Monday, April 30, 2012

Jackson Browne to play Charlotte

Singer-songwriter and Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame member Jackson Browne launches his 2012 acoustic tour at Charlotte's Belk Theater Saturday, July 14. Singer-songwriter and fiddler Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek will join him as a special guest. Browne, who will alternate between piano and guitar, promises a career spanning set list.

The month-long tour hits several spots in Virginia and the Carolinas including Charleston, Durham, Richmond, and Floyd, Virginia's Floyd Fest.

Watkins' sophomore solo album, "Sun Midnight Sun," is out Tuesday, May 8. The pair have shared the stage before and Browne speaks highly of her as an instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter.

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. Prices are $49.50 to $84.50 and are available at the Blumenthal Arts box office, by calling 704-372-1000 or online at One dollar from each ticket will be donated to charity and special VIP and benefit seating (which includes a larger charitable donation) is also available.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sugarland opens Verizon's season with interactive set

Sugarland made a name for itself as a country act, but the duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush demonstrated their love for all sorts of styles Friday during its “In Your Hands” concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

First off the pair didn’t opt for typical established opening acts that are already well known to country fans. Instead rising country artist Canaan Smith (whose sound straddles adult contemporary acoustic rock and country) and the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart warmed up the crowd. More on the latter, who delivered a set of bluesy new songs and old favorites, later.

Sugarland casually opened its set with a stripped down rendition of “Wide Open” with Bush on guitar and Nettles banging a drum and singing her heart out loudly in front of the curtain that hid its five-piece band. As the whole band launched into “Stuck Like Glue” the curtain rose to reveal a simple stage set. The band gathered on one level with only the drums and keys on risers a couple of feet off the stage. The setup was indicative of the nature of the show which centered on music and fans not glitz and props. Nettles in tight red pants and a shiny gold tank and Bush in a baby blue t-shirt and vest, led the band through a string of hits beginning with “Settlin’,” “Everyday America,” “It Happens” and “Tonight.” The singer turned down the twang on the latter although her homespun charm and thick as molasses accent remained the most country thing on stage all night.

The bulk of Sugarland’s set list referenced the concert tour’s title, “In Your Hands." Fans were asked to scrawl their favorite tracks on cardboard or, in one case, a professionally made banner that Nettles compared to something from “Game of Thrones,” and submit requests by text and online. The first request? Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which the group a blast with. 

It followed that with “Little Miss," “Every Girl Like Me," “Already Gone,” and “Run.” Bush sang Nettles’ duet partner Matt Nathanson’s parts on the latter. His voice didn’t soar over the band as well as her powerful pipes do, but the harmonies were nice. Nettles’ voice is a powerful instrument that rises above everything with ease. She completely captivated the crowd during the ballad “Stay,” a tearjerker-meets-independent woman anthem written from the perspective of “the other woman.” Women in particular joined her in sisterly salute.

She stopped midway into “Baby Girl” to invite a nine-year-old girl on stage (the second such guest of the night). Nettles was right when she described the scene - with the girl singing as expressively as Nettles - as “cute overload.”

“All I Want To Do” was another hit with the ladies (kudos to the creators of the “Do Not Disturb” sign that Bush wore around his neck during part of the song). The biggest surprise of the night was the band’s own request for “Ice Ice Baby.” “I’m not afraid,” Nettles shrugged before launching into a rapid fire first verse and chorus of the Vanilla Ice hit before veering back into “All I Want’s” “Oohoohooohoooh” refrain. The crowd went crazy. It was yet another moment that illustrated the vast musical pool Sugarland pulls from.

It ended its regular set with the bouncy `80s ska/new wave throwback, “Find the Beat Again” (which sounds very No Doubt) before encoring with a stark rendition of fellow Georgians R.E.M.’s “The One I Love.” In their hands, with only acoustic guitar and chiming mandolin, the song seemed like a letter from a soldier going off to war. The feel good spirit elevated again another peak - “Something More” - before it ended the set with the song that bears its name.

Sugarland’s rocking ways are no surprise considering their history. Both were in alternative folk-rock and bluesy folk-rock outfits that toured the Southeast before joining forces in Sugarland. Charlotteans may remember his Billy Pilgrim or her Jennifer Nettles Band and Soul Miner’s Daughter. Both played here.

I don’t know when Stewart last graced a Charlotte stage. His performance was quite a treat for Eurythmics fans that got to hear different versions of “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Missionary Man,” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Keyboardist Dana Glover (wiping streams of mascara from her cheeks at one point - I'm assuming she had something in her eye) took on Annie Lennox’s big, soulful vocals on those tracks.

Stewart must surround himself with beautiful women with powerful voices because both she and bassist/soul singer Nik West were gorgeous, talented figures on stage. What was more than Stewart’s rendering of Eurythmics’ favorites as well as Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (which he wrote), was his original solo material and introductions. He talked about falling in love with Lennox prior to “Magic in the Blues," for instance. Those moments gave the amphitheatre show an intimate feel. I hope he’ll return for a solo headlining gig after the release of “The Ringmaster General” in September.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Charlotte band strikes label deal

HRVRD, the Charlotte-based band formerly known as Harvard, announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with Equal Vision Records. The Albany, NY independent label is home to bands like Eisley and Say Anything and is distributed by RED, which also distributes labels like Victory, Fat Wreck Chords, Fat Possum, Razor & Tie, Metal Blade, and other well known indies. That means you should be able to find HRVRD's upcoming album almost anywhere.

The band recently finished up recording the follow-up to 2009's "The Inevitable and I" at Baltimore's Salad Days Studios with producer Brian McTernan. It's the group's second album with McTernan, who is known for his work with bands like Circa Survive and Senses Fail (although I remember him best for his late `90s work with Hot Water Music, the Explosion, Converge, and Cave In).

HRVRD consists of Jesse Clasen, Lee Herrera, Jason Shaw, Tim Cossor, and Garret Leister (those shadowy figures pictured above). Shaw and Herrera founded the group in 2004. For anyone that has followed HRVRD from early on this announcement is a long time coming. Like a handful of young local bands, HRVRD has grown up in the Charlotte scene. In that time it's evolved from a scrappy post-hardcore band into a more experimental and more original group boasting complex and inventive arrangements. Imagine a collaboration between Minus the Bear and Explosions in the Sky with a vocalist as soulful as Adam Levine or Jay Kay from Jamiroquai.

The group has also grown in popularity as its matured drawing a few hundred fans to shows locally, which isn't always an easy feat for a local band.

Equal Vision Records, in partnership with Enjoy the Ride Records, will release HRVRD's new album later this year. HRVRD headlines Neighborhood Theatre May 25. For more information on the band check out or

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This week's hot concerts

Sugarland/Dave Stewart
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $40.75-$79.25.
The chart topping Atlanta duo kicks off the summer concert season with its blend of twangy country, rootsy pop, rock, and even a little reggae. With Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) and Canaan Smith open.

Alan Evans Trio/Groove 8
10 p.m. Saturday, April 28, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-1446.
The Soulive drummer leads his latest project - a `70s organ trio and jazz-funk throwback with guitarist Danny Mayer (On the Spot) and organist Beau Sasser. Charlotte’s Groove 8, who worked with Evans on its last album, is readying a new one, “Curious Poses,” for summer release.

Hope for AGoldenSummer
9 p.m. Saturday, April 28, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $5. 704-333-9799.
The Athens trio showcases the sweet sisterly harmonies of Page and Claire Campbell, which float on dreamy chamber folk arrangements and stir the soul with raw, gospel-tinged a cappella. Jason Herring & the Mystery Plan and Melissa Burgher also play.

Lee Brice
 11 p.m. Saturday, April 28, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $12-$15.
After over a decade in Nashville the Sumter, SC-native finally has a number one hit (after writing others for Eli Young Band and Garth Brooks) and a brand new album, “Hard 2 Love,” that’s brimming with potential chart toppers.

Steve Earle & the Dukes
8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $25/VIP $40. 704-358-9298.
With the Dukes and Duchesses (which includes his wife Allison Moorer, whose live voice is a beautiful force), the outspoken country-rock songwriter makes a long awaited return. The Mastersons open.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, Visulite, 1615 Elzabeth Ave. $12-$15. 704-358-9200.
After opening for Flogging Molly at The Fillmore, Lewis and his crack band returns for a headlining set that promises more of the fire and energy the soul-rock throwback has built its reputation on.

Rise Against
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $38-$50.
The politically active rock band makes post-modern anthems in the tradition of inspiring, motivational punk. And while its ticket prices don’t scream punk, the group puts its money where its mouth (and music) is backing countless causes.

Peter Karp & Sue Foley
9 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $12-$14. 704-376-1446.
The blues duo tackles life in a crashing economy with all the brush-yourself-off positivity they can muster with Foley delivering raspy lines like Annie Potts’ “Pretty in Pink” character leading a rock band. 

Benefit for upcoming Treasure Fest tomorrow at Milestone

The second annual Treasure Fest takes place May 18 and 19 at eight venues in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood. The festival boasts a whopping 60-plus acts. With two-night passes at just $25 each festival organizers and local bands are throwing a benefit concert Friday, April 27, to help offset costs and pay bands.

Charlotte bands One Another, Pullman Strike (which includes festival creator Joshua Robbins), Moenda, Meat Group, and AM/FMs play the Tuckaseegee Road venue tomorrow. Robbins says the eclectic lineup which covers roots rock to garage to experimental, is intended to reflect the wide spectrum of genres that Treasure Fest covers. Tickets for the benefit are $8-$10. 8 p.m.

Treasure Fest's lineup includes the Emotron, My Captain, Red Collar, Naked Gods, 1994!, Appalucia, 2013 Wolves, Old Flings, Alex Kastanas, Blossoms, Chemical Peel, Temperance League, Hungry Girl, Secret Hospital, Towering Pyre, Little Bull Lee, Jr. Astronomers, Sinners and Saints, and many others. The full lineup and ticket and venue information can be found here. Bands play Plaza-Midwood venues that are all within walking distance of each other. These include Twenty-Two, Snug Harbor, Common Market, The Thirty Beaver, Lunchbox Records, Studio 1212, Kickstand, and Thomas St. Tavern.

If you don't want to spring for a two-night ticket, venues will also be charging at the door. Prices range from $5 to $10 per venue per night. Some venues are by donation. Times vary (see schedule here), but music starts at 5 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday. So you could spend all evening bouncing back and forth between spots getting a taste of numerous local artists and many national and regional ones as well as experience how varied neighborhood nightlife in P-M can be from the stylish gallery space of Twenty-Two to the Beaver's down home honky-tonk atmosphere.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rise n' shine, it's Record Store Day Saturday

Saturday morning my family and I will be getting up earlier than usual. It's the third annual Record Store Day, which means tons of exclusive limited edition releases. Here Lunchbox Records will be carrying many, many of these releases. Record Store Day's official website also lists The Record Cellar in Rock Hill, The Birdsnest in Davidson, and Armada Music in Statesville as also participating.

Record stores were a big part of my life at one time. I worked at Charlotte's Record Exchange during the mid to late `90s and I made some of my best friends in Charlotte there.

One of the founders of Record Store Day was my first editor - Carrie Colliton, who at one time edited The Record Exchange's "Music Monitor." She got me my first interviews (Frente, Letters to Cleo, and Kristin Hersh) and let me review acts as obscure as Winston-Salem's Squatweiler, actress Kerri Kenney's ("The State," "Reno 911!") band Cakelike, and one of my all-time favorites Sleater-Kinney (who did eventually get popular). That record store changed my life in a lot of ways.

While we were fighting the big box Media Plays and Best Buys at that time, independent record stores today are simply fighting for survival given the popularity of digital downloading. Luckily vinyl is back, which gives those stores another niche to fill.

It's been exciting to see how many artists have jumped on board in support of Record Store Day in the last three years. Everyone from Jimmy Fallon (who is putting out a "Tebowie" 7" single) to big name artists like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Katy Perry have official RSD vinyl releases.

Many releases feature unusual covers including the Carolina Chocolate Drops doing Run DMC's "You Be Illin'" on Coke bottle green vinyl, the Civil Wars covering Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (check it out on YouTube), Feist and Mastodon covering each other (Mastodon also does a Flaming Lips song on another release), and Amanda Palmer taking on Nirvana's "Polly" (which was originally released on a "Spin Magazine" compilation) and Radiohead's "Idioteque."

There are lots of live releases from artists like Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the Grateful Dead, and Taking Back Sunday (to name but a few). "Rockabye Baby" - the series that turns songs by the Pixies, the Beatles, Metallica, and Queens of the Stone Age into baby-friendly instrumental versions - is releasing its Smiths' lullaby album on vinyl. There are several older albums getting the vinyl treatment. The "Pretty In Pink," "The Breakfast Club" and "Empire Records" soundtracks are being reissued on vinyl, which sounds pretty irresistible if you want to fire up some `80s and `90s nostalgia on the turntable.

The list of releases is ridiculously vast. There's an official list here and Lunchbox Records has compiled a comprehensive list of both official and non-official releases that will (cross your fingers) be in stock at least when doors open at 9 a.m. Keep in mind that some of these are very limited though.

Everything at Lunchbox Records, aside from exclusive RSD releases, will be 15 percent off as well.

I'll be on the look out for School of Seven Bells' 7" cover of Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Kiss Them For Me," although it's not on Lunchbox's list. I may have to settle for that download next week.

The Jacksons to play Charlotte, Raleigh

Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, and Tito Jackson are back on tour again, reuniting on stage for the first time since 1984's Victory Tour. Four of Michael Jackson's five brothers will play Raleigh's Amphitheater Friday, July 6 and Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre in Charlotte on Saturday, July 7.

Tickets for the Charlotte concert go on sale Friday, April 27 at 10 a.m. at,, select Walmart stores, the Fillmore box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

The Unity Tour begins in Louisville on June 18 and ends in Snoqualmie, Washington July 29. Dates are here. Earlier this week E!'s Marc Malkin reported on the likelihood of a Michael Jackson hologram accompanying the group on tour following the reanimated (hologram) Tupac Shakur's performance at last weekend's Coachella Festival. Jackie Jackson says it probably won't happen this summer, but it's not out of the question down the road. Read Malkin's article here.

This week's hot concerts

Plaza-Midwood Spring Party 2012
6 p.m. Friday, April 20, Petra’s Piano Bar, 1919 Commonwealth Ave. $10.
Charlotte pop singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay hosts his seasonal music and arts mini-fest and variety show. The lineup includes Lindsay, Sinners & Saints, Anna Bullard, Elonzo, Turnbuckle Jones, Hectorina, and Henry Killian and art by concert poster artists Skillet Gilmore and Matt Pfahlert.

Trace Adkins
8 p.m. Friday, April 20, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $49.20-$130.05.
The singer/author/actor and former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant takes a more personal approach that’s far removed from his “Badonkadonk” persona on his “Songs and Stories” tour - an intimate “Storytellers”-like look into his career.

Sons of Bill
10 p.m. Friday, April 20, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-1446.
This Charlottesville alt-country quintet outdoes itself with the new album, “Sirens,” which straddles Son Volt-like country and R.E.M.-style rock and creates a sense of longing with literary storytelling and anthemic arrangements.

A.W.O.L. The Benefit
11 a.m. Saturday, April 21, Symphony Park at South Park, 4400 Sharon Rd., $45 (group rates available).
Robert Randolph & the Family band headline the second annual fundraiser for Camp Care and Don’t Break the Bond. Acts include Charlotte’s Lucky 5 and the Monday Night Allstars along with Iphonic, Outasight, Sammy Bananas, Cornelius Jackson, and J Aims & the Fever. BYOB. Free shuttles to the event run from SouthEnd, Uptown, UNCC, and NoDa.

Toubab Krewe/Tim Reynolds & TR3
8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $27.
Having resurrected his electric combo TR3 after relocating to the Outer Banks (from New Mexico), the Dave Matthews Band guitarist takes the trio on the road before DMB’s summer tour. It teams with Asheville world music jam favorites Toubab Krewe.

Kat Country Jam
7:45 Monday, April 23, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $12.69-$52.50/KAT VIP $275-$325.
Albemarle darling Kellie Pickler, who’s now on her third album, headlines this benefit for St. Judes with Hunter Hayes, Lauren Alaina, and Craig Morgan.

Van Halen
Wednesday, April 25, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $38.45-$168.80.
Having launched its comeback reunion here in 2007, Van Halen is riding high on a the release of its comeback album “A Different Kind of Truth” (following its much reviled first single). Fellow nostalgia act Kool & the Gang starts the party. 

Trampled by Turtles
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $18-$20/$33 VIP. 704-358-9298.
This Minnesotan combo has become Americana's "it" band of late with placements on stylistically diverse charts (alternative, bluegrass, folk, the Billboard 200) and a calendar full of festival gigs. Interestingly it started as an acoustic outlet for its members to get away from their rock bands.

The Melvins/Unsane
8 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.
These stoner-metal and noise rock institutions capture the truly grungier, grittier side of `90s hard rock as cult favorites that trade in sludgy riffs and gnarly noise-fueled guitar angst.

Young the Giant/Apache Relay
8 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $24.50.
The L.A. buzz band delivered on the hype with two hit singles (“Cough Syrup” and “My Body”), an opening slot with Incubus in 2011, ample MTV play, and now a headlining tour with rising roots rockers Apache Relay.

Ronnie Dunn
7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. Free.
Seeing Brooks and Dunn in a club became downright impossible, but WSOC 103.7’s Redneck Yacht Club kicks off with half of the award winning veteran country duo’s solo concert. Line up early because admission is free at the door. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rush, Train, EW&F, Buffett set Charlotte dates

Veteran classic rock trio Rush announced today that it will headline Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday, October 30 as part of its Clockwork Angels tour. Tickets for many of the venues on its 33-city fall tour go on sale Friday, April 27. Presale for CitiPrivatePass holders begins April 23 - although tickets for the Charlotte show are listed as "on sale soon" on the band's website. VIP packages will be available at

Tickets for Jimmy Buffett's June 7 concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre go on sale Saturday, April 21 at 10 a.m.

Earth Wind & Fire will play Ovens Auditorium June 22. Tickets are now on sale at

Train and open Mat Kearney play Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre July 26. Tickets go on sale April 28 at Live Nation and Ticketmaster outlets as well as The Fillmore's box office.

On the club circuit Matthew Santos, whose voice may be familiar even if his name isn't (he sang the hook on Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar"), plays an intimate set at Evening Muse May 9. Former Carolinian Jonathan Wilson, who co-founded the band Muscadine with Benji Hughes (who will also perform), will headline the Visulite May 15. Although he's worked with numerous artists such as Elvis Costello, Jackson Brown, and Dawes, Wilson is releasing his debut solo album, "Gentle Spirit." He heads to Europe this summer as Tom Petty's opening act.

Elsewhere, Less Than Jake brings its 20th anniversary tour to Tremont May 16. Mushroomhead returns - this time playing Amos' May 20. Another act with deep Charlotte roots, Cast Iron Filter, makes a welcome comeback at Visulite June 14. Former Avail frontman-turned-acoustic singer-songwriter, Tim Barry, is back at The Milestone June 23.

Carolinian horror-rock band leader Wednesday 13 plays Tremont July 6. Latin rock band Enanitos Verdes has been added to The Fillmore calendar. It makes its long awaited Charlotte return July 12. Johnny Winter will also return to NoDa's Neighborhood Theatre July 13.

Tickets for club shows can be found through the venues' individual websites.

Concert art, live music at Plaza Midwood's Spring Party this Friday

Charlotte songwriter Jon Lindsay hosts and headlines the Plaza Midwood Spring Party Friday, April 20 at Petra's Piano Bar on Commonwealth Ave. He's been putting together these seasonal parties for some time and they always feature art as well as live music. I'm particularly excited about artists Skillet Gilmore and Matt Pfahlert, whose work will be displayed in Petra's gallery space during the mini-festival and between the hours of 6 and 7 p.m. before the party starts. 

Gilmore, who is married to Caitlin Carey and was also in Whiskeytown, has done a lot of Carolina-centric poster art like the Love Language, Raleigh's Hopscotch Festival, and the artwork for Lindsay's upcoming album "Summer Wilderness Program." Pfahlert's credits include posters for Jeff Tweedy, Trey Anastasio, and the Black Keys. Both will have work for sale. 

Concert poster art combines two of my loves - art and music.When I got my first apartment in Charlotte my then boyfriend and I set about decorating our first place. I already had a few signed and numbered concert lithographs from my favorite band Siouxsie & the Banshees. At Infinity's Images, a sort of more serene new age crystal and candle neighbor of Infinity's End that included framing in the back, I found all kinds of cool prints by artists like Frank Kozik and Uncle Charlie. 

Over fifteen years later my collection of limited edition framed concert posters continues to grow as my wall space decreases. I still get excited when a band I like has great artwork, especially if it commemorates a particular tour or, especially, an individual show. It's something I've discussed with Scott Avett (who turned me on to and Explosions in the Sky (who commissioned local artists in cities on its tour schedule to create its posters). My husband and I have even bought posters because we loved the artwork, but not necessarily the band. 

In addition to the art and Lindsay's headlining set, the Plaza Midwood Spring Party includes music from Sinners & Saints, Elonzo, Turnbuckle Jones, Hectorina, Anna Bullard, and Henry Killian. Doors open at 6 p.m., music starts at 7 p.m. and runs late into the night. $10. Click here for more info. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Raleigh's Hopscotch Festival reveals lineup

The third annual Hopscotch Music Festival revealed it's 2012 lineup today. The 3-day festival, which takes place in Raleigh September 6-8 this year, boasts headliners the Roots (pictured), The Jesus & Mary Chain, Built to Spill, Yo La Tengo, and Liars. Many scheduled acts have regional ties. Carolina-rooted acts include the DB's, Corrosion of Conformity, Valient Thorr, Megafaun (who are paired with Arnold Dreyblatt), Cities, Shirlette & the Dynamite Brothers, Michael Rank & Stag, Birds of Avalon, Shovels & Rope, Roman Candle, and Charlotte acts Paint Fumes and Young & in the Way. Chapel Hill's Merge Records have Wye Oak, the Mountain Goats, Superchunk's Mac McCaughan, Versus, and Lampchop on the bill.

Other notable acts include Damien Jurado, Dan Deacon, Zola Jesus, Baroness, Oneida, Deerhoof, Samantha Crain, and Hacienda. That list only scratches the surface though. To view the entire lineup go here. Concerts take place at 15 downtown venues and Hopscotch features 175 acts.

Three-day passes are now available for $110. A limited number of VIP wristbands, which include admission to all clubs as well as the City Plaza concerts Friday and Saturday and other VIP bonuses, are selling out fast (at $165). Single day passes ranging from $55 to $75 go on sale in July. Tickets to the all ages City Plaza concerts (which run from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday) will also be available for $34 a day. Club shows begin around 8 or 9 each night and admission is subject to capacity. Tickets are available through For more information on the show visit

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kelly Clarkson and the Fray team up for summer tour

Pop music hit maker Kelly Clarkson announced today that she will make her way back to Charlotte September 12 with the Fray. The pair will co-headline Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Special guest Carolina Liar is set to open the show.

This year marks Clarkson's tenth in the music business - having made her national debut on "American Idol" in 2002. For a fairly prolific chart topper (she's released a new album every two years since 2005's monster smash "Breakaway"), Clarkson's Charlotte tour stops have been sporadic. She was here with fellow "American Idol" alum Clay Aiken in February 2004 and headlined July 4 festivities in 2006. But her last Charlotte show was a co-headlining date with Reba McEntire way back in November 2008. She's since released two albums.

The Fray on the other hand have become an annual concert attraction here. It last stopped at The Fillmore this past December.

Tickets for the September 12 concert go on sale Friday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at,, at the Hardee's Thickburger box office at the venue, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Clarkson is also set to appear on a new ABC singing-based reality series called "Duets." She stars alongside Lionel Richie, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke. According to "The Hollywood Reporter" the series will premier Thursday May 24 - just a day after "American Idol's" season finale.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This week's hot concerts

Pat McGee/Matt Perrone
8 p.m. Friday, April 13, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15. 704-358-9200.
The acoustic rock act goes deeper, more personal, and further into his country roots on his latest album. Charlotte transplant, Perrone, who recently released his latest record, celebrates his 10th anniversary as a singer-writer with an opening set.

Cage the Elephant
8 p.m. Friday, April 13, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $21-$24.
The quirky alt-rockers are even harder to pin down on the funky sophomore effort, “Thank You Happy Birthday,” which references the Pixies, Butthole Surfers, and surf guitar while still steering toward that hard-to-categorize territory populated by bands like Cake and Violent Femmes. The Kentucky act helps the SouthEnd venue celebrate its 21st anniversary with Fusebox Poet and Bad Cop. 

Easton Corbin
11 p.m. Friday, April 13, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $18.
With the release date of his sophomore album approaching the former Florida farm boy, who lived the small town simplicity that comes across on his traditional-leaning country songs, has another single - “Lovin’ You Is Fun” - climbing the country singles chart.

Jason Michael Carroll
8 p.m. Saturday, April 14. Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $17-$20.
The Eastern NC country singer-songwriter enjoyed success in Nashville with the 2007 singles “Livin’ Our Love Song” and “Alyssa Lies.” The father-of-four’s latest release, “Numbers,” is sold exclusively by his old employer - Cracker Barrel (he once waited tables at the Henderson, NC location). With singer-songwriter Early Ray (aka Rayen Belchere with backing band).

Devin the Dude
8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $12-$15. 704-765-2467.
With a relaxed flow and Southern delivery, the critically acclaimed stoner rapper laces his rhymes with humor that’s long made the Houston emcee an underground sensation and favorite of his peers. His “Seriously Tripping” tour includes appearances by Coughee Brothaz Clan, Destined, and is hosted by Fort Knox.

Leftover Salmon
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $25. 704-358-9200.
After a long studio hiatus (eight years!), this jamgrass favorite returns with a 29-year-old banjo star (Andy Thorn) and “Aquatic Hitchhikers” - its first album in eight years - which consists of entirely original material (out May 22).
7 p.m.Thursday, April 19, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $16-$18.
The Alabama rapper is one of hip-hop’s most interesting and versatile up-and-comers. He’s signed with Eminem’s Shady Records and his single features Kid Rock. He draws comparisons to the former while maintaining a unique style and mining his poor, transient, sometimes unstable upbringing for lyrical fodder.

Alexis Marceau & the Samurai
8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $TBA. 704-376-3737.
This New Orleans indie folk-pop duo make a lot of beautiful noise for a sparse acoustic act thanks in large part to Marceau’s big, vibrant vocals and emotional range. Marceau, whose second album “Orange Moon” is populated with hometown guests, has been seen on HBO’s “Treme.”

Pretty Reckless
8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15-$17/$40 VIP.
Former “Gossip Girl” starlet Taylor Momsen (who played Cindy Lou Who as a child) is now 19 and fronting a tough riff-heavy rock band that comes across as a mix of the White Stripes, the Runaways, and much missed`90’s alt-rock singer Poe.

Vanity Theft
8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $7-$9.
This Ohio female trio trades in guitar hooks and flirty delivery like a more polished Donnas crossed with Tegan and Sarah, but synthesizers and a penchant for dance music (more electro than dance punk) reveals a layer of Depeche Mode/Duran Duran love. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Donna the Buffalo among US Whitewater Center's free concert acts

The US National Whitewater Center's annual concert series kicked off in March with Larry Keel and Chatham County Line's St. Patty's day show. The outdoor venue's season picks up this week with Charlotte's Mike Strauss Band on Thursday, April 12 followed by rootsy jam scene favorite Donna the Buffalo playing a rare free concert Saturday, April 14 for the finale of the US Olympic Trials for the Canoe Slalom. The Olympic trials, which are open to spectators, start Thursday and run from 3 to 7 p.m. each day. Live music begins at 7 p.m. both nights. Fireworks will follow the Donna the Buffalo show.

The Whitewater Center will also feature live music each Thursday night throughout the season with an emphasis on regional Americana. The rest of the schedule is as follows: April 19 - Josh Daniel Trio, April 26 - the Black Hounds, May 3 - Town Mountain, May 10 - Packway Handle, May 17 - Overmountain Men, May 24 - Toneblazers, May 31 - Big Daddy Love, June 7 - Red Rocking Chair, June 14 - Red June, June 21 - Mike Strauss Band, June 28 - Yarn, July 5 - Riley Etheridge Jr., July 12 - Truckstop Preachers, July 19 - River Whyless, July 26 - Holy Ghost Tent Revival, August 2 - Lefty Williams Band, August 9 - Big Fat Gap, August 16 - Delta Saints, August 23 - Masonboro Boys, August 30 - Big Something, September 6 - Moonshine Racers, September 13 - Sol Driven Train, and September 20 - Black Lilies.

Live music begins at 7 p.m. each Thursday and admission is free. For more information check here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Upcoming concerts: Jason Aldean, K-Ci & JoJo, more

Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party Tour is still going strong. He hosts the party at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre July 26 with Luke Bryan, Rachel Farley, and DJ Silver warming up the crowd. Aldean picked up two American Country Music Awards last week for Single Record of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year for "Don't You Wanna Stay," his duet with Kelly Clarkson (now that's a co-headlining tour I'd like to see). Tickets go on sale Friday, April 13 at 10 a.m. at,, at the venue's box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

The Fresh Music Festival (which was previously announced for Greensboro Coliseum May 27) featuring Keith Sweat, K-Ci & JoJo (pictured), Doug. E. Fresh, Guy, and SWV will make its way to Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena July 1. These acts were responsible for classic `80s and `90s R&B and hip-hop jams like Fresh's "The Show/La Di Da Di," Sweat's "I Want Her," K-Ci & JoJo's 1997 smash "All My Life" (as well as the Charlotte brothers work with Jodeci), Guy's "Groove Me," and SWV's "Weak." Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster beginning Monday, April 16 at 10 a.m. Interestingly enough the tour's website boasts "No Lip Syncing," "No Singing Over Tracks," and "All Acts Performing with Live Band."

Elsewhere former Charlottean Joe Firstman unveils his new band the Cordovas at Chop Shop in NoDa May 4. Firstman will open for the trio as a solo artist. 

Reggae singer Beres Hammond returns to Amos' Southend May 25. 

Alt-rock veterans the Dandy Warhols make a rare Charlotte appearance at The Fillmore Saturday, May 26. Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger make their Charlotte return at The Fillmore Monday, July 2.

Elsewhere singer-songwriter Paul Thorn moves uptown - this time playing Spirit Square's McGlohon Theatre June 7. Fellow singer-songwriter Todd Snider is back at Visulite June 22. 

Italian trio Il Volo, who bridge teen pop and classical music and have been dubbed the Teenage Tenors, will make its Charlotte debut September 12 at the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. Piero Barone, Ignazio Borschetto, and Gianuca Ginoble (ages 18, 17 and 16 respectively) made an impact on US audiences after performing on "American Idol" last year. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 14 at 10 a.m. via LiveNation and Ticketmaster outlets.

Folk Society brings another rising act to Stella Center Friday

Last week while notifying me about the Red June show at the Great Aunt Stella Center this coming Friday, April 13, Wanda Hubicki (who works with the Charlotte Folk Society) pointed out that the 30-year-old music institution has an impeccable track record in bringing rising bluegrass and acoustic acts to town. And she's right.

Thinking about it, the first time I heard of Canadian fiddler April Verch, Virginia's roots music quartet Steel Wheels, and NC duo Polecat Creek was because those acts were headliners at a Folk Society Gathering. CFS even booked Grammy winning old time revivalists the Carolina Chocolate Drops before the NC band had even adopted that name. These acts have since made Charlotte a regular stop on their schedules. Some have become fixtures at Merlefest and, in the case of the Chocolate Drops, risen to national fame.

The latest in this line of up-and-comers is Asheville trio Red June. The group plays The Great Aunt Stella Center Friday at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free, but donations to the Folk Society are encouraged. The trio's music is anchored in bluegrass and folk and centers around rich, three part harmonies with members switching between mandolin, Dobro, and upright bass on stage along with the ever present fiddle and guitar. It makes its Merlefest debut later this month as well. You can find out more about the band here or see it live Friday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

This week's hot concerts

We Were Promised Jetpacks/Bad Veins
8 p.m. Friday, April 6, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $12-$14. 704-358-9298.
Both of these rising indie-rock bands created buzz with their last albums. The futuristically named Scottish foursome make hook-laden, expansive rock while the.latter duo takes a sunnier turn on its upcoming sophomore album “The Mess We’ve Made.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers/Santigold
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 6, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $47.15-$69.15.
After rescheduling January’s concert due to Anthony Keidis’ foot injury, the Chili Peppers are back with a new guitarist (friend Josh Klinghoffer who toured with RHCP before John Frusciante’s departure) and a killer opening act in Santigold, who mashes dance, rock, new wave, ska and dub reggae backed by animated dancers.

8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $15. 704-358-9298.
String Cheese Incident’s Michael Travis and Jason Hann forego the more traditional jam band directive for improvised electronic music with influences ranging from world music to dubstep. The duo premiers its groundbreaking Lotus Flower stage set up, which creates a visual multimedia experience and encases the band on stage.

Hot Chelle Rae
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.
This Nashville quartet is made up of sons of music city songwriters and musicians and the group has turned that pedigree into pop with hits like “Tonight Tonight,” an opening slot with Taylor Swift, and a new album, “Whatever.”

Joan Osborne
8 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $25. 704-358-9200.
Best known for her hit “One of Us,” Osborne was a blues singer at heart then and returns to those roots on her latest album with mature versions of both classic and obscure blues and R&B covers. Lera Lynn opens.

The Dream
8 p.m. Thursday, April 12, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $17-$20.
Although he’s found more success behind the scenes, the Rockingham-born songwriter/producer behind Beyonce and Rihanna’s inescapable hits “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Umbrella” (respectively)  has a few modest hits of his own in “Shawty is a 10,” “Falsetto” and “Rockin’ That Thang.” With CJ Hilton and Sterling Simms.

John Eddie
8 p.m. Thursday, April 12, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.                                                                              
A respected folk-rock songwriter since the `70s, the Virginia native enjoyed major label runs and shared the stage with Springsteen and the Kinks. His new disc, “Same Old Brand New Me,” balances country and rock and may make you wonder why he’s not a household name. 

NC Music Factory announces summer concert series

NC Music Factory's Friday Live at the Factory! concert series kicks off its second season April 27 on the entertainment complex's outdoor fountain stage with Southern Culture on the Skids and Charlotte's the Aqualads heading up a Mini Southern Fried Music Festival.

Fans of Lit, who plays Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre with Marcy Playground, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms and Everclear on July 15, can see the `90s rock band for $5 on May 11 as part of the Friday Live series.

Other scheduled headliners include Cowboy Mouth on May 18, the Connells May 25, Soul Asylum (pictured above) June 1 with opening act Simplified, Los Lonely Boys and songwriter Chris Cook June 8, Vertical Horizon June 15, Tonic with opener the Hot Gates June 22, and Ed Kowalczyk of Live June 29. The lineup for the May 4 show has not yet been announced.

Tickets for all shows, which are $5, go on sale Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jason Mraz, O.A.R. among this week's concert announcements

Jason Mraz, who releases his latest album "Love is a Four Letter Word" April 17, will bring his "Tour is a Four Letter Word" world tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre August 21. Christina Perri will serve as Mraz's special guest on the tour. Tickets to see Mraz (pictured above, credit Greg Burke) go on sale Saturday, April 14 at 10 a.m. at,, the Hardee's Thick Burger Box Office at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Live stalwart O.A.R. will return to the NC Music Factory in August. The group, along with opener Rebelution, will take the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre stage August 7. Both acts have Raleigh dates as well, (O.A.R. August 8 and Mraz August 19). O.A.R. tickets go on sale Friday, April 13 at 10 a.m. Those are also available at the above online outlets as well as at The Fillmore box office and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Elsewhere Amos' has added MeWithoutYou to its May schedule. The band will play the Southend venue May 18. Kill Devil Hill, the metal band that features the rhythm section of Pantera's Rex Brown and famed Sabbath/Dio drummer Vinny Appice, joins Adrenaline Mob which includes Symphony X's Russell Allen on vocals and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater/Avenged Sevenfold) on drums, at Amos' May 22. Tickets for those shows are available at

Rapper Mac Miller returns to Charlotte April 16 when he performs at UNCC's Halton Arena. Tickets for the Macadelic tour with the Cool Kids and the Come Up are available here.

Rocking funk-soul singer returns to Double Door Thursday

Of all the albums that were released in 2011 Van Hunt's "What Were You Hoping For?" remains one of my very favorite. I was still listening to it frequently when he announced the release of a follow-up live album, "Live at 'The Troubadour' 2011", which was released in March. This week Van Hunt, who played Charlotte upon his studio album's release last September, returns to The Double Door Thursday, April 4, with singer-songwriter Rocco Deluca.

Van Hunt is closely associated with R&B and neo-soul. He's received both a Grammy nomination in the Urban/Alternative performance category and a Grammy award for Best R&B performance by a duo or group for his collaboration with Joss Stone and John Legend from the a 2006 Sly & the Family Stone tribute. But to me he's stylistically so much more than that.

He's actually the closest thing to Prince I can think of in contemporary music partly because of his penchant for bridging funk, soul and rock and partly because of his no rules approach to arrangements and production. There are elements of Lenny Kravitz and Sly Stone in there as well.

He's not afraid to be weird. And isn't weirdness the first step in taking music in a new direction? It doesn't always work of course. But when it does...I remember as a child hearing Jane's Addiction or Cowboy Junkies - albums that I picked up because they were highly praised by "Rolling Stone" - and thinking how weird and unusual they were compared to everything else I was hearing in the late`80s and early `90s. Those were definitely records that stuck with me over the years.

Originality is part of what makes Van Hunt exciting. He's interested in dissonance. His arrangements don't always go where the listener thinks they will go. Neither do his lyrical melodies. He sings about cross dressing, crazy girlfriends, and crosses science fiction and every day subjects while maintaining a sort of urgency and romanticism. When I interviewed him in September he compared "What Were You Hoping For?" to a concrete stairway to the sky leading to a spaceship that's parts are jutting out so they're visible through clouds that surround them - the dynamic juxtaposition of soul and aggressive punk and rock. It's a far out description, but the kind of detail and imagination you want from an artist.

Live, as illustrated on "Live at 'The Troubadour'," Van Hunt and his band are a groovy, sexy rock n' funk powerhouse and his soulful vocals sail atop the sort of wild animal that the music creates. The recording isn't too polished. It really captures the kind of messy, raw live show you'll hear at The Double Door. Thursday's show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15. The Double Door is located near CPCC at 1218 Charlottetown Ave.

Photo Credit Shalon Goss

K Records founder to play Snug Harbor Wednesday

Calvin Johnson, who founded the Olympia, Washington indie label K Records as well as the bands Beat Happening, the Halo Benders, the Go Team, and Dub Narcotic Sound System, brings his latest project the Hive Dwellers to Snug Harbor Wednesday, April 4.

As a college aged girl discovering a world of indie-rock music in the `90s, Johnson's K Records was a big deal for me. Olympia seemed a hub of groundbreaking women in punk, rock, and pop and K was a big part of that movement. Flipping through the pages on K's website yesterday I recognize many records that lined my shelves (the Softies, Heavenly, Lois, Sarah Dougher, Tiger Trap) and artists that I still listen to regularly - Mirah, Cadallaca (featuring Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker,) and the Rondelles. Johnson's label released many influential female artists and pop-leaning acts that wrote super catchy songs.

Its current roster includes Tara Jane O'Neil, Mecca Normal, the Maxines, and Mirah. Its most famous artists besides Beat Happening include Built to Spill, the Makeup, Karp and Kimya Dawson.

As both a solo artist and member of multiple bands Johnson, who uses a signature deep low vocal style, remains one of the label's busiest acts. His latest trio headlines Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St.) at 9 p.m. Wednesday with Curious Mystery, Blossoms, and Zigtebra. Tickets are $7. 704-333-9799; You can check them out here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nickelodeon's Fresh Beats set Charlotte date

The Fresh Beat Band, the stars of Nick Jr.'s hit series of the same name, will play Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre September 28 followed by a date at the Raleigh Amphitheatre, September 29. The news of the fall tour comes right before the Fresh Beat Band's sold out concert in Durham Thursday, April 5. I'd planned on getting tickets for my kids when that show was announced last November, but I waited until after Christmas. By that time it was sold out.

Tickets for the September concerts go on sale Friday, April 13. Pre-sale tickets will be offered by Nickelodeon and Ticketmaster and to Citi card members through its Citi Private Pass program starting Thursday, April 5 at 10 a.m. VIP tickets will also be available.

For those without preschool age children scratching their heads wondering who this perky foursome is, the group consists of four actor/musicians that make up the fictional teen pop band (pictured below with guest star Jason Mraz, whose August 21 headlining date at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre was also announced today). Each character plays a different instrument and everyone sings and dances.

The cast (I viewed their bios on IMDB when the series debuted because I wanted to know if they really played their instruments) is made up of mostly experienced players. Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (Kiki) is a trained opera singer and skilled violinist and guitarist. Thomas Hobson who plays Shout is a Yale graduate that appeared in everything from "A Different World" to "In Living Colour" as a child. Jon Beavers may be the least experienced cast member (it's his first credit) but, as my husband said recently, the show wouldn't be the same without his rapper/DJ Twist's comic relief. The newest addition, Tara Perry, who we refer to as new Marina (she replaced original member Shayna Rose), is a comedic actress whose voice is obviously Autotuned on the group's latest singles, but the kids don't seem to know the difference. She brings more of a slapstick silliness to the role that the kids seem to dig.

Although the songs are simple tween pop they stylistically cover everything from country to opera to Bollywood with an emphasis on dance music and hip-hop. Some are pretty darn catchy. Every episode has a different theme, but many center around music school and heavily feature dance.

Tickets will be available at,, at The Fillmore box office, select Walmart stores, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.