January 3, 2014

Darius Rucker, Billy Joel among acts coming to a stage outside the Myrtle Beach area

Anyone with an urge to see a concert, show or event that makes stops only in bigger cities has a wealth of choices across the Carolinas this winter, maybe as part of an easy escape for a weekend.

Darius Rucker, first known as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish before his country superstardom, will be in his hometown Charleston twice in the next month. He’ll sing the national anthem and drop the puck Saturday for “Darius Rucker Night” at the S.C. Stingrays game in the North Charleston Coliseum, with the first 2,000 fans receiving commemorative bobblehead dolls.

Rucker will then return Feb. 20 to the coliseum for a concert on his “True Believers Tour” with the Eli Young Band and David Nail, then play Feb. 21 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. He also will make a tour stop April 18 with Eli Young Band and Corey Smith at the Crown Center Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C.

Also in the Holy City, fans of Coastal Carolina University alumna Elise Testone, who in spring 2012 made the top 10 of the 11th season of Fox-TV’s “American Idol,” will have a two-part event on Feb. 13 to celebrate the release of her first CD. After the “In This Life” Album Release Show at Charleston Music Hall, she’ll headline the “Late Night Rock Show” at The Pour House a few miles west across the Ashley River.

People hungry for more hoops will score Saturday as the Pee Dee Vipers move into the at the Florence Civic Center and debut in the 13-team Premier Basketball League by taking on the Fayetteville Shipmen.

With hopes for their second Super Bowl berth, the Carolina Panthers won’t be the only sports stars playing in Charlotte this winter. Tennis fans will want to consider catching the Legends Tennis Tournament, March 13 in Time Warner Cable Arena, as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander compete in three matches, and semi-finals and a championship of one match each.

Longing to relive the emotions in the music of “Les Miserables”? Catch a play Feb. 11-23 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts’ Memorial Auditorium, in Raleigh. Patti LuPone, whose extensive stage resume includes the roles of Fontaine in “Les Mis” and the lead in “Evita,” will perform there April 11-12 at the Meymandi Concert Hall, and another famous Patti, LaBelle, will play nearby on Jan. 11 at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Also in the Tar Heel state capital, the Eagles, whose release of “Please Come Home for Christmas” in 1978 just finished another month’s worth of merriment on the radio, will pay a visit Feb. 28 to the PNC Arena, home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, less than three weeks after Billy Joel’s concert there Feb. 9.

The closest ice rinks to Myrtle Beach are in Wilmington and North Charleston, but folks heading to Greenville might want to lace up the boots at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena (formerly Bi-Lo Center) for “Skating on the Big Ice” afternoon public sessions Jan. 19-20.

Although the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are still a month away, Team USA’s figure skaters will take a big first step next January toward the XXIII Winter Games – in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea – from North Carolina. The Greensboro Coliseum will host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2015, Jan. 18-25.

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