This post was originally featured on Coaster101.com.
Whether it’s been the addition of world-class roller coasters with Fury 325 in 2015 and Copperhead Strike earlier this season, new water park experiences with the re-branding of Carolina Harbor in 2016, family-friendly attractions with 2017’s County Fair and 2018’s Camp Snoopy, or even the “re-invention” of Carowinds’ culinary options over the last several years, Carowinds is constantly evolving.
This season, Carowinds has debuted FIVE new shows (including four debuting over this past Memorial Day weekend) that are performed in locations around the park and are a great complement to Carowinds’ outstanding ride and attraction portfolio.
I took the time to experience all five shows, and in doing so, came to the realization that if rides aren’t your “thing,” then these shows are ALL fantastic alternatives. Here’s a quick run down!
Where it is: Near Surf Club Harbor inside of Carolina Harbor, Adjacent to Schooner’s Beach Bar.
What it is: A duo playing easy listening “beach” music – fits the surrounding area very well!
“Driftwood” features the talents of two former high school classmates: Summer on Acoustic Guitar, and Austin on Drums. Located near the Surf Club Harbor wave pool, the duo played about a 25-30 minute set of “beach-inspired” songs, including songs by the Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Buffet, putting their own “flair” on all of their songs.
A pro-tip for your Driftwood viewing experience: Shade comes at a premium in Carolina Harbor, so if you can, I highly recommend staking claim to a bar stool at the adjacent Schooner’s Beach Bar and enjoying a frozen cocktail or ice-cold beer (for those 21+, of course) while Driftwood performs, and viewing the concert from the side of stage.
Where it is: The Crossroads Gazebo, in front of Boo Blasters on Boo Hill
What it is: A duo playing guitar and drum interpretations of pop songs.
If this duo looks familiar, it’s because Summer and Austin of Driftwood also make up the Jessamine Duo. However, there was no Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley in this set, as the Jessamine Duo’s set list was completely different from Driftwood and felt a little more “upbeat.” It included songs by the Dixie Chicks (Long Time Gone), the Jonas Brothers (Burnin’ Up) and Duffy (Mercy), in addition to several others.
These two were fantastic! The Crossroads Gazebo is located under some great shade trees, and the nearby planters create a great seating area.
Where it is: The Harmony Hall Patio
What it is: Dueling Pianos
With their multi-colored instruments, Matt & Collin are the talented pianists that make up “The UpRights.” The two musicians took turns singing and doing piano solos, and “played” really well off of one another. The set I saw (and they have multiple sets) was their “Rock Rewind” show, where they played piano versions of songs made famous by artists including Bob Seger, Elvis Presley, Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Eagles.
The outdoor seating for The UpRights includes some soft chairs situated around fire pits. These will definitely be popular seating options on a crisp summer night!
Spark City Swing Machine
Where it is: Inside Harmony Hall Marketplace
What it is: Popular music, with a big band twist.
If Dinner (or lunch) and a show is what you’re looking for, head to Harmony Hall Marketplace and check out the Spark City Swing Machine. Featuring 6 musicians – piano, drums, bass, trumpet, trombone, and sax/clarinet – and two vocalists, the Spark City Swing Machine has one of the larger casts of any show at Carowinds, but more importantly, a “big” sound to back it up. The group put their “swing” twist on several modern favorites, including Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” and Justin Beiber’s “Sorry.”
Any seat in Harmony Hall is good to watch the “Spark City Swing Machine,” but you might not even need it. The music of the Spark City Swing Machine is likely to get you up and dancing in the aisles!
Where it is: Blue Ridge Junction, next to the Mountain Gliders.
What it is: “Pickin'” and Percussion!
Join the four buskers – Gus, Earl, Larry and Cletus – as they make some Moonsh—Music, and try to get their old truck, “Rusty,” started. The buskers are all talented on their instruments, but the show has several genuinely funny moments as well. I found myself laughing multiple times throughout the 25 minute show featuring the “genuine heavy metal” band!
As far as a recommendation for seating for Busker Jam, I think a seat on the left side is optimal for Busker Jam, especially if you want to get a good look at Cletus fixing Ole Rusty and/or playing the xylophone. He moves those mallets fast!