music

Not Sure You Love Charlotte? You Will After This Tour.

not-sure-you-love-charlotte-you-will-after-this-tour

As a lifelong Charlottean, a common complaint I hear from visitors and newcomers is that there’s nothing to do here.  Whether it’s a lack of entertainment and dining options, or educational and sightseeing adventures, transplants and vacationers can’t seem to find what they’re looking for in the Queen City.

Having spent a couple (er, many) years exploring this great city, I know of more than a few spots to enjoy great food, great entertainment and great views.  I could rattle off my favorites here.  But you don’t know me and who knows if we share the same tastes?

square-charlotteSo to circumvent our lack of friendship, I’d like to make a suggestion: take a tour of Charlotte.  Not just any tour, a guided driving tour in an air-conditioned van and hosted by a knowledgeable tour guide.  Just to test it out for you, I took one myself last weekend.

C-Charlotte Tours is a fairly new tour company in town, but their knowledge of the city’s history and attractions is extensive.  Gary, our tour guide, shared more nuggets of information about this city than I’ve read in any welcome brochure. And despite my native status, I learned a thing or two about my hometown. Like, did you know there are capped-off goldmines under Charlotte’s uptown streets?  And did you know that Price’s Chicken Coop is rated by Bon Appétit as one of the 3 best places in America to eat fried chicken?  Or that there are a TON of restaurants within a 5-mile radius of uptown?  (OK, I did know that one, but I definitely found a few more to add to the list.)

The tour started uptown where Gary pointed out every office tower and high-rise condo along the way, offering his inside scoop on the businesses and project timelines for each.  Since the tour is geared toward visiting and relocated professionals, he also gave a nod to the restaurants and bars lining the uptown streets.  And judging from the number of them, the city’s quiet, decade-long nightlife bloom appears to have exploded in the last 18 months.

But this wasn’t just a bar crawl.  It was an all-in-one sightseeing tour, history lesson and neighborhood exploration mission.  We drove north through Biddleville, one of Charlotte’s oldest African-American communities, and an area steeped in southern history.  The regal, brick buildings of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the state’s oldest historically black colleges, line the entrance to the community.  Behind the campus is Elmwood Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Charlotte’s business, cultural and political pioneers, as well as war veterans dating back to the Civil War.

Then it was on to the surrounding neighborhoods:  SouthEnd, Dilworth, Myers Park, Eastover and Elizabeth.  What did we find? Beautiful homes, walkable streets and, you guessed it: more restaurants.  We even made a run through SouthPark, a shoppers’ paradise offering great retail therapy, although not for the economically-challenged.

As we swung by Bank of America Stadium, Bobcats Arena and the much-anticipated, highly-debated future baseball stadium, we were treated to a little Local Sports 101.  I won’t tell you the questions or answers, lest I spoil the surprises.  But I did pick up some good trivia (as well as some juicy rumors).

We finished up back in uptown, and were dropped off within walking distance of a few cafes we had passed during our drive.  In fact, I saw some of my tour companions headed that way as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I’ve always been content with Charlotte.  After all, it’s becoming the jewel of the South (sorry, Atlanta, if it weren’t for the traffic …).  And regardless of the current economic hiccup, it will continue to attract industry and commerce, and thus, more people.  But it was an amazing experience to see all its wonders at once, tied up in a neat little 2-and-a-half-hour package.

So for those of you still questioning your decision to stay in Charlotte, call up C-Charlotte Tours and take the tour.  You won’t be disappointed.

Avett Nation

avett-nation

Originally from the Charlotte area, The Avett Brothers played their only remaining scheduled 2009 Charlotte show on Saturday night at Bojangles Coliseum. (although there are whispers of a NC New Year’s Eve show…shhhhh!)  They graced nearly 6,000 loyal fans with a  mix of old favorites and new tunes from their upcoming major-label debut album, “I and Love and You” which is due out in mid-September.

I was lucky enough to speak with Scott & Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford before the show. It was great to hear their story straight from the guys themselves. Did you know that Bob got the gig by responding to a newspaper ad and met the brothers in an empty parking lot to jam? Bob started playing with them in 2001, when Scott & Seth were fronting a neo-punk band named Nemo.  At the time, the brothers started a side project,  Nemo Back Porch Project, for which they added Crawford. They went on to list the many local clubs they played at like Midtown Sundries and The Money in Rock Hill.

So down to earth, yet opening for the likes of Dave Matthews Band this summer. This grassroots phenomenon is not to be missed! Pick up their new album this fall and join Avett Nation!The Avett Brothers

Lots to rock to…

lots-to-rock-to

Concert-goers in the Queen City are getting ramped up for a rockin’ weekend. Here’s a quick lineup of this weekend’s biggest shows. If I missed one, add it in the comments section.

FRIDAY
Coldplay at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Colourslide at The Visulite Theatre
Perpetual Groove at the Neighborhood Theatre
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack at Amos’ Southend

SATURDAY
Def Leppard/Cheap Trick/Poison at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
The Avett Brothers/Brett Dennen at Bojangles Coliseum (I’m going!)
New Riders of the Purple Sage at The Visulite Theatre
Pat McGee at Pavilion at Epicentre

If you are ever trying to find a local concert or to follow a tour’s city schedule, I recommend you check out Pollstar.com. You will find tour pictures, reviews, featured artists and my favorite section, “My Pollstar.” Here, you can sign up for notifications when your favorite artist or venue updates their schedule. Sweet!

Woodstock in Charlotte?

woodstock-in-charlotte

Just got the coolest new follower to my Twitter: http://twitter.com/rockwoodstock At first, I thought “Woodstock in Charlotte??” But then, as I read more information at the Rock Woodstock website, I realized what a cool concept this is! I’m always happy to see music education supported in the community.

Here’s the details from their website:

The Paul Green School of Rock Music presents WOODSTOCK, A Tribute to the 40TH Anniversary. A FREE all ages event featuring students at the Paul Green School of Rock Music (ages 7 to 18) along with local and regional bands who will perform songs from the original Woodstock festival and concert in 1969.

Just to name a few of the of the bands of whos songs will be played: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, The Band, Santana, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Sweetwater, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Sha-Na-Na and more.

Charlotte Woodstock tribute

Charlotte Woodstock tribute

So, on another note – You may not have realized that this year is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. There was talk about having an anniversary show up in NY, but funding fell short and it looks like the show won’t go on. Read the full story at Rolling Stone.

Last week’s Jason Mraz concert

last-weeks-jason-mraz-concert

Thousands of fans braved the downpour last week while waiting for the Jason Mraz concert…and many were rewarded ten-fold. Here’s the setting: The New Uptown Amphiteatre at the NC Music Factory. If you haven’t heard of it, you must get familiar. This is the new Charlotte…the Charlotte that will draw top concerts, DJ’s, and celebrities and promises to fill the over 35 acre entertainment complex with restaurants, clubs and bars. Long story short, its in the 4th Ward, an area that has long been vacant from industry. The historic buildings are being restored to their original character and will be the home to galleries, lofts and workspaces. Now back to the Mraz show…

The rain began partway through K’Naan’s set. But folks were forced to exit the 5,000 capacity Uptown Amphitheatre due to lightning. Now what? With some quick production, the crew readied the stage at the neighboring Fillmore Theatre. Those who waited out the storm were granted entrance (up to 1,800 ticket-holders) to the Fillmore for an acoustic set: A quick few songs by Bushwalla (check him out!), 45 mintues of G. Love (solo) and then THREE hours of Jason Mraz, making it well worth the stay.

G. Love setlist
Still Hangin’ Round
Fresh Lila
Sunshine
Dirty Booty Call
Fixing to Die
When We Meet Again
Baby’s Got Sauce
Breaking Down
Cold Beverages

Jason Mraz setlist
Reggaedy (Remedy)
Dynamo of Volition
Unfold
Beautiful Mess
The Only Live You Can Save
Pain & Joy > Live High
Abso-Zero
Life is Wonderful
Anything You Want
The Sunshine Song
You and I Both/Sleeping to Dream
Curbside Prophet (with G. Love and Bushwalla)
Traveler
Make it Mine
Lucky (with Alysse)
I’m Yours

Encore
Glass
Butterfly

Live Nation has since announced that Jason Mraz will return to The Uptown Amphitheatre to play a rescheduled concert on September 10. Patrons who could not attend the acoustic performance should keep their tickets as they will be valid night of show on the new date.