Joan Jett & The Blackhearts rock out Dorton Arena on Sunday, Oct. 26

September 17, 2014 By: Funhouse Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Nobody sits down during a Joan Jett show.

It’s high-energy rock that brings fans to their feet and  admiration for a woman who has truly been rocking out for almost 40 years. Even the most casual of fans will recognize Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ 1982 hit “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.” The song spent seven weeks at No. 1, and even more than 30 years later people can sing along with the iconic lyrics. “Singing I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox,baby. I love rock and roll, so come and take your time and dance with me.”

Jett began her career in 1975 as a founding member of the all-girl punk rock band “The Runaways.” One of the more famous songs from the group is “Cherry Bomb.” After The Runaways disbanded in 1979, Jett spent a few years pursuing a solo career before placing an ad in the L.A. Weekly “looking for a few good men.” These men would form the Blackhearts, and their first hit would be “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.”  The song is No. 65 on Billboard Magazine’s list of songs of all time.  Other hits and sold-out tours followed. In 2003, Jett was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. This was quite an honor considering only one other woman, Joni Mitchell, made the list at that time.

In April, Jett was the first woman to win Revolver Magazine’s Golden God Award. With multiple nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including 2012 and 2013, it is most likely just a matter of time before Joan Jett and the Blackhearts achieve this honor, too.

Buy Tickets buttonI saw Joan Jett when she came to downtown Raleigh in 2009. It was a high-energy show and truly nobody sat down. In honor of her return visit to the N.C. State Fair, I offer the following advice to prepare for the show:

  1. Download a few classic Joan Jett and the Blackhearts songs to your iPod. I would recommend my favorite, “Crimson and Clover,” or other hits such as “Love Hurts,” “Bad Reputation,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You ” and, of course, the classic “I Love Rock N Roll.” You also might check out newer songs such as “TMI” or “Hard to Grow Up,” which have the same energy and edginess of her classics.
  2. Rent “The Runaways,” this biographical film about the all-girl rock band. Jett was one of the executive producers. Actress Kristen Stewart played the young Joan Jett.
  3. Right before the show, get a good night’s sleep, have an energy drink, or at least a cup of coffee, and come to Dorton Arena ready to ROCK.

Tickets to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are $15 each, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

CMA nominee for vocal duo of the year Love and Theft performing Monday, Oct. 20

September 11, 2014 By: Fried Oreo Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Love and Theft performs on Monday, Oct. 20 in Dorton Arena

Love and Theft, the two-man band made up of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, hit the ground running when their first single, “Runaway,” made it to the Top 10.  The band, formed in 2006 and signed to Carolwood Records in 2009, was the opening act for Taylor Swift’s 2009 tour. And as every dedicated Taylor Swift fan like myself knows, Love and Theft’s Stephen Liles is who she is singing about in her song “Hey Stephen.” “Dancing in Circles,” from their debut album reached the Top 40, peaking at number 25.

They followed up with a second single, “Angel Eyes,” which made it to No. 1 in 2011 and earned a platinum certification.The lead single from their third album, “Night That You’ll Never Forget,” is now playing on country radio.

In 2011, Love and Theft joined RCA Nashville, and have been nominated for the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year award and the Academy of Country Music Top Vocal Duo award. In 2013, Love and Theft won the Country Music Television Duo Video of the Year award for their song “Runnin’ Out of Air.”

Buy Tickets buttonEarlier this month, the duo was once again nominated for the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year. This is their third nomination in this category.

Love and Theft performs in Dorton Arena on Monday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

The Newsboys return to Dorton Arena

September 04, 2014 By: Firecracker Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

With lyrics like “God’s not dead, He’s surely alive/He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion,” the Newsboys don’t try to sugar coat the fact that they are a contemporary Christian rock band. But make no mistake, they are a rock band.  The band is in the middle of the We Believe Tour, and coming off the success of the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” that features their hit song of the same title.

The Newsboys, Friday, Oct. 24, Dorton Arena

Personally, I’ve been a Newsboys fan since seeing them at Campbell University in 1994, just before their Going Public album came out, and shortly after Jeff Frankenstein joined the band as the keyboardist. The band has seen a number of changes since then, but their sound and message remains the same. If anything, they’ve lost some of the quirkyness that defined their early albums with Steve Taylor as a songwriter and producer.

Their song “We Believe” hit as high as number 2 on the Billboard top Christian songs.  The Restart album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, and peaked at number 38 on the Top 200 Albums Billboard chart.

This adds to their long list of career achievements, which includes more than 8 million albums sold and 30 songs to hit Number One. Which maybe is bound to happen when a band has as much staying power as the Newsboys. The band now has 17 studio albums under their collective belts, all of which they can pull from to fill their set list.

Buy Tickets buttonBefore they go on stage, 7eventh Time Down will open for the Newsboys. The group released their sophomore album Just Say Jesus.

Take a look at this preview of the We Believe Tour. (Note: Family Force Five will not be appearing at the N.C. State Fair.)




Artist Spotlight: Eli Young Band

October 09, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair, Uncategorized

When Mike Eli and James Young were “living the dream” in college their freshman year, I wonder if they ever envisioned turning those dreams into such a big reality on the country music scene.

Whether they thought it would ever happen or not, the pair has gradually built a strong following, touring with country stars such as Miranda Lambert and gaining national attention on CMT and GMT.  All the while, the band continued to focus on songwriting, which paid off with the No. 1 hit, “Crazy Girl,” in 2011 and the 2012 Academy of Country Music Award’s Song of the Year “Even if it Breaks Your Heart.” The band’s songs certainly connected with fans, as “Crazy Girl” was the most played song on country radio in 2011.

Eli Young Band’s country harmonies and easy-to-relate-to lyrics are consistent elements in all their songs, and set the right tone for the final night of the 2013 N.C. State Fair.

The band will perform Sunday, Oct. 27, in Dorton Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, and the doors will open at 6:30.

Until the concert, check out their newest single, “Drunk Last Night.”



Artist Spotlight: Randy Houser

October 02, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair

If you have listened to country music for any time, you’ve probably heard some of Randy Houser’s lyrics or music. Before releasing his own album, Houser made a name for himself as a songwriter. Trace Adkins’ 2005 hit, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” was co-written by Houser.

But with his sights set on becoming a recording artist, Houser kept some songs for himself, and is now known for his recently popular single “How Country Feels.”

Being musically gifted wasn’t something that Houser had to work hard for; from a young age, he showed promise for performing and songwriting. His father was a professional musician, and by the age of 13, Houser had his own band. During his college years, he and his band called themselves the “10 lb. Biscuit” (I can’t imagine why he didn’t keep that name).

In 2002, Houser packed up and headed to Nashville to pursue a career in songwriting. The time he put into collaborating and writing lyrics was well-spent, and by the time “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” rose to the top of the charts, Houser was popular in the industry.

Luckily, he saved some of his songs for himself, and in 2008, Houser released his own album. The hit from the album, “Anything Goes,” reached the top of the charts in no time, and audiences soaked up the artist’s raw sound and distinctly country lyrics.

Houser’s ability to capture the ups and downs of life and turn them into an uptempo country anthem has only gotten better. His most recent album, “How Country Feels,” is full of the artist’s best work.

My personal favorite is the title track because of its catchy tune and story. No doubt about it, Houser is definitely speaking to hordes of his city-raised fans – including me – when he opens the song with, “You were raised on an asphalt farm / never heard a rooster crow,” and then sings “Let me show you how country feels.” Houser accomplishes his goal, and by the end of the song, I see myself riding in a pickup in the middle of nowhere without a care in the world.

Just listen to the song yourself, and I can guarantee you’ll want to see how country feels in Dorton Arena on Oct. 26. Tickets are $10 and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

Artist Spotlight: MercyMe

September 25, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair

Christian music powerhouse MercyMe will be returning to the N.C.  State Fair on Oct. 25.

MercyMe has been a longtime favorite among Christian music fans, but has also gathered widespread mainstream recognition with its 2002 hit “I Can Only Imagine.” The catchy lyrics illustrate what it might be like to finally meet God: “Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah; will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.”

The group was founded in 1994 and signed with a record label in 2001. Since then, MercyMe has released hit after hit, capturing audiences with thought-provoking lyrics and rock rhythms. The band’s website says its music “enlightens, entertains and invites community,” and after listening to a handful of their songs, it’s easy to agree.

Another popular hit is “Word of God Speak,” which was the No. 1 Billboard Magazine Christian Song of the Decade from 2000-2009. Attendees of contemporary worship services certainly recognize many of MercyMe’s hits, including “Word of God Speak” and “You Reign.” The group’s most recent album, “The Hurt and The Healer,” combines raw emotion and exciting rhythms, likely ensuring it becomes a staple on the Christian music scene.

Although Bart Millard, the band’s lead vocalist, is more inclined to produce lyrical, emotional ballads, his band encourages him to give listeners a variety of slow and uptempo songs. The product of this collaboration has been a huge success for MercyMe.

MercyMe will perform at Dorton Arena on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and doors open at 6:30p.m.

Artist Spotlight: Who’s Bad, the Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band

September 18, 2013 By: Funhouse Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair, Uncategorized

Dust off your moon-walking shoes and glide on in to Dorton Arena on Thursday, Oct. 24, for Who’s Bad, the Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. Who’s Bad is the longest-running Michael Jackson tribute band and the only one to predate Jackson’s untimely passing in 2009.

Although I might date myself to admit this, as a child I had a white glove keychain and listened to the new Michael Jackson “Thriller” album over and over on my pink cassette player. I liked the catchy lyrics and awesome beat. Even as a child, I knew Michael Jackson was a legend.

I think that jazz performance major and saxophonist Vamsi Tadepalli knew this, too, when he spearheaded the tribute group Who’s Bad while finishing up his degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2003. Since then the group has played more than 700 shows worldwide. According to its website, Who’s Bad pays “studious attention to Michael’s Jackson every original groove and gravity-defying dance move.” And from the video below, you can see that the performance has the energy and electricity that would impress fans of the “King of Pop.”

The group has performed for crowds numbering into the thousands and has shared the stage with Aretha Franklin, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys and The Four Tops.  Who’s Bad will perform many of  MJ’s greatest hits, including “Bad,” “Beat it,” “Billie Jean,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Wanna be Startin’ Something,” “P.Y.T.” and “Smooth Criminal.”

You can see Who’s Bad perform in Dorton Arena on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. Thursday is also Food Lion Hunger Relief Day at the fair. Five cans of Food Lion brand food get you in the gate for free that day, and all donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

So, come out with your canned goods and concert tickets. You’ll get to see a high-energy show and help those less fortunate in our community. If you don’t have tickets yet, you can purchase them online at

Artist Spotlight: Dailey & Vincent

September 11, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair

I must admit, I’ve never been much of a bluegrass fan, but it’s safe to say that after listening to Dailey & Vincent, I’ve been converted. The band is clearly after more than popular, mainstream recognition; it seeks true artistry and authenticity in its music.

Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent founded the group in 2007 and have been entertaining with a unique blend of harmonic vocals and instrumentals ever since.

The pair is joined by four other band members to create an authentically bluegrass experience. This band is undoubtedly talented; each member is a gifted musician with a slew of awards to prove it. Dailey & Vincent is a two-time Grammy nominee and has been sweeping bluegrass awards since 2008. To add to it, the band also has four award-winning albums and international bluegrass recognition under its belt.

Listening to Dailey & Vincent further proves the point that these guys mean business when it comes to their music. Even if you think you don’t like bluegrass, listen. When I hear other songs on the radio, it normally feels like the instrumental music is a simple background for the singer’s vocals, and there isn’t interaction between the two. But here, the banjo and fiddle are not just frames for the voices; Dailey & Vincent bring the instruments to life and blend their vocals with the music.

The band will take the stage in Dorton Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Dailey & Vincent have made it easy to enjoy bluegrass with their quality music and songs. See for yourself and watch their version of The Louvin Brothers’ “When I Stop Dreaming.”


Artist Spotlight: Scotty McCreery

September 04, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair

Country superstar and Garner native Scotty McCreery is no stranger to the N.C. State Fair. He played two sold-out concerts during the 2012 fair, and we are lucky to have him performing again this year on Oct. 21 and 22.

McCreery’s nationwide popularity started when he burst onto the country music scene after winning “American Idol” in 2011. Perhaps it was his dazzling smile and country-tinged vocals that America fell in love with while watching the show, but I know I was won over by his Southern charm. While on the show, McCreery performed songs by country legends Garth Brooks and Josh Turner to show his vocal range and talent.

In 2012, McCreery debuted  ”Clear As Day,” making him the youngest male vocalist to ever earn a chart-topping position with a debut album. The artist also won awards at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards and CMT Awards. It was easy to like McCreery when we first met him on “American Idol” as a talented musician, and it’s easy to like him now as a relatable college student. Despite his stardom and success, McCreery is a student at N.C. State University in an effort to live a “normal” life.

As a college student myself, I can’t imagine balancing my studies with a career like McCreery’s. As if the 19-year-old isn’t busy enough, he’s currently touring on his Weekend Roadtrip Tour and is expected to release his next album in October.

Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in Dorton Arena. Tickets are $25, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Artist Spotlight: Joe Nichols

August 28, 2013 By: Jane Deere Category: 2013 N.C. State Fair

Dorton Arena will be a little bit country as Joe Nichols brings his chart topping hits to the N.C. State Fair on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Nichols started his career as a musician in the fast lane with back-to-back No. 1 hit singles, “The Impossible” and “Brokenheartsville,” in 2002. Those songs earned the young artist a Grammy nomination and a slew of other awards.

In the midst of his insta-success, Nichols remained level-headed, never once forgetting that the music industry is about creating art, not just commercial sales. His raw and authentic talent for creating music has earned him an impressive repertoire of seven albums and several chart-topping singles.

But there’s more to Nichols’ music than his country melodies; his lyrics are genius, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Nichols is known in the industry as “one of country music’s best judges of material.” He manages to pick clever words that balance the good with the bad and the lighthearted with the sorrowful parts of life.

One of my favorites, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” uses clever lyrics and a softer tune to tell the story of getting to know someone more.

“My, oh, my, you’re so good looking;

Hold yourself together like a pair of bookends,

But I’ve not tasted all you’re cooking;

Who are you when I’m not looking”

And of course, not all of his music is so sentimental; Nichols does a great job of mixing romance with humor to create variety. His other popular hits are “Sunny and 75,” “Gimme That Girl” and “Size Matters.”

Nichols’ concert is in Dorton Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

  • Get e-mail updates

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Archives

    • 2015
    • 2014
    • 2013
    • 2012
    • 2011
    • 2010
    • 2009
    • 2008
  • Tags

  • Admin