Independence Day fireworks
Fire department-approved venues—Historians believe fireworks originated in China approximately 1,000 years ago as a way to propagate happiness and prosperity for the new year. Contrary to today's standards, their loud noise was prized above color or display for its ability to scare off evil spirits.
It's hard to pin down when the first fireworks mishap occurred—though one could hypothesize the mishaps began once gunpowder entered the scenario—but in modern times, fire departments encourage residents to "leave it to the professionals." If you must shoot off a firework, Durham firefighters advise that you should "never throw fireworks at another person, vehicle or structure." Considering the slew of fireworks-related injuries reported each year, and the cumbersome process of receiving a pyrotechnics permit, perhaps the ignition of fireworks is best left to the pros (although sparklers are darned exciting). Here's where you can catch the snazziest displays in the Triangle:
RALEIGH: Free activities for the whole fam, including "interactive games, inflatables, live entertainment, music [and] more" begin at 3 p.m. at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, with fireworks scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Visit www.ncstatefair.org or call 831-6854. For more Raleigh events, including a daytime fiesta at the State Capitol, see the Fourth of July section in our A&E calendar.
CARY: The Koka Booth Amphitheatre hosts free events beginning at 4 p.m., including a model boat regatta, ice cream-eating contests, a family fun zone and a performance by the Cary Town Band, followed by a 7:30 p.m. performance by the N.C. Symphony [see below] and fireworks. Visit www.boothampitheatre.com or call 462-2052.
DURHAM: Bull Durham's heartthrob (of yore) Kevin Costner performs with his band Modern West at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park at 7:05 p.m., followed by uplifting remarks by Durham officials at 9 p.m. and fireworks tentatively set for 9:30 p.m. Visit www.durhambulls.com or call 956-BULL.
CHAPEL HILL: Festivities begin at 8 p.m. at UNC's Kenan Memorial Stadium, with music from Johnny White and the Elite Band, followed by, yes, fireworks at 9:30 p.m.—which are, supposedly, only visible from inside the stadium. Visit www.townofchapelhill.org or call 968-2784. —Megan Stein
North Carolina Symphony Orchestra
Koka Booth Amphitheatre—For Independence Day, the North Carolina Symphony presents three concerts: The first two (at Garner's Lake Benson Park Thursday and at Cary's Koka Booth tonight) take audiences to the time when patriotism was typified in Sousa marches and overtures that weren't necessarily ours. Night three, entitled "Salute to the Greatest Generation," takes from composers such as Aaron Copland, who wrote brass anthems that touch deep into our spirit through repetition. Each engagement reaches deep into the American musical subconscious with tunes that, though they might not be recognized in name, certainly are tied to images of triumph and togetherness. Nights one and two are free and start at 8 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Night three, also at Koka Booth, costs $20-$22 at 7:30 p.m. —Margaret Hair
Carrboro/ Chapel Hill
Bill Kirchen/ Evil Wiener Wiener Roast
Carrboro Town Hall/ The Cave—A dozen years back, a friend sat at the Berkeley Cafe bar as a band named Too Much Fun took a break. The band's unassuming yet musically acrobatic guitarist claims the next stool over. "Is your band named after the Bill Kirchen song?" asked the friend. "Well, son, I am Bill Kirchen," replied the guitarist. That's Kirchen in a nutshell—an amiable guitar god, the kind of guy who'd (and who'll) give a free, kid-friendly Fourth of July concert on the Carrboro town hall steps at noon.
Seven years back, Groves Willer left his post behind The Cave bar to join bandmates Billy Sugarfix and Chuck Garrison for the inaugural Evil Wiener Wiener Roast. From year to year, the Evil Wiener-delivered Independence Day program has changed—from "The Star-Spangled Banner" on theremin to impromptu parades—but one thing remains constant: free hot dogs from Mister Mouse and The Cave. If only the band would call itself Evil Filet Mignon ... The All-American fun begins at 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell
Lil Brian/ Big Fat Booty Band
Blue Bayou Club/ Cat's Cradle—Celebrate your freedom of expression through dance tonight. Texas-based Lil Brian brings his Zydeco Travelers to Hillsborough's Bayou at 9:30 p.m., while Asheville's Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band descends into the Carrboro's Cradle at 9:30 p.m. ($8-$10). Lil Brian drives his funk with accordion, rubboard and heavy bass. Also, look for hip-hop influences manifest in lyrics like, "We're riding dirty with Zydeco" and moveable grooves. The Booty Band lays it down with more psychedelics. The tight horn section blasts excitement over a percussive and wah-wah soaked canvas. Two great dance bands ask one question: How do you want to get funked up tonight? —Andrew Ritchey