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SOUNDS OF THE AZALEA FESTIVAL: A PREVIEW OF SONIC HAPPENINGS DURING THE 68TH ANNUAL AZALEA FESTIVAL

Filled with good vibes, good food and an excess of entertainment worthy of all ages, the City of Wilmington proudly hosts one the South’s most anticipated festivals. As part of the annual Azalea Festival, nationally known performing artists make their way to Wilmington to celebrate. Nelly and Alan Jackson are the official Azalea Festival concerts. However, a slew of other official and unofficial Azalea concerts will take place, too, which we have previewed here:

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Alan Jackson
April 9, 7 p.m., Tickets: $49.50
Miller Lite Stage, CFCC Festival Grounds

Country legend Alan Jackson has sold over 80 million albums worldwide and ranks as one of the 10 best-selling country artists of all time. A native of Georgia, Jackson moved to Nashville, TN, at age 27 to pursue a career in music. His first album, “Here in the Real World” (1990), was a success and put Jackson on the map with other renowned artists like Vince Gill and Garth Brooks. Jackson’s career soared in the ‘90s, earning him much acclaim and various awards from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music. 

Joining Jackson on the Keepin’ It Country Tour this year are upcoming Nashville stars Jon Pardi and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Brandy Clark. The Keepin’ It Country Tour commemorates Alan Jackson’s 25th anniversary in the country-music business and is a great opportunity for die-hard fans and newcomers alike to witness the legend himself with raw Nashville talent.

Nelly
April 10, 7 p.m., Tickets: $35
Miller Lite Stage, CFCC Festival Grounds

Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Nelly got his start in the early 2000s, with hits like “Ride wit Me” and “Hot in Herre.” Receiving multiple awards throughout the years for his work, almost all of Nelly’s albums have been certified platinum. In 2003, Nelly won a Grammy for “Hot in Herre.” Nelly has furthered his career into areas outside of music, focusing on entrepreneurial pursuits as owner of Apple Jeans, Pimp Juice energy drinks, and until 2010 as co-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Returning in 2013 with his latest release, “M.O.”, Nelly has proven to the world that he is still a musical force to be reckoned.

Old School Concert
Sat., April 11, 6 p.m., Tickets: $24
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
1941 Amphitheater Dr.

Legendary hip-hop artist Big Daddy Kane will help celebrate the 68th annual Azalea Festival. Being the first rapper to boast two sold-out shows at the world-famous Apollo Theater and having a Grammy win under his belt, he will make is way to the stage, alongside performers Jon B. and Mr. Cheeks. Tickets for the event can be purchased at Azalea Festival Ticket Office, as well as Church’s Chicken in Wilmington (4205 Market St.), Church’s Chicken in Jacksonville (303 Bell Fork Road), G&K’s Hair Studio (230 Princess Street).

SELECT STREET FAIR PERFORMANCES

Belk Music and Multicultural Stage Water St. between Princess and Chestnut

Groove Fetish
4/10, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Groove Fetish is a five-piece groove-laden psychedelic group straight out of Wilmington, or as they describe themselves, “original blues and rock sprinkled with some jam.” For fans of Widespread Panic, Phish and Grateful Dead, this tight-knit traveling troupe will kick things off for the Azalea Festival street fair.

Major and the Monbacks
4/10, 7:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

Major and the Monbacks offer a classic ‘60s sound in a modern context. In other words, it’s a group of younger guys hashing out vintage-sounding originals, fully equipped with backup harmonies and a horn line. For fans of Ray Lamontagne, Otis Redding or Churck Berry, the Monbacks pack a lot of soul and couldn’t be more perfect for a good time.

Sean Olds and the Church of the Eternal
4/11,12:20-1:20 p.m.

The Kitty-Hawk based folk group will start the day right. Church of the Eternal features vibrant old-town/American influenced music that blends violin, keyboard and steel guitar.

The Gal Friday Band
4/11, 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

The Gal Friday Band started off as an all-girl trio based out of Matthews, NC. The music is bluegrass inspired, featuring powerful, three-part vocal harmonies and a big sound.

Chase Likens
4/11, 4:20 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

Chase Likens is what we deem young talent. The 23-year-old country singer was a top 12 finalist on “American Idol” and has continued to pursue music ever since. Look out for his new single “Playing it Safe,” as he hits the stage at Azalea Festival.

Jason Lee McKinney
4/11, 9:15 p.m. – 10:45 p.m.

The night will be concluded by none other than Nashville-based Jason Lee McKinney. McKinney blends Americana, country, classic rock and folk into a gritty sound that has generated quite a buzz.

The Sea Pans
4/12, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

The Sea Pans are a professional steel drum ensemble. They play a variety of Caribbean music, including Latin, reggae, jazz, and even pop favorites with their own island twist.

The Coco Loco Band
4/12, 2:55 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.

The Coco Loco Band are professional entertainers who play all sorts of crowd favorites (basically, everyone’s favorite karaoke/cover band). The five-member ensemble guarantees a good time to be had by all as they close out this years’ 2015 Azalea Festival.

UNOFFICIAL AZALEA PERFORMANCES & HAPPENINGS

Cucalorus Rökgärtën Party, 2 p.m.
Jengo’s Playhouse, 815 Princess St.

If the Azalea Festival is too overcrowded and dense for your liking, make your way to Jengo’ Playhouse. Hosted by the folks behind the Cucalorus Film Festival, the party will have all the proper fixtures of a Rökgärtën party.  Free Clinic will be performing. As well, folks can  create a 20-second or less film about their interpretation of rocks, which will be shown on the venue’s big screen. There also will be a home tour/pub crawl led by a certain “Cucalorian.” Each house will have a bar with its own themed drink. Last but not least, there will be a truck stocked with rocks and googly eyes. Creativity here is key as all participants have the opportunity to decorate their rocks. There is no cover as long as you are 21 or older. Follow what the Cucalorians do here at www.cucalorous.org/blog.

Alt-Zalea
Saturday, April 11

Another place of interest this year is Alt-Zalea Fest. Held in the Brooklyn Arts District, the event will feature a full roster of local talent. “Alt-Zalea Fest started with the premise of getting people to look at the Brooklyn Arts District, not as a place to park, but as a destination for good food, drinks and entertainment,” Allister Snyder, owner of Detour Deli and Café on Red Cross Street, says.

The thriving area is a perfect place to witness Wilmington’s downtown while taking part in the festivities. Detour Deli and Café will feature artwork by local artist Kelly Sweitzer throughout the day. Likewise, Folks Cafe will be holding  an artisan marketplace, displaying works by locals. Don’t miss out on the Cape Fear Roller Girls, as they roll about the neighborhood, either. Plus, Alt-Zalea Fest will be hosting a slew of bands worth checking out:

Detour Deli and Café
510 1/2 Red Cross St.

2:15 p.m.: Coy

3 p.m.: Brown Widow

4 p.m.: The Umphs

5 p.m.: John DeLuca (Of the Busted Monks)

6 p.m.:  WAUL

7 p.m.:  A Bottle Volcanic

Folks Cafe
706 N. 4th St.

1 p.m.: Dirty White Rags

3 p.m.:  Randy McQuay II

4 p.m. Tres Altman

5 p.m. Cosmic Opossum (Elijah J Yetter-   Bowman)

Hair Slayer
1005 N. 4th St.

6 p.m.: Fledling

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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