Belk Music Showcase and This Weekend in Charlotte (4/2/14)

Courtesy Belk
Laney Jones & The Lively Spirits were one of six acts in Belk's Monday showcase.

For many Belk employees and friends packing the Fillmore Monday, the Southern Musician Showcase offered the chance to see six young acts for the first time. For the groups and performers themselves, it was an end of a months-long journey.

Belk placed an ad calling for young, Southern acts in Rolling Stone last year, and more than 2,000 submissions came in response. The process was aided by a partnership with the popular music site ReverbNation, where musicians upload their material for the public. Judges included industry pros and Belk’s own Katrina Streiner, vice president, creative director.

Six acts—Emily Hackett, The Christian Lopez Band, Surviving Allison, Laney Jones, Jackie Venson, and Gabbie McGee—took the top spots after performing in regional, in-person auditions. Each band was required to have a connection with the South, but being a current resident of the region wasn't necessary.

Jones, a Florida native and current Berklee College of Music student, lives in Boston. Her stage band includes only one longtime collaborator, Matthew Tonner. Other members are classmates at Berklee, and after a string of high-profile gigs, they feel confident in their decisions to join Laney’s band.

“It’s going pretty well,” said bandmate Lars Thorson, laughing. “This is our fourth performance, and it’s a huge show.”

Each act performed three songs for the showcase, and for their set, Laney Jones & the Lively Spirits provided a varied sampling of their tunes.

“We got put in the bluegrass category [for the competition],” Jones said. “I think it’s because of the banjo. We think they were looking for diversity for this show. These three songs are Southerny, but they are all very different.”

Check out more pics from the show after this weekend’s picks. Footage from the show will be seen in a future Belk commercial.

You may remember Junior Astronomers from our recent Revue Session, a rare, rooftop acoustic take from a band known for big hooks and energy. You can see the Charlotte-bred indie rockers in their element with a Neighborhood Theatre performance on Friday. Other acts on the bill include Stranger Day, Modern Primitives, and The Business People. That’s four area acts, for just eight bucks, if you order online.

* If you're looking for a more theatrical experience, you can check out Debby Boone: Swing This! Boone made her first splash with the smash-hit "You Light Up My Life." The Broadway starlet offers her swing music-based show on Friday and Saturday at Knight Theater. The performances are part of the Charlotte Symphony Pops Series.

* But the symphony's not done there. Northwest School of the Arts students join the orchestra for Charlotte Symphony Lollipops: Little Red Riding Hood, a unique spin on classic children’s tales on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Roger Kalia conducts this performance, which is part of the ongoing, kid-targeted Lollipops series.

* At the McGlohon Theater, add some R&B to the weekend with a performance from Marsha Ambrosius. The Friends and Lovers Tour highlights the career of the British songwriter/former Floetry member. She’s currently working on a new record that shares its name with this tour.

* Sunday marks the last day of the Children's Theatre of Charlotte's production of Spelling 2-5-5. Simon already struggles with the attention his brother, Jake, seems to get for his autism. When the opportunity for a spelling bee arises, he must decide if he can share the spotlight with his sibling. Check out the last performance at 2 p.m.

* Two jazz performers, Candy Dulfer and Bobby Caldwell, give separate performances in a Knight Theater show on Sunday. One is a Dutch alto saxophonist known for her high energy and high-profile collaborators; the other is an acclaimed crooner revered for the 1978 hit “What You Won’t Do for Love.”

Categories: Arts + Culture, Revue