Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Super Heroes

Parents and children (buses full of them) toddled into Bojangles' Coliseum Friday morning for one of the latest live action "Sesame Street" musicals (it debuted in 2010). "Elmo's Super Heroes" plays five more times between now and Sunday evening (tonight at 7 p.m., Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4:30 p.m.).

Having never been to a "Sesame Street" production as a child I was surprised how much remained true to the commercials I saw on television whenever the tour would come to nearby Charleston, WV. In fact, the show was just what I imagined as a kid. Mr. Hooper's store and the 123 building flanked a silhouetted cityscape that appeared on red curtains surrounded in lights. Behind the curtain staggered backdrops (Elmo's world and the city streets for instance) and a multimedia screen created a simple 3-D effect that allowed the monsters' environments to change easily.

The scenery, especially the "Big Cheese" alerts which delivered instructions and assigned cases to the Fabulous Five superheroes, helped move the action along, but the monsters were definitely the focal point. Bert and Abby Cadabby readied the crowd before Big Bird's introduction. Of course the greatest response was for the character whose name appears on the marquee. Elmo, Zoe, Telly, The Count, and Bert and Ernie joined in for the opening number where the letter and number of the day were announced.

The storyline about Grover losing his "superness" was quickly revealed. The actor who played Grover did a great job of capturing the character's physicality with animated movements, exaggerated gestures, and fall after fall. Another standout was Cookie Monster - the most agile, limber Cookie Monster I've ever seen. He easily led a team of kilt-wearing sheep in a "Riverdance" send-up and cut into acrobatic hip-hop dance moves like his limbs were made of jelly.

Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Zoe formed a team of superheroes in Grover's absence and a character named Kay (the only human in the musical) helped the childlike monsters solve their superhero dilemmas. They learned (and in turned taught) about hygiene, exercise, and eating healthier from some of Sesame's most beloved veteran characters.

While the look and feel was similar to what I imagine was created for "Sesame Street's" first productions in the early `80s, the music has been updated to reflect the times. There were a couple of hip-hop dance numbers, one in particular which owed thanks to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," and revised renditions of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero" (which appeared on the original "Footloose" soundtrack), Madonna's "Vogue," and James Brown's "I Feel Good."

Elsewhere in the show are songs based in rollicking gospel, big band (for a Gene Kelly-era style dance number), and `50s rock n' roll (during which Bert wears a pompadour). While it's completely geared toward kids there are a few jokes that resound with adults - limburger cheese and feather boas come to mind.

The stage was erected in the center of the Coliseum, so your child will be able to see the action. However the best seats are definitely in the center and back as the view of the screen is obstructed from the sides. I was also glad we wore jackets because the air conditioning was cranked.

Most all the children I saw enjoyed the show - especially the music and monsters. Some danced in the aisles, constantly jumping up and down to the songs, in-turn practicing Elmo's healthy habits as they watched the show.

Scorchers' alter-ego sings nature songs for kids at Muse Saturday

Today everyone from Ziggy Marley to Jewel to Barenaked Ladies release children's music albums. They Might Be Giants has created a second career making music for young kids. But Jason Ringenberg of `80s country-punk pioneers Jason and the Scorchers donned bib overalls and adopted an alter-ego over a decade ago when he assumed the identity of Farmer Jason. Farmer Jason released his latest album, "Nature Jams," in February and returns to Evening Muse for a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, March 31. 

"Nature Jams," which comes with a bonus DVD, is a guest-heavy effort that finds Farmer Jason singing about all kinds of outdoor activities. Cheap Trick's Tom Peterson and singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster join him for an ode to spelunking. He and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills sing of hiking. Americana songwriter Webb Wilder and the Black Crowes' Steve Gorman team with Ringenberg on a bouncy gem called "Dison the Bison." 

Our three-year-old was instantly drawn to the banjo-driven "Can You Canoe?" which features Alison Brown on five-string.

"Nature Jams" also highlights how environmentalism relates to enjoying the great outdoors. Jason and the Scorchers sing about glaciers. He and Nashville neighbor Hank Williams III and Tommy Ramone sing about manatees.

The music leans toward country and folk, but there are other styles as well. Victor Wooten lays down a spoken-word, jazz-funk groove. The Saw Doctors rock pretty hard on "Well Oh Whale." Some of the songs are pretty punky. 

Todd Snider, who appeared on Ringenberg's 2006 similarly-themed kid's record "Rockin' in the Forest"(which was recently remastered), returns to sing about moose . You can hear how much fun he and Ringenberg had recording the intro. 

You can learn more about the new album here. Tickets to Saturday afternoon's children's show are $8-$10. 

Charlotte's Temperance League release old school 45s with retro feel

Charlotte rock quintet Temperance League released two new singles earlier this month and by singles I mean two two-track vinyl records - what my mom's generation referred to as 45s and what mine calls seven inches. These tracks are also available as digital downloads for a dollar each, along with the ones Temperance League released this time last year.

The rocking political anthem "No Jobs, More War" is my favorite from that early batch (it appears on the "Freedom From Evil Spirits" three-track download), although I really dig the equally frustrated "Ain't Nobody Listening" too.

The four new songs released this month - "I Don't Wanna" backed with "But I Have To" and "Your World" backed with "Our Fine Romance" - show a different side of Temperance League. Comprised of Charlotte music scene veterans Bruce Hazel, Shawn Lynch, David Kim, Chad Wilson and Eric Scott, Temperance League's previous releases highlighted its rough-edged garage rock while alluding to its roots in `60s rock and soul. The new tracks delve deeper into that `60s garage soul sound. It's easy to imagine them spinning on my step-dad's jukebox when we were growing up.

Both will be available in vinyl form when the group headlines Plaza Midwood Community Radio's fundraiser Friday, March 30 at Snug Harbor. The lineup includes Little Bull Lee, the Bear Romantic, and Asheville's Saint Solitude who begins its East Coast tour here. Show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is free, although a donation of $5 is recommended. The money raised will benefit the Charlotte-based internet radio station, which features local programming and hosts with a big emphasis on local artists. Check it out at

Temperance League's new singles are also available for download here.

This week's hot concerts

Mavis Staples
8 p.m. Friday, March 30, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $32.50-$39.50. 704-372-1000.
From her work with the Staples Singers to 2011’s Grammy winning, Jeff Tweedy-produced album, “You Are Not Alone,” Staples has enjoyed a storied career that never overshadows her powerful voice.  

Lindsey Horne
8 p.m. Friday, March 30, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. 704-376-3776.
If you’ve lost track of this Charlotte singer-songwriter since the middle part of the decade she’s back with a new album that showcases her piano folk and sweet Joni Mitchell-meets-Victoria Williams vocals.

8 p.m. Friday, March 30, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $7.
Don’t be fooled by the New Orleans’ outfits association with Phil Anselmo’s Housecore label, it’s brand of psychedelic indie rock dirges is trippy and dark, but is certainly not metal.

 John Wesley Harding
8 p.m. Saturday, March 31, Stage Door Theatre, 5th and College, $25. 704-372-1000.
With a guest-heavy (Decemberists, Rosanne Cash, Peter Buck) 2011 album out on NC’s Yep Roc label, the English alt-folk singer-songwriter and author makes a rare Charlotte appearance.

Mike Strauss Band/Leadville Social Club
9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $5. 704-376-1446.
Strauss’ gruff, Tom Waits-ian delivery is a nice counterpoint to his bouncing folk-on-steroids band, while the loose format of Leadville - led by Bob Graham and Chris Edwards - has helped it become a local Americana fixture.

Robert Glasper Experiment
7 p.m. Sunday, April 1, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20-$25. 704-358-9298.
The versatile jazz-rooted quartet welcomed a bevy of guests from the worlds of hip-hop & R&B for its latest, “Black Radio,” but keeps an anchor in loose, grooving experimental  jazz throughout.

Darrell Scott
7 p.m. Sunday, April 1, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $22.50-$27.50. 704-372-1000.
After a career as a revered country songwriter (for the Dixie Chicks and Brad Paisley instance) and sideman, Scott is enjoying a bit of a higher profile thanks to his work in Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. But his latest, “Long Ride Home," shows he’s a heck of solo artist.

Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $6-$9.
Brass and grass is the perfect term to describe this Kansas-based outfit that fires up brisk bluegrass-esque tunes with vaudeville-style horns and fun, punk attitude.

Van Hunt
9 p.m. Thursday, April 5, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $15. 704-376-1446.
One of the most rewardingly adventurous artists since Prince, this funk-soul artist follows up 2011’s incredible “What Were You Hoping For?” with a live album that captures his band’s vibrant energy on stage.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jack Black; `90s rock among this week's concert announcements

After a long absence monsters of joke-folk-metal, Tenacious D, will hit the road this summer following the release of its third album, "Rize of the Fenix." The tour brings the duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass to The Fillmore Tuesday, June 26. A video comically covering the band's absence is available here. The Sights will open the show.

The Used, whose new album was released Tuesday, are also scheduled to play the NC Music Factory venue May 23 with Stars in Stereo.

The Fillmore's neighboring Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre recently announced the Last Summer on Earth Tour featuring Barenaked Ladies, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Blues Traveler and Cracker July 13. The `90s are apparently hot again because another group of WEND 106.5 The End `90s staples - Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground - bring the Summerland Tour to the Uptown Amphitheatre just two days later on July 15.

Another act that rose to fame in the `90s - 311 - brings its annual summer tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre July 25. Slightly Stoopid and the Aggrolites (who headline Tremont May 13) will support.

On the country front, Toby Keith is back at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Saturday, August 25 with his Live in Overdrive Tour. Brantley Gilbert opens the show.

Tickets for all shows except the Summerland Tour, go on sale Friday, March 30 at 10 a.m. at,, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or at the venue box offices. Summerland Tour tickets go on sale April 14 at those same outlets.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: The Black Keys at Bojangles' Coliseum

The Black Keys ended the first leg of its 2012 North American tour with a sold out concert at Bojangles’ Coliseum Saturday. Tickets sold out well in advance for the band who - thanks to a slew of commercial and TV placements, word of mouth, and a decade of diligence - has brought funky, soulful blues-rock to the mainstream. Ever since the Black Keys opened for Kings of Leon in September 2010 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre - arguably stealing the show (the crowd response alone tipped in the Keys’ favor) - the Ohio-based combo has been due for a Charlotte headlining gig.

A black clad Arctic Monkeys - the British rock quartet who rocketed to fame in the UK in 2006 but are still chasing household-name status stateside - opened the show with a solid set that showcased front man Alex Turner’s charisma and chops.

The Black Keys approached from the shadows of the large white screens that flanked the stage. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were placed side by side at stage front while touring musicians Gus Seyffert and John Wood hung in back providing bass, keys and guitar. It launched into “Howlin’ For You” followed with “Next Girl,” both from 2010’s breakout album “Brothers.”

Carney’s drums popped with jarring clarity on “Run Right Back.” In fact, aside from the expected distortion the sound was loud and fairly clear especially compared to Bruce Springsteen’s 17-piece band playing the similarly laid out Greensboro Coliseum earlier this week where all the instruments and backing vocals could get muddled. The Black Keys played it straight and simple from the band makeup to the minimal videos and lighting (although I heard that the sound on the floor wasn’t as clear).
After renditions of “Same Old Thing,” “Dead and Gone,” and “Gold on the Ceiling” Seyffert and Wood disappeared backstage leaving Carney and Auerbach in their original duo form. The crowd went wild for older songs like a loose, jammy version of 2006’s “Girl is on My Mind,” which seemed more like a blues spiritual than the frustrated `60s garage-rock original. It also hit on 2002’s “I’ll Be Your Man,” a slice of classic-sounding soul, and 2006’s “Your Touch,” which had thousands bouncing, fists pumping in the air.  

With the rest of the band back the slower, `60s-feeling “Little Black Submarines” with its “broken heart is blind” refrain served as the biggest sing-along - the Black Keys’ power ballad of sorts. “Money Maker,” “Strange Times,” “Chop and Change,” “Nova Baby,” and “Ten Cent Pistol” followed before the capper of “Tighten Up” and the danceable “Lonely Boy.” The latter - the lead track from its latest album "El Camino" - received the biggest response since the duo set. It had the entire building pulsing as the group whipped through it.
Auerbach and Carney returned to the stage for a three song encore. Not since Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has a rock band worked such a funky, sexual groove as the one in “I Got Mine,” its final song. But the Black Keys are less showmen and hypemen (compared to Spencer’s over-the-top stage persona) and more soul men. There was little schtick just pure rock n’ roll, simple instrumentation, and straight forward performances from marvelous players that can completely ravage their instruments while making such flowery playing look easy and relaxed.

As “I Got Mine” came to a close the band’s name dropped from the ceiling in flashing lights. The flashing sign, the enormous disco balls which were also saved for the finale, and the light trees that flanked the band, were the only props throughout the show. Those worked because they were simple and matched the band’s aesthetic. Like the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys serve as a reminder that a good rock band doesn’t need to provide an onstage circus to rock.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Drake to make Charlotte tour stop

Hip-hop sensation Drake announced a 27-date tour today that will include a Saturday, May 19 stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. His Club Paradise Tour lineup includes Carolinian rapper J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, and French Montana, some of whom were just in Charlotte for CIAA performances at the beginning of March. 

The tour follows the Canadian former "Degrassi: The Next Generation" actor's successful run of college gigs and the November release of his sophomore album, "Take Care." 

Tickets for the Charlotte show go on sale Saturday March 31 at 10 a.m. at,, Verizon's Hardees' Thick Burger box office, at select Walmart locations, and by calling 1-800-745-3000. For information on VIP tickets go to 

This week's hot concerts

Frankenstein Brothers
8 p.m. Friday, March 23, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20-$24/$35 VIP. 704-358-9298.
Former Axl Rose co-hort Buckethead and equally unusual solo artist That 1 Guy, who creates a funky one man band from a modified electronic bass called the magic pipe, join forces.

Chris Thomas King
8 p.m. Friday, March 23, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $15-$17. 704-376-3737.
Maybe best remembered for his Robert Johnson-like role in “O’ Brother Where Art Thou,” this Louisiana blues guitarist/actor is also a Grammy winner with a new album - his first in five years.

The English Beat
7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $22/$37 VIP. 704-358-9298.
The long running British ska outfit led by Dave Wakeling returns as fans hit the dancefloor to tracks like “Save It For Later,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Stand Down Margaret” and “Tenderness” - Wakeling’s hit with General Public.

Nantucket/The George Hatcher Band
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $14-$17.
Best known for the hits “Heartbreaker” and “Coming Home,” respectively, these veteran blues-rock and Southern boogie acts were extremely popular fixtures in Charlotte and the Southeast during the late `70s and `80s when they were signed with labels and enjoyed modest hits.

John Mark McMillian & Friends/Songs of Water
8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $14. 704-372-1000.
A top songwriter/performer in the Christian market, this Charlottean writes great rock songs that transcend genres. He plays with friends Songs of Water, an innovative Carolina-based roots music ensemble.

Tyrese/Chrisette Michelle
8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $70.25.
The hunky “Transformers” star flipped his focus back to music in late 2011with “Open Invitation” - his first album since 2006. He’s paired with the R&B powerhouse touring behind 2010’s spunky “Let Freedom Reign.”

George Benson
7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 25, Knight Theater, 430 N. Tryon St. $69.50-$99.50. 704-372-1000.
The jazz guitarist behind classics like “Give Me the Night” and “Turn Your Love Around” focuses primarily on his stellar six-string skills on the recent mostly instrumental “Guitar Man” album, which won an NAACP image award. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crue, Kiss, Caillat among recent concert announcements

Summer concert announcements are rolling in. Among those is the announcement yesterday that Kiss and Motley Crue will launch "The Tour 2012" - a co-headlining bill that brings them to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre July 25. Tickets go on sale Friday. 

Today LiveNation announced the addition of One Direction (pictured above) to the calendar at Time Warner Cable Arena. The UK boy band brings its first U.S. tour to TWC Arena, June 27. Tickets go on sale Saturday. Other recent LiveNation announcements include Colbie Callait and Gavin DeGraw at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre June 14. Presale begins March 27 with public sale following on March 31. 

The Kat Country Jam: A Benefit for St. Jude April 23 at The Fillmore brings Albemarle girl Kellie Pickler home. Tickets also on sale Friday. The country sounds continue with Lee Brice at Coyote Joe's April 28 and Uncle Kracker at the Wilkinson Blvd. venue May 11. 

Gomez returns to Visulite April 30 and Black Joe Lewis, who opened for Flogging Molly at The Fillmore, plays the Elizabeth club May 2. Indigo Girl Amy Ray brings her rock band to Visulite May 4.

Tremont begins a run of notable Casbah shows May 13 when ska traditionalists the Aggrolites play the Southend club followed by He is We May 14 and "Grey's Anatomy"-approved singer-songwriter Greg Laswell May 15.

Last week Amos' Southend announced the return of Neon Trees and A.W.O.L. Nation. The alternative outfits whose hits include "Animal" and "Sail," respectively, share the bill May 16. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes play The Fillmore the same night. 

World music powerhouse Gogol Bordello makes its Fillmore Charlotte debut May 21. The Polyphonic Spree brings its symphonic choir rock to McGlohon Theatre May 28. Dance music heavyweight Kaskade will perform at The Fillmore July 11. Tickets are also already on sale for Powerman 5000's 20th Anniversary Tour at Tremont October 3.

Tickets for The Fillmore, Uptown Amphitheatre, Verizon, and some TWC Arena concerts are available at Coyote Joe's, Amos', and Tremont tickets are available through Buy Visulite tickets at 

Fetchin' Bones before your time? Take a peek.

 Last week while scanning YouTube videos for veteran Charlotte bands for the column on Tremont's 17th anniversary I stumbled across the above clip of Charlotte's long defunct Fetchin Bones playing CBGB's. I wasn't around to witness Fetchin Bones' run, which began in 1985. They were signed to Capitol Records in the late `80s and released four albums between `85 and `89.

By the time I moved to Charlotte front woman Hope Nicholls had moved on to Sugarsmack with her husband Aaron Pitkin. That band was signed to Sire Records. I really dug its "Tank Top City" album and its live show. The fashions alone make the clip worth watching, but the CBGB's video gives some insight into what Fetchin Bones was all about and what Nicholls, who many Charlotteans have watched over the past (going on) three decades, was like early on - a ball of bouncy energy that appears meant for the  rock n' roll stage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New book's "Nightmare Gigs" include many Carolina connections

“Another Nightmare Gig from Hell: Musicians Tales of Wonder and Woe” is a new collection by writer/publicist/promoter and former performer Tammy Brackett and musician/graphic designer Nick Zelinger that logs the sometimes horrific, sometimes amusing stories touring musicians (and others in the industry) experienced on the road and on stage.

Several of these stories have Charlotte connections. One of the best (or worst as it were) is Simplified guitarist Chris Sheridan’s recounting of the night The Press Box was robbed at gun point while the band was playing on stage. Another finds the Spongetones’ Steve Stoekel having a hilariously bad day at a small town festival gig that pushes him further and further over the edge as the day progresses. Knowing Stoekel, who seems like the nicest guy, makes it even funnier. 

Other Carolina storytellers include Charlotte guitarist Donnie Christianson, Asheville funk outfit Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, and Charleston’s Sol Driven Train.

There are also stories from artists I’ve never heard of and some of those are real gems. There’s one about a disc jockey who hangs up on Robert Plant, another from a sound engineer who worked a Christmas gig where the entire room, including the performer, got sick which may actually be the worst gig I can imagine. Brackett’s own tale rings with familiarity whether you’re in a band or not.

Some of my favorite stories come from unknowns because those are the musicians that really have it rough - not the artists that can afford handlers and limos and dictate details. It’s the cover bands, bands touring endlessly in smelly vans eating cheese sandwiches, or the singer-songwriter peddling cds by asking people listen to it on headphones on the street, that often have the best stories. Mark Stevens’ story about his former band Toast being invited to open for Styx at a corn festival in rural Colorado may be my favorite because there’s no rock star pretentiousness in his anxiety-ridden lead-up to the actual gig.

The authors are already collecting submissions for a second edition of “Nightmare Gig.” If you’d like to check out volume one or submit a traumatic excerpt from your own tour diary go to

Monday, March 19, 2012

Charlotte's Hardcore Lounge releases remix single

Third generation Charlotte musicians Chris and Wes Johnson, who co-pilot the band Hardcore Lounge, grew up listening to dance remixes back when alternative rock groups like Siouxsie & the Banshees released 12” single versions of its hits for dance club play. So it was kind of a dream to have five DJs/producers reimagine their single “Dance of My Life” for the dancefloor. The Charlotte rock group released the expanded remix single, which features six versions of the track (including the original from the album of the same name), earlier this month.

The opening mix by Mikey & Dsko is exactly what I imagine would be playing at a gay club where the music is bright, upbeat, and vibrant. They somehow make Hardcore Lounge, who often reminds me of more of a Talking Heads, sound more like the B-52s remixed with video game style electronics in the mix. But that twist really works well for them.

DJ George Brazil gives the track a darker makeover, which Chris Johnson says he digs for its `80s bass, whereas Farfalla highlights the lounge in Hardcore Lounge providing more of a tropical Latin setting which works well for the track. Mr. Atomic’s Saxy edit is the craziest, most futuristic take on “Dance.” With its rippling vibration it truly messes with the ears. Coop’s Midnight Dub, the last remix on the disc, brings the song sonically back to Earth with its funky, upbeat take. I imagine it playing on a modern “Miami Vice” where Crockett and Tubbs enter the VIP area of a hot-pink lit club to interrogate a slick drug dealer. 

As Johnson said, it's unusual to hear a rock band remixed (especially a local one) - just as it was when Siouxsie was doing it. What’s really interesting is how different each mix is. All five remixers presumably never heard what the others were up to, but turned in something stylistically different from all the others. 

The “Dance of My Life” remix single is available online at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, and other digital outlets as well as in physical form at Lunchbox Records on Central Avenue where you can find the disc for $5. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tremont celebrates 17 years tonight with nostalgic seven band bill

Tremont Music Hall celebrates its 17th anniversary Friday with a seven band bill featuring many Charlotte music staples and bands whose members have ties to the club. The lineup features 2013 Wolves, the Chalkies, Babyshaker, the Blind Dates, the Aqualads, Antiseen, Husky, and Hope Nicholls (Snagglepuss) as DJ. The show marks the rare reunion of the Blind Dates, which was Tremont founder and former owner Penny Craver’s `80s girl group with Charlotte musicians Gina Stewart and Deanna Lynn Campbell.

The idea of the SouthEnd venue inching toward its 20th year makes me feel old. Although I long ago vacated my spot at the bar where I could view the Casbah stage while talking to the bartender and feel the breeze from the front door, of all Charlotte’s venues, it’s still the one that feels most like home. I formed enduring relationships there and witnessed some memorable shows back when seeing concerts was still new to me. My fondness for Tremont was in part due to the time period and the kind of live music I was looking for. When it opened it was one of very few games in town. Part of the reason I chose Charlotte for college was because I craved a live music scene where I could watch some of the underground bands I’d been discovering on MTV’s “120 Minutes.” By the time I got settled notorious Charlotte venues like The Pterodactyl, 4808, 1313, and the Park Elevator were long gone and The Milestone was on its way to disarray (from which it has since been rescued). Amos’ on Park Road soon closed and the Neighborhood Theatre and Visulite didn’t exist. The Double Door was more of an adult-crowd. I don’t even know if you could get in there at 18 and Jeremiah’s on Independence targeted the heavier metal crowd.

When Penny Craver opened Tremont in 1995, I had a place to go. In those early years I saw Son Volt, Ani Difranco, Frank Black and later Blur, Placebo, and  L7 (in the Casbah). Tremont’s first anniversary show featured Rancid, Rocket from the Crypt, and the Suicide Machines - easily one of my top 10 concerts. Rob Zombie, Primus, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Weezer, Green Day, Maroon 5, and Matchbox 20 all played there. Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and the Jonas Brothers played the Casbah stage before graduating to arenas.

Tremont has certainly experienced ups and downs. It is now on its third owner, John Hayes, whose passion for metal is a perfect match for the club. His excitement is evident when live tweeting some of the venue’s bigger metal shows.

I’ve heard the complaints - it’s a dirty old warehouse (which never bothered me until the private women’s bathroom closed). I’ve also heard old timers complain that the venue moved toward heavier music and a younger clientele. Someone has to cater to those crowds though. Tremont still gets some real on-the-cusp acts. In recent years French electronic pop oufit M83, Swedish `70s stoner blues-rock throwback Graveyard, and glamtastic rockers Foxy Shazam have pulled crowds ranging from decent to sell-outs.

What the 17th Anniversary show highlights is Tremont’s long history of supporting local music. Yes, most other clubs in town do it too. Tremont has just done it longer. There’s a whole group of acts like Scapegoat, Harvard, Sugar Glyder, Campbell, and Junior Astronomers that I watched mature musically on Tremont’s stage. Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday and guys from Emery, for instance, have mentioned in interviews the impact of seeing national acts there during their impressionable teens.

I’ve seen most of Friday’s acts on the Casbah stage before. Antiseen’s antiversary shows are legendary with frontman Jeff Clayton pulling out all the stops (and props) for those events. There’s a lot of history with the other acts as well. Hope Nicholl’s once hosted karaoke and live music nights called Bucket Parties, which were a staple of the late `90s/early ‘00s era. Many of the other acts have either been playing there since they started or since Tremont opened or are friends or former or current employees of the club. Tickets are $10. Showtime is 8 p.m. 

This week's hot concerts

Tremont 17th Anniversary
7 p.m. Friday, March 16, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10. 704-343-9494.
Former owner Penny Craver returns with `80s girl group the Blind Dates (its first show since she sold the venue) with Charlotte acts Antiseen, the Aqualads, Babyshaker, Husky,  the Chalkies and 2013 Wolves. Hope Nicholls will DJ.

7 p.m. Friday, March 16, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $18-$21.
The Oklahoma radio rockers behind 2006’s inescapable “Lips of an Angel” take a break from recording the follow-up to 2010’s “All American Nightmare” for a short run of shows.

Big Head Todd & the Monsters
8 p.m. Friday, March 16, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33.
Although its summer concert with fellow `90’s hit makers Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler and Cracker was announced earlier this week, true Todd fans will want to catch the Colorado band’s more intimate full set this week.

Little Big Town
11 p.m. Friday, March 16, Coyote Joe’s 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $15-$18.
The co-ed country quartet behind “Little White Church,” “Boondocks,” and “Bring It On Home” takes a breather from work on its upcoming fifth album to deliver the pristine, four-part harmonies that help give the act its longevity.

Ketch & Critter
7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20. 704-358-9298.
Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua perform two intimate acoustic duo sets that focus on the more traditional side of their roots rocking day job.

David Choi
7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12-$15.
The Korean -American YouTube sensation whose clips have clocked over 100 million hits steps out of the Laptop screen to perform his acoustic pop love songs live with Charlotte-based pop singer-songwriter Russell Howard opening.

Martin Sexton
8 p.m. Saturday, March 17, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200.
Actress Kristen Bell recently raved about the acclaimed cult singer-songwriter’s L.A. show on Twitter, which, along with his new EP “Falls Like Rain,” serves as a reminder of how powerful his understated take on blue-eyed soul and acoustic guitar can be. 

Beth McKee
8 p.m. Thursday, March 22, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
With Cajun and blues roots proudly glowing on the tunes on her latest album “Next to Nowhere,” this Southern singer pumps out fiery tracks while vocally neighboring singers as disparate as Bonnie Raitt, Kathy Mattea and `70s staples Anne Murray or Helen Reddy without really copying any of them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Charlotte's Lucky Five rolls the dice at SXSW Tuesday

Soul/funk-rock band Lucky Five is hoping to roll a lucky 13 Tuesday, March 13, when the Charlotte-based band performs a 40-minute set during opening night of the taste-making South By Southwest Music Festival and Conference in Austin, Texas.

With its mix of youthful energy, musicianship well beyond its members’ early twenty-something years, and a passion for danceable, yet meaningful songs, Lucky Five is as likely as any unknown act on the schedule to  catch the ear of someone with industry clout.

Lucky Five take elements from several genres but blend it in the way artists in the `70s and `80s did before categories were so stringently defined. There are moments of Dave Matthews Band-style pop, Stevie Wonder’s `70s piano funk, classic soul, anthemic rock grit, and colorful jazz that filter through the chops of a jam band.

Vocalist/keyboardist Marques Nash, who casts himself as the pop-rock piece of the puzzle with equal allegiances to “dirty” rock and underground hip-hop, keeps the jazz improvisations and tendency to jam in check for the sake of a good pop song.

“From an instrumental point we can get carried away,” says drummer Jesse Williams, gathered with three of the five members at the Wesley Heights home dubbed Sewercide Mansion that Nash shares.
“Marques keeps us grounded,” says guitarist Shago Elizondo.

Adds Williams: “He solves the Rubik’s cube in every song.”

Bassist Andy Mormimoto, who learned playing classic metal, drives the funk element home, while guitarists Shago Elizondo and Jonny Fung bring blues and jazz to the plate, respectively. Williams, a livewire of hair and arms on stage who played his first gig at age five, covers “everything else” in their musical makeup.

Not only is Lucky Five’s music a seamless melting pot of styles, the multi-racial group also represents a cross section of modern America with members of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds. That’s exactly what Nash was looking for as an 11-year-old watching gospel musician Kirk Franklin lead an all African-American choir and band.

“He had no white people. I told my mom I wanted to play the piano because I wanted to do what he did, but I wanted to do it the right way. I come from a mixed family. My step dad is white. As a little kid (Kirk Franklin’s band) bothered me,” recalls Nash, who abandoned his goal to be a top praise and worship leader. “When I realized my vision was bigger than the church I walked away from that. There’s people hurting next door and at the gas station. I want my music to fix those hearts, not necessarily the people that are spoon fed every Sunday morning.”

“That’s probably why everyone is a different race in our band,” adds Nash. “It makes you realize one race doesn’t run a genre of music. I think people enjoy seeing that. No one ever guesses what we’re going to sound like. They assume I’m the bass player, which is just racist,” he laughs. “Or they assume I’m a rapper with a live band. When that doesn’t happen and we get to blow their minds - that’s probably the most satisfying feeling.”

Lucky Five, who attracted the attention of a SXSW scout at the Mid-Atlantic Music Conference in October, isn’t the only Charlotte act heading to SXSW. Hip-hop act the ThoughtCriminals and pop singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay also play Tuesday. Wretched and Young and in the Way play metal showcases Thursday and Friday, respectively. Indie rock act Junior Astronomers will also play parties in an unofficial capacity.

South By Southwest, which marks its 26th anniversary, has grown to include film and interactive media and technology. It now stretches for 10 days with six of those focusing on music. It’s gotten so big that stars like Bruce Springsteen, who doesn’t need the gig to get noticed, are booked alongside a small phone book of unknowns.

The 19-hour trip is an expensive gamble for the band, who failed to reach its goal with a Pledge Music ( campaign. That isn’t the only wrinkle. Mormimoto was already committed to a school trip to Canada. Instead live guest Adrian Crutchfield (Anthony Hamilton) will handle key bass and saxophone duties.

Regardless of whether Lucky Five lives up to its name at SXSW, locally it will return to play Charlotte’s second annual AWOL: the Benefit festival at South Park’s Symphony Park April 21. Robert Randolph & the Family Band, a multicultural band whose leader brought his own church-learned music to a wider secular audience, is set to headline. His is a career Nash would like to emulate.

“Robert Randolph can do whatever he wants,” he adds. “It’s soulful rock. I want to be allowed to do that. Not lose my roots. Not lose my culture. I want to be mainstream and have our sound.” 

(Photo Credit Daniel Clark Cunningham. Pictured from left: Mormimoto, Fung, Elizondo, Nash and Williams).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Internet star and "Gabba" guest Leslie Hall boogies into Snug Harbor Wednesday

With her gold spandex costumes and bouffant hair, Leslie Hall – satirical rapper and fashion risk-taker extraordinaire – is best known to parents as a frequent guest on the preschool series “Yo Gabba Gabba.” She appears occasionally on the Nick Jr. show and served as a special guest on its concert tour.
She also heads up a band called Leslie and the LYs, which brings its amusing electro-hip-hop to the Charlotte bar Snug Harbor on Wednesday.
Before her rise with the toddler set, Hall (pictured on the Yo Gabba Gabba tour in October) was an online star – one of the first actually. She began uploading original music and comedy videos before the term “YouTube sensation” existed.
“When YouTube came out, it was (videos like) look at what my baby looks like eating breakfast. It was a perfect place where people could view the videos easier. Thank God you were invented by nerds somewhere,” Hall says.
She also used the web to promote her collection of gem sweaters – bedazzled Goodwill finds that she displayed in her own museum. “It was like getting high off couponing,” she says of shopping for $3 sweaters. She now has 500 in storage in her hometown of Ames, Iowa. She titled her third album “Cewebrity” after her growing notoriety online – where “Yo Gabba Gabba” discovered her.
“They were looking for people for Season One and saw me on the Internet – a kooky lady from the Midwest,” she explains. The Gabba folks thought kids would “get” Hall’s act. “Thank God they were right. Thank God toddlers can’t speak critically of my dance moves.”
Hall grew up one of four and turned to dance and performance as a means to compete for attention.
“I was always dancing. I loved Paula Abdul. I turned to glitz and glamour. My brothers turned to getting in trouble. My sister is just so normal,” she says.
A former art school student (her paintings, handmade rugs and headbands are available at, she began writing and performing silly songs and eventually combined all her interests in one visual package: dance-music videos that mixed visual and performance art with satirical humor. “I knew I wasn’t getting younger in the face and these dance moves don’t last forever.”
Hall has become a feminist icon for the Internet age, owning her “Tight Pants/Body Rolls” (the title of her biggest “hit”) and promoting everything from positive body image to dance to crafting in her songs.
Fans at Leslie and the LYs concerts come from both audiences. Some dress in gold pants while others bring items for her to sign for their toddlers. Hall alters her moves for the audience.
“When doing ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,’ I don’t do as much thrusting and jiggling,” she says.
The tour experience is completely different from the posh digs she enjoyed on tour with DJ Lance Rock, Biz Markie, and the “YGG” gang for 3 and 1/2 months last fall. “One is like fancy wine and cheeses and massages, and this one … I just ate a piece of bread with peanut butter on it using a plastic knife a lady cleaned on her tongue because we didn’t have any napkins.”
WHEN: 9 p.m. Wedsnesday
WHERE: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St.
DETAILS: 704-333-9799;

Friday, March 9, 2012

This week's hot concerts

The Love Language
8 p.m. Friday, March 9, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10-$12. 704-358-9200.
The vehicle for Raleigh-based songwriter Stuart McLamb deftly straddles dreamy indie folk and trippy psychedelic rock with the magical innocence of 60s pop and the dizzying sonic swells of shoegazer rock.

Andy D.
9 p.m. Friday, March 9, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $6. 704-333-9799.
The potty-mouthed rapper tackles two topics - sex and dancing -with hilarity delivering lines like “I’m an angel/my halo is a disco ball” while dressed like a cross between LMFAO and Larry the Cable Guy.  Hunter Park, Secret Music, and Winter Sounds also play.

Lefty Williams Band
10 p.m. Saturday, March 10, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-1446.
Prior to the release of his new live album, the Atlanta blues guitarist, who pursued the six-string despite being born without his right hand, returns to Charlotte with Winston-Salem’s Sam Robison.

Hunter Valentine
8 p.m. Sunday, March 11, Milestone, 2700 Tuckaseegee Rd. $6-$9.
Like multiple Joan Jetts raised on pop hooks and the edgier punk of the Distillers, the female Canadian act is a live powerhouse that doesn’t let the pop polish wash away its attitude and grit.

Mute Math
 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $28-$31.
On its latest record, “Odd Soul,” the New Orleans piano rock outfit relies more heavily on guitar and explores what it’s like growing up as an idealistic but paranoid teenage Christian and what that experience means to its members as adults.

Leslie & the Lys
9 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $10.
The Midwest diva and “Yo Gabba Gabba” guest star leads a bill of Ames, Iowa’s hometown anti-heroes with gold spandex, towering hair, and an approach to hip-hop-flavored dance music that never loses its sense of humor.

Richard Marx
 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, Don Gibson Theatre, 318 S. Washington St., Shelby. $29. 704-487-8114.
The singer-songwriter responsible for inescapable `80s hits like “Hold on to the Nights,” “Don’t Mean Nothing,” and “Should’ve Known Better” has since worked behind the scenes writing for acts like Josh Groban and NSync.

Yellow Dubmarine
8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10. 704-358-9200.
This tribute act combines pop’s biggest band, The Beatles, with one of music’s most enduring genres - reggae - by reimagining the Fab Four’s catalog as laid back dub and reggae.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nickelback and Bush head to the Carolinas

Nickelback announced two upcoming summer Carolinas concerts today. The Canadian chart toppers will extend its upcoming Spring and summer tour, which kicks off in April, to include dates at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte July 27 and Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion in Raleigh on July 30.

British rock band Bush, who had a slew of hits in the `90s, will open the shows. Still led by Gavin Rossdale, Bush returned last September with a new album "The Sea of Memories" - it's first in a decade. Rossdale and original drummer Robin Goodridge are joined by guitarist Chris Traynor (who toured on Bush's "Golden State" tour) and bassist Corey Britz. Former members bassist Dave Parsons and guitarist Nigel Pulsford left the band in 2002 and declined Rossdale's invitation to return for it's recent relaunch.

Nickelback promises a set of hits pulled from its seven albums. Tickets for the shows go on sale Friday, March 16 at 10 a.m. at and Presales open to fan club members March 9 and to Citi cardholders March 12. For more information on the latter visit

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Dream concert rescheduled for April

The Dream's concert at Amos' Southend Thursday, March 8, has been rescheduled. The Grammy winning R&B singer-songwriter and producer best known for penning massive hits like Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and Rihanna's "Umbrella," is now scheduled to headline the Southend venue Thursday, April 12. Tickets are $17 to $20 and are available at

The Dream (aka Terius Nash) was born in Rockingham, but raised in Atlanta. As a solo artist his hits include "Rockin' That Thang," "Shawty is a 10," "I Luv Your Girl," "Falsetto," and "Love King." His writing credits include the Madonna/Britney Spears duet "Me Against the Music" and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body." He was briefly married to actress/singer Christina Milian. The two have a daughter together.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jane's Addiction brings tour to Ovens in May

Jane's Addiction announced the second leg of its Theatre of Escapists tour today, which includes a May 23 stop at Ovens Auditorium. Special guest the Duke Spirit opens the show. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster outlets, the Ovens Auditorium box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000. Pre-sale tickets will be available at the band's website,

Jane's Addiction's lineup currently consists of founders Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Stephen Perkins with Chris Chaney on bass. Original bassist Eric Avery played with the band when it opened for Nine Inch Nails on its last trip to Charlotte in summer 2009. The group has since released a new album, "The Great Escape Artist."

The Los Angeles quartet emerged from the underground music and art scene during the mid `80s. Though it had been gathering critical acclaim with the now alt-rock classic "Nothing's Shocking," 1990's "Ritual de lo Habitual" served as its mainstream breakthrough. However, the band broke up shortly after. A reunion tour was launched in 1997 and Farrell, Navarro, and Perkins have been on again/off again ever since.

Locally the UK's Duke Spirit has opened for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Incubus, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. According to the blurb on Vimeo the track below, "Don't Wait," was actually written in a dressing room in Charlotte.
The Duke Spirit - Don't Wait from The Duke Spirit on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Are music-oriented preschool shows taking a backseat on new Nick Jr.?

Thursday after picking up my three-year-old from preschool we got home and turned on the TV only to find that his favorite show, the music-driven “Pufnstuf”-style Nick Jr. series “Yo Gabba Gabba,” was not on. No big deal usually. The toddler-geared Nickelodeon network shuffles its schedule every few months. Yet scrolling through the guide “Yo Gabba Gabba” (pictured above on its live tour in Charlotte in October) was nowhere to be found. Not at 4:30 or 6 or the 10/10:30 timeslot it’s occupied since he was born. Not until midnight - long after our little buddy has gone to sleep. While the initial change is upsetting, it’s not that big of a deal. We have DVDs, DVR, and a few episodes OnDemand each month. However the changes to Nick Jr. - sparked no doubt by the impending March 23 premier of Disney’s preschool oriented competitor Disney Junior, which replaces SoapNet - go much deeper than Gabbaland mysteriously relocating like “Lost” island.

While “The Fresh Beat Band” (which my kids do like) runs during daytime, other programs that focus on music are either relegated to midnight or, like “Jack’s Big Music Show,” are completely off the schedule. Animated series such as “Bubble Guppies” and “The Backyardigans” do have songs, but unlike “YGG” and “Jack’s” they don’t feature real (aka human) artists. And the artists these shows feature are an eclectic group. “Jack’s,” which other parents have mentioned to me as a favorite, has featured Andrew Bird, Angelique Kidjo, and Laurie Berkner. “Yo Gabba Gabba” has welcomed everyone from Ladytron to Weezer to the Roots while focusing heavily on lesser known artists like Chairlift or Blitzen Trapper (I’ve googled a few bands I discovered there). Instead of shows like these, Nick Jr.’s daytime hours now rely heavily on double doses of cartoons such as “Dora the Explorer,” “Go, Diego, Go” and “Team Umizoomi,” while old animated favorites like “The Wonder Pets” (which our younger child is fond of) and “Wow Wow Wubbzy” are banished to the wee wee hours. It’s not that I mind some of these shows (except “Olivia,” which drives me bananas), but they aren’t ones my kids are that interested in and they certainly aren’t ones I want to watch over whatever’s going to be playing on Mickey’s new neighbor. They’re generally loud and colorful, not chill and calm (favorable attributes I’d think) like “Little Bill” or “Little Bear.” This article further explains the scheduling and format changes.

The biggest huff online is over what appears to be the retirement of Moose and Zee, characters that served as the network’s hosts and appeared in several educational and musical shorts in place of advertisements. Moose and Zee’s songs are often what small children respond to before paying any attention to the shows. A post on Nick Jr.’s website which breaks down the changes addresses their absence vaguely stating that the animated animal duo is focusing “on new plans of their own.” Parents can hope that means they aren’t gone for good. A couple of petitions have popped up online since their disappearance Thursday demanding their safe return.

Children’s programming may seem like a ridiculous thing to squabble about when doctors recommend limited TV viewing for small children, but in reality you can’t read to your child 24-7. At some point the dishes have to get done and that blog has to get updated. Music is also obviously a big part of our lives. I’ve made our sons playlists since birth and have kept journals about my children’s listening habits since before they were born so they can see what they were listening to and if or how it influences their listening habits as teenagers and adults. Music videos were a big part of my childhood. My mother’s generation watched “American Bandstand.” We had MTV and “Night Tracks.” But today’s videos are rarely kid-friendly. For every cool “OK Go” clip there’s plenty of pole dancing and scantily clad booty shaking.

The only good thing I can see coming from the switch at Nick Jr. is less TV viewing overall. Between the cancellation of two ABC soaps and the new Nick Jr. schedule the only reason I turn on my TV before 8 p.m. remains “General Hospital.” I hope Nick Jr. will shake up its schedule again or release the next season of “Yo Gabba Gabba” on Nickelodeon or DVD soon. IMDB lists 13 new episodes for Season 4 (some fun titles too) and actress Busy Phillips (“Cougar Town”) tweeted a photo when she and Thomas Lennon filmed an as yet unaired episode last year. So viewers know new episodes exist and now we need new “Gabba” more than ever. 

UPDATE: As of the week of March 21, it looks like Nick Jr. is shaking up its schedule bringing back "Yo Gabba Gabba," "Wow Wow Wubbzy," and "Pocoyo" during the day and backing off the constant hour-long blocks of other shows. Still no Moose or Zee. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Veteran classic rock lineup scheduled for Verizon

Classic rockers Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Ted Nugent will perform at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre May 17 when the trio's Midwest Rock n' Roll Express tour trucks into Charlotte. The 30-city tour pairs the Motor City Madman, who opens each show, with Illinois' Styx and REO Speedwagon. All charted hits in the `70s and `80s and have sold 80 million albums worldwide between them. Tickets go on sale March 10 at 10 a.m. at, and by calling 1-800-745-3000 or at the venue's box office.

Samantha Ronson helps NC Music Factory celebrate St. Patty's Day

Celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson will perform at the NC Music Factory's Fountain Square and later at Butter Friday, March 16 during the entertainment complex's St. Patrick's Day weekend festivities. The 34-year-old sister of producer/artist Mark Ronson is best known for her tabloid headline-grabbing relationship with Lindsay Lohan.

Email for reservations.

The folks at NC Music Factory also report that a national reality series will be filming at the complex that night and an as yet unannounced national recording artist will be playing a surprise set on the Fountain Plaza stage.

This week's hot concerts

Maybach Music Group
7 p.m. Friday, March 2, Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $71.55-$103.90.
Rick Ross headlines the all-star hip-hop bill with label mates Meek Mill and Waka Flocka, DJ Seduction, Luco, and DJ Scoop while another Maybach member, Wale, performs across town at The Fillmore with DJ Kid Capri.

Lucy Woodward
8 p.m. Friday, March 2, Don Gibson Theatre, Shelby, $21. 704-487-8114.
This sultry jazz singer is a throwback to classics like Peggy Lee with a modern take on torch, lounge, pop, and Latin. She’s received raves for her live shows with Pink Martini and recently did a USO tour. 

8 p.m. Friday, March 2, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $34.40-$39.
This South Carolina pop-rock act (who hails from the Clemson area, but resides in Charleston) has climbed from playing Tremont’s Casbah to opening for fan Taylor Swift while deftly straddling Christian rock airplay and becoming the deep South’s answer to Kings of Leon.

Apache Relay/Moon Taxi
8 p.m. Friday, March 2, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10. 704-358-9200.
The former is a Tennessee indie-Americana outfit known for its infectious on stage energy and delightful charisma, while the latter lets roots-rock influences seep into its glossier pop feel which recalls an indie Maroon 5.

Mark Crozer & the Rels/Hello Handshake/Great Architect
10 p.m. Friday, March 2, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $7-$9. 704-376-3737.
Former Jesus & Mary Chain guitarist Crozer (who now lives in Charlotte) debuts his new project with two former Laburnum members. Charlotte’s Hello Handshake bridge progressive art rock with touches of Nirvana and Arcade Fire while Great Architect approaches avant garde jazz with signature unpredictability.

7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$15.
The Canadian electro-pop singer-songwriter has been heard in an Old Navy commercial and grabbed a Juno Award. On her sophomore album, “Siberia” she explores heavier dubstep beats without losing the sweet, cute vocals fans find endearing.

Langhorne Slim & the Law/Jon Lindsay
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, Visulite, 1615 Elilzabeth Ave. $12-$15. 704-358-9298.
With intense live shows the alt-folkie treads similar waters as friends the Avett Brothers, making it fitting that his upcoming album, "The Way We Move" (set for June), will be released on Concord's Ramseur Records. 

The Dream
8 p.m. Thursday, March 8, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $17-$20.
The Grammy winning Rockingham born/Atlanta raised producer/performer is a solo artist, but his own work is often overshadowed by his ability to craft hip-hop hooks and inescapable pop smashes like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).”