In downtown Raleigh hoopla

Four days to go, three, two, one–when the fire engine rings its bell at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, will the new Fayetteville Street be ready for its grand opening? Sure, it will, at least enough to send in that first marvelous motorcade in nearly 30 years. Mayor Charles Meeker will start the parade (take a bow, Charles!) and the mega-block party the city is calling Raleigh Wide Open, which celebrates the end of the dismal Fayetteville Mall and its replacement with an open main street. See what your $9.3 million is paying for! Visit the beer garden! The wine garden! Jugglers, magicians and the Comedy Worx stage! Stormy and the Storm Squad will be on hand, courtesy of your world champion Carolina Hurricanes! Tres Chicas perform on the main stage at 7, Royal Crown Revue (think Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) at 8:30. “Bodacious fireworks” for the wrap. Seriously, if you’re sweet on Raleigh, you gotta be there. Details:–Bob Geary

In galas for a good cause

The 26th annual Crape Myrtle Festival kicks off Thursday, July 27 with the North Carolina premiere of Say Uncle at the Rialto Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Then on Friday, July 28 at 11 p.m., the “Neon Party” features ’80s dance music and live entertainment by Tajma Hall at The CC on Hargett Street downtown ($10 to get in). The main event happens Saturday, July 29 at the N.C. Museum of Science from 7 to 11 p.m., with food, a full cash bar and a live performance by drag superstar RuPaul. Tickets to the Saturday night gala cost $35 in advance or $45 at the door; weekend passes to all three events are $50. Proceeds benefit HIV/AIDS service providers throughout North Carolina. For tickets and information, visit —Fiona Morgan

In outdoor honky-tonking

Those summer-into-fall music series are gearing up around the Triangle, including the biweekly Latta House Series at the historic African-American university grounds in Raleigh. The latest edition on Saturday, July 29 is Randy Whitt and his band the Grits. In solo mode, as on his recent We’ve Had Some Trouble, Whitt strikingly blends country instrumentation with R&B melody lines. (“I listen to a lot of Ray Charles and Willie Nelson,” he offers.) But with the Grits, this product of rural North Carolina lets his country-boy flag fly at full mast. Tickets for the show are $5, and the music plays from 6-8 p.m. See for all the details. –Rick Cornell

In second chances

Second Chance Pet Adoptions–a Cary-based, Trianglewide organization founded in 1987–continues to grow: In 2004, the nonprofit found homes for 1,000 animals, twice as many as they helped only a year earlier. For the sixth year in a row, Second Chance gathers with its supporters for the Auction for the Animals, a formal dance to raise money for the mission. The soiree starts this Saturday, July 29 at 8 p.m. at Exploris in downtown Raleigh. Tickets are $40 in advance (paw them at or $50 at the door, and introductory sponsorships begin at $100 (that cost includes two tickets). A raffle for a Riviera vacation or a week skiing in Colorado is up for grabs, too. If Saturday night is booked, consider adopting a cat or dog: Second Chance hosts adoption fairs every Saturday and Sunday at their 5995 Chapel Hill Road facility in Raleigh from noon until 3 p.m. –Grayson Currin

In the 500 block

Microphone Mondays, the former weekly hip-hop convocation and celebration that Local 506 supported for years, is responsible for pushing emcees like Kaze and Jozeemo beyond local calls of duty and, somewhat peripherally, for bolstering the careers and styles of The Justus League’s nationally prominent entourage. The long-running Triangle tradition fizzled out not long after rendering an excellent live mixtape two years ago. On Friday, July 28 at 8 p.m., several of the names that made Mic Mondays memorable–Kaze, Jozeemo, Diggs ‘n’ Dox, Uneek, K.Hill and more–reunite at their old stomping ground to celebrate the success of the series and each other’s continually developing talents. Tickets are $8. –Grayson Currin

In Asian cinematic mastery

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien has been acclaimed by critics as one of the world’s top four or five filmmakers for close to two decades. But a bevy of complicated film-biz and cultural factors have kept his movies out of local art houses–until now. This weekend, Triangle filmgoers finally get a chance to see what all the critical hosannas are about when Hou’s latest, Three Times, opens at Durham’s Carolina Theatre. Set in three different eras, each segment of Hou’s beautifully nuanced meditation on history and love features brilliant performances by actors Chang Chen and Shu Qi. (Our recent review of the film is online at For tickets and showtimes, call 560-3030 or visit —Godfrey Cheshire