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Race weekend, Hank III, Wynonna

Wednesday, October 11

Time to juice up the RV, rip out the passenger seat, and holler, "Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go racin' boys!" Race weekend officially begins Oct. 11 and ends the night of Oct. 14. You'll get to inhale that sweet mixture of exhaust fumes, burning rubber, and armpit (no wait, that's every day). The extravaganza starts Wednesday with the Jani-King Southern Showdown @ The Dirt Track. Come for a cheap night of entertainment as the NASCAR drivers battle Thursday in the Bojangles Pole Night. Friday night, rupture an eardrum or two at the Dollar General 300. Saturday night, the green flag finally drops for the Nextel Cup Bank of America 500. Ahh, the happiest time of the year. So, don't avoid the race traffic, become one with it, you'll be glad you did. Advance tickets are cheaper. Ticket info for any of these events can be found at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com. (Adam Padgett)

Something new is in the air on Queens Road as Theatre Charlotte launches its new, edgier Stage 501 series with Yellowman in a quickie four-performance run through Sunday. Dael Orlandersmith's memory play, a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize, needs just a bare stage, two chairs, and two actors -- the African-American Alma and her longtime light-skinned friend/lover Eugene -- both of whom morph into multiple roles. We imagine the locations, from the Gullah-speaking low country of coastal South Carolina to the Big Apple, as the reminiscences unfold. Skin color, we're reminded, counts -- even within the black community. Evenings at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $12, students $10. Call 704-376-3777. (Tannenbaum)

"We are living/Hey/single/And in a '90s kinda world/I'm glad I got my girls/Keep ya head up/what ..." Don't even pretend like you don't remember the words to the "Living Single" theme song. Back when us 20-somethings were in junior high/ high school, we wished we could be livin' it up like Khadijah & Co. Well, here's your chance to reminisce for a bit when The Comedy Zone hosts the Living Single Reunion show with Overton Wakefield Jones and Synclaire James aka John Henton and Kim Coles. Coles participated in VH1's first season of "Celebrity Fit Club" and appears as a judge on BET's "Coming to the Stage". Meanwhile, Henton keeps everyone laughing on the comedy club circuit. Call 704-348-HAHA (4242) for tickets or try online at www.thecomedyzone.net. (Calloway)

Friday, October 13

Hank III's live shows have always been schizophrenic affairs, featuring a three-part (III-part?) construction comprised of equal parts classic country, "hellbilly," and hardcore punk (the latter in the guise of a band called AssJack). With this year's Straight to Hell, the first on Curb Records' rock imprint "Bruc," Hank Williams III is finally getting the chance to put some of it out. His battles with label owner and conservative Christian Mike Curb are legendary (he even went so far as to sell "Fuck Curb" T-shirts on his Web site), but the two seem to have made up -- for now. As with anything III-related, things can change at a moment's notice, but you never have to dig very deep to find out where his heart lies. Tonight at Amos SouthEnd. Tickets are $15-$18.50. Details: www.amossouthend.com. (Davis)

We don't ordinarily fill our preview pages with road trips, but there are multiple reasons to treat yourself to Dairy Queen Days through Oct. 22. First, the new Hayes Performing Arts Center, now the home of the Blowing Rock Stage Company, is worth a road trip all by itself -- even if it wasn't nestled amid some of the state's most gorgeous mountain scenery. Moreover, Dairy Queen is the world premiere of Robert Inman's stage adaptation of his own adorable novel. Not only does Inman enjoy Charlotte caché from his 25-year stint as WBTV anchorman, his yummy Dairy Queen script was workshopped here last year at Spirit Square. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Nice prices for tickets, too, $14-$25. Call 828-295-9627, or click www.blowingrockstage.com. (Tannenbaum)

Saturday, October 14

This Saturday, the Ciao, Italia! festival returns to the Wachovia Atrium uptown. The event celebrates all things Italian. There's non-stop entertainment all day, and sausage and pepper sandwiches are hot off the grill. You can also fill up on pizza, meatballs, eggplant, pastries, Italian ice, wine and more. Buy a raffle ticket and you could win a trip for two to Italy, sponsored by the City of Torino and Lufthansa Airlines. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wachovia Atrium, 301 South Tryon St. Admission $2; children under 12 free. Call 704-614-3822 or visit www.italian-club-charlotte.org for more info. (Vespa)

The Brit crooner-songwriter James Blunt is custom made for a couple's night on the town. His hits, including the smash "You're Beautiful," can range from melodic pop ditties to Rod Stewart-like raspy rockers. His mid-tempo ballads, oft subtly accompanied by piano or acoustic guitar, are, admittedly, pretty darn catchy. The gals luv 'em, and Blunt took home the Best Male Video kudos at this year's MTV Awards to boot. He performs at Charlotte Bobcats Arena at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$50. Details at 800-495-2295 or www.CharlotteBobcatsArena.com. (Shukla)

Ever wanted to go back in time? At the Carolina Renaissance Festival, which attempts to set the scene of 16th century Euro life, you can. Here, the staff endeavors to recreate Camelot complete with dress, jousting tournaments and olden-themed shows to pull you into the world of Arthur and Guinevere. Purchase handcrafted items and feast on savory food at this magical little hamlet. This year's festival will also include a special new musical comedy act called "Nunnie Nunnie" with Mother Redempta and Sister Philomenia. Curious yet? This event began last weekend and continues on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-- 5:30 p.m. through Nov. 19. Tickets are $16 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12, $15 for senior citizens, and free for children under 5. For more information call 704-896-5544 or visit www.royalfaires.com/carolina. (Anita Overcash)

Oft described as a honky-tonk angel, Wynonna can also party with the best of them. She's country, occasionally blues and plenty pop. A couple years ago she even covered Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" with Jeff Beck (huh?) on guitar. Wynonna now joins just about all other hitmakers in the holiday music bin with the release of her first Christmas album this month. This show is presented by Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Albert-George Schram will conduct at Ovens Auditorium beginning 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-$60. Details: www.charlottesymphony.org. (Shukla)

Tuesday, October 17

The Cackalacky Film Festival doesn't officially get under way until Oct. 18, but as a warm-up, there will be an Opening Night Gala presented from 7:30 until 11:30 p.m. tonight in the Halton Theater in the Overcash Performing Arts Center at CPCC. An Evening With Groucho will present actor-director-playwright Frank Ferrante recreating his acclaimed portrayal of the great comedian Groucho Marx in a show consisting of classic Marx Brothers one-liners and songs. The performance will be followed by the Cackalacky Film Festival Welcome Party, featuring food, music and mingling with filmmakers and like-minded film fans. Tickets to the opening event cost $70. To order, or for more info on the rest of the fest, call 704-330-6534 or go to www.cackalackyfilmfest.com. (Brunson)

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