With a final flourish, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra puts that extra pop in their Summer Pops series of concerts. For four consecutive nights, you can take your beloved lawn chair and listen to your favorite patriotic ditties under the stars. You'll get your fill of John Philip Sousa and by evening's end -- topped off with a volley of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture"-- you'll be completely agog with patriotic fervor. Tonight, CSO is in Pineville at Belle Johnston Park. They're up in Lake Norman at the Duke Power Energy Explorium on Thursday and at Village Park in Kannapolis on Friday. Holiday spirits get their final CSO bang on Saturday night -- with fireworks -- at Symphony Park in SouthPark. All the concerts begin at 8:15pm, but there's an extra 7pm prelude performance by the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra preceding the July 3 Symphony Park concert. Admission is free. (Tannenbaum)
David Walters, UNCC architecture professor, urban planner, and Creative Loafing columnist, and his wife Linda Brown, a professional artist and erstwhile CL arts writer, will speak about their new book, Design First, today from 7pm until 8:15pm at the West Boulevard Public Library. The new book explains why neighborhood planners should design new neighborhoods in three dimensions instead of on two-dimensional maps, as is usually the case. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, call the West Blvd. Public Library at 704-336-6802. (Davis)
JULY 1 - THURSDAY
The Charlotte Sting are going through an up-and-down season which is a little puzzling since they're playing well even in most of the games they lose. Sooner or later, the Sting's kind of hustle pays off, hopefully tonight as they host the Phoenix Mercury in their second consecutive home game at the Charlotte Coliseum at 7pm. Tickets range from $10-$59 and may be purchased by calling 1-877-WNBA-TIX.
JULY 2 - FRIDAY
Best-selling author James Patterson will sign copies of his newest novel at 12:30pm at Barnes & Noble in the Arboretum. Known for his thrillers Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls (and their Morgan Freeman-movie counterparts), Patterson went the romance route this time with Sam's Letters to Jennifer. And why not? His love story, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas has been his top bestseller to date. The signing is free, but you have to buy the book! Call 704-341-9365 for details. (Grossman)
The Carolina Skytower will be all ablaze with several hundred special effect shots in Paramount's Carowinds one-of-a-kind 4th of July event. Nights of Fire: A Skytower Spectacular is a computer designed and controlled fireworks show, choreographing about 1000 aerial shells in precise time with whiz-bang patriotic music. The program lasts 20 minutes and begins at 10pm with a repeat performance at the same time tomorrow night. For the best views, stake out your spot at Carolina RFD in front of WaterWorks, Nickelodeon Central or Thrill Zone. Or do like most people, i.e., slow down while driving by on I-77 and risk causing a wreck and getting a ticket. Free with park admission. Call 704-588-2600 for further information.
JULY 4 - SUNDAY
The 13th annual Pride Sunset Jazz Series gets underway today, inaugurating another month of Sunday jazz festivals throughout July. The series kicks off with a bang, too, featuring Bembeya Jazz, a legendary band from Guinea in West Africa. The huge band will christen a new venue for the series this year -- Frazier Park, near Gateway Village downtown -- with their mix of jazz, blues, Cuban, traditional West African and Afro-pop. Other performers in the series will include the Noel Freidline Quintet, A Sign of the Times Big Band, Daryle Ryce with Albertino & Co., Nappy Brown with Betty Pride and the BP Ride, Carnavalito and Maria Howell. The events run from 5-9pm; admission is free. For more information call 704-375-9553. (Schacht)
What could be more American than celebrating the US's Independence Day with baseball and fireworks? Head on over to the Knights Stadium, just south of the state border, as Baseball's Salute To America pits the Charlotte Knights against the Durham Bulls. Game time is 7:15pm and the team's biggest fireworks show of the year follows the taming of the Bulls by the Knights. Tickets: $6-$10. Details: 803-548-8050 or www.charlotteknights.com (Shukla)
Skyshow 2004, the outdoor Fourth of July street festival of the Queen City, has moved to a new site at Third and Mint Streets downtown. The new location promises more elbow room for the crowds and a better view of the fireworks. Plenty of food and accompaniments will be there, as well as bands kicking off around 12:30pm, including headliners, Kool & the Gang. Festivities last from high noon to midnight. Details: www.skyshow.net. (Shukla)
JULY 6 - TUESDAY
Sad to say, but Rod Stewart, appearing tonight at 8pm at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, is probably better known now as a low-carb Motown substitute instead of a groundbreaking rock & roll singer. Which is too bad. After joining the Jeff Beck Group in the late 60s, Stewart began to create the folk/blues style that later became his forte in the Small Faces (later the Faces). With his third solo album, Every Picture Tells a Story, Stewart became a household name, thanks to rollicking singles like "Reason to Believe" and "Maggie May." Rod's career soon began to focus more on the "star" part of "pop star," but the slicker material picked up plenty of new fans without alienating the older ones. Those same older ones are probably the folks now eagerly gobbling up his seemingly endless "remake" albums, records that feature plenty of the trademark Stewart rasp but none of the bite. Tickets are $29.50 and $95, available by calling 704-522-6500. (Davis)