The Scene: Catch top-notch musicians during Azalea Fest

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Alan Jackson celebrates 25 years of 'Keepin' it Country' with a performance tonight in downtown Wilmington. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival
Alan Jackson celebrates 25 years of ‘Keepin’ it Country’ with a performance tonight in downtown Wilmington. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival

The N.C. Azalea Festival is in full swing and that’s good news for lovers of live music.

As part of the annual festivities, some major acts will take the stage, starting tonight with this year’s headliner, country legend Alan Jackson.

Jackson will hit the Miller Light Main Stage, 411 N. Front St., as part of his 25th anniversary “Keepin’ it Country” tour, which kicked off in Florida earlier this year.

Fans of the legendary singer/songwriter can expect to hear such favorites as “Here In The Real World,” “Chattahoochee” and “Gone Country,” as well as summertime anthems “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “Good Time.”

He will be performing with opening acts Jon Pardi and Brandy Clark.

Described as “undeniably country” in a release on Jackson’s website, Pardi released his debut album, “Write You A Song,” in January. Clark is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter whose 2013 debut release, “12 Stories,” topped the “best of” lists for a host of national publications, including New York Post, Slate and The Boston Globe.

The show gets underway at 7 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 in advance ($59.50 day of show).

Get to stomping in your Air Force Ones with a live show Friday from another icon and fellow Grammy Award winner, rap great Nelly.

Nelly, who is slated to perform at 7 p.m. on the Miller Lite Main Stage downtown, came onto the scene in 2000 with the release of “Country Grammar.” The album landed Nelly four Grammy nominations and sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

In 2002, he released his sophomore effort, “Nellyville,” whith featured the massive hit “Hot in Here.” He’s put out five more albums to date, most recently 2013’s “M.O.”

Tickets to see Nelly are $35 ($45 day of show).

And the hip hop and R&B revelry continue Saturday with the “Old School Concert” at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.

Headlining the show is yet another Grammy winner, rapper Big Daddy Kane. He’ll share the stage with soul singer Jon B.–who gained fame writing hits for acts like Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson–and the now-solo rapper Mr. Cheeks, originally a member of the outfit, Lost Boyz.

The upcoming concert marks a return of sorts for the Grammy Award-winning Kane, who came to the Port City as an actor in the 2007 zombie flick, “Dead Heist.”

Nelly will take the stage Friday as part of the annual festivities. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival.
Nelly will take the stage Friday as part of the annual festivities. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival.

He’ll be bringing his music to Wilmington this time around, including “Ain’t No Half Steppin,’” “Raw,” “Smooth Operator,” “Warm It Up” and “I Get The Job Done.”

Jon B.’s debut and sophomore efforts went platinum. His second album, “Cool Relax,” also earned him multiple Billboard Music Award nominations. And Mr. Cheeks has risen to notoriety as a solo hip hop lyricist since leaving Lost Boyz in 2001, touring and collaborating with the likes of N’Sync, P. Diddy and Stephen Marley.

Gates open at 5 p.m. and the show gets underway at 6 p.m. Tickets are $24.

If you want to check out any or all of the big-name acts coming through during Azalea Fest, you can purchase tickets at the festival office, 5725 Oleander Drive, Unit B7, or online.

There’s lots more live entertainment to be found—during the street festival and around town—this weekend, as featured below in our weekly arts and entertainment roundup.

You’ll find more information about these upcoming events on The Scene, where it’s always fast, easy and free to post and peruse the latest happenings.

Music

Soup to Nuts Live presents local blues musician Randy McQuay in concert at 6:30 tonight in the MC Erny Gallery. McQuay recently took home best solo act at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Admission is a $10 donation.

Legendary lyricist Big Daddy Kane will perform Sunday, alongside Jon B. and Mr. Cheeks. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival.
Legendary lyricist Big Daddy Kane will perform Sunday, alongside Jon B. and Mr. Cheeks. Photo courtesy N.C. Azalea Festival.

Folk singer-songwriter Eli Conley and local folk-rock duo Folkstar perform at 7 tonight at Ted’s Fun on the River. Admission is $7.

Genre-bending rock-rap act Sunny Ledfurd plays a free show at Ziggy’s By The Sea tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9. VIP Suite and Platinum Table reservations are available.

The Juggling Gypsy hosts “Fire and Drums” at 8 p.m. each Thursday. The event is a meet-up of fire dancers and area drummers, with deejays spinning tunes beginning at 10 p.m. Participants are welcome to bring their percussion instruments and fire and juggling toys. A Tarot card reader will be on hand between 6 and 10 p.m. Admission is free.

Wilmington Unplugged presents bluegrass roots band Wrinkle Neck Mules tonight. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 9:15. Tickets are $15.

Singer/songwriter Erik Smallwood brings his blend of country, soul and southern rock to Bombers Bev Co. at 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is free.

The rockers known as Hinder take the Ziggy’s By The Sea stage Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of show. VIP Suite and Platinum Table reservations are available.

Singer/songwriter Tyler McKaig performs a free show from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Flytrap Brewing. Vittles Food Truck will be onsite.

Bluegrass group Wrinkle Neck Mules comes to Bourgie Nights tonight. Photo courtesy Bourgie Nights.
Bluegrass group Wrinkle Neck Mules comes to Bourgie Nights tonight. Photo courtesy Bourgie Nights.

Wilmington indie rock band Onward, Soldiers plays Bourgie Nights Saturday, with Dad & Dad and Zack Mexico. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show gets underway at 9:30. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 the day of the show.

South Carolina-based singer/songwriter Tyler Davis travels to Wilmington Saturday for a free show at Bombers Bev Co. from 9 to 11 p.m.

Gillian, an indie punk outfit out of Brooklyn, performs at Bourgie Nights Sunday, with Stray Local and Mr. T and the Dogwalker. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 9. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 the day of the show.

Theater/Comedy

TheaterNOW presents “Still Bitchin’: Rude Bitches Make Me Tired 2” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. This comedic etiquette dinner theater features author Celia Rivenbark and is adapted for the stage by Zach Hanner. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $18-$28.

Ian Salmon does four stand-up sets at Dead Crow Comedy Room this weekend. Photo courtesy www.iansalmon.com.
Ian Salmon does four stand-up sets at Dead Crow Comedy Room this weekend. Photo courtesy www.iansalmon.com.

Cape Fear Academy performs “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Thalian Hall. A matinee performance is set for 3 p.m. Sunday. The play is based on the Amanda Brown’s novel and the resulting film adaptation of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon. Admission is $8-$16.

Comedy Central and “Showtime at the Apollo” alum Ian Salmon performs this weekend at Dead Crow Comedy Room. Salmon will bring his stand-up to the local stage at 8 and 10:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Admission is $13.

Film

Cinematique screens “Leviathan” at 7 p.m. and Friday. This latest drama from acclaimed director Andrey Zvyagintsev tells the story of an auto repair shop owner and his family as they attempt to navigate the brutal political landscape of Russia. Admission is $8.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.