Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Warming up for New Year's Eve

We started partying last week on Wednesday and we partied like it was 1999.
The partying began Wednesday with the end of Pop Life. Oh, the horror! On Thursday, Kitch, Larken and I went to the Hensley’s holiday party at Oceanaire. The lump crab cakes and as usual, the oysters, were off the hook. Food writers from various publications were there, as well as former City Councilwoman Lynn Wheeler, whom I hadn’t seen in forever.
After Oceanaire, we ran by Tilt for the final Creative Lounging party, and then to the Blitzen’s Holiday Bash at Morehead Street Tavern. Downstairs they had a dessert spread from Costco that included sheet cake, cookies and mini chocolate bars. I wasn’t really feeling that. Upstairs, they had chicken wings, potato skins and dip. I’m still not sure the hot spread was part of the party, but we ate it anyway.
We ended the night at Tempo for the holiday staff party. Oh my goodness. The owners treated everyone to cocktails. Broderick laid out the buffet with macaroni and cheese, chicken wings, green beans and more. It was like hanging out with your family.
Some people played cards, Tempo co-owner Jumaane Torrence let us play with his remote control Corvette that Santa gave him. Jumaane was going to put together the basketball goal that Santa also brought early, but he realized it was way too hard. Periodically, people bumrushed the dance floor and then they’d rush the bar for drinks.
On Friday, Kitch, Road Dawg and I went to Hom’s Liv lounge. DJ Johnnie Davis got a gig there at the last minute and it was on. We took over the lounge’s small dance floor, dancing and chanting. I was exhausted by the time we went home early Saturday morning. What a way to welcome Christmas.
I’m in Alabama with my friends until Sunday, but if you’re looking for something to do this weekend before New Year’s Eve, I’ve got you. Neo-soul singer Bilal performs at Tempo on Friday, and Davis spins at Hom’s Play (Yep! The big room) on Friday as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bar hoppin' on the light rail

The Box Car Bar Crawl hit up spots along the light rail line, including Villa Antonio and Morehead Street Tavern, on Saturday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Navarro chills at Cans

Looking as sexy as ever, guitarist Dave Navarro quietly entered Cans and sat in a VIP area near the DJ booth on Thursday night. He sat with a small entourage of women. Partiers crowded behind the ropes taking pictures with digital cameras and cellphones.

Navarro, who played with Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, stripped out of his leather jacket and wore a sleeveless shirt and a thin pin-striped gray scarf. While I was there, Navarro chilled. He talked with friends, and at one point adjusted a Christmas stocking hanging on the wall above his head.

About 200 people turned out for Navarro’s appearance, which was part of Cans’ new weekly series called Scene Thursdays. Celebrities have been guest DJs and bartenders.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are you on the list?

David Stafford has a great idea, but I don’t think Charlotte’s nightlife scene is ready for it.

The former Time lounge bartender and Carolina Nightlife photographer’s new site, Dave’s VIP List (, works like this: Log on, pay the club’s cover electronically, and you don’t wait in line when you get to the club.

So far, you can pre-pay for certain nights at the Forum, the Breakfast Club and Buckhead Saloon.

Sounds good.

Problem is Stafford doesn’t offer enough premium nights at premium clubs. What’s the point of being on a guest list if the club doesn’t have a line? Stafford said he’s trying to get better nights and more clubs, but owners want to see how his list works first. It’s sort of a chicken and egg thing, isn’t it?

Plus, I’ve been to plenty of clubs where patrons were willing to pay two to three times the cover to cut the line. How will a club doorman handle a big spender compared to someone who paid the regular cover or a discounted cover on Dave’s VIP List?

I admire Stafford’s ambition, but he’s facing a big challenge.

What to do you think? Post your responses below.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Overpriced NYE parties

I love a good party as much as anyone, but a few New Year’s Eve party promoters are absolutely losing their minds.

We have three parties with triple-digit cover charges. What!?
The first is Cirque du Theatre in the Carolina Theatre. It costs $150 a person and $250 a couple. They have live music, visual artists, grub and top-shelf liquor. I’ll give them credit for the top-shelf liquor, but still.

Rich & Bennett’s New Year’s Eve Bash at Hawthorne’s is charging $60for women and $80 for guys. For VIP access, it’s $100-$125. VIP allows you to enter at 8 p.m., and gets you access to the VIP room with a separate buffet, as well as a private bar with premium liquor.

The other is Groovin’ at the Village at Ballantyne Village. It costs $100 per person and features live music by The Real Hot Sauce and clips from ’70s and ’80s movies. They’ll have free beer and wine, and a cash bar for liquor. Come on! That’s crazy. For $100, liquor should be free.

With the exception of Loft 1523 ($85), most places in Charlotte are charging less than $50 for NYE. I realize Charlotte is growing, but we’re not big enough to charge triple-digits for a New Year’s Eve party. Heck, anything over $50 seems steep to me.
What do you think? Post your replies below.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wu Tang and Kid Rock coming to Carolinas

Enter the Wu!

Wu-Tang Clan is coming together to perform at Amos’ Southend on Jan. 20. Tickets go on sale Wednesday. The rap group’s new album, “8Diagrams,” comes out on Tuesday.

Also coming up: Kid Rock will perform at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville on March 1. Rev. Run of Run-D.M.C. will also perform. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

And Comedy Central’s Brian Regan will perform at War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro on Feb. 8. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

LeBron and Jordan

LeBron James wasn’t the only celebrity at NV lounge on Friday night.
Michael Jordan and Nelly also made low-key appearances at the club. They were tucked away in the club’s super-secret VIP room.

LeBron, on the other hand, was visible. Usually, the VIP area is upstairs, but the club turned the stage into a VIP so everyone could see the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar. Hundreds of patrons packed the Lake Norman club, and dozens more stood in line to get into the monthly 1st Friday party sponsored by Thomas Washington, Black Ice and Troy Veale. 1st Friday is already hugely popular, but adding King James, as he was called, took it over the top.

Other local promoters turned out as well as Power 98’s Tone X. The club was so packed that it was too crowded to move on the dance floor, and people were shoulder-to-shoulder trying to move about the club.

LeBron and his entourage, including teammate Drew Gooden, arrived about 12:30 a.m. James stood near the front of the stage talking with his friends and watching women try to impress them with their body-winding skills.

Patrons in the VIP area not only got to hang out with LeBron, but some got to taste the new Crown Royal Cask 16. Diaegeo sponsored the VIP area to showcase Cask 16, which is Crown Royal whiskey aged in rare cognac casks from France. I’m a whiskey and bourbon drinker, and I have to say Cask 16 is the smoothest whiskey that I’ve ever tasted. (At $100, it should be.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"The Wire" in South Charlotte

Patrons at Table last night probably didn’t realize it, but they were dining with celebrities.

Two cast members from HBO’s “The Wire” -- Andre Royo (Bubbles) and Felicia Pearson (Snoop) -- were hanging out. HBO brought them to Charlotte to get some street time in to help publicize the critically acclaimed series, which returns on Jan. 6.

Royo is becoming a regular here. He partied here for CIAA. This is the final season for the crime drama about cops, drug dealers and politicians in Baltimore. Last season's central storyline examined the public school system. This one focuses on the newspaper.

The Americana closes - already

Whoa, I knew The Americana was going to have a tough time surviving in Pineville, but I didn’t think the live-music venue would close less than a month after its grand opening.

But it did.

In a brief e-mail today, music director Kevin Clark wrote: “The Americana in Pineville has closed its doors. "

Hopefully, Charlotte will be able to support a venue of this caliber in the future.”

The problem isn’t Charlotte. The problem, as I wrote last week, was The Americana’s business plan. You don’t open a spot like that in Pineville and expect success. Plus, there was no way people in this area were going to pay casual-dining prices and also be expected to fork over a cover charge to hear roots music. For example, The Little Dooey Barbecue & Blues restaurant in Concord has great food, but doesn’t charge a cover for its live blues on Sundays.

And to everyone blasting me about the previous blog, get real. You obviously read my blogs consistently, so you know I support live music. But I also know that in Charlotte, people don’t like to pay cover charges – period.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Light rail bar crawl

On Saturday, I hopped on the Box Car Crawl, a bar crawl along the light rail line.
The crawl started at Brixx and then went to McKoy’s on Old Pineville Road. From there, it was off to Tyber Creek, Tutto Mondo, Gin Mill and Morehead Street Tavern.

Center City Magazine, an upcoming Observer publication, co-sponsored the crawl. For the record, I went because Larken told me about it -- not because it was affiliated with the Big O. He works for Sparrow, a liquor distributor, and each stop featured specials on some of their liquors.

The next crawl is scheduled for Dec. 15. For details go to Saturday’s event was a test. It started slowly, with about 10-15 of us meeting at Brixx. (Apparently, many more people joined up later.) We rode the train to McKoy’s and hung out there for wings and cocktails. Larken and I headed back early to go to Hom nightclub, and to see Grandmaster Flash spin at Tempo. On the train trip from McKoy’s, about a dozen people leaving a wedding jumped on the train.

Only in Charlotte can you be silly drunk, bump into folks on mass transit, and not worry about getting your booty kicked. Gotta love this city.

Local longtime deejay returns

I was navigating the crowded dance floor at Woods on South on Friday when I saw a face I never expected to see: Wearing a headset and working the turntables at the Toys for Tots party was Scott Beaty!

Beaty, who deejayed at uptown's Cosmos Cafe, for Panther and Hornets’ games and at other clubs, was seriously injured in an accident after a Panthers’ game on Christmas Eve two years ago. His road to recovery looked extremely difficult because deejays don’t make a lot of money and often don’t have health insurance. His left hip was broken and badly seperated.

I hadn’t heard from him in at least a year, so my mouth spread into a big grin when I saw him deejaying at the annual holiday party. He looked good, but he said he’s only slowly getting back into things. He still can’t feel part of his left shin and the top of his left foot. He still deejays private parties.

Beaty spun a mix of mostly old-school hip-hop and R&B for the hundreds of holiday revelers. Dancers partied in front of the stage where Beaty spun; everyone else filled in pockets of space throughout the restaurant, either sitting in booths or squeezing in a place to stand.