Saturday, June 28, 2014

No Grease Barbershop is expanding into south Charlotte/Pineville, as it prepares to open at Carolina Place mall on Thursday, July 3. This will be the Charlotte-based franchise's fourth location, which includes barbershops at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown, Mosaic Village near Johnson C. Smith University, and at Concord Mills mall. No Grease also operates a barber school.

The new No Grease location at Carolina Place. Photos credit:

I told part of the No Grease story in a feature I wrote last summer for Creative Loafing, that took readers inside Charlotte's barbershop culture. Twin brothers Damian and Jermaine Johnson opened their first No Grease shop in June 1997, when they were in their early 20s. It's been impressive and inspiring to see how much their business has grown, along with their partner Charlie Petty, and how much of an asset they've become to Charlotte as a brand, as small business owners, and as philanthropists.

The No Grease guys celebrated their 17th anniversary with a cocktail gala last Friday. Check out the snazzy video recap below.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Mint Museum Randolph is hosting a special event this Sunday, June 29 to showcase the works of several local photographers. Billed as "Bearing Witness: Seeing Through the Lens of Charlotte Photographers," the event will shine the spotlight on impactful black-and-white and color images taking throughout the city.

The featured photographers are: Jasiatic Anderson, De’Angelo Bethune, Daniel Coston, Stephen Graddick IV, Sandra Guynes, Jon Strayhorn, and Eboni Wallace Lewis. I personally know, and am familiar with the works of, Jasiatic, Daniel, Stephen, and Jon. Jon is a good friend who I have the opportunity to work with often, and I frequently use his photos in my blogs.

Event photography, such as this shot from a JCSU commencement ceremony, is one of
Jon Strayhorn's specialties
. Credit:

Each photographer will talk a little about the photos they're showing, and attendees will have a chance to mix and mingle with them during the reception. The event starts at 3 p.m., and is free and open to the public. I think it's a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This showcase is inspired by the renowned exhibit, Bearing Witness: Sonia Handelman Meyer and the New York Photo League, which is comprised of nearly 100 documentary photographs taken by New York City photographers in the 1940s and '50s, who explored their neighborhood streets with their cameras, capturing the lives of ordinary people as they had never before been depicted. It's been on display at the Mint since November and actually concludes this Sunday, so you'll get a chance to see it at this event if you haven't yet.

Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Rd., 704-337-2000,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Cam Newton Foundation brings its Second Annual 7 v 7 High School Football Tournament to Charlotte this week, June 26 and 27. The tournament series began at the end of last month in Atlanta, then went on to Birmingham, and now it's Charlotte's turn, with the games taking place at Hough High School. It's open to the public to attend, admission is $3 per person, and proceeds will benefit the Cam Newton Foundation. So, this is your chance to see some of the area's best high school football players compete, while supporting a foundation that does a lot to aid and lead youth programs in Charlotte (where Cam lives and plays for the Carolina Panthers) and in Atlanta (his hometown).

Cam Newton performs drills with high school players at last year's Charlotte tournament.
Photos credit: Cam Newton Foundation

Each city features several teams of high school players that registered weeks in advance (teams consist of up to 20 players and four coaches), and--new this year--the top two teams from each city, along with select others, will play in the CNF 7v7 championship on July 11 and 12 at Nation Ford High School, just across the Charlotte border in Fort Mill.

Hough High won the Charlotte tournament last year, receiving $2,500 for the school's athletic department, and the second- and third-place finishers received $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. Team trophies and individual awards were also given.

Below is a short video recap from last year's Charlotte tournament, at which Cam was actively involved. "I wanna see unbelievable talent, I wanna see unbelievable sportsmanship, and I wanna see unbelievable swag," said the Panthers' star quarterback.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's time to go on the hunt for celebrity sightings again. A new movie, titled Ashby, began filming in Charlotte last week, packing some star power, with Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts, and Sarah Silverman among the cast. Mickey and Sarah are industry veterans, of course (he's in the long-awaited sequel to Sin City, due out in August; she's one of the funniest--and one of my favorite--comedians of the last 15 years; her We Are Miracles HBO stand-up special last year was awesome). And Nat and Emma are two of Hollywood's hottest young actors (he co-stars in The Fault In Our Stars, which opened a couple of weeks ago to rave reviews and a No. 1 gross at the box office ($48 million opening weekend); you probably know Emma from her early days on Nickelodeon and a handful of movie roles she's had since, before co-starring in last year's blockbuster comedy We're the Millers).

Nat Wolff shared this photo Friday from the set of Ashby. Credit:

Not many details have been published about Ashby, but it's described as a comedy-drama that follows the paths of a high school student (Nat) and a retired CIA assassin (Mickey) who only has months to live. It's being directed by Tony McNamara.

Emma's character, Eloise, looks very wholesome, and even a little Southern, based on the photo she tweeted yesterday.

Nat tweeted a photo from the set a few days ago as well, which I believe is from the practice field of a Charlotte high school.

And as usual for movies and TV shows that film in Charlotte (Homeland will always be in our hearts), Ashby is casting locally for extras. Tona B. Dahlquist Casting is handling the calls for extras, which you can find listed on the company's Facebook page (you'll also find calls for Charlotte extras for Cinemax's TV series Banshee and an MGM family movie called Max).

Ashby is scheduled to film in Charlotte for about five weeks, and will hit movie theaters some time in 2015. You can check for updates on its IMDB page.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is the buzz starting to wear off already? Nah, I don't think so. But some Charlotte Hornets fans are feeling a little stung today after team officials unveiled the highly anticipated new uniforms. My first reaction was like, "they're okay." And then I felt that the design of the new jerseys and shorts will grow on me. But the reaction was pretty much either love it or hate it for many of the fans commenting on social media (isn't it always like that for commenters, though), especially on the Hornets' Facebook announcement.

Charlotte Hornets will wear these uniforms during the 2014-15 NBA season. Credit: Hornets

This is basically what it comes down to. A lot of people who are excited about having the Hornets name, brand, and colors return to its rightful city, are holding on too tightly to nostalgia. They weren't going to be happy with the new uniforms unless they looked almost exactly like what Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Dell Curry, and Muggsy Bogues and 'em wore during Charlotte's NBA heyday (like the team gear Kriss Kross and I rocked as kids).

Like Rick Pitino infamously said during a press conference back in 2000 while he was head coach of the Boston Celtics: "Larry Bird's not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale's not walking through that door, and Robert Parrish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old." Larry Johnson's not walking through that door, Hornets fans, and neither are the 1990s-era uniforms. Muggsy is though--he's an ambassador for the team and the new look.

I'm still excited about having the Hornets back, and here's to the future!

See the descriptions breakdown of the new uniforms and the unveiling video. And by the way, the uniforms are on public display inside the atrium of Mint Museum Uptown through July 10 (it's free to enter the atrium so go check them out in person).

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dove Men+Care continues to create impactful campaigns around its line of men's grooming products. The latest is its "Real Dad Moments" campaign, and just in time for Father's Day the company debuted a "Calls For Dad" video. The minute-long commercial (though Dove is describing it as a short film) was posted to YouTube on Monday and has become an instant hit. The video has received more than four million views in four days.

You'll see sons and daughters of all ages calling for "dad" or "daddy," from little boys and girls learning to swim and potty training, to grown men and women at weddings and moments of distress. In the video's description, Dove writes: "Three quarters of dads say they are responsible for their child's emotional well-being, while only 20% of dads see this role reflected in media. It's time to acknowledge the caring moments of fatherhood that often go overlooked."

The brand encourages you to share your pride for your father on social media using the #RealDadMoments hashtag. And it is embedding several of those photos on the Fatherhood section of its website, as you can see in the screenshot below.

I'm happy to see fathers being recognized in such a positive way. I grew up with my father in my home and in my life, but I realize that's not a reality for a lot of people. Hopefully this campaign will make the good dads feel appreciated, and will motivate the dead-beat dads to change their ways. I remember specifically last year seeing numerous posts on Facebook on Father's Day. But rather than it being of people celebrating their fathers, a lot of the posts were from people dissing their dads for not having been involved in their lives or single mothers speaking out about how they have to play the role of both parents (with some mothers saying Father's Day is for them too). That's tough, and I certainly sympathize, having seen the impact of absentee fathers throughout my family, friends, and community, but Father's Day should be reserved for saluting the good dads.

I had the privilege last year of going on set of a Dove Men+Care commercial shoot that took place at Jay Bilas's Charlotte home. Bilas, a popular ESPN college basketball analyst, was featured prominently in the "Real Moments" campaign that premiered nationally during NCAA March Madness 2013, and that also included separate commercials of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade with his kids. The Bilas shoot occurred at his home that January, and I got to go behind the scenes as camera crews filmed the Bilas family in funny and down-to-earth moments. I wrote an article about it for Charlotte magazine's website.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Gumball 3000 Rally is currently making its way from "Miami 2 Ibiza," stopping in several major cities along the way and wowing audiences with its cars. If you're not familiar with Gumball 3000, it's a lifestyle brand, founded by British entrepreneur Maximillion Cooper, highlighted by exotic car culture but also includes fashion and entertainment. The annual Gumball rally has grown in popularity over the last few years, and a lot of the participants, who are coming from all over the globe, are wealthy--they're driving some of the world's most expensive and rare cars--and a growing number of the drivers on the rally are celebrities.

After leaving Atlanta, Gumball stopped in Charlotte last Friday, spending a few hours with several of the cars on display in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the public to view (the drivers were given a private tour inside the HOF and ate lunch there). I actually received a media invite in advance to come out, meet the drivers, and even take a ride in a rare Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder, but I had to decline because I was going to be out of town (I attended my nephew's high school graduation, so it was worth it). I was curious about what I missed--I knew it would be a great event--so I checked social media to see what kind of photos and videos had been shared.

Credit: @NASCARHall

Here's a two-and-a-half-minute video of the Atlanta and Charlotte stops, posted by Gumball's official YouTube channel.

Here's a seven-minute video by that shows the display of cars in front of the HOF and includes a quick interview with the Gumball creator.

And there are a lot of great photos on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Among the celebrities spotted in Charlotte were DJ/producer deadmau5, rapper Bun B, acclaimed photographer Estevan Oriol, and rapper/actress Eve. Eve is engaged to Maximillion (they're getting married this Saturday).

After leaving Charlotte, the Gumball drivers headed to New York City. Today, they're in London and Paris. The life! Follow all the action at, and the official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts (all are @gumball3000).

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