetizer, and bread pudding dessert. The bread pudding wasn’t worth talking about, but the shrimp was tasty. It was lightly battered, and it didn’t taste black-eyed-pea-ey at all. The waitress gave us a discount because our order was one shrimp short.

She also only charged us $8 admission because we arrived so late.
The place is homey, like Cracker Barrel without the clutter. They sell knickknacks such as Southern-themed recipe books, roots music CDs, muscadine syrup, etc. Tuesday through Sunday the venue features a live Americana band, from bluegrass to jazz to gospel.

It also offers a Sunday gospel brunch. (No alcohol on Sundays.)
We heard Neighbor Acres perform last week, and the band was good. But here’s the rub: After 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, you pay an $8 to $12 cover charge even if you’ve arrived earlier and ate dinner. Entrees range from $8-$22.

The restaurant should waive the cover for patrons who arrive before 9 p.m. and who spend a pre-determined minimum.

Roots music is a niche genre. The Americana is competing against the Sylvia Theatre in York and the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte. Both attract more well-known acts. During the holidays, people will be shopping at and around Carolina Place. Why not entice them with good food and no cover charge?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not so acoustic, but great

Jonathan Davis wore a black suit and sat in a red velvet-cushioned wooden chair that looked like a throne. If that wasn’t strange enough, his band members wore suit jackets or vests and button-down shirts. There were candelabras on stage as well at Davis’ performance at Tremont on Wednesday.

It wasn’t what I'd expected from the frontman for Korn, which gave us slit-your-wrist hits such as “Blind” and “Freak on a Leash.”

The setup for his solo show reminded me of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but man did he rock. Advertised as an acoustic set, it was anything but a typical guitar-strumming-love-songs gig. His backing band used a drum kit, electric violin, keyboards, upright bass and a guitar. And Davis didn’t lull fans with yearning vocals. He screamed until my throat was raw.

Several hundred people filed into Tremont for the show. I’m not a Korn fan, so I didn’t recognize any of the songs. But fans told me one was the Korn hit “Falling Away From Me,” and that many of others were tracks Davis co-wrote for the “Queen of the Damned” soundtrack. The performance made me want to go watch the movie again.

The tunes often began with Caribbean- or Middle Eastern-style drumming or instrumentation, then climaxed with Korn’s nu-metal energy. It’s a combination that I'd never heard before, but I dug it.

Turkey Bash not so hot

For the longest time, I didn’t attend gala fundraisers because they seemed uptight. But the Great Gatsby and Black & White galas changed my perception.

At these events, Charlotte’s young professionals shed their bank uniforms to party like they do at any uptown club. I expected the same vibe at the Red Hot Turkey Bash in the Wachovia Atrium on Nov. 20, but it didn’t happen.

This party, a Greater Carolinas Red Cross fundraiser, needs revamping. I’ll start with the libations and grub. They had plenty of beer stands serving Bud products (I don’t drink Bud). They didn’t have enough wine bars, so the line for a glass of wine (about as much in a Dixie cup) was ridiculous.

There weren’t a lot of food stands. BTW: Cold pizza in cardboard boxes or sandwich wrap snacks that I could buy at Sam’s are not suitable for this type of event. I did have some tasty chicken wings from sponsor The Fig Tree. Other food included pasta, shrimp in some kind of broth, and crab dip with tortillas. The line for the pasta and crab dip was too long, and no one seemed to want the shrimp (not a good sign).

All this would have been OK if the music had been better, but I wasn’t feeling Liquid Pleasure. Most of this cover band's repertoire was too dated for the crowd. The group’s orange suits and black shirts added to my feeling that my parents would have enjoyed them more than I did.

While I was there (7:30-9ish), only a handful of people danced. Everyone else chatted in small groups. I had a nice time, but it’s not something that I will plan to attend each year.
The Great Gatsby and Black & White raised my expectations. I expect these types of events to be as fun as a night at Cans. The Red Hot Turkey Bash was not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why is Charlotte lame?

Readers and friends often ask me why doesn’t this artist come to Charlotte? Or why don’t we get that tour? I’ll tell you why, we’re the pits. We have the most fickle and unpredictable concert goers.

Stevie Wonder, an unquestionable music legend, performs at Charlotte Bobcats Arena on Nov. 28 and the concert has barely sold 5,000 more tickets. He’s not doing much better in Raleigh either.

That’s crazy.

And I hear white ticket buyers are outselling black ticket buyers. I totally don’t understand why black Baby Boomers aren’t buying more tickets. White boomers have had plenty of shows to get excited about at Bobcats arena, from the Police last week to the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert.

In the last year, black boomers have had few concerts to appeal to them. I mean, really, how many times do you want to see Frankie Beverly & Maze?

Wonder hasn’t toured in 10 years. He’s been touring since August and performing to mostly sold out crowds. In New York earlier this month, Tony Bennett and later Prince joined him onstage. If we can only muster up a handful of people, I doubt they’re bother popping up here. I wouldn’t.

Money can’t be the issue. The maximum ticket price is $95. The maximum ticket price for the Police concert last week was $200, and the arena was packed from the bottom to the top. Are you telling me that in his genre, Wonder isn’t as good as the Police? Heck, I paid, okay the Observer paid, $75 for me to go see comedian Dane Cook a couple of weeks ago. That show was slammed as well.

So, someone please tell me, why is Stevie Wonder selling so slowly here?

Post your replies below.

The Boss is coming (maybe)

Shore Fire Media announced that Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band will perform at Bobcats Arena on April 27. Tickets go on sale Dec. 7. I assume it’s through Ticketmaster, but I haven’t received confirmation about this show from the folks at Bobcats Arena. Stay tuned.

This is their first full tour of the U.S. and Europe since 2003, and many of the U.S. and European dates have already sold out. The band's new album Magic came out Oct. 2, and features the single "Radio Nowhere."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Police deliver despite age and cooties

“Roxanne, you don’t have to put on a red light.”
I’ve been annoying my friends and singing that line for the last two weeks in anticipation of Thursday’s Police concert.

Before the show, Kitch and I joined a mob of people hanging out at Blue. I haven’t seen the restaurant that packed since CIAA. (I hear LaVecchia’s was equally crowded.) Luckily, we ran into a friend of Kitch’s at Blue and we joined them in a booth at the bar. And we knew a waiter so we were able to get food and drinks quickly. (Tonya’s bar tip: If you’re at a crowded bar, use cash. It makes things move so much faster for you and the staff.)

I met a couple from Winston-Salem who came down for the show. Everyone I asked had a different song they wanted hear. I’m pretty sure the Police played them all after opening with "Message in a Bottle."

The Police gave 15,000 fans a night full of flashbacks and memories during the band's concert at Bobcats Arena. The trio played all of its major hits during the nearly two-hour show, which included two encores.

Fans I talked to afterward had mixed reactions. Some said it was great; others, who saw them perform in the ’80s, were disappointed by the performance. The show was exactly what I
expected: Three old rockers still doing their thing.

Sting, fighting the flu, looked a little flush and forgot the lyrics to one song, but the crowd kept singing.

He and guitarist Andy Summers moved around the stage some, but this concert didn’t have the energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or other younger rock acts. A three-panel screen flashed images of the band above the stage, and the setup on stage was sparse.

It was Sting, Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland putting on a tight show. Most of the songs sounded like they did on the albums, with little live
improvisation. The best improvisation was “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” Copeland plays these huge gongs, the lights were low and the song had a dark sinister feel. Nice.

The near-capacity crowd stayed on its feet most of the
night, singing and dancing. Sting ended the night by saying, "God bless - we'll see you again." Hmm?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Robin Thicke's not coming, but Matchbox Twenty is

The Robin Thicke concert at Amos’ Southend scheduled for Dec. 2 has been cancelled. I'm out of town so I don't know the deal. But if you're looking for sensitive music then try the Matchbox Twenty show. The band is bringing its Exile in America Tour to Cricket Arena on January 29. Alanis Morissette & Mutemath will open. Tickets on sale 10 a.m. Saturday.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I get Dane Cook

Dane Cook was way funnier than I thought he would be at Charlotte Bobcats Arena on Thursday. I saw the first few minutes of his HBO special, “Vicious Circle,” and I turned it off because I didn’t get his humor.

Now, I get it. His jokes are sophomoric, but not dumb grosser than gross humor. He does some sex/relationship stuff, but a lot of his material ranged from bits about family, Thanksgiving dinner and a family trip that didn't happen, to current events, such as why he shouldn’t go to war: "he doesnt' like backpacks."

The stage was set up in the round and he was energetic enough to fill it. The only problem was that you had to keep looking at the TV screen if Cook had his back to you because you couldn't see his facial expressions. The near capacity, mostly college-aged, crowd didnt't mind. They laughed their faces off for nearly two hours on Thursday.

He's an obvious student of comedy and did a good job of referencing jokes he set up earlier in the night. His sound effects were great. For example, he did a perfect imitation of tires screeching in a parking garage as part of his bit about the mad dash to find a parking space at the maul, as he spelled it, during the holiday season. He also referenced jokes from past material. He would say the most mundane thing, like “There’s only one October” and fans started howling. I totally didn’t get it.

He did a fan favorite; the one about his dad wearing a robe that was too short to hide the family jewels. He also delivered Cookisms, such as “In a fight, guys, we just want to make you cry, just a little…Aha! I win,” he said dancing around.

My favorites were when he talked about going to war. He said he wouldn’t want to be the guy playing the flute. Then he skipped around the stage playing an annoying tune on an imaginary flute until he got shot. The he limped around the stage playing the flute. The other piece I liked was about the condom fairy. Sorry, I can’t repeat the details, but imagine you and your boo are about to get in the groove and she asks, do you have a condom.

Partying to the Maxx

The Young Affiliates of the Mint did it again.

Last night’s Black & White Gala was a great party and great fun. The new location at the Forum added a bit of hipness to the annual fundraiser, which raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

There was a VIP area upstairs on the mezzanine. And the food, not as much as last year, was on the rooftop, which was heated and tented. The private auction was in the Pravda lounge. The party mostly drew young professionals.

The Maxx, based in Georgia, provided the music again, and they didn’t disappoint. They are one of the best cover bands I’ve seen. They had the dance floor packed when we arrived about 9:45 p.m. They played everything from “I’m Coming Up” to “Let’s Get it Started” to “September,” which included a trumpet and saxophone player.

Women hiked up their little black dresses, guys unbuttoned their collars and everyone cut loose on the floor.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Robin Thicke coming to Amos'

Robin Thicke brings his sultry falsetto to Amos’ Southend on Dec. 2. It’s a Camel cigarette promotion.

Tickets can be purchased at Or you can register for free tickets at I’ll warn you, if you aren’t already registered with Camel, be prepared to give up 15 minutes to answer a zillion questions. Oh, and don’t try using a fake mailing address. It won’t accept your registration.

Once registered, click on "Events." Under "City/State" use the dropdown menu to select "Charlotte." Click on "Thicke" and you’ll see an orange circle next to the date. Click on that to print your ticket.

Last year, Thicke released the multi-platinum selling “The Evolution of Robin Thicke,” which featured the hits “Lost Without U” and “Can U Believe,” “Wanna Love U Girl.”

This summer, he opened for Beyonce at the Bobcats Arena.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jill Scott says Charlotte is best

I only wanted to hear Jill Scott sing three songs: “A Long Walk,” “It’s Love” and “Hate on Me.”
On Thursday at Amos’ Southend, she sang those as well during her more than hour-long set. She gave fans plenty of tunes from her previous two albums, such as “Golden” as well as cuts off “The Real Thing,” such as “Crown Royal” and “My Love.”

Scott gave her typical stirring performance, talking with fans, scatting, hitting notes that “American Idol” contestants will unsuccessfully imitate and giving fans soul music.

Nearly 1,000 people, including Bobcats owner Bob Johnson and Panther player Kris Jenkins, filled Amos’ Southend for the Bailey’s Get Together concert. Charlotte is one of several stops on the promotional tour to promote Bailey’s liquor. The tour features free concerts by Scott who is sometimes accompanied by John Legend. In the days leading up to the tour, Bailey’s hosted tasting events at Rustic Martini and Madison’s.

This is the third time Bailey’s distribution company Diageo has hosted one of its free concerts here. They’ve also brought The Roots and Common to Grand Central. You’d think that by now, the company would be able to get people inside the concert venue faster, but the line to get inside Amos’ stretched down both sidewalks in front of the club. It was it usual chaos.

Once inside though, the lines to the bar moved quickly and there were flat screen TVs promoting the tour. Upstairs was a VIP section with drink specials and servers offering light appetizers. There were a few ottomans and small tables as well. Johnson had an even more private VIP area upstairs in the front corner. A couple of young hotties that were probably less than half his age were part of his entourage. He mostly stayed in his private area. Jenkins was his usual affable self, talking to people.

In a two-question interview after the show, Scott said Charlotte was one of the best crowd’s she’s performed for. And she promised that she doesn’t say that everywhere. She also said, response to her album has been overwhelming.