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Arts and Entertainment

SWV, Jon B. headline Speed Street
The festival held annually during Memorial Day weekend kicks off with R&B night
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

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Nearly 400,000 people are expected to attend the Speed Street festival this Memorial Day weekend. Jon B. is performing Thursday during R&B night.

Nearly 400,000 people are expected to gather in Uptown May 23-25 for Speed Street.

The three-day festival, a precursor to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, includes live entertainment, NASCAR appearances, family fun and interactive displays.

The festival kicks off with R&B night featuring performances by Jon B at 8:45 p.m. followed by Grammy-nominated trio SWV at 9:45 p.m. Also taking the stage is Charlotte’s own Pradigy 3T at 6 p.m. and Sol Fusion at 7:30 p.m.

With a slew of hits from “I’m So Into You,” and “Right Here” to “Downtown” and “Weak,” SWV took the musical world by storm in the 1990s. After a brief disbandment and 15 years after the release of their debut album, Taj, Coko, and Lelee reunited for the release of “I Missed Us” in 2012. The album debuted at No. 10 on the R&B charts and reached No. 1 on iTunes’ charts.

Jon B., a Grammy-nominated artist well known for his Babyface duet “Someone to Love” and big hits “They Don’t Know,” “Are U Still Down,” and “I Do (Whatcha Say Boo),” released his latest album “Comfortable Swagg” in 2012.

Speed Street is celebrating its 19th year. A few changes to the festival have been announced. For starters, long-time partner Coca-Cola has increased its role becoming Speed Street’s first presenting sponsor ever.

“As a long-time supporter of the event, we are looking forward to growing our presence with this increased level of participation,” said Heather Hucks, marketing sponsorships manager at Coca-Cola. “Food Lion Speed Street is a great opportunity to interact with our fans on a personal level.”

Speed Street is also making slight changes to its layout. The most notable is all musical performances will take place on one central stage – the Coca-Cola stage.

In addition to Thursday’s R&B night, Speed Street features country and rock night on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Country artists Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson will perform Friday. Sister Hazel and the Grammy-winning band Survivor will close out Saturday night.

This will be the first year that food trucks are being included in the festival as vendors.

“As the culture of food trucks continues to grow stronger, more and more major events are seeking to include us,” said Larry Swayne, owner of the Wingzza Truck, one of the vendors selected to participate. "Food Lion Speed Street is a perfect opportunity for us to continue growing our brand... and I hope to continue participating for years to come.”

Other food trucks participating this year include Herban Legend, Queen City BBQ and Gourmet Goombahs.

Another change for 2013 is that the family-friendly Food Lion Kids’ Zone is moving to a more prominent location at South Tryon Street by the Cultural Campus near Levine Avenue.

Where to find it:

* Food Lion Interactive Area – Meet NASCAR drivers and interact with the best Food Lion has to offer. Located at Tryon Street at Fourth Street.
* Food Lion Kids’ Zone – Located on Tryon Street near the Levine Avenue intersection.
* Coca-Cola Stage – Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between Brevard Street and Caldwell Street at the NASCAR Hall of Fame entrance.
* Charlotte Ride and Drive – Carolina Chevy Dealers will provide an opportunity to test drive several Chevrolet models on Brevard Street next to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The festival is free to the public and opens each day at noon. Visit 600festival.com for more information.

Also this week in A&E:


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