Wake up around 8. Grab a bottle of water and step off the bus to have a look. Today we're playing at Ovens Auditorium, next door to the original Charlotte Coliseum, which is now called the Cricket Arena. Both venues share one parking lot.
I have a lot of history here. I lived in Charlotte from 1969-1973 and again from 1977-1984, so I kinda consider it the place I grew up in.
I remember seeing the symphony at Ovens a couple of times when I was in either elementary or junior high school.
I saw my first concert next door at the coliseum in February of '73 – Alice Cooper on the "Billion Dollar Babies" tour. It complete blew my mind. Pink fog, people openly smoking marijuana, the lights, the sound, the girls - just everything about it changed my life. I was 14 at the time, in the 9th grade at Cochrane Junior High. I went with my best buddies Rick, Kelly and Jeff. A lot of kids' parents wouldn't let them go to the show because Jeanne Dixon, who was a famous Astrologist/Psychic said that the coliseum's roof would collapse during the show and kill hundreds. Hooey! Alice was pretty much the anti-christ back then, what with the snakes, onstage executions, alcohol abuse and tales of sexual debauchery. My kind of guy!
I was once arrested right here in this very parking lot. The year was 1981. Sherry and I were living together over off Selwyn Avenue. My sister Donna (who was in sales at WBCY, one of the big rock radio stations here) had gotten us a couple ot tickets to see the Journey / Bryan Adams show at the coliseum. We'd both seen Journey a few times already and were really only coming to see Bryan. We were a few minutes late arriving, and realized that we had already missed about half of Bryan Adams' set. We debated whether to go on in, or sell the tickets and go meet Sher's mom Pat up the street at TGI Friday's, where she'd invited us to join her for dinner. We decided on the beer and the chow, so I needed to try and sell the tickets to get the bucks for dinner. I held up the tickets, and a chick in her 20's came over and asked if they were for sale. I said yep, $25 each.
Well, guess what? She was an undercover cop. I got arrested for scalping tickets. They were actually "hole-punched" comps, of no value technically, but they still had the original price on them. And as I was asking for more than the $1.00 limit (over face value) imposed by state law on re-sold tickets, I was handcuffed, read my rights, and whisked off to jail.
Sher had to go to my mom's house and borrow money to pay my bail. Yeah, I was a little embarrassed by that. So anyway, Sher bails me out about an hour-and-a-half or two hours later and she has a Godfather's pizza and a 6-pack of ice-cold Bud waiting in the car. Man, I loved that girl.
Saw about a million shows here in this coliseum over the years. I worked for The Record Bar here in Charlotte for 3 years, including managing one of their stores for almost 2 years. We always got free tickets from the label guys, so I'd come see shit I'd never, ever pay for, and a lot of stuff I just loved.
For lunch today, I skip catering and have one of the runners go over to South 21 and pick me up a Trout Dinner. It's a really cool drive-in restaurant on Independence Boulevard with old-fashioned curb service. Pull into a parking space (we'd always face the boulevard), use the microphone to order your food, and 5 minutes later a dude in a red jacket would plop it down on the tray outside the driver's side window and collect your money. Killuh! My family used to eat there when I was a kid. Later, my buddy Steve Thompson and I would spend many hours there, devouring trout dinners with sweet tea. For some reason, we'd always listen to classical music. But Steve and I always did weird shit.
The fish isn't really trout, it's either cod or haddock or some other whitefish. But it's damn fine.
Here's something cool. Right outside one of the venue's doors (and thankfully, one we're not using today), there's a nesting goose. The caterer shows her to me first thing in the morning, and we proceed to make her the most pampered and well-fed goose in town for the rest of the day. Her boyfriend shows up for some lunch, but that's about all we see of him all day.
Mother Goose is very protective of her nest, and whenever anyone gets within 5 feet of her, she hisses at them.