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Organizers of SpringFest '08 said that, even now, the festival makes some University administrators a little nervous.
Many of those administrators were witnesses to a different version of the festival before it was canceled in the early '90s because of excessive alcohol use and crowd control problems.
But Hilary Marshall, SpringFest '08's event coordinator, said she has worked on the revamped festival to garner administrative and student support.
"The goal was always to bring SpringFest to this level, and so last year we proved to the administration that there was an interest to collaborate," Marshall said. "Students wanted something to send the year off. As soon as SpringFest was over last year, it was important for me to get more organization on the board to make it bigger."
SpringFest '08, the fruit of Marshall's and many other campus leaders' year-long efforts, kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday with a Lot Party in the parking lot adjacent to the Smith Center.
R&B group Boyz II Men will headline the festival in a concert beginning at 8 p.m. in the Smith Center. Nine Days, a rock group, will open.
SpringFest has cost groups including the Carolina Union Activities Board, the senior marshals, Student Congress and others about $78,000.
"We've basically taken the 10 most respected and busiest campus leaders and put them together in a group and said 'Hey, let's plan this huge feat that's never been done before,'" Marshall said.
Student Congress approved $20,000 from student fees to be used to fund the Boyz II Men concert. CUAB, which receives $300,000 in student fees each school year, contributed $23,000 to the festival. Marshall received contributions from several other UNC organizations in addition to being sponsored by CRUNK!!! Energy Drink.
Carolina Union President Robert Gurdian said although SpringFest has come together successfully so far, it was not an easy task, given the event's past.
Duke University's Last Day of Classes celebration faces opposition from administrators, but because the event is so popular, little has been done to alter LDOC's traditions.
LDOC, which was Wednesday at Duke, is notorious for attracting student alcohol use on campus and low class attendance, said Vincent Ling, the programming director for major attractions with the Duke University Union.
This year, LDOC featured performances by Third Eye Blind and The Roots. Ling said the entire event cost about $140,000 and was funded primarily by student activity fees.
With SpringFest's history in mind, Gurdian said one of CUAB's goals for the event was to promote a relaxed and fun environment for students to spend time together. Subsequently, the Lot Party was created to precede the concert.
The party will feature an art show where student works will be for sale, a caged dodgeball tournament, a barbecue and performances by student groups.
"When I first got involved with SpringFest, CUAB (representatives) made it seem like they wanted more than just one show that would cost a lot of money," Gurdian said. "They wanted it to be a day of fun where people can spend time with other people in different situations."
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Organizers of benefit concert "An EVE the Carolina Way" said it was impossible to consider another cause to be the focus of their annual concert after the death of former Student Body President Eve Carson.
And today, Heels4Hire, a Triangle-based service company, and Kappa Sigma fraternity will team up to provide music and entertainment to promote the spirit Carson embodied and to benefit the Eve Carson Memorial Fund.
In his freshman year of high school, Brian Fenty didn't cast classmate Joanna Zelman in a musical production he was directing.
Even after making her sing "Ol' Man River" from "Show Boat," Fenty wasn't impressed.
"When he didn't cast me, I didn't like him for the first two years of high school," Zelman said.
But the two put their differences aside and became friends as they worked together on other drama productions before eventually coming to UNC together.
Multi-platinum R&B artist Musiq Soulchild will round out the Carolina Union Activities Board's musical offerings for the 2007-08 season.
Tickets go on sale today for the concert, to be held at 8 p.m. April 11 in Memorial Hall.
Musiq Soulchild is the second musical artist brought this year by CUAB's performing arts committee to headline Memorial Hall. Committee members said the trend of bringing musical acts has been a focus throughout the school year.
"We knew from the start we'd have a lot of concerts," said Jaron Wilson, a member of the committee. "I would say Performing Arts has always had a history of bringing in big music artists, and we wanted to keep our reputation up this year."
Marie Monroe, chairwoman of the committee, said she began negotiating with Musiq Soulchild to come to UNC when she was elected chairwoman in spring 2007. Monroe secured the artist for about $30,000, a price Monroe said has increased since Musiq Soulchild was nominated for three 2007 Grammy awards.
Musiq Soulchild's album Luvanmusiq grabbed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2007, and the performer has had multiple hit singles since his debut in 2000.
"We feel like Musiq Soulchild is a great artist who appeals to a lot of people," Wilson said. "He's been around for a while. Once we found out his (performance) date worked with us, we were really excited because we know he'll draw a big crowd and sell out Memorial."
In an effort to show off the artistic talent of UNC students, Monroe said CUAB will hold auditions for those interested in being the opening act for the performance. The auditions are open to any UNC student or group and will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the CUAB office in the Student Union.
"I know UNC has a lot of talent, and I want to give them a chance to show it off," Monroe said. "We're looking for people that have a kind of neo-soul, R&B kind of feel, everyone from singers to spoken word artists."
Musiq Soulchild specializes in a neo-soul sound, which fuses traditional soul from the 1970s with modern jazz and hip hop.
That sound is what Robert Gurdian, Carolina Union president, said is a significant part of his attraction to Musiq Soulchild's music.
"We've kind of forgotten what soul music is in the contemporary sense, and he brings that idea back in a way people can really relate to," Gurdian said.
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____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>PlayMakers Repertory Company announced last week that it will showcase both modern and classical works in its 2008-09 season.
"We'll present nine shows, six on our main stage and three in PRC2, our enormously popular second stage series," said Joseph Haj, PlayMakers' producing artistic director.
Before it debuted PRC2 in 2007, PlayMakers performed about five shows per season.
Event organizers of Wednesday's performance, "Yo-Yo Ma & Friends," in Memorial Hall admitted it was probably the internationally renowned cellist's name alone that sold out the concert early last fall.
However, the more than 15-time Grammy-winning classical artist shared the spotlight equally with each member of the quartet, which included violinists Colin Jacobsen and Jonathan Gandelsman and violist Nicholas Cords.
Even comedian Lewis Black admits his abhorrence for career networking. "I hate that word - networking - I hate doing it," Black said. "I'd rather be a hooker." But at this year's Carolina Comedy Festival, guest presenters managed to make even an hourlong session on how to break into the business of comedy writing full of laughs. With the help of UNC alumni turned A-list funnymen, cast members and producers from "The Daily Show," a nationally acclaimed comic strip author and others, organizers said this year's festival drew the largest crowd in the event's history. Mallory Cash, comedy committee chairwoman for the Carolina Union Activities Board - the organization putting on the event - said that although the festival draws big names in comedy to UNC, entertainment is not always its central agenda. "There's a lot of different parts to the festival, but I'd say the overall goal is still to let students learn about things that they haven't learned before," Cash said. "It's to help students learn from the people who know how to do these things the best." This year marked the fifth time the festival has been held, and organizers estimated its cost to be $25,000. Beginning Thursday and wrapping up Saturday with "Lewis Black and Friends," a performance that sold out Memorial Hall to students before general public tickets were made available, the festival has differed significantly in programming and attendance even since 2007. "There were 20 students doing stand-up last night," Black said Friday, about the Student Stand-Up Competition. "It just goes to show the depth of the illness is growing in Chapel Hill." And while many of the festival's attendees were audience members at Black's main-stage show, others came seeking more than comic relief. "This is really serious for me," said Tom Thriveni, a sophomore who attended Saturday's program, The Ins and Outs of Comedy Writing. "Anyone can meet famous people; I could go over and give Rob Riggle a high-five right now. But it's a great experience to be able to hear from people like him about how to handle internships and getting a job." Thriveni, who said he attended the event to learn more about obtaining his dream job, said hearing from "The Daily Show" writers and correspondents like Riggle made him more aware of what potential employers are looking for. At the event, UNC alumnus Bryan Tucker explained how he worked the stand-up circuit in New York City for years before becoming a writer for "Saturday Night Live." Riggle echoed Tucker's sentiments and explained to students how working up toward his own dream job created inspiration for comedic sketches. "Initially, I wanted it all and I wanted it fast," Riggle said. "But if you get it too fast, you won't be prepared. You have to have that crappy job to know what it's like to have an awful boss. You get that life experience to draw from to get the content you need to be funny." Contact the Arts Editor at email@example.com.
From star-studded showcases of stand up comedy to hands-on workshops geared toward newcomers, the Carolina Union Activities Board's Carolina Comedy Festival aims to bring a fair share of laughs to just about anyone. "This year, one of our goals is to continually increase the number of people we're able to touch through our programs," said Mallory Cash, CUAB's comedy committee chairwoman. The festival, now in its fifth year, boasts marquee acts such as Lewis Black and Rob Riggle. However, the festival brings its stars off of the mainstage and gives students the opportunity to interact with popular comedy figures in intimate settings. *All events are free for UNC students except Lewis Black and Friends Student Stand-Up Competition 7:30 p.m. today, Union Cabaret Watch students from UNC and other schools compete to open for comedian Lewis Black's performance in Memorial Hall. Improv Workshop 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Union Cabaret Chicago's premiere improv troupe, the Sirens, will lead a session for students interested in finding out more about improv comedy. Class with Black 5 p.m. Friday, Union Auditorium Have a conversation with Black. A chance for one-on-one questions and comments with the comedian about anything and everything. Cabaret Comedy Club 6 p.m. Friday, Union Cabaret Watch the Sirens in action at this comedy show. Free food and drinks will be provided. Lewis Black's "One Slight Hitch" 8:15 p.m. Friday, Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre, Center for Dramatic Art The Department of Dramatic Arts' Professional Actor Training Program will perform "One Slight Hitch," a play written by Black, in a script-in-hand performance. A discussion with Black will be held after the performance. Tickets to the farce-romantic comedy are available first come, first serve. Stephan Pastis Comic Strip Seminar - Pearls Before Swine 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Union Class of 2000 Lounge Pastis, cartoonist of award-winning comic strip, "Pearls Before Swine," will discuss his inspiration, the creative process and more. The Ins and Outs of Comedy Writing 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Union 3102 Bryan Tucker, comedy writer for "Saturday Night Live" and "Chappelle's Show," will speak about how to break into the business of comedy writing. A Daily Show Panel 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Union Class of 2000 Lounge Writers and producers from "The Daily Show" will talk about their jobs and their work on a day-to-day basis. Guests include Rob Riggle, John Oliver, Jen Flanz and Rory Albanese. Lewis Black and Friends: sold out 8 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Hall Black, Oliver and Riggle will perform stand up in this annual Carolina Comedy Festival staple. Student stand-up competition winners will open the performance. Hosted by Albanese. Win tickets to this event at noon Friday in the Pit during "Pie in the Face for Tickets."
Students hoping to fill the most coveted seats to rock-folk group Iron & Wine's concert on April 15 in Memorial Hall won't be allowed to pitch tents to secure their spots in line when tickets go on sale Feb. 21.
In previous years camping out for tickets has been allowed for events sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board and Cat's Cradle, the organizations sponsoring Iron & Wine with opener, Califone. However, CUAB changed its policy at the beginning of the school year to comply with campuswide policy.
Two eclectic, internationally acclaimed acts will usher in the spring catalogue of musical offerings from the Carolina Union Activities Board in the coming months.
Student tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today for Grammy-nominated R&B singer, songwriter and composer Chrisette Michele, who will perform Feb. 13 in Memorial Hall.
CUAB also announced its plans to showcase Jose Gonzalez, a Swedish-Argentinian folk singer and guitarist March 3 in the Student Union Great Hall. Gonzalez's music has recently been featured in a commercial for Sony and in television shows such as "Scrubs" and "One Tree Hill."
Singer/songwriter Mia Doi Todd is scheduled to open for Gonzalez.
"The wonderful thing about CUAB is that it's a very diverse group of people who enjoy pretty much everything," said Robert Gurdian, Carolina Union president. "I would say a large amount of our committee members didn't know who these artists were, but after listening to them, understood why we are bringing them. We don't always bring the people who right away have name recognition."
Gonzalez was selected to perform at UNC by CUAB's music committee, while Michele was chosen by the group's performing arts committee.
"There was kind of a mixed initial response to Jose - kind of, 'Who is this?' to 'Oh my god, could you get him?'" said Tom Allin, CUAB's music committee chairman. "But generally once I played his stuff, the committee was all on board."
Gurdian and Allin decided to slate Gonzalez for the Great Hall because of the artist's "delicate and intricate" style of music and to promote an intimate setting during the concert. Organizers at CUAB were concerned that an ideal atmosphere for Gonzalez's performance could not be achieved in the more than 1,400-seat Memorial Hall.
Michele is more suited for the larger venue, Gurdian said.
"Chrisette has had a lot more name recognition (than Gonzalez), and she could probably sell out Memorial," he said. "The kind of energy you get in Memorial, we thought that was the best for her."
Marie Monroe, CUAB's performing arts chairwoman, said bringing a performer such as Michele was one of CUAB's and her own personal goals for the year.
"My goal was to bring a female performer, and we haven't gotten one in a few years," Monroe said. "We're also trying to cover different genres of music, and I feel like we haven't touched that R&B, soul genre yet."
Gurdian said the two acts were relatively inexpensive to book and are "middle range for what we've done as far as recognition goes."
And Gurdian said other musical acts are in the works.
"I think (Gonzalez and Michele) will create a lot of momentum for what's to come in the spring," Gurdian said. "I think it will be a good start to what we expect to be even more great shows in the coming months afterward, and those will really build on these two."
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With less than 10 hours until curtain at 8 p.m. today, the cast and crew of Company Carolina's production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" should finally receive the barber's razors they ordered more than a week ago.
But during a three-week rehearsal period for a large-scale musical, time is relative.
Filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman said he can barely stand a five-minute-long educational video.
So when the UNC alumnus was approached by Durham's Latino Community Credit Union to make a 90-minute educational film aimed to serve as a manual to the Hispanic community about the process of buying a home, he came up with a different idea.
"Ninety minutes is a long time for an educational video," Dorfman said. "So I said let's just make a film that has a real story with characters and an arc, and we will mix actors with real people and a real story that will illustrate this idea."
Dorfman's film, "Los Sueños de Angélica" or "Angélica's Dreams," will be presented at a free screening at 7 p.m. today at the FedEx Global Education Center Auditorium. The film is the first Latino feature film to come out of North Carolina.
Dorfman will lead a discussion after the screening.
Shot entirely on location in Durham over a three-month period, Dorfman's film tells the story of an immigrant Latino couple who must decide whether to face the challenges of staying in the U.S. or to return to their native country.
"The main thing before you even try to buy a home is the question, 'Are you going to stay or not?'" Dorfman said. "I've had people come up to say, 'This (film) really talks to me because I'm in the same situation.'"
Dorfman, who lives in Durham and is an immigrant himself, said he wanted to keep the educational aspect of the film intact without infringing on its aesthetic and entertaining qualities.
"When you're trying to create an educational film, you have a message, and you also have a story and emotions and characters," he said. "So you have to mix those two together so that one doesn't overwhelm the other."
Sharon S. Mújica, outreach director for the XXI Latin American Film Festival, which began earlier this month, said she chose "Angélica's Dreams" for the festival partly because of the community it highlights.
"It's about a community that we all know," she said. "It's important that non-Latinos know what's going on and become more informed about the situations and the life that these people are leading."
Because of its relevance in the lives of many immigrants, Dorfman said he already has received several requests from organizations that want to host screenings of his film.
With a screenplay for a film starring Salma Hayek in drafts, Dorfman already has begun work on other projects involving some of the same actors and techniques used in "Angélica's Dreams."
"If this is a successful work of art, then everybody will take something out of it that's theirs," Dorfman said. "It has to do with questioning their life and hopefully will lead to asking themselves and others more questions."
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ATTEND THE SCREENING
Time: 7 p.m. today
Location: FedEx Global Education Center Auditorium
Paul Edwards, a UNC alumnus turned Hollywood screenwriter and director said that when he moved to Los Angeles years ago to find a job, that he knew only one person involved in the entertainment industry.
Augustana didn't travel to UNC to leisurely enjoy the sights and traditions of Chapel Hill.
But when the pop-rock group performed the fight song, including a resounding cry of "go to hell Duke," on Saturday during one of UNC's Homecoming concerts, those who attended the show could've suspected the band had been around town for awhile.
Robert Gurdian, Carolina Union president said that even though Augustana arrived in North Carolina without a change of clothes, the group took time to get a taste of a Southern staple for lunch Saturday.
"They ate $100 of barbecue at Allen and Son," he said.
After the show, Jared Palomar who plays the bass guitar and provides vocals for Augustana, said the restaurant's cuisine was "amazing."
And some students who attended the concert in Memorial Hall said the same of Augustana's performance.
"I only wished that they'd played longer," said Hannah Deblock, a freshman who attended the show.
Augustana played for almost an hour and didn't waste time in between songs. The band, instead of interacting with the audience through speech, played a large catalogue of emotive pop tunes including their radio hit, "Boston."
The five-piece band used harmonization, delicate piano and even a mandolin to alternate between heavy guitar sounds.
"In the past we've had people comment on the need for different groups and genres for concerts," said Laura Sheppard, Homecoming co-chairwoman. "Augustana is one of those bands that even if you're not a fan or a follower, you could listen to a couple of songs and say yeah, I could go to that show."
In an effort to allow more students the opportunity to attend a Homecoming concert, the CAA and Carolina Union Activities Board - the sponsor organizations - used a $60,000 budget to slate two bands to perform on separate occasions. Robert Randolph and The Family Band will perform on Tuesday. In previous years, only one concert has been offered.
"I expected a college like UNC to bring a big band like Augustana," said freshman Lauren Harris who was in attendance. "But I expected a larger turnout, but maybe it's because they've only had one hit song."
While the venue wasn't filled to capacity, more than half of the 1,400 tickets were sold.
But for some, the opportunity to play in front of that many people was invaluable.
"We just love playing in front of people who haven't heard us before and exposing our music to them," said graduate student Alex Wilkins, one of the guitarists and lead vocalist for Tripp, a local band that opened for Augustana.
From the audiences' positive response for both Tripp and Augustana, the performances seemed thoroughly enjoyed, even if it wasn't close to selling out.
And Palomar said it was the audiences from other performances in the area that helped Augustana look forward to performing at UNC.
"We've actually done a couple colleges in the area before, and it's always fun to come down South," he said. "The Carolinas are so, so beautiful, and I think everyone likes coming down."
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When Augustana takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Hall, it won't be the first time the band will have performed for an audience of mostly college students.
Jared Palomar, who plays the bass guitar and the keyboard and provides vocals for Augustana, said playing for a college show will bring the band back to only a few years ago - fall 2004 - when some of the members of the band were students themselves.
"We have a blast at most of the colleges we go to because most of us are college dropouts," he said. "We were students until not long ago."
Augustana will perform the first of two separate Homecoming concerts. Tickets for the shows went on sale at the beginning of the month and are still available for $10 to students and $25 for the general public.
Because the members of the band were signed to Sony Entertainment and released their hit single "Boston," Palomar said it's been touring and performing in shows like Saturday's that have helped Augustana get to where it is now.
"(Saturday's) show is number three in a row we've done outside of the tour," he said. "We've been staying ridiculously busy, but I definitely think all the touring we've done has really paid off in the long run."
While it was the hope of the show's organizers that the performance would sell out to students, as of 4:45 p.m. Thursday, 724 tickets have been sold. Only eight of those are general public tickets, which went on sale this week. Memorial Hall seats about 1,400.
"We don't publicize our events to the general public," said Robert Gurdian, Carolina Union president. "But Homecoming is for students, and we focus all of our efforts on getting students to be responsive and to go to these shows."
And although Augustana might not be playing a sold-out performance, Gurdian and Homecoming Co-chairwoman Laura Sheppard said the largely student audience will be very close to what they were aiming for when signing the band to perform.
"I think it's good in the fact it'll be mostly students there," Sheppard said. "Homecoming - it is about the students. Revenuewise it wouldn't have hurt to sell more general public, but the purpose for Homecoming shows was having all students there."
Tripp, a local band with UNC student members, will open for Augustana. CUAB and the Homecoming committee traditionally select a local performer to open for the shows. Mowgli, another local band composed of UNC students, will open Tuesday for the second Homecoming concert, Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
"When I was in college I was playing with a bunch of different bands," Palomar said, "and once we booked to open for this more recognized band, and that was the coolest experience for me as a student."
Palomar said allowing students to open for concerts featuring nationally recognized bands can be helpful to those who are looking to break into the music industry. He also said the student performances will add to the atmosphere of a Homecoming concert.
"It gives you a real taste of what college is about," he said. "It's always awesome and especially cool if the student band blows your mind."
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ATTEND THE AUGUSTANA CONCERT
Time: 8 p.m. Saturday
Location: Memorial Hall
Kenneth Strong taught only undergraduates before he selected the four cast members of the Department of Dramatic Art Mainstage's production of "Coyote on the Fence."
But the UNC faculty member, professional actor and first-time director of "Coyote on the Fence," said it's those undergraduates who have made his experience with the show a memorable one.
"The actors have gone headfirst into it," Strong said, "and I just went ahead and jumped into it. I'm very lucky with the four actors and the piece. And I think the four of them have become very close throughout the rehearsals."
"Coyote on the Fence," a play by Bruce Graham, will open at 8:15 p.m. today at the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre.
The production is part of UNC's campuswide exploration of the death penalty and is associated with Carolina Performing Arts' Creative Campus Initiative.
Strong said this play presents the death penalty in a different light than some might expect.
"It's very human and each character is drawn out and stands on their own," he said. "There are no stars; it's a wonderful ensemble piece."
The play tells the story of two death row inmates - one a white supremacist and the other an obituary writer for the prison's newspaper.
Senior Nikhil Pai said he auditioned for the show when he heard Strong was directing. Pai had previously been in Strong's Drama 116 class.
"He was an incredible teacher, and I knew he would be a great director," Pai said.
Pai plays a New York Times reporter who comes to the prison intrigued by one of the inmates and said that although the characters in the play might seem difficult to relate to, there is something to be learned from "Coyote."
"You want to love (the characters), but you love and hate them at the same time," Pai said. "You have both the death penalty and racism issues, and you see both sides of it. And even if you had an opinion before, you always end up questioning it."
Kalen Larson, the show's technical director said the play, which incorporates racially charged dialogue that some might find offensive, tries to let audiences create their own opinions about the issues involved.
"It's really important to know this show doesn't try to make an argument for or against the issue," Larson said. "The script doesn't pick one side, and the director and designers stayed away from swaying it."
Larson's set re-creates the entire prison setting rather than calling for multiple set changes throughout the action. Two cells, complete with toilets and sinks, are re-created in addition to an interrogation room and an outdoor area.
Strong said he is especially looking forward to presenting the play to a live audience.
"Theater is so important to me because it incorporates three elements: stage, audience and acting," he said. "You can't just do it in a vacuum; you have to have an audience. And while it may be difficult for the performers to do this in front of African-American students because of the language, we can't shy away from it."
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After Homecoming performances Augustana and Robert Randolph and The Family Band were announced last month, both Carolina Union Activities Board President Robert Gurdian and Homecoming Co-Chairwoman Laura Sheppard said they heard a lot of buzz about the events around campus.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 435 student tickets had been sold for Augustana and 596 for Robert Randolph. Memorial Hall, where both concerts will take place, seats more than 1,400.
Student tickets went on sale for Augustana on Oct. 1 and on Oct. 4 for Robert Randolph. The General public can purchase tickets beginning Oct. 22.
The sales for this year's concerts break a trend of fast sellouts.
Last year's group, The Roots, sold all but 26 tickets after the first day of sales to students. 2005 performance, Common, sold out to students within the first week.
"I feel that the artists are not as outstandingly huge as Common and The Roots so the response isn't that immediate," Gurdian said. "What we lost in having an immediate response, we gained in having two shows and different types of audiences."
Sheppard said the difference in sales is partially because two shows are offered this year instead of one.
"If you add both of the tickets together it would be the equivalent of selling out one show," she said.
Gurdian said CUAB doesn't always expect its shows to sell out and plans for leftover tickets in its budget.
While some students have complained that this year's bands are not as well-known as those brought in previous years, the budget for the concerts this year was $60,000 - an identical figure for last year's Homecoming, which had money left over after The Roots were booked.
N.C. State University's Homecoming Chairman Josh Sherrod said he's seen students react positively and negatively to Homecoming acts at his school.
"Last year we had Daughtry, and this was literally two months before he went big on the radio," he said. "He wasn't so popular then, and we had all sorts of negative publicity toward the Homecoming committee. But this year everyone is pumped."
N.C. State will headline two groups, Guster and the Avett Brothers, on Friday, Oct. 26.
Despite the large amount of tickets still available to Augustana and Robert Randolph, Sheppard said she was optimistic.
"I'm not worried about not selling out," she said. "In no way do I think there's a cause for concern right now."
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Homecoming at other schools
Pack Howl Concert - Guster and The Avett Brothers with guest performer Brett Dennen.
Multiple events featuring band Right On, student a cappella, book discussions and lectures.
University of Georgia
Student performance groups, Homecoming block party and parade.
University of South Carolina
Cockfest - Pregame party,
mixers, parades and alumni receptions.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Students hoping to attend either of this year's Homecoming concerts might be missing from their 10 a.m. classes next Monday and Thursday.
Tickets will go on sale for students at that time on Oct. 1 for Augustana and Oct. 4 for Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
Auxiliary House will serve as the opener for Augustana while Mowgli will open for Robert Randolph. The groups are composed of mostly UNC students or graduates.
Both Laura Sheppard, Homecoming co-chairwoman and Robert Gurdian, Carolina Union president, said they wouldn't be surprised if both acts sell out their shows in Memorial Hall.
"The buzz around campus is already pretty big," Sheppard said.
"I've heard from a lot of people for a campus the size of 26,000 people."
Gurdian said the budget for the concerts is set at $60,000, but prices for each individual group have not yet been named as the Carolina Union Activities Board and Carolina Athletic Association have not concluded negotiations with the groups.
Augustana, performing on Oct. 27, and Robert Randolph, on Oct. 30, are two rock groups that alter the trend of recent Homecoming shows that featured hip-hop or R&B groups.
But it's not just the sound that will be different about this year's Homecoming shows.
Both Sheppard and Gurdian said the University's policies prohibiting students from camping out for tickets were stressed in recent meetings with campus officials.
"I know that Memorial has told us that they really won't tolerate it this year," Sheppard said. "It's happened before, and I know that it's not supposed to happen under University policy. I think that it just goes back to safety issues."
Last year's concert featuring The Roots saw almost 40 students camp out for tickets. Both The Roots and 2005 act, Common, sold out to students before tickets could become available to the general public.
Students can purchase one ticket per One Card but each student is allowed to present two One Cards when buying tickets. Students are allowed to purchase tickets to both concerts.
While Gurdian said he was confident that both shows would sell out to students, others said they were disappointed in the groups selected to perform this year.
"I don't think the groups are different enough," said junior Laura Ivey. "Going from The Roots is a big downgrade."
Ivey said she felt the shows would probably sell out due to the small size of Memorial Hall relative to the student population of UNC, but she preferred the Homecoming acts of previous years.
While Gurdian said the groups weren't going to please everyone on campus, he said this year's Homecoming groups were a good choice.
"We're very excited and the response I've gotten is probably better than I even expected," he said.
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Homecoming ticket policy
Augustana: Oct. 1
Robert Randolph and The Family Band: Oct. 4.
Students will get a double dose of musical performances during this year's Homecoming celebrations.
Memorial Hall will play host to up-and-coming rock group Augustana on Oct. 27, followed by Robert Randolph and the Family Band on Oct. 30.
Breaking the trend from R&B and hip-hop performers who have performed at Homecoming in recent years, Carolina Athletic Association's Homecoming Co-chairwoman Laura Sheppard said this is the first time she remembers two headliners performing at the event.
"To bring two concerts has been a goal for at least three years," she said.
"It's really different from what we've had in the past couple of years, and we thought this is a good pair to reach the majority of the people."
CAA and the Carolina Union Activities Board, which also sponsors the event, worked together to select the two groups for months.
"We collaborate with CUAB every year, and we come up with a wish list and narrow it down based on price and availability and who we think people would like," Sheppard said.
"These groups are both very different and high-energy so I think people will enjoy them."
Robert Randolph - perhaps most renowned for his skill on the pedal steel guitar - ranked in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
"Boston," Augustana's first single, climbed the charts after being featured on the TV show "One Tree Hill."
Robert Randolph and the Family Band played at Durham's Carolina Theatre in February, while Augustana performed at Meredith College on Friday.
Robert Gurdian, CUAB president, said yet-to-be-named local groups will open for each Homecoming show, as is tradition.
"There's a very defined crowd that loves Augustana and Robert Randolph - I'm sure of it," Gurdian said.
"We're very confident it's going to work."
CAA and CUAB have not yet finalized ticketing policies or prices for the shows, but Gurdian said he is confident that each act can fill Memorial Hall's more than 1,400 seats.
Last year's Homecoming show featuring The Roots sold out to students - almost 40 camped out for tickets.
While Sheppard said Memorial Hall has received some criticism as a poor choice for Homecoming shows, she said students can make the concerts successful.
"Memorial Hall is the only venue for these groups. We can't have a concert in Kenan, and the Dean Dome (it) is too expensive," she said.
"People talk about Memorial Hall being too small and formal, but to me, Homecoming is about coming home and being one with fellow students, and for that, I think it's an ideal place."
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Known as one of the masters of classic soul music, Al Green brought a performance just as big as his name to the Memorial Hall stage Thursday night.
Green utilized his talents as a singer, entertainer and a minister to "spread love" to the sold-out audience that remained on its feet throughout many of the show's numbers.
"We've been to London two times; Madrid, Spain; East Coast; West Coast - Lord, North Carolina is the best," Green said to the audience after his opening number.
From the crowd's response - in size and applause - one might never have guessed that Green was the second choice for Carolina Performing Arts' season-opening show.
But Emil Kang, UNC's executive director for the arts, said even the initial response to the cancellation of the original act - Aretha Franklin - was positive.
"I think it's still interesting to note when we learned Aretha was canceling, we were very nervous to find a replacement," Kang said.
"You see, it wasn't a regular concert. Very few people are as well-known as her."
Green's ability to communicate with the crowd both during his musical numbers and while speaking to the audience in between songs recalled the time he spent as a Pentecostal minister.
"Although I'm a preacher," Green said, "I'm still a man."
The multiple-Grammy winner took a break from secular music in 1980 to devote his time to preaching and performing religious songs.
During the performance, Green poked fun at the "baby-making music" label many of his 1970s hits have acquired.
Opener Lizz Wright performed a 45-minute set of original material and cover songs.
"She's very unusual, sultry, sexual and has a soulful voice," Kang said. "In that sense she's very similar to Al."
Sixteen-year-old Ben Harris said he had never seen Wright perform before Thursday night.
"I think she has this newer sort of Tracy Chapman sound that is different from Al Green's old-fashioned sound," he said.
"She can absolutely sing."
But Harris admitted that he came to see Green.
"I love Al Green,
he said. "We had tickets before Aretha canceled, and when I heard he was coming, I was even more excited."
Green's hour-and-a-half set included hits such as "I'm Still In Love With You" and "Love and Happiness," which, to some, were performed as if they were fresh in the singer's mind.
"I expected to see a lot of energy and a legend," said Heather Beil, a graduate student.
"You couldn't tell he'd been doing this for years and years."
And combining a legend like Green with a lesser-known singer was something Kang set out to do when he chose the concert date.
"Whether you're 18 or 80, we don't necessarily look to have something for just one group of people," he said.
"We try to find a balance of what's familiar and unfamiliar - that's our goal."
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