Monday, July 22, 2024

Li’l Friday: Michael Franti, Ocean City Jazz Fest, Mystic Vibrations

Fireworks will light up the sky over the Cape Fear River on July 4, as the city of Wilmington hosts a July 4th community event at Riverfront Park for free. (Courtesy City of Wilmington)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Li’l Friday is a weekly roundup of events in art, music, theater, comedy, pop-up markets and more.

READ MORE: In photos: Blackberry Smoke at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

All events featured were scheduled as of Thursday; however, it’s wise to check in ahead of attending any one. Inclement weather, changes in schedules and unforeseen circumstances may shift for organizers at the last minute.

Thursday, July 4

City of Wilmington’s 4th of July Celebration
Riverfront Park, 10 Cowan St. • Free

A family-friendly event, July 4th will be celebrated with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, taking the stage to perform patriotic tunes and popular tracks ahead of downtown’s fireworks display. The event takes place at Riverfront Park, in downtown Wilmington.

There also will be kids activities and food, beer and wine sold onsite (no outside food or drinks are allowed, except for a sealed water up to 1 gallon or an empty bottle to refill). The gates open at 5 p.m. and local band Live Music Company will perform at 5:30 p.m. before the orchestra takes over at 7 p.m. and performs for more than an hour-and-a-half. 

Joining WSO — led by conductor Dominic Talanca — will be guest artists from Opera House Theatre Company and Thalian Association Community Theatre. The music concludes around 8:45 p.m., with the fireworks display over the Cape Fear River kicking off at 9:05 p.m.

Lawn chairs no taller than 9 inches and blankets are allowed; the venue only accepts cashless payment.

Parking on street is free and city decks — 929 N. Front St., 115 Market St., 114 N. Second St, 14 Grace St. — will be operating, as well as the Wilmington Convention Center deck at 515 Nutt St., and the county deck at 212 N. Second St.

There will be a $10 fee in decks after 4 p.m.

Multiple streets will close downtown and surrounding it. 

The following streets will close as early at 6 p.m.

  • Water Street between Dock Street and Red Cross Street
  • Front Street between Dock Street and Red Cross Street
  • Market Street between Front Street & Water Street
  • Princess Street between N. Second Street & N. Water Street
  • Chestnut Street between N. Second Street & N. Water Street
  • Grace Street between N. Second St. & N. Water Street
  • Walnut Street between N. Second & N. Water Street

These streets will close at 9 p.m.

  • Davis Street between N. Third Street & N. Fourth Street
  • Northbound N. Fourth Street between Harnett Street & Davis Street
  • Harnett Street between N. Third Street & Front Street

Hannah Block USO/Community Arts Center Open House The historic Hannah Block Historic USO and Community Arts Center is celebrating the Fourth by taking it back to the 1940s, with sodas priced 5 cents from the World War II era and free coffee and donuts served. Staff will dress in garb from the period as well and there will be WWII exhibits open. The building has been restored to its 1943 appearance with reproduction furnishings. Entertainment will be provided by the Cape Fear Swing Dance Society — known for dancing the Lindy Hop — is hosting a demonstration in the museum lobby. Plus, there will be a free introduction lesson at 2 p.m. A 5-minute documentary, “Home Away From Home – the USO at 2nd and Orange” will screen through the event, which takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The arts center is located at Orange and Second streets.

Freedom Fest — Across town at the foot of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, Waterline is hosting its annual Freedom Fest to celebrate America’s founding. Families are welcome to attend to enjoy games (and prizes), face painting, fairy hair, food trucks, a water balloon fight and a reptile petting zoo. Folkstone Stringband will perform live music as well. The event is free and kicks off at 1 p.m. Folkstone plays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Waterline is located at 723 Surry St. 

North Carolina 4th of July Festival — The nation’s official birthday is celebrated by the state in Southport, with the annual parade taking place at 11 a.m. — the route moving down Moore and Howe streets. Beforehand, the reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place at 10:15 a.m. and there is a flag-raising ceremony at 10:30 a.m. An arts and craft fair will host numerous vendors and artisans from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Southport Waterfront Park, where food concessions also will be set up. Other events throughout the day include United Pro Wrestling Association’s match at 3 p.m. on Nash Street and live entertainment staged at Waterfront Park, including bands like The Doorsmen (3 p.m.) and Liquid Pleasure (7 p.m.). Fireworks will fly at 9 p.m. over the water, visible from the park. Bands return to the stage to perform until 10 p.m.

July 4th Concert and Fireworks Show — Up in Onslow County in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Rustic Barn at Half Moon (135 Batting Cage Trail) welcomes folks to an Independence Day concert and fireworks show at The Rustic Barn at Half Moon. Gates open at 3 p.m. and Alex Williams (Kool and the Gang) will perform, followed by I-42 — a high energy, party band that plays Motown, beach, R&B, country, funk, hip-hop and rock. The concerts will be followed with a fireworks show and there will be food, beer and wine sold onsite, plus vendor booths. Chairs and blankets are welcome on the farm, no outside food or drinks allowed. Tickets are $35 to $40 (children 5 and under are free), available here.

Chloe Radcliffe will perform four shows at Dead Crow Comedy Room this weekend. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, July 5

Chloe Radcliffe
Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St. • Tickets: $20-$30

A New York-based comic will perform this weekend at downtown’s comedy room. Chloe Radcliffe got her start writing for series, including Steven Soderbergh’s Command-Z and the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

She debuted her standup on Comedy Central 2022 and has been named TBS Top Comic to Watch at the New York Comedy Festival. Radcliffe, who has toured through Wilmington for years, covers dating life, walking through the world with a birthmark on her face, and sometimes even marrying the two into one bit.

“I was at a party once, met a guy, here’s how he hit on me,” she said, acting as if she was pointing across the room. “‘Cool mole, but seriously what’s up with that?’ Do you think I came in costume to a birthday party as Cindy Crawford after Chernobyl?”

Tickets to one of four shows, Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., are $20 to $30.

‘Annie’ — Everyone’s favorite mischievous orphan will be singing about the sun coming out tomorrow on Thalian Hall’s mainstage for one final weekend. “Annie” is opening from Opera House Theater Co. and will run at 7:30 p.m. on July 5-6, and 2 p.m. on July 6-7. Based on the 1924 comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” — taken loosely from an 1885 poem of the same name — the musical follows Annie as she is adopted by billionaire businessman Daddy Warbucks. Set in the 1920s, the story follows Annie from rags to riches as her former orphanage housemother, Miss Hannigan, a cantankerous alcoholic who hates children, tries to scheme to get her back and cash in on reward money Warbucks put out to find Annie’s real parents. The musical has scored seven Tony Awards, and is well known for its songs  “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life.”

Ocean City Jazz Festival — Taking place in North Topsail Beach in historic Ocean City, there will be three days of jazz and camaraderie, celebrating the culture and history of this area. It was the the first planned beachfront community created exclusively for African-American families in North Carolina (read PCD’s story. published last year, here). All genres of jazz will be performed, from groups like The Braxton Brothers, John Brown Little Band, Nneena Freelon, Kim Waters and Fred Wesley. Plus there will be a bourbon tasting, historical tour of the community and the annual white party, featuring Phylicia Rae and James “PJ” Spraggins. Tickets are $60 and up. 

Punk vs. Metal — Reggie’s 42nd St. is pitting two hard rock genres against one another this weekend in a show featuring 20 bands. It takes place both Friday and Saturday, with a $20 entry per day or $30 for both, plus there will be vendors and food. Bands include Infinity Fortress M60, Ape Vermin, Bastard Brigade, Defile the Crown, The Explainers, Rictus Grim, The Ope Nopes, Found Footage and Hen Man on Friday; Bat Asterisks, Wormosis, Safe Word, Myth Shifter, Street Clones, Total Bullshit, Martin and the Maniacs, Primordial Tides, Rose Rebellion and Dunk Tank on Saturday. 

Michael Franti and Spearhead will perform three shows in Wilmington this weekend, with Sunday tickets still available at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. (MoonFrog Media/Tom Dorgan)

Saturday, July 6

Michael Franti and Spearhead
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, 1941 Amphitheater Dr. • Tickets: 

The soulrocker makes his annual sojourn to the Port City, bringing his well-known positive vibes and family-friendly setlist to three shows Friday through Sunday (shows are sold out Friday and Saturday, but available Sunday here).

Franti has been touring for more than two decades and released over a dozen albums, featuring hits like “Good Day for a Good Day,” “I’m Alive,” and “The Sound of Sunshine.”  Franti and Spearhead have a positive approach to life and the human connection. 

His live shows, he told Port City Daily earlier in an interview, are intended to hit a sweet spot with the audience, no matter how familiar they may be with the band’s material. Of course, many will be super-fans. Others will leave as fans. 

“I do feel that the ultimate pinnacle of music, where the rubber meets the road, is when the music is played to an audience, and you see the reaction and feel the reaction,” Franti said. “It’s humbling.”

Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Independence Day Swing Dance Social — If you didn’t get enough of the Lindy Hop on the Fourth of July, the Cape Fear Swing Dance Society is hosting a social at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center. It kicks off with a beginner lesson at 6:30 p.m. and social dancing at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students with ID) and can be bought here or at the door. No partner is needed! 

Free Outdoor Movie Night — Castle Street is having a movie night at 8 p.m. in the empty lot next to Graham’s Barbershop, 510 Castle St. It will screen “The Sandlot” for free and there will be hotdogs and popcorn plus Sunset Slush will on site selling Italian ice. Opening the show will be a 15-minute documentary about Sam Rowens, an MBA baseball star who was raised in the Castle Street neighborhood.  

Papadosio — Bowstring Burgers and Brewyard will welcome the Asheville-based band, a five-piece that blends songs of prof rock with electronica, jazz and jam. They recently released the EP, “Improvisations with Ram Dass,” five tracks recorded on the spot with the band playing while listing to various Dass recordings. Dass was a spiritual leader and leader in psychedelic research; he passed away in April this year. The band released the EP a month later. Tickets to their show at Bowstring is $22.

Mystic Vibrations will perform at Bluewater this Sunday, to see off the July 4th holiday weekend in coastal Carolina. (Courtesy photo)

Sunday, July 7

Mystic Vibrations
Bluewater Grill, 4 Marina St. • Free

As part of the Wrightsville Beach restaurant’snRock the Dock summer series, it’s bringing in Mystic Vibrations on Sunday to see off the July 4 weekend.

Since the ‘90s, this reggae outfit has been spreading the Rasta love, releasing music and constantly touring. Dion “Caution” Samuel (drums), George “Raheem” Johnson (bass), Marcus “Marky”‘ Ruby (keyboards) and Ric Williams (guitar, vocals) willbe at Bluewater for an easy summer afternoon of music. 

They’ll play from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the show is free, with expansive views of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Christmas in July — A vendor market at the Pointe at Barclay will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 7. There will be 30 local artisans and makers selling wares, face-painting and family-friendly activities. 

Tips or comments? Email

Want to read more from PCD? Subscribe now and then sign up for our morning newsletter, Wilmington Wire, and get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

Related Articles