Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let CIAA the parties begin

About a dozen AKAs started their CIAA weekend at Therapy, a martini bar on Tryon Street, on Wednesday. Last year, the AKAs had one of the best parties on Thursday night. This year they face more competition, but Kelly Eaves isn’t worried. She says they’ve already sold more than a 1,000 tickets to Thursday’s party at the Forum.

Tonight the big parties begin.

I will be stopping by Menage and the Levine Museum of the New South. Over the next few days, I plan to see E.U., EPMD, Backyard Band and Vivica Fox.

What parties are you most looking forward to, and why? Post your replies below. And don’t forget to e-mail me your party pictures. Include the location and date of the party.

Who does he think he is?

He's Mr. Goodstuff! Ooo ooo, ha.
Mr. Goodstuff doesn’t just hawk mix CDs at his booth inside Charlotte Bobcats Arena, he sings and dances too.
In the span of five minutes on Wednesday, I learned that there was actually a song called “Walking the Dog” and Rufus Thomas, not James Brown sang it.

Goodstuff played a mix CD featuring the tune for a customer, but he drew a bigger crowd when he started dancing as well. It’s not often you see guy with biceps bigger than my thighs dropping low to the floor and doing spins as well. A crowd gathered to watch Goodstuff’s steps.

At the CIAA tournament, the vendors lining the concourse are as much as part of the tradition as the fans themselves. They sell everything from CDs to sunglasses to art to Greek clothing and accessories and more.

The first men’s game was Wednesday afternoon and the arena was alive with activity. Some people strolled, but the best people watching occurred at the main entrance. There pockets of people hugged, shook hands and caught up with old friends.

Tamia CI kick off party

After Eden, I headed across town to another CIAA weekend kickoff party: the Tamia concert at Tempo nightclub on Wilkinson Boulevard.
I stopped by the club earlier that evening for a VIP reception. At 8 p.m., a line stretched into the parking lot. When I returned about 9:30 p.m., fans crowded the stage.
In a phone interview, Tamia promised to give fans a real R&B show, and she did on Sunday. Accompanied by a full band and background singers who doubled as dancers, Tamia gave fans a show packed with danceable tunes and pearl-clutching sad songs.
She sang her new tune “Too Grown,” as well as favorites “Can’t Get Enough,” “Spend My Life,” and “Stranger In My House."
Surprisingly, the woman who said in an interview that she was too old for the booty-shake music unleashed a booty-shake instrumental medley. She sang a bit of “SexyBack,” and she and band members did the motorcycle dance and walked it out. It lasted for a hot-minute and provided a nice break from her mellow grooves.

After the show, Tamia said she was genuinely surprised and thankful that so many audience members bought her independently released CD “Between Friends.” She said Charlotte’s crowd was one of the best – for real.
The Tamia show and the Exodus band were CIAA weekend warm-ups. Tonight, the big parties begin.

Exodus CI Sunday

The CIAA moment came sooner than I expected this week. Exodus – a typical Charlotte band that plays smooth-jazz covers of current and classic R&B songs – was wrapping up its set at a kickoff party at Eden when it happened.

It was about 8:30 p.m., and the party would be ending soon. Men and women sat at tables downstairs, and a handful watched from the balcony above. Two women danced on the floor. A group of women headed down the steps to leave.
And then Exodus’s horn player belted out the opening notes of Jay Z’s “Show Me What You Got.” The women on the steps stopped, threw their hands up in the air and started dancing. Leaving the club was no longer an option. One by one, every seat downstairs emptied as men and women flooded floor. I kid you not, every seat. Granted, the crowd was only 50 or so people strong, but those 50 people had enough energy to make Eden feel like the Forum on a good night.

It wasn’t that “get your freak on” dancing, it was let’s sweat and have fun. After the band finished, DJ Nate segued the jazz version into the real song. Then he played old-school hip-hop, Slick Rick, Run D.M.C and more. People were still grooving when I left at 9 p.m., which is when this party (held the fourth Sunday) typically ends.