Monday, August 31, 2009

Meet Kate Minus 8

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/31/2009 No comments
The annual Southern Women's Show, this year scheduled for September 17-20 at The Park (formerly the Charlotte Merchandise Mart), always brings in a few female celebrity speakers and authors for the series of events, which focus on such things as fashion, food, health, business, education, travel, and home. This year's headlining guest is celebrity mom Kate Gosselin, of Jon & Kate Plus 8. Really?

I've never been a fan of reality TV stars, so I'm probably bias here, but I think the organizers of the women's show, which draws thousands of attendees, could've done better than Gosselin. What is she going to give the audience tips and advice on? I think people should get all they need from her either from her show on TLC or from tabloids in the checkout aisle at supermarkets. But hey, she'll likely be a big draw, so the organizers probably know what they're doing. (Maybe next year they'll bring in one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.)

Gosselin, who'll being coming fresh off the heels of a two-day stint as co-host of The View (September 14 and 15), is scheduled to appear at the Southern Women's Show on that Thursday afternoon (September 17). Meanwhile an event that evening, that will benefit Dress for Success Charlotte, will feature actress Andie MacDowell (that's more like it). I've always thought MacDowell, who's a Gaffney, S.C. native and honorary chair of this event, was a class act.

Find a full schedule of events for the Southern Women's Show at

Friday, August 28, 2009

GPT Quickie: Enso

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/28/2009 No comments
Last night I attended the VIP grand opening of Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar at the EpiCentre. It was crowded from wall to wall, which is a lot for this large space. It was obvious that hundreds of people had gone online and printed tickets for the event as they could be seen holding them in their hands as the line stretched down the EpiCentre's courtyard (while Alive After Five was also taking place).

I'm going to hold off doing a review on Enso for now. Opening nights at bars and restaurants, especially as crowded as this one was, don't always give you a genuine experience. Though the owners spared no expense on last night's event (free beer, wine, hors d'eouvres, and sushi was served) just like they didn't hold back on decking out the place. I expect this to be the new hotspot at the EpiCentre, and it might cipher away a little of Mez's crowd (Mez gets crowded on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights). If you visit Enso soon, post a comment here with your thoughts on it.

Here are a couple of pics I snapped with my camera phone of the nyotaimori model who was there, also known as naked sushi.

New Website Informs Charlotte Voters

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/28/2009 No comments
This is one of those election years in which not enough people get involved and even fewer get informed. By now, you're either still in love with Obama or you're carrying guns to rallies for health care reform. But this November's election is just as important as any issues you see round the clock on cable news. This November is the election for the people who make the decisions that affect your neighborhoods, schools, roads, and even jobs (or lack thereof). Now there's a new website that helps you get inform about the men and women who are seeking office for mayor, city council, county commission, school board, and more in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

As a joint project between The League of Women Voters, GenerationEngage, and Kids Voting Mecklenburg, is a comprehensive online voter guide. The site includes profiles submitted by local candidates, where you can learn why each believes he or she is best for the job, what role they might play in improving the quality of life for Charlotte, and how they believe everyday citizens can get involved. It currently includes information about the Charlotte primary, and will soon have details about general elections. will be updated throughout the year and will include additional races in 2010 and beyond.

Also, early voting is now underway through September 12. You can find info about that on the website as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Around this time last year I was working on a Charlotte magazine article on Max Siegel, who at the time was president of Dale Earnhardt Inc. My series of interviews with Siegel were some of the best I've experienced during my career as a journalist. The reason I say this is because of the access he granted me. I asked if I could "shadow" him for a couple of days, follow him around DEI's offices and race shops in Mooresville, sit in on his meetings, and experience what his typical day is like (it moved at a hectic pace).

At certain times during some of the meetings I attended, Siegel would ask me to turn off my recorder or say "this is off the record," basically letting me know what I was about to hear shouldn't be included in the article. It wasn't one of those situations in which he was trying to control the interview--he was instead very candid and forthcoming--but some of the discussions in the meetings were private business matters or included details that hadn't been finalized.

One of those meetings was about Carowinds' interest to build a roller coaster dedicated to the late, great Dale Earnhardt. One of Siegel's primary responsibilities was to oversee this type of business venture--companies frequently approach DEI with propositions to attach themselves to Earnhardt's lucrative brand (he's like the Elvis of NASCAR). Carowinds' proposal to build an Earnhardt roller coaster was in its early stages at the time. Well, it appears that DEI liked it because they've signed off on the licensing, paving the way for The Intimidator roller coaster, set to debut next spring as was announced by Carowinds yesterday.

The Intimidator will be the Southeast's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, standing 232 feet (23 stories) tall at its highest peak and reaching speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour. The 5,316 feet of track will feature high-speed twists and turns including seven steep drops--one for each of Earnhardt's NASCAR championships--and it's intended to replicate the speed and intensity of a NASCAR race. The trains on The Intimidator will be designed to mirror Earnhardt's 1998 Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The roller coaster is projected to cost $23 million to build.

Below is a video simulation of The Intimidator roller coaster. For more details, visit

As for Siegel, he left DEI after the company merged its racing operations with Chip Ganassi Racing late last year. He's since started a marketing firm called The 909 Group, based in Huntersville, and continues to work with NASCAR along with other major sports and entertainment clients.

Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar Opening

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/27/2009 1 comment
If you love the EpiCentre in Uptown, this is good news to you. If you're not a fan of the EpiCentre, you're probably sick of hearing about bar and restaurant openings (which have been happening about once a month for the last year and a half). Well, here's another one. Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar is holding its grand opening tonight. It's Uptown's first late-night sushi bar.

The concept seems to be similar to Nikko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in South End in that it's going to be upscale and will likely draw an elite crowd. I think Charlotte can support them both--Nikko has a strong following and is in a convenient location (i.e. parking), while Enso will draw from the large foot traffic that comes through the EpiCentre and has an edge because it plans to serve sushi until 2 a.m.

The owner of Enso says this soon-to-be hotspot was inspired by renown bar/restaurants like Nobu in New York and Tao in Las Vegas. You can see for yourself. Tonight is a VIP grand opening from 7 to 9 p.m. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres, beer, wine, and sake will be served. If you want a free ticket to tonight's event, go to (after filling out a brief form you'll be given a ticket to print; while they're still available). Enso opens to the public tomorrow (August 28) and reservations are being accepted (704-716-ENSO).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last night I saw The Color Purple at the Belk Theater (pardon me, that's Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple). It's certainly one of those musicals we've all heard a lot about since the stage show debuted in December 2005. Thankfully many successful Broadway shows go on national tours so we don't have to live in or visit New York to experience them. Last night's show lived up to the hype.

Even though Fantasia didn't play the role of Celie, the actress who did, Kenita R. Miller, did a fantastic job (I can't imagine Fantasia doing better, other than the obvious star power her name brings). Fantasia is scheduled to perform when the show travels to Chicago, Greensboro, and Atlanta next month, according to the touring schedule. Even though those are the only three cities she's listed on for the remainder of the year, I can't help but wonder why she isn't doing the run in Charlotte, which is where she lives a large part of the time (I understand her doing the Greensboro show since it's near her hometown of High Point). Fortunately, this show is bigger than any one star.

The last time I saw a Broadway show at the Belk was The Lion King two years ago (I've seen smaller shows since), and The Color Purple may have topped it, which isn't easy to do because The Lion King is an incredible production. Last night was opening night, featuring a 7:30 p.m. show that seemed fairly close to being a sellout. The crowd was probably the most diverse you'll find at a show at the Belk, which is a testament to The Color Purple's drawing power.

I, like many people, grew up watching the movie. But I, unlike many people, have never read Alice Walker's book. So my comparisons and expectations were based on a very well done two-and-a-half-hour movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and featured an all-star cast. Which is the same movie that when I was a kid I promise you my older sister played every single day for about a year. So I have vivid memories of scenes from the movie, and we all know its classic lines.

The musical differs from the movie, but in a good way. It tells the same story, but doesn't try to solely replicate it scene by scene. Like the movie, the musical starts off with Celie giving birth and ends with her being reunited with her kids and sister Nettie (Latoya London). But in between, the musical creates its own identity. The singing, above all, is superb. Plus, the dancing is as great as you'll see, ranging from styles you would've seen during that period to moves that look like what we do today. And since this is described as "The Musical About Love," this is where it ventures a little from the movie, or I should say, takes a particular element from the movie and makes it the foundation of the musical.

Or maybe I just never looked at the movie as being that much about love. Perhaps the love was overshadowed by Celie's rough life. But in the musical it's on full display: Celie's love for her sister; Harpo's (Stu James) love for Sophia (Felicia P. Fields), which is also very sexual and hilarious; and Celie and Shug Avery's love for each other. In fact Celie and Shug Avery's love for each other has very interesting connotations, but that's all I'll say because I don't want to be a spoiler for those who haven't seen the musical. Shug Avery (played by Reva Rice) has an even bigger role in the musical, and her character is as sexy and feisty as ever ("All the women lock up their husbands when Shug Avery comes to town," one of the characters said).

I don't think there could've been a better choice of venue for this show than the beautiful Belk Theater. And the production of this show exceeded my expectations. The set and costume changes were flawless, which is important for such a visual story with an onstage cast of about 30. The production took us from Mister's house, to Harpo's house, to the corn fields, to Nettie's village in Africa in such a vivid, well-timed manner.

If you see this show, you'll not only thoroughly enjoy it, but you'll have a whole new perspective on the story you've known (or thought you knew) for so many years. You have several chances to catch The Color Purple this week (you'll have to visit the website for ticket availability):

Wednesday, August 26, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 27, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 28, 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 29, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 30, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $35 to $135, and the Friday and Saturday shows are more expensive than the other showtimes. Click here for more details.

Events for the Week: August 23-29

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/26/2009 No comments
Your best weekly list for parties, nightlife, social, and cultural events in Charlotte. This isn’t intended to be a complete list of everything that's going on, but instead are the events GPT recommends.

Wednesday, August 26

Pop Life (weekly event)
It’s the most popular social networking event on a Wednesday night. Starts after work but runs late. Various types of people pop in and out throughout the night so you never know who you’ll run into. Music by top DJs. Presented by Creative Loafing and The Sol Kitchen. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Apostrophe Lounge, 1440 S. Tryon St.

The R.E.A.L. Empowerment Pen Series
This after-work networking event is structured to provide professionals with an array of career and entrepreneurial opportunities. This week’s featured speaker is Charlotte mayoral candidate Anthony Foxx. The event will also include representatives from the Urban League of Central Carolinas, hiring managers, and consultants. 6:30 p.m. Free. Loft 1523, 1523 Elizabeth Ave.

Thursday, August 27

Alive After Five at EpiCentre (weekly event)
This week’s featured bands are Mr. Potato Head (party band) performing on the rooftop stage, and Déjà vu (beach music and oldies) playing on the courtyard stage. There will be plenty of drink tents scattered throughout. Wristbands also get you into Blackfinn, Whisky River, Suite, and StrikeCity. 5-9:30 p.m. Free. The EpiCentre, 210 E. Trade St.

Politicking Part I
Learn more about Charlotte’s political scene and meet some of the candidates running for local office. Network while enjoying food and drink specials ($1.95 appetizers and half off drinks). Brought to you by The Friends of Nicole Hudson, candidate for Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board District 3. 6-9:30 p.m. $10 donation requested (campaign contribution). Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, 139 S. Tryon St.

ROCK * IT Thursdays
Charlotte has another new nightclub in Uptown. Luna Lounge opened last week in the former location of Coyote Ugly. This Thursday night party is your chance to check out the posh new venue (owned by partners from the Sunset Club and Kiss Lounge). 9 p.m. Cost varies. For free tickets, email Luna Lounge, 521 N. College St.

BlackBerry Thursdays (weekly event)
Join the urban elite in a business casual environment, while rocking the night away to the sounds of hip-hop, R&B, old-school, neo-soul, dancehall, and even top 40. Drink specials include $2 vodkas and $4 Hennessey, and complimentary appetizers catered by Taste of Elegance. Music by DJ Live. Win prizes provided by Verizon Wireless. Presented by Working Women Entertainment. 9 p.m. Free. Urban Affairs (formerly Rustic Martini), 616 N. Tryon St.

Friday, August 28

SEC Alumni Kick Off 2009
Kick off the college football season with a happy hour that’s bringing together all SEC alumni in the Charlotte area, including the following schools: South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!), Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Miss St., Auburn, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Alabama, and LSU. Plenty of drink specials: $2 Beer of the Month, $2 well drinks, $3 middle- to top-shelf liquor, and $4 wine specials; and food provided. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free. Dixie’s Tavern, 301 E. Seventh St.

Friday Afterwork Rendezvous (weekly event)
End your workweek on a high note at this networking party, held at a different venue each week. Enjoy drink and food specials while listening to live music. Presented by Talk of the Town. 6-11 p.m. Free. Apostrophe Lounge, 1440 S. Tryon St.

Ballantyne Nightlife Crawl
See what’s poppin’ on the Southside during this second Ballantyne bar crawl as you’re transported to Town Tavern, City Tavern, On the Roxx, O’Shea’s, and a private party at LA East. Beer will be served on the party bus. 6:30 p.m. $10. Ballantyne. Register at

Hysteria Fridays Hosted by D. Woods
Meet the former Danity Kane member turned solo artist. Music by DJ Flemingo. 9:30 p.m. $10; ladies free before 11:30 p.m. Décor 1202, 1202 Charlottetowne Ave.

Saturday, August 29

Cedric the Entertainer
See this King of Comedy perform live, along with opening comedians J.J. and Malik S. Hosted by Tone-X. Doors open 7 p.m., show starts 8 p.m. $39.50-$54.50. Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.

Reel Goodflix Screening Series
This new monthly film event showcases independent cinema with food, drinks, and a party following the movie. This first installment features L.A. Proper, a comedy about a multi-ethnic group of friends looking for love, sex, work, and happiness during the long days and short nights in Los Angeles. L.A. Proper, which was written and directed by former Charlottean Barry Canty, is the winner of the Heineken Red Star Filmmaker Award for Innovation, Originality, and Vision. 9 p.m. $17 in advance, $20 at the door. Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, 1118 Clement Ave.

Happy Birthday to Michael Jackson, Pop Life, and Apostrophe
Celebrate the King of Pop’s life and legacy along with the two-year celebration of Pop Life and one-year of Apostrophe Lounge. Music by DJ Frase and DJ DR. 9 p.m. Free. Apostrophe Lounge, 1440 S. Tryon St.

Marquee Saturdays—Martini Madness Edition
It’s Charlotte’s newest and hottest Saturday night party at this newly revamped nightclub. Enjoy the large dance floor, plentiful seating, and large outdoor patio at this upscale party. This week features the launch of a new flavor of Three Olives vodka, which will be served for free 9-11 p.m. Presented by Sleeping Giant Productions. 9 p.m. Cost varies. To get on the guest list, email Halo, inside the N.C. Music Factory, 820 Hamilton St.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cason the Joint on 'Holidate'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/25/2009 6 comments
Charlotte media darling Brittney Cason will appear on the SOAPnet series Holidate, which is a TV show that sends women to another city in search of romance. Cason is a columnist for Creative Loafing and co-hosts the racing show Three Wide Life, in addition to hosting events around the city (she's also a former Carolina Panthers cheerleader). She was sent to Chicago to go on dates, while a Chicago woman named Patrycja (interesting spelling, I know) was sent here.

The one-hour episode of Holidate, aptly titled "Chicago & Charlotte," airs tomorrow night (August 26) on SOAPnet, which is Time Warner Cable Charlotte channel 189 and DirecTV channel 262. Below is a video tease of the episode.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Video from Battle Slam Jam 2009

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/23/2009 No comments
Yesterday I attended the fourth annual Battle Slam Jam at Grayson Skate Park in southeast Charlotte. There was skateboarding competitions, music by DJs and performers, breakdancing, vendors, and more. Below is a little video footage I took (with my Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera, which is about the size of a BlackBerry).

Friday, August 21, 2009

NASCAR Hall of Fame: Class and Race

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/21/2009 No comments
There's a lot of excitement and momentum building as the NASCAR Hall of Fame nears completion in Uptown Charlotte. The $146 million hall, which will feature exhibits, a theater, racing simulators, restaurants, and more, is scheduled to hold its grand opening in May (leading up to the two big races at Lowe's Motor Speedway). Part of the enthusiasm for the hall of fame is the inaugural class of retired NASCAR drivers (and non-drivers that have contributed to the sport) that are going to be inducted. Twenty-five candidates have been announced, of which five will be chosen for the inaugural class.

While NASCAR plans to induct five people each year, I think they should be inducting more than five the first year since the process is essentially backlogged. Other sports like the NBA and NFL can induct a small number each year--though they still do more than five--because their hall of fames have existed for decades. But since this is NASCAR's first ever hall of fame, a league that was founded more than 60 years ago, there are dozens of former drivers, crew chiefs, and team owners that would have been eligible years ago had the hall of fame previously existed.

So what we have now is a situation in which some very notable people aren't going to make it into the inaugural 2010 class, simply because there are so many big names on the list. If I had to choose five from the 25 nominated (fans can vote online), I would select: Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Bill France Sr., and Rick Hendrick. While that's certainly an amazing group, that still leaves out NASCAR legends like Darrell Waltrip, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Richard Childress, and others who are among the 25 nominees.

But you know who isn't even nominated this year: Wendell Scott, NASCAR's pioneering black driver. Scott raced professionally from 1952 to 1973, winning races while experiencing plenty of racism and segregation along the way. The 1977 movie Greased Lightning, which starred Richard Pryor, was loosely based on his life. And now Scott's omission from the hall of fame's list of nominees is the subject of an interesting New York Times article that questions NASCAR's commitment to diversity and chronicles incidents of racism.

The article states: "Since Scott broke the racial barrier more than half a century ago, several minority and female drivers have competed in some events. Despite a nine-year diversity program, all but one of the 125 regular drivers in Nascar’s three national racing series are white males. The sole ethnic minority is Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Hispanic."

I think the article is reaching a little by singling out the hall of fame--as I said, it would be difficult to choose so few people for the inaugural class of such an established sport--but the article makes some valid points. And I'm sure this is a debate that will only strengthen as the opening of the hall of fame nears, as well as when nominees are announced in future years. Click here to read The New York Times article: "Omission of a Nascar Pioneer Stirs a Debate."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Town Tavern Opening Friday

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/19/2009 No comments
There's another new nightlife venue opening in Charlotte. Sure, it's replacing one but it's still new. Town Tavern is holding a grand opening this Friday beginning at 5 p.m. It's opening at 200 North Tryon Street in the former location of Brick & Barrel, which closed early last month. But whereas Brick & Barrel only occupied the second floor of the building, Town Tavern is setting up shop on both levels.

And not only is it going to be a sports bar, but it's going to be a Buffalo Bills bar. I grew up a Bills fan--loved Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, and 'em--and stuck by them during the heartbreaking four Super Bowl losses in the 90s. But with no actual ties to the city of Buffalo, I sorta ditched the team around the time the Carolina Panthers started up--it was only right, being a Carolina kid.

Town Tavern will be open daily til 2 a.m. and is being run by Bar Management Group, which manages damn near half of the bars and nightclubs in Uptown. Visit to sign up for free tickets to Friday's grand opening and for a free membership.
Charlotte has ranked in the top ten on another "Most" list, this time for "Most Affordable Cities for Dating," according to a list released yesterday by Below are the details from the press release.

Pittsburgh tops this year's list with a casual dinner and two movie tickets costing $77.80. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the same date in the most expensive city on the list, Los Angeles, comes in at $126.06.

The following list uncovers the top 10 most affordable cities for dating in the United States based on research conducted by

  1. Pittsburgh - Dating is a steal in the Steel City.
  2. Detroit - A night at the drive-in in the Motor City won't break the bank.
  3. Sacramento, Calif. - When it comes to cheap dates this place is the capital.
  4. Phoenix - The desert heat won't dry up your bank account.
  5. Indianapolis - The Indy 500 isn't the only thing that gets hearts racing in Indianapolis.
  6. St. Louis, Mo. - The Gateway to love doesn't have to be expensive in St. Louis.
  7. Tampa - St. Petersburg, Fla. - With such cheap date prices, residents practically live like buccaneers in this Florida city.
  8. Orlando - Daytona Beach, Fla. - Another reason this is the "happiest place on Earth:" romantic dates that won't deplete your checking account.
  9. Houston - Everything is big in this Texas city, except the cost of dating.
  10. Charlotte, N.C. - Guys in North Carolina have a lot to smile about--Southern belles and inexpensive dates.

Click here for more info on the study, including's tips for recession proof dating.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I don't know how I didn't see this commercial when it originally started airing late last year, but now ESPN is showing it again since football season is back upon us. In fact, I've seen it about five times a day the past couple of days. The SportsCenter commercials are always funny and clever and this one with Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith ranks right up there with some of the best. Smitty is fast, but I don't think this fast. See YouTube video below.

Events for the Week: August 16-22

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/18/2009 1 comment
Your best weekly list for parties, nightlife, social, and cultural events in Charlotte. This isn’t intended to be a complete list of everything that's going on, but instead are the events GPT recommends.

Tuesday, August 18

Tone-X and Friends (weekly event)
Come laugh at the jokes and skits by Power 98’s Tone-X, Chris “Funnyman” Robinson, and other comedians. Music by DJ Stacey Blackman. 8 p.m. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Skandalos, 5317 E. Independence Blvd.

Wednesday, August 19

Pop Life (weekly event)
It’s the most popular social networking event on a Wednesday night. Starts after work but runs late. Varying types of people pop in and out throughout the night so you never know who you’ll run into. Music by top DJs. Presented by Creative Loafing and The Sol Kitchen. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Free. Apostrophe Lounge, 1440 S. Tryon St.

Thursday, August 20

Jarvis Holliday’s Birthday
This “National Holliday” should be celebrated by all. Shout-out to my twin brother and all my fellow Leos! If you see me out, buy me a drink!

Alive After Five at EpiCentre (weekly event)
This week’s featured bands are Peace And Love performing on the rooftop stage, and The Kays playing on the courtyard stage. There will be plenty of drink tents scattered throughout. Wristbands also get you into Blackfinn, Whisky River, Suite, and StrikeCity. 5-9:30 p.m. Free. The EpiCentre, 210 E. Trade St.

Cufflinks and Cocktails
Presented by Charlotte’s Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity alumni, this event is held at a different bar each month. Come mingle with a group of well-dressed professionals, from 20- to 40-somethings. Live music by Bayou Butch Lucas. Drink and appetizer specials will be served (Long Island Iced Tea, margaritas, and Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka for $5; half-price appetizers). 6-10 p.m. Free. Villa Antonio Ristorante, 4707 South Blvd.

Annual Back to School Unwind Happy Hour
Mix and mingle with a professional crowd, and bring school supplies to be donated to area schools. Presented by Pinkies Up Productions. 6-10 p.m. Free. Bentley’s RSVP, 305 W. Fourth St.

Community Cinema Screening: Chicago 10
When anti-Vietnam War protestors clashed with the police during the Democratic National Convention in 1968, the resulting Chicago Conspiracy Trial was a media circus that pitted courtroom authorities against movement leaders. Blending original animation and rare archival footage, Chicago 10 tells the story of 10 young Americans who dared to take a stand. Presented by GenerationEngage. 6:30-9 p.m. Free. PLCMC Main Library, Francis Auditorium, 310 N. Tryon St.

Friday, August 21

Friday Afterwork Rendezvous (weekly event)
End your workweek on a high note at this networking party, held at a different venue each week. Enjoy drink and food specials while listening to live jazz and music from a DJ. Presented by Talk of the Town. 6-11 p.m. Free. House of Jazz, 8630 University Executive Park Dr.

The Jonas Brothers World Tour 2009
They're one of the biggest groups in music today--and they're brothers (with family ties to Charlotte). Opening acts include Jordin Sparks, Honor Society, and Wonder Girls. 7 p.m. $29-$89. Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.

Drinks @ Kiss
This monthly “all night happy hour” attracts great crowds to one of the city’s trendiest lounges. Featuring complimentary Nuvo drinks for the first 50 people and several other drinks specials. DJ HeartBreak will be playing the best in R&B, hip-hop, and reggae. 10 p.m. Free before 11 p.m. with RSVP. $10 and up after. Kiss Lounge, 204 W. Woodlawn Rd.

Saturday, August 22

4th Annual Battle Slam Jam
Witness the baddest and best urban artists, athletes, and professional performers from North Carolina and beyond. Battle Slam Jam is an all-inclusive community festival featuring multiple skateboard contests, DJs, live bands, a B-boy contest, graffiti writing, breakdancing, urban freestyle soccer, a Comic Book Corridor, and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free for the general public; $10 registration fee for competitors. Grayson Skate Park, 750 Beal St.

PlayDate Charlotte
Bring out the kid in you. Charlotte has joined the network of more than 30 cities that offer this alternative to typical partying and nightclubbing. Enjoy music and drinks while playing card games, checkers, dominoes, Connect Four, Twister, Monopoly, old-school video games, and more. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (8 p.m. for advance ticket holders) $10. Tyvola Marriott, 5700 Westpark Dr.

Marquee Saturdays (weekly event)
It’s Charlotte’s newest and hottest Saturday night party at this newly revamped nightclub. Enjoy the large dance floor, plentiful seating, and large outdoor patio at this upscale party. This week features a tribute to Michael Jackson (10:30 p.m. performance by J. Lucas from L.A.). Music by DJ Complete and DJ R Wonz. Presented by Sleeping Giant Productions. 9 p.m. Cost varies. Halo, inside the N.C. Music Factory, 820 Hamilton St.

Annual Cream and Butter Affair
Building off the success of last year, this party will likely attract hundreds of attractive, well-dressed 20-somethings (and early 30s) once again. Presented by Six Figure Entertainment. 9 p.m. $20 and up ($10 advance tickets have sold out). VIP is available. University Hilton Hotel, 6289 J.M. Keynes Dr.

Champagne Wishes
You never really want to miss an opportunity to party at the Sunset Club. Come dressed to impress. Presented by Clique Productions. 10 p.m. $10 and up; ladies free before 11 p.m. Sunset Club, 1820 South Blvd. or

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sadie's Wins a 'Hoodie'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/17/2009 No comments
Sadie's Soulful Southern Experience brought home the award for Best Soul Food at the 2009 Hoodie Awards held over the weekend at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The awards, which were created by radio personality/comedian/actor/author Steve Harvey, are in their seventh year.

The Hoodies recognize small businesses and community leaders from neighborhoods around the country with categories like best car wash, soul food, nail shop, barbershop, fried chicken, high school teacher, beauty salon, church choir, and community leader. There's only one winner chosen nationally for each category.

A Charlotte restaurant has won Best Soul Food three years in a row--Sadie's won this year and in 2008, while La'Wan's Soul Food brought home the award in 2007. This year Sadie's beat out the other finalists: Delta’s in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Mama Nems’ in Orlando, Florida; and Bite Your Tongue Cajun Restaurant, which is also located in Charlotte (relocating here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina).

Plenty of Charlotteans were on hand for the weekend celebration in Las Vegas, including Q92.7's Chirl Girl; Damian and Jermaine Johnson, owners of the No Grease Barbershop chain; and singer Anthony Hamilton, who was an award presenter (pictured below with Nephew Tommy).

There were lots of other celebrities in attendance--many as performers and presenters--such as Terrence J and Rocsi, Sherri Shepard, Mo'Nique, Jazmine Sullivan, Tyler Perry, and, of course, Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie (pictured below).

Sadie's Soulful Southern Experience is located at 5708 North Sharon Amity Road. Visit for more info. Click here for the full list of Hoodie Award winners.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jocelyn Ellis Is Becoming a Star

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/16/2009 1 comment
There's a talented singer/songwriter in Charlotte named Jocelyn Ellis. If you haven't heard of her, you likely will soon.

Ellis has been getting plenty of media coverage as of late (I wrote an article about her, "Making It," that's in the August issue of Charlotte magazine), and The Charlotte Observer is giving her plenty of shine. There's an in-depth article about her and her band, The Alpha Theory, titled "No borders, no boundaries" (it's in one of this weekend's papers, but I'm not sure what day; I read it online). Plus, the Observer is featuring a photo gallery online with nearly a dozen great pics of Ellis and the band (click here).

Photo of Jocelyn Ellis from gallery on, taken by David T. Foster III.

I saw Jocelyn Ellis and The Alpha Theory perform a 40-minute set during a show at The Evening Muse in May. I was impressed by her stage presence, vocal range, and the crowd she drew, plus the band is one of the best I've seen play live. After the show, her manager gave me a copy of their EP, In the Beginning. Since I was going to be doing a sit-down interview with her in a couple of weeks, I popped the CD into the disc changer in my car. I liked it immediately, and it stayed in rotation in my car for weeks. I often play songs from it for friends. She describes her sound as urban folk, and it sounds as unique as the label she's given it.

Ellis, a Durham native and senior at UNC Charlotte, has been performing at numerous music festivals and concerts in the area, as well as other parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. You can see her perform at Groove.Rock.Dance on September 5 at Club Alive. Keep up with her music and upcoming gigs at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

'Uptown' Bringing Back 'Vibe'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/13/2009 No comments
Vibe Magazine and will be making a comeback, after folding in June and catching the media world and readers by surprise. Several news sites (Reuters, AdAge, WSJ, AP) are reporting on a deal that has Vibe's assets being acquired by InterMedia Partners and its publisher Uptown Media Group. Reportedly, they're planning to relaunch in coming weeks and put out a print edition by the end of the year, with plans to relaunch the once-popular monthly print mag as a quarterly (a banner has gone up on the website that reads: "Vibe Under New Management: Updates Coming Soon").

Uptown Media Group also publishes Uptown Magazine, which Charlotteans have become more familiar with since the Harlem, New York-based mag began publishing a Charlotte edition in February (you can read my past blog posts here and here about the Charlotte launching). I've been writing for the bi-monthly Uptown Magazine since it launched here, but I don't have any insider's knowledge on the Vibe deal. While I'm sure the full details and plans will be worked out in coming weeks and months, one site is reporting on a possibility of Vibe being packaged with Uptown. It's known as polybagging and magazines do it all the time (you know, when you get that bonus/special issue with your regular issue). Both Uptown and Vibe target African-Americans, but Uptown focuses more on the upscale and luxurious lifestyle, while Vibe has traditionally focused on hip-hop and black music entertainment (though Uptown often features R&B singers on its covers).

This is the cover for the August/September issue of Uptown, which is its five-year anniversary issue. You can find my article on Charlotte wine bars in there.

Read more about the Vibe acquisition here on

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

'Party with a Purpose' with 20-Somethings

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/12/2009 No comments
Who says young people only want to party? Well they do, but sometimes it's for a good cause, as is the case with an event this weekend. The 20-Something Sophisticates, a Charlotte-based women's social group, is hosting a "Party with a Purpose" on Saturday (August 15), 8 p.m. to midnight at Presto Grill (445 W. Trade St.).

(Click on flier for larger view.)

The ladies are asking for a minimum $5 donation to attend and all proceeds will benefit Thompson's Child and Family Focus, an organization that provides services in treatment, education, and care for children who are at risk for social and academic failure. The money raised will come at a great time since school is starting back soon.

At the event, there will be door prizes raffled away and the first 20 ladies will receive complimentary gift bags.

Fellas: Based on my experiences with this type of event, because it is thrown by women that is what the majority will be. So make sure you don't miss out.

For more info, click here for the Facebook link.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Name that Speedway

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/11/2009 No comments
Now that it has been officially announced that Lowe's Home Improvement will not renew its track sponsorship of Lowe's Motor Speedway, I feel like I should suggest some companies that should take over the naming rights. Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the track, says that if a new sponsor isn't found by the time Lowe's contract ends at the end of the year, the track that hosts three NASCAR races a year will go back to its former name: Charlotte Motor Speedway. That was the track's name for decades before Lowe's purchased naming rights in the late 1990s.

Sure, Charlotte Motor Speedway conjures up nostalgia for longtime racing fans, but I think we need something more exciting. Here are my top-five suggestions for naming rights, assuming that any of them can afford the $6-$9 million annually that's rumored to be asked for in the deal.

5. McCrory Motor Speedway: Since the seven-term Charlotte mayor isn't seeking reelection, this would be a great way to remind people that he was a big projects kind of guy.

4. Lance Crackers Motor Speedway: This Charlotte-based company has been producing tasty snack packs for nearly 100 years. And since the products are affordable, the company continues to do well during a recession--it recently posted record revenue for the second quarter of 2009--so it could afford the naming rights. And it could give away peanut butter crackers at races to spur ticket sales.

3. Wells Fargo Motor Speedway: They nabbed our beloved Wachovia for pennies on the dollar and are already reaping record profits. Time to pay up. Plus, this would be another way to show their commitment to the area (don't worry about the criticism that would likely come from the federal government if the bank spent this kind of money on sponsorship right now).

2. Jordan Brand Motor Speedway: Come on MJ, we know you can afford it. Plus, you could probably find a way to market the first pair of Air Jordan racing sneakers. I know you're getting your money together as you consider buying the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson, but I think the speedway would be a more lucrative--and less risky--investment.

1. Harris Teeter Motor Speedway: There's one of these grocery stores on just about every major street in Charlotte, so they already have a loyal following (and the company is headquartered in Matthews). I can just see VIC cardholders (annoyingly) waving their key rings at races. And fans from around the country will be able to say they're going to the race this weekend at "The Teet."

Nominate for Queen City Music Awards

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/11/2009 1 comment
Nominations have begun for the 2009 Queen City Music Awards. Now in its third year, this annual awards event allows you to choose Charlotte's top musical artists, DJs, songs, models, and poets. In the past, the Queen City Music Awards have had primarily a hip-hop and R&B focus. But this year it has expanded to include rock, country, and gospel. Visit to nominate your favorite Charlotte artists. The awards show is scheduled for December.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Latest Info On Dharma Lounge

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/07/2009 No comments
Dharma Lounge is "an eclectic and enchanting fusion of art, entertainment, music and musing"--as described on its website--that was scheduled to open last October in South End. After that opening didn't occur, I haven't heard much about the lounge that is planned to occupy 3,000 square feet.

But I received an email this morning about a Parking Lot Party being held tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Dharma site (1440 S. Tryon St.). There'll be live music, art on display, and you'll be able to learn more about this soon-to-be-added attraction to Charlotte's nightlife scene as well as receive a complimentary membership. This event is in conjunction with the South End Gallery Crawl.

(Click on flier for larger view.)

Dharma Lounge is now scheduled for a late summer 2009 opening, which by definition should only be weeks away. You can learn more by visiting or

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

'Best Of Charlotte' and Me

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/04/2009 3 comments
Creative Loafing's annual "Best Of Charlotte" issue hits newsstands this week and is available online today. Click here to see hundreds of winners--readers and critics' picks--in the Best Of Charlotte 2009.

I'm honored to receive and humbled by my first Best Of Charlotte Award. In the Media section, I won "Best Post-Print Journalists," an award I share with fellow journalist Mary C. Curtis. Mary and I are friends in addition to being colleagues, and I congratulate her on this award.

I'm currently in Tampa and will be here all week for the NABJ Convention. While I'm out networking, maybe I'll brag to some of these big-name, national journalists (from CNN, ESPN, New York Times, etc.) that I just won a "Best Of Charlotte" award. Tampa has a local Creative Loafing edition as well, so some of the convention attendees will be familiar with the process. My mama's gon' be so proud.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Charlotte One of the 'Healthiest'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 8/01/2009 No comments
Charlotte frequently makes "Best..." or "Most..." cities' list, usually ranking high in favorable categories. It can be attributed to the great quality of life here. The latest list finds Charlotte placing tenth in a ranking of "America's Best Cities" by Outside Magazine.

You're probably like "What's Outside Magazine?" but it's an established publication that focuses on the outdoors with topics ranging from travel to fitness. This "best" list ranks cities based on which are considered the healthiest—physically, mentally, and economically.

The magazine says it determined its list by starting with the 100 most populated cities in America, using public data to rank them on factors like cost of living, unemployment, nightlife, commute time, and access to green spaces. Then it took the 28 cities with the highest overall averages and compared things like the percentage of the population with college degrees, income level in relation to home prices, and weather. And lastly, it rated each of the finalists on a scale of 1 to 5 for quality and proximity to biking, running, paddling, hiking, and skiing. After adding it all up, it had its top ten.

Click here to read its description of Charlotte.
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