CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Tar Heel state’s own James Taylor has joined the lineup of performers for both CarolinaFest on Labor Day and the festivities preceding President Barack Obama’s Sept. 6 acceptance speech.
“I’m fired up to take the stage . . . for President Obama right here in North Carolina,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee said of the latter event, which is expected to draw tens of thousands into Bank of America Stadium for the culmination of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
On Sept. 3, Taylor will also put on a free public concert at CarolinaFest, the family-friendly – and less partisan – celebration set to kick off convention week uptown. Look for the five-time Grammy winner to sing “Carolina in My Mind” and much more on the Main Stage at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets.
In a career that took off in the late 1960s, Taylor has had many now-classic hits – including “Fire and Rain,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Handy Man,” “Mexico,” “Your Smiling Face,” and “How Sweet It Is.”
The popular singer-songwriter, who grew up in Chapel Hill, is sure to entice many Charlotteans who might otherwise have avoided uptown during convention week because of the closed streets, parking restrictions, and steel fences.
Dr. Dan Murrey, the host committee’s executive director, stressed in a statement that the event was free, open to the public and “another opportunity for local residents to experience the convention and be part of this historic moment for our city and state.”
Bringing in a Tar Heel icon like Taylor as a warm-up act for the president at Bank of America Stadium will not only fill up more free seats – a good thing for a televised event. It’s also fresh evidence that the Obama campaign is as determined as ever to try to use the convention to woo voters in this battleground state.
In its press release announcing that Taylor would perform, Steve Kerrigan, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said organizers were “working to bring the flavor of North Carolina to all Americans” and that Taylor and other N.C. performers would give those in the stadium and those tuning in “a taste of the wonderful region that is home to this year’s convention.”
Besides Taylor, the DNCC said acts lined up so far for Bank of America Stadium also include two local groups: Inspire the Fire, which starred on “America’s Got Talent,” and Delta Rae, a genre-bending rock band.
Other performers are likely to be named later.
For CarolinaFest, the host committee will also fill the Main Stage during the noon-6:15 p.m. celebration with Grammy-nominated R&B artist Janelle Monáe as well as Oscar-winning actor-musician Jeff Bridges and his band, the Abiders.
Still to be announced: The local and regional acts that will perform on the Carolina Stage near the museums at the Levine Center for the Arts.
Performance times for Taylor and the others at CarolinaFest and in the stadium will be announced later.
Besides these public events, several private parties set for convention week in Charlotte will feature performances by such famous bands as the B-52s, Foo Fighters, Pitbull, and Scissor Sisters.
Meanwhile, “Rock the Red” – a conservative alternative to the Democrats’ events – will include several country music headliners, including Travis Tritt, the Charlie Daniels Band and Lee Brice. They’ll perform at Bojangles Coliseum on Sept. 5.