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Each Thursday, WFAE checks in with a local arts and entertainment reporter about things to do in Charlotte during the upcoming weekend.

In-Person Art And Music Events Are Back In Charlotte As Pandemic Restrictions Loosen

Artists Nico Amortegui (left), Hnin Nie (center) and Georgie Nakima (right) are among those with works in the "Good Times" exhibit at The Underground this weekend.
Courtesy Infamous PR
Artists Nico Amortegui (left), Hnin Nie (center) and Georgie Nakima (right) are among those with works in the "Good Times" exhibit at The Underground this weekend.

If you're looking for some events in the Charlotte area, things are starting to open up after our long pandemic year. Scheduled for this weekend are activities like a concert for Jazz Appreciation Day, a festival for your favorite four-legged friend and an arts show at The Underground at The Fillmore.

Joining WFAE "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk about what's on tap this weekend is Jodie Valade, co-writer of WFAE’s arts and culture newsletter Tapestry.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi Jodie!

Jodie Valade: Hey Gwen! How are you?

Glenn: All is well. The horn sounds in the background are Durham’s Al Strong, who will also perform for Jazz Appreciation Day at Victoria Yards. As background, in 2013, Mayor Anthony Foxx declared April 30 Jazz Appreciation Day in Charlotte in recognition of the impact jazz has had on the community. So, tell us about the Victoria Yards event.

Valade: Sure. So this is going to be the celebration to cap off Jazz Appreciation Month in April. It’s a big outdoor concert organized by JazzArts Charlotte and Charlotte Center City Partners to mark Jazz Appreciation Day.

Vanessa Ferguson
Vanessa Ferguson

They have five different artists scheduled to perform, including the Reggie Sullivan Trio, JazzArts All-Stars, trumpeter Al Strong and Jesters & Tyrants (Ryan Saranich, Adrian Crutchfield, Marcus Jones and Jesse Williams). The night is going to be capped off by vocalist Vanessa Ferguson, who has appeared on the TV show "The Voice" and grew up in Greensboro. They’ll have food trucks and a brewery onsite — so you can enjoy some food and drinks while you listen.

Glenn: Sounds great! What time and what’s the address?

Valade: It runs from 5-10 p.m. at Victoria Yards, which is at the corner of North Tryon and 7th streets. Space is limited to ensure safety for COVID-19 precautions. Technically the state’s outdoor mask mandate expires Friday, but the event says masks and social distancing are still required — along with the use of their chairs and tables for spacing.

Glenn: OK. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is bringing back River Jam, starting on Saturday. The first band up is Nashville’s Three Star Revival.

Valade: Yeah, it’ll be the Tennessee band’s first visit to the Whitewater Center as we’re finally starting to have some live music again, thankfully, as we emerge from the pandemic. They’re kicking off the 13th year of River Jam, which is the Whitewater Center’s outdoor concert series. River Jam took off last year off because of COVID.

Glenn: Who else will be playing and what can folks do in addition to listening to the music?

Valade: Well, this year, they’ve ramped up River Jam to three concerts a week — every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They like to schedule a lot of local Charlotte bands, people might have heard of ones like QT & the Soul Providers, Justin Fedor & the Denim Denim, and Time Sawyer. I spoke to one of the organizers at the Whitewater Center and he said the response from bands has been overwhelming — they’re all so grateful to be able to perform again. The concerts run through September.

River Jam can operate at full capacity because its an outdoor music venue, and all the other events at the Whitewater Center — things like rafting or paddle boarding — they’ve been up and running since last May. They’ll have food and drinks there to purchase while you enjoy the concerts because you can’t bring in your own.

Glenn: What time does the show start?

Valade: It runs from 7-10 p.m. and is free and open to the public – after you pay $6 Whitewater Center parking fee.

Glenn: Jodie, The Fillmore is hosting the Good Times art pop-up gallery this weekend, and when creative Director Kevin Taylor came up with the concept for the show, he told you earlier that he wanted something to uplift people’s spirits.

(recording) Kevin Taylor: It's just where we are right now. I don't see any sense in building a show that's dark or too low-brow. Right now, I'm just looking for positive things, you know what I mean? And ultimately, that's what I want people to experience — leaving that show feeling hopeful and happy and energized.

Examples of previous works from Nico Amortegui (left), Hnin Nie (center) and Georgie Nakima (right).
Courtesy Infamous PR
Examples of previous works from Nico Amortegui (left), Hnin Nie (center) and Georgie Nakima (right).

Valade: Yeah, I wrote about Good Times for Tapestry last week. It’s a free, immersive art show that opens Friday and runs through Monday. It’s set up in the Underground which is in the Fillmore music complex, and it’s actually sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon because they wanted to bring some life to music venues that have been shut down for the past year.

Taylor really chose a diverse collection of Charlotte artists to feature in the show — including some of the city’s best-known artists.

I talked with three of them who are featured in the show, and they’re all known for having really bright, colorful pieces. They didn’t want to spoil the surprise of what their specific displays in the show will be, but they’re all intended to be interactive and larger than life. They should be perfect backdrops for anyone who wants some new Instagram content. But all the artists stressed that these are true pieces of art — and they’ll be for sale, too.

Glenn: Times people can view the show?

Valade: The show will be open every evening this weekend from 5-10 p.m., but you have to sign up for a timed entry slot online at goodtimescharlotte.com so they can make sure everyone can maintains social distance. Every time slot is for 30 minutes.

Glenn: Also in the arts, the McColl Center hosts a conversation Thursday night between artist-in-residence Lorena Mal and Elisa Gutiérrez Eriksen. Tell us about them and the conversation.

Valade: So this one is a virtual event. Artist-in-residence Lorena Mal will have a conversation with Elisa Gutiérrez Eriksen, who is an independent curator. Mal will speak about her interpretation of our relationship to history and time, politics and sound, identity, and territory. She wants to open a wider, current perspective on her study of places, objects and materials. You can catch it on the McColl Center’s Facebook or YouTube page.

Glenn: Sounds great. Jodie, Rock Hill has an event for our furry friends called Bark at the Park?

Who can resist a dog event?
Jodie Valade
Who can resist a dog event?

Valade: Who doesn’t love a dog event? I know I do. This one is at the Emmett Scott Recreation Center on Saturday, where you’re encouraged to bring your best pal. If you don’t have one, that’s OK because they will have dogs who are looking for their forever home there, too.

They’ll have what they’re calling a “paw parade,” lots of stuff you can buy for your dog, a play area and even a mobile pet med clinic that offers some low-cost vaccinations if you’re behind on that with your dog.

Glenn: What time does the event start?

Valade: That goes from 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

Glenn: Great, and also this weekend, the Charlotte Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is having a Chill Owt UpTop event with a DJ, a food truck and social distancing outside outside at the frat house on Statesville Avenue from 4-11 p.m. There’s a Kids Paint & Sip outdoors at Tom Sykes Recreation Center where children can make Styrofoam head planters from 1-3 on Saturday. And at Camp North End, the Vintage Charlotte Market is back with vintage and handmade wearables; and a Cinco De Mayo event will be there as well, featuring performances by local artists, including UltimaNota, who was featured on the most recent Amplifier episode.

Jodie, thanks for joining us for Weekend In Entertainment.

Valade: Thanks, Gwen! And just a reminder: Listeners can sign up for our weekly Tapestry newsletter at wfae.org/newsletters.

WFAE's weekly arts and entertainment email newsletter, Tapestry, will keep you in the loop on arts and culture in the Charlotte region.

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Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.