* Probably the biggest news of the year happened just recently, when the Tosco trio, justincase, landed a record deal with Maverick Records. Frontman Justin has already spent time in Los Angeles meeting with producers and co-writing tunes with new label mate Michelle Branch. He'll return to the City of Angels soon with the band (brother Nick and sister Hannah) so they can begin recording their first release for the label. Holly Tosco (mom) plans to travel with the band while daddy John will hold down the fort in town (and of course continue with his hosting duties at the monthly Tosco House Party at the Evening Muse, as well as the upcoming Tosco Music Party, to be held January 26 at Spirit Square).
Charlotte transplant Wil Seabrook was also recently signed to Maverick as well.
* After landing a deal with MCA Records last year, Sunny Ledfurd released their major label debut, The White Disc, in August, and spent some time on the road touring with the likes of the Deftones, Godsmack, the Kottonmouth Kings and D-12.
* Over on 7th Street, Jack Straw's was sold and re-opened as Jack's, while down in NoDa, Living Art changed ownership and became The Evening Muse. Shortly before becoming part-owner of The Muse, Lea Pritchard started booking bands for 23 Studio/Pat's Tavern, which helped in creating NoDa's little three-points. The club once known as Freddy's Armadillo re-opened under new ownership as Garbo's. And after their initial success with offering live music on Friday nights, the folks at Puckett's Farm Equipment in Derita started bringing in bands on Saturdays as well.
* Despite a ton of opposition from most local club owners and musicians, the Charlotte City Council approved the heavily debated Dance Hall Ordinance earlier this year. Among other nit-picky guidelines, the ordinance, which is now in effect, mandates that any club that stays open past 2:30am must obtain a city-issued permit to operate. Most club owners, however, have decided to steer clear of the red tape and have opted to close their doors at the designated time instead of applying for the permit.
* For some reason or another, we only had to say goodbye to a handful of bands, including Lodestar, Cyclone Mack and The Doubting Thomas Band (although the latter is known to make special appearances in town every so often).
Scores of new bands, however, appeared on the scene, many with familiar faces: Dead Beat Baby (Liquid Sex Decay), 7 Mag (14 Feet Wide/Five Times Down), Semi-Pro (It Could Be Nothing/Kudzu Ganja), TobascoHottie, Violet Strange (Deanna Campbell), Lo-Jack (Hate By Design), Binary Star (Ishi), Schreck (Lipstik 66), Green Light, First Night On Earth (Laburnum), Bellglide (Laburnum), Moonshine Racers (Fudd) and Afro Piglets (Blakrayn/X-periment) who eventually morphed into Soulsauce. And Nute became the Superock Divine.
Several bands underwent personnel changes, including Lou Ford, The Interstellars, Bridge, 4th Ward, Cast Iron Filter, Dead Beat Baby, Tombstone Daddys, Dead Kings, godmanradio and Hipshack.
And a ton of new local music came out over the course of the year, including releases from Status Flow, Candlewyck, Sideways Eight, Snagglepuss, Antiseen, Ultracyde, Billi Cool, World Class Fad, Hairball, Wavy Train, Tesser, The Interstellars, Babyshaker, Nemo, The Sundowners and Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned.
* The Naked Truth songwriters' showcase celebrated its first anniversary. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Blues Society turned eight, while their home base, the Double Door Inn, turned 28.
* The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) scored a big coup when they brought Music Row to Charlotte to town in July. And Pastor John P. Kee scored when his latest release went gold (his second album to do so).
* Producer/engineer Tracey Schroeder left Reflection Sound Studios to pursue a freelance career, while Marshall Ballew called it quits at WNCW to pursue a personal life. And after 38 years of serving the Carolinas, the independently owned and operated Reliable Music closed its doors (see: large music superstore).
* Hipshack made it into the movies (Shallow Hal), while Dale Earnhardt Jr. made an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards. And James Brown and Al Kooper made appearances in town when they recorded material at Reflection Sound Studios.
* And the story we're waiting to watch unfold in 2002: Will Unknown Hinson hit the road with Billy Bob Thornton? *