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Weekend In Entertainment: Jazz Comes To Uptown In Big Way; Halloween Festivities Reign

Maria Howell
Middle C Jazz
Vocalist Maria Howell headlines the opening of Middle C Jazz in Uptown this weekend

Even though we're technically past Halloween, there's still plenty on tap for Halloween festivities all weekend. There’s also an award-winning musical, a cool festival, and the Panthers are back in town. Joining Gwendolyn Glenn for this edition of Weekend In Entertainment is Ryan Pitkin, editor-in-chief for Queen City Nerve. 

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi Ryan 

Ryan Pitkin:  Hi Gwen, thanks for having me.

Glenn: Let’s start off with the Halloween events. What’s going on? 

Pitkin:  Yes, the Haunted Warehouse by Aurora Presents & Bassment Charlotte. This one will be really hard to get into, not because it’s super exclusive but because it has a haunted maze for an entryway, and then you’ll go into a haunted warehouse. There will be live performances from local artists, there’s a costume contest, there’s a VIP option that includes a private lounge, bar. A lot of stuff going on in this warehouse.

Glenn: And this is an event for an older crowd right?

Pitkin: Yes, I wouldn’t bring the trick or treating kids up. It will be 21 and up. It’s from 6 p.m. - 2 a.m. on Griffith Street in South End. I’d recommend Lyft-ing or Uber, or the light rail. The New Bern station would be your stop for this event. It’s going to be limited parking. 

Glenn: And let’s move to the theater. The Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables is playing now through the weekend at Ovens Auditorium. For those that aren’t aware, tell us about this critically acclaimed musical. 

Pitkin: It’s set against the backdrop of 19th-century France. It opened in London 34 years ago to really bad reviews and since has become a staple of the stage with songs like “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars," “Bring Him Home.” A hit movie with Hugh Jackman did well, and it’s a cultural staple. It started this Wednesday and will run through the weekend, so multiple chances to see it.

Glenn: OK, so now on to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. It’s continuing Saturdays and Sundays until Nov. 24. You went this past weekend -- how was it?

Pitkin:  It was good. I brought my mentee from Big Brothers and had a great time. It’s a trip back into medieval times. This is one of the biggest ones in the country and running for nearly 20 years now. There are over 500 costume characters -- and that does not count the people who show up in costumes. All sorts of stage plays, comedy, great food and drinks and all sorts of vendors. 

Glenn: This weekend, Saturday will be big in terms of jazz. Jazz will come to uptown Charlotte in a big way with a new venue. Tell us about that.

Pitkin: Middle C Jazz will open up. It’s seen as the return of jazz to Charlotte. There hasn’t been a dedicated jazz club in a long time in uptown, so people are hoping it will be a big success. So they’re opening up strong with Maria Howell, and I recommend getting out there to a place that I hope will be a great place to see jazz for years in uptown Charlotte.

Glenn: And my understanding is that they will have a lot of big-name acts. Coming this spring, Karen Briggs, violinist, bass guitarist Cheikh Ndoye of Senegal will be on stage too -- so this will be a big addition for uptown.

Pitkin:  Yes, Larry Farber, who ran an old Jazz club in the 80s and 90s in uptown that was successful, is behind this one, with some partners. He definitely knows what he’s doing.

Glenn: So, the World Series is over and the Washington Nationals pulled it out. Go Nats!

Pitkin:  I’m a Red Socks fan, but I was going for the Nationals.

Glenn: But also on Sunday, the Panthers are back at Bank of America Stadium to take on the Tennessee Titans.

Pitkin:  Yes, and this is a really big game, bigger than it looks on the schedule. We’re coming off of an embarrassing loss to the 49ers last weekend. We have one more week where Kyle Allen will be starting instead of Cam Newton, so we gotta hope he can continue to hold down the fort while Cam gets his foot better.

Glenn: OK, go Panthers! And on Sunday, let’s get back to Halloween. If you want to keep the fun going, there is the “Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos" at the Levine Museum of the New South.

Pitkin: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexican about ancestors and the positive way to look back on ancestors who have passed away and building altars. There are two celebrations. One at Levine Museum on Sunday with a lot of great art, altar contests and face painting and fun activities. There is another one Friday and all day Saturday at Camp North End. It’s an ongoing multi-media project with video interviews, photography and different art, comparing the way Mexicans and Americans see art, so it’s a really interesting exhibit if you can check it out at Camp North End.

Glenn: Thanks, Ryan.

Pitkin: My pleasure.

Glenn: Ryan Pitkin is editor-in-chief of Queen City Nerve. 

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.