Rocking out with Rock Band Rivals

When it comes to music, we can only hope that we’re doing our best with influencing our kids’ taste and appreciation for great music. Thanks to stellar family games like Rock Band Rivals from Harmonix, we can rock out to both classic and current songs while instilling a stellar rock repertoire from one of the best music games series. 

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Rock Band 4 carries over the well-known drum, vocal and guitar games in a fun play back format. Players can choose a song to play and earn points collectively while sharpening their musical chops.

 

My guys and I had the chance to give Rock Band Rivals a spin in our own living room. Let’s just say that my kids were born ready to rock and have no problem performing on a stage, even if it’s just our living room.

 

Since most of the songs in the music library are classic hits, my older guy wasn’t familiar with the songs that I loved. The kids, of course, were familiar with the likes of modern pop hits from Imagine Dragon and Maroon 5. I, on the otherhand, could comfortably sing Elivs’ Suspicious Minds and R.E.M.’s The One I Love—by heart, no less.

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The drum kit controller in the Rock Band Rivals set is user friendly and easy to set up. Each player was comfortable with playing the drums in Rock Band Rivals. We even brought out our own drum stool because we’re crazy like that. The guitar, styled like a sleek Fender, is cool and also easy to use.Though we found it hard to maneuver for smaller hands, those of us with more dexterity could strum the Fender like a rock boss. The instruments/controllers were seamless throughout the whole game. I especially loved how you could switch from bassist to guitarist from song to song. The microphone felt sturdy, yet basic. Obviously, as a component of the game, the microphone didn’t amplify as loudly as one would expect.

 

Overall, we enjoyed the different playing modes of Rock Band Rivals. Although we’re musically inclined, albeit a bit rusty, we appreciated the no fail mode since we have younger kids who needed a learning curve (as much as we did.) The music library, as previously mentioned, has a lot of great songs that I love, as well as great songs that my husband loves. Since I love pop and alternative and he listens mostly to country and classic rock, Rock Band Rivals complemented the whole family’s musical taste.

 

Though it took some time to familiarize ourselves, it was easy to read the screen in playmode. The different colors and areas for notes made it easy to follow, even for people who aren’t familiar with certain songs. There were so many great features that made this game especially more fluid as a family game. Each player could be assigned a different difficulty level. So, if one person was more advanced, and another was a beginner, each player was challenged just enough to make it enjoyable all around.

 

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We also enjoyed the playlist selection, where we could answer a few questions and the game would help assign a playlist so that we could continuously jam out to said playlist. And speaking of jamming out, we all got a kick out of the rockers in the game. Each song had a different backdrop and band appearance. Some were more eclectic than the next.

 

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The highlight of Rockband Rivals is that it could be played in various modes, which makes it truly engaging for the whole crew. You can perform through a rock documentary about your band in the campaign mode and join Crews to show off skills and battle opponents in challenges. 

 

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We spent hours trading places in Rock Band. For one song I’d be the singer, the next the guitarist, the next the drummer. My husband and the boys all loved taking turns playing the drums.

 

My older son decided he loved the bass more than the guitar. He could feel the bass in the songs, which gave him a better understanding of the way music blends together. My younger guy, who is under the age bracket for Rock Band Rivals, had a fun time rocking out, even though he didn’t quite connect the dots. 

 

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Rock Band Rivals is a fun way to get the family together and rock out collectively. This latest iteration of Rock Band doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I can’t wait to check out the other songs available so that we can have more current songs for the kids to enjoy!

 

Rock Band Rivals is rated T for Teen and is available at major retailers. The Rock Band Rivals ($199) kit includes the drums, guitar, mic and game. Be on the lookout for great deals for the Holidays!

Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with KidzVuz and Harmonix. I was provided with a review unit and compensation to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

 

 

Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert at NJPAC on2/19 + Giveaway

We truly can’t get enough of Disney in our house. Combine Disney with the symphony, now we’re talking. We have great accessibility to wonderful performances and shows in our area, including those at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

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On February 19, NJPAC will be featuring Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert. Disney Fantasia is a live performance that combines classical music with two beloved Disney movies. This performance will feature the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ted Sperling, which accompanies scenes from the animated feature films, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.

 To accompany the symphony, clips from Disney’s iconic films will be shown ion the big screen, such as Mickey Mouse as he dabbles in magic in Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the mythical unicorns and winged horses that accompany Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”). 

Bergen County’s Elisabeth Morrow School Orchestra Students will be the opening performers, where students ranging from 11- 14 years old will perform Vivaldi, Beethoven and more as the opening act. Biggie and Littles would, for sure, enjoy the magic of this show, especially seeing student musicians perform as the openers.

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Check out tickets at NJPAC for this fantastic show. And because we love wonderful shows like these, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert!

NJPAC
Prudential Hall?One Center Street?Newark, NJ ?Friday, February 19, 2016 8:00 PM
Tickets $39.50 – $79.50

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Review: PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

As technology continues to evolve, as does tech specifically geared to kids.  We recently had the chance to review PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, and it’s safe to say, we were immediately smitten with these cool headphones.

 

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The sleek white headphones were a comfortable fit for my 7 year old, as well as for my 3 year old. The size is easily transitioned from small to bigger, with maintaining a smaller kid-size frame. I was able to try them on for size; though a bit snug for my head, they fit and I was able to listen to the excellent audio from these great headphones.

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PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones says:

We designed them especially for kids, but adults can wear them too.  They have the most advanced noise limiting solution on the market and they sound great! The volume automatically limits to 85 dB, plus 82% of back ground noise is blocked.  They are studio grade audio quality and have an 18 hour battery life.These headphones are amazing and kids love to wear them.  We designed them especially for kids, but adults can wear them too.  They have the most advanced noise limiting solution on the market and they sound great. The volume automatically limits to 85 dB, plus 82% of back ground noise is blocked.  They are studio grade audio quality and have an 18 hour battery life.

 

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As far as headphones for kids, PuroSound developed a great product. They’re aesthetically pleasing, functional, durable and a great fit for kids and tweens. My 7-year-old loved that these headphones are bluetooth-enabled. I can’t tell you how many kid headphones we’ve had to toss because the cord became dysfunctional. I appreciate that these headphones are sleek, have a longer battery life and offer a volume-limiting solution, ideal for my kid who insists on blasting his headphones.

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PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones can be found on Amazon for $79.99.

 

Full disclosure: we received a sample to facilitate this review. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

A Day at the New York Children’s Theater: The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess

One of the many advantages of having NYC in our backyard is that we have easy access to the arts. Even better, we have access to art programs that involve children! New York City Children’s Theater is one of the many wonderful cultural resources that’s within reach, and we’re so grateful for that!

A few weeks ago, we were invited to visit the New York City Children’s Theater to enjoy the debut show of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess.  New York City Children’s Theater is well known for making books sing, and Barbara Zinn Krieger did just that with this production. Laurie Berkner wrote the songs and lyrics, which made this production fantastic and fun.

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The story follows the pursuits of a mime named Harvey and what happens when he encounters a spoiled princess. Harvey’s friends and the princess’ parents add some fun and giggles to the stage.  
The set was a simple stage, transformed by various boxes and lights. The main characters, Laura Hankin and Ben Laxton, engaged young children while bringing a lovely story to life. Sarah Charles and Liam Fennecken seamlessly morphed into multiple characters, bridging the best parts of the story with imagination and grace.

 

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Harvey, the main character and child mime, was fun and silly. Ben Laxton was convincing and charismatic as he made his way from the seaport in a box all the way to the princess’ home. Princess Mindy was bratty but bold. I loved her solos and animated tantrums which elicited a few giggles from the crowd. Sarah Charles’ Gert and queen characters were fun and formidable. Charles’ voice was mesmerizing and well suited for her royal role. Fennecken’s Gert and king characters rounded out the ensemble with his hilarious portrayals and regal role.

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The music and lyrics, without a doubt, were a highlight of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess. Throughout the production, with the upbeat accompaniment and cheerful, catchy songs, it was evident that Berkner lent her talents to this wonderful play. The guitar, keyboard and percussion instruments playfully sustained the tone of the play, enhancing the fun characters and coloring the words with smiles. Berkner fans (like us) will appreciate this fun production, and even the sweet surprise song for the encore.

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The New York City Children’s Theater’s production of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is a treat for music and theater-loving families. I appreciate that this is a preschooler-friendly production that keeps even the littlest theater-goer engaged. It was so fun to take my 2-year old to this his production, which is based on the book called Harvey the Child Mime written and illustrated by Loryn Brantz. At just 50 minutes long, The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess was a great timeframe for kids and parents.  

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The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is playing at the New York Children’s Theater at Theater 3 311 W. 43rd st., 3rd floor until December 7. 

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Set for August 23 + Giveaway

In less than a week, on August 23, the 19th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess is set to take center court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. 

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As in years past, the day promises a lineup of the hottest up and coming musicians including Hunter Hayes, Shawn Mendes, MKTO, McClain, The Vamps and Madison Beer & DJ Salerno. 

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Last year, we enjoyed the likes of Ariana Grande and Austin Mahone, not to mention an awesome intro from none other than the First Lady, Michelle Obama.  

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And because it’s a family-centric prelude to a grand slam event, tennis greats Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are expected to help kick off the 2014 US Open.  

According to reports, defending champ, Rafael Nadal, pulled out of this year’s US Open due to a wrist injury, but here’s hoping that last year’s defending champ will be onhand this Saturday for festivities.

 

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is not only an entertaining day with musical acts, but it’s also a fun day for families with plenty of free interactive activities. Starting at 9:30, throughout the grounds at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center, there will be free face painting, juggling workshops, 10 and under tennis, hair beading and braiding, balloon artists, Nickelodeon characters and The US Open Express Fan Experience. In addition to watching the tennis pros practice, our favorite activities include the tennis and skills activity course sponsored by Nike and Tennis education clinic.

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Because I grew up watching my dad and brother play tennis and watch the sport on tv religiously, tennis runs deep in our family.  Both of my boys have started practicing with my dad, so it’s even more special that my dad will be joining us this year for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.  

 

This is absolutely one of my favorite events to cover all year, so I’m even more excited to be giving away a set of four tickets to this year’s Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day! Enter below for a chance to win tickets to this fun family event in Flushing, NY on 8/23!

 

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Frozen’s “Love is an Open Door” Clip Released; Blu-Ray Combo Set to Release 3/18

With Frozen winning an Academy Award for best animated feature, among a few other accolades, the insta-classic Disney tale of two sisters is still all the buzz.  

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Idina Menzel (or Adele Dazeem, depending on whom you ask) was just on Fallon last night belting out the movie’s signature song, accompanied by the Roots who played children’s’ toys.  It was epic to say the least.

 

 And since Frozen is still flying high this winter, the movie’s other star, Kristen Bell sings quite a few of our favorites.  Her duet with Santino Fontana (Hans) in Love is an Open Door was recently released exclusively by Disney Movies Anywhere. In case you weren’t aware, Disney Movies Anywhere is Disney’s all-new, cloud-based digital movie service. Frozen is now available digitally to own.

Santino Fontana was the prince in Broadway’s Cinderella so my older son and I are totally smitten with this clip.  To watch a Broadway star on stage and then to have him voice a Disney character is pretty cool for a young kid to appreciate.

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Photo credit: Theatermania

Frozen Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack to be Released on March 18

With all this talk about Frozen, even though it’s already availably digitally, I’m excited about for when the Blu-Ray/DVD drops on March 18th.  Like many Blu-Ray and DVDs, Frozen will have quite a few exclusive features. 

Here are a few of the exclusive features that will be available on the Frozen Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo pack.

  • The Making Of Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  •  D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  • Breaking The Ice – The Real Making Of Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  • 4 Deleted Scenes with introduction by Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
  • Original Theatrical Short – “Get A Horse” (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)
  • “Let It Go” Music Videos by Demi Lovato, Martina Stoessel & Marsha Milan Londoh (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)
  • Frozen Teaser Trailer (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)

Making of Frozen still with Jonathan Groff, Kristen Bell and Josh Gad MakingOfThumb 010 R

 

 If you’re anything like us, when we find a favorite movie, we watch it non-stop, sometimes til the disk breaks. We can’t wait for this release!

Master Moves Mickey Flash Mob in Times Square

Together with 4,000+ other women bloggers, we descended upon NYC to chat all things blogging, network, and in some cases, interact with brands of all sizes at BlogHer12. And because I write mainly about products and services geared to kids, I had a chance to meet up with friends and reps in the kid space. My time wasn’t just spent talking toys, it was spent dancing, too!

With its recent release of Master Moves Mickey, Mattel orchestrated a pretty cool flash mob in Times Square. Professional kid dancers, as well as adult dancers convened with bloggers like me to shout “Mickey, Mickey” while pop and locking for an unsuspecting audience.

I loved how the pro dancers truly made the sequence come to life, especially in such a short time frame. It was so cool to witness a flash mob of this scale come together and admire all of the dancers, especially the kids and the breakdancers. My friend, Eddy of Dancing Hotdogs and Daddy Uprising, hung out in the back but contributed our spins and shouts! Regardless of my inability to dance like the pros, it was super fun.

Master Moves Mickey, aka M3, was one of Biggie’s favorite toys that we saw at a recent Holiday Disney preview, so it was super cool that I was invited to participate in such a unique promo. As my friend said, now we can cross that off of our bucket list.

Review of Master Moves Mickey to come, as well as other fun toys from BlogHer 12!

Master Moves Mickey is available in stores now and retails for $69.99

Sesame Street Debuts What I Am, Anthem for Little Children, Big Challenges

It may have been the unofficial start to summer, but beyond BBQs and beach time, this past weekend was a time to celebrate those who serve and have served in our military. A product of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Merchant Marines, military service was the glue that held my family together. My dad’s service brought him to the U.S., provided for our family and ultimately, put me through college. I count my lucky stars every day, and now that the Big Kid is old enough to comprehend the military and our service men and women, I felt that it was our duty to help better educate him on the topic.

In line with Memorial Day celebrations, this past Saturday, some characters from Sesame Street performed on The Intrepid, as part of the launch of its newest outreach initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges. This educational message is quite relevant for military, veteran, and other families with young children, to help increase self-awareness, boost self-esteem, and help children persevere through changes.

Rosita, Elmo and Gordon chat about Little Children, Big Challenges

With my dad in the Navy, as a young girl, saying goodbye for months at a time was quite common.  As a result, separation and uncertainty are issues that still sting to this day, but as a parent now, I’m so glad to know there are helpful outlets that can cushion the blow. In the reality that is our world, military families face so many adversities, and sadly, separation is sometimes the smallest of their worries; it’s comforting to know that Sesame Street provides an outlet that embraces these feelings that sometimes only military families can understand.

Matt Rogers, Rosita, Elmo and Gordon sing What I Am

I was honored to be onhand on the Intrepid with my own family to capture the debut of the anthem of this latest outreach, What I Am, sung by American Idol alum, Matt Rogers. As fun as it was to cheer and laugh along with Elmo, Rosita, Gordon and Matt, it was the Quantico Marine Corps Band accompaniment that gave us all the chills. Listening to the band accompany this Sesame Street performance, penned for families going through changes, I have to say, was quite moving and memorable, to say the least.
Quantico Marine Corps Band accompanies Sesame Street What I Am performance
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Because Fleet Week festivities were wrapping up at the Intrepid, we were able to take part in a few educational activities. The Big Kids most favorite activity was building his own boat, with supplies and directions supplied by the Navy’s ONR. The Big Kid crafted his boat with Play-Doh, an oversized straw and construction paper mast, as best as a four year old could do, but let’s just say, he wont be a naval architect any time soon.

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Our day at the Intrepid, listening to the Sesame Street performance and checking out all the military-related activities was a fun outing; but most importantly, it was the beginning of a dialogue with our children about the importance of our military, and just how much our service men and women and their families mean to us. We will always salute you.

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To learn more about Sesame Street’s newest outreach initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges, be sure to check out their online resources, which includes printables, games and a video.

Want to view the video of What I Am that features Rosita, Elmo, Gordon, Matt Rogers and the Quantico Marine Corps Band?  The video is posted below the jump.
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Yo Gabba Gabba Goodies: New Bedding, DVD and more

There’s lots of good stuff on the horizon that our fellow Gabba fans will appreciate.  Not only has DJ Lance and the crew taken over our tvs, toy box and tunes, but now, they’re helping the kids get cozy for bedtime.

A range of reasonably-priced, super cool  YGG bedding in now available at Walmart.  The Yo Gabba Gabba bedding that’s sure to be a hit with tune-loving tots includes a 4-piece toddler bedding set, a variety of blankets and some cool Pillow Pals.
We received a cool toddler blanket, just in time for a recent bug and bout with a double ear infection and then newborn congestion and cold. (ugh!)  Needless to say, this cuddly blanket has been a comforting sidekick over the past few days.  My 4yo has been clutching it day and night, and I don’t blame him.  It’s so soft, warm and because of its smaller size, it’s totally portable.  Even though it’s toddler-sized, it still does the trick for my tall guy.

Super Spies on DVD

And speaking of Yo Gabba Gabba goodness, there’s a new dvd that also recently hit the shelves.  The hilarious Jason Bateman guest stars as a spy in the new four episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!, “Super Spies,” which debuted on DVD on April 17.  Yo Gabba Gabba Super Spies is full of adventure and the usual Gabba fun, but with a quirky musical spy recovery mission mixed in.  It’s been the perfect complement for our quarantined sick days as of late.

More YGG Goodness

And for even more Gabba-related coolness, in case you missed it, co-creator Scott Schultz was the keynote speaker at Kindiefest last weekend.  The musical mecca of the coolest kid music, Kindiefest celebrates the best of the best in the kid indie musical scene.  There was tons of great coverage, but I particularly loved my friend, Amy at Media Macaroni’s take on things.  I’m so sad I missed Kindiefest yet again, but Amy’s recap of Schultz’s Keynote underscored my love for YGG AND made me feel like I was really there.

And just a little more Gabba goodness, I recently had the unique opportunity to interview the other co-creator of YGG, Christian Jacobs.  I love interviewing fascinating people involved in the baby and kid space, but when I get to connect to inspiring creatives like Jacobs, that’s when I truly geek out.  We chatted about the awesomeness that is The Aquabats, the show that’s been squatting on our DVR and reinventing our Saturday mornings.  If you’re a Gabba fan or a fan of punk, or just a fan of quirky shows, tune to The Aquabats on The Hub at 11am on Saturday mornings.  It’s wacky and weird, but oh so funny.  I’ll post that interview soon!

Yo Gabba Gabba Live Hits NYC and NJ + Giveaway

DJ Lance, Muno, Brobee, Foofa, Toodee, Plex and their friends are at it again!  The crew from the wildly popular Nickelodeon Show, Yo Gabba Gabba are on the road once again, this time hitting 50 stops across the U.S. for their Yo Gabba Gabba Live Show.

If you’ve been following NKT for the past few years, then you already know that our whole family are big time YGG fans.  From entire family Halloween costumes to interviewing Christian Jacobs, one of the creators of the show, who is also the lead singer of the Aquabats, Yo Gabba Gabba is near and dear to our hearts.  And judging from the show’s ongoing popularity, many of you probably feel the same!

We reference “There’s a Party in My Tummy” more times than we can count, not to mention, the music featured on the show has found its way onto our playlist.  So, needless to say, we’re beyond thrilled that Yo Gabba Gabba will be in NYC/NJ within the next few weeks!  On their first tour, we absolutely enjoyed seeing them at Beacon Theatre in NYC, where quite a few super cool celebs made cameos at the live NYC show!  I can’t wait to see who will be visiting the Gabba Friends’ live tour when they make their stops at NYC and NJ.  And speaking of the Garden State…

Giveaway

And since the Yo Gabba Gabba Live show is making a stop in NJ, my homestate, I’m thrilled to announce a giveaway for a family 4-pack of tickets to the Wednesday, October 12th show at noon in New Brunswick, NJ!

To enter to win, please comment below and let me know who is your kid’s favorite Yo Gabba Gabba character!

For additional entries:

  • Become a fan of The Next Kid Thing on Facebook
  • Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to @jenrab
  • Share on any social networking site
  • Comment below for each entry.

This giveaway ends on Monday, October 10 2pm!  Good luck!

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Yo Gabba Gabba Live: There’s a Party in My City will be stopping at the following cities:

Friday, October 7 Philadelphia Tower Theatre
Saturday, October 8 Pittsburgh Petersen Events Center
Sunday, October 9 Hershey Hershey Theatre
Tuesday, October 11 New Brunswick State Theatre
Wednesday, October 12 New Brunswick State Theatre
Friday, October 14 New York Beacon Theatre
Saturday, October 15 New York Beacon Theatre
Sunday, October 16 New York Beacon Theatre
Tuesday, October 18 Scranton, PA Scranton Cultural Center
Wednesday, October 19 Norfolk Chrysler Hall
Friday, October 21 Charleston, WV Municipal Auditorium
Saturday, October 22 Richmond Landmark Theater
Sunday, October 23 Greensboro War Memorial Auditorium
Tuesday, October 25 North Charleston, SC North Charleston Performing Arts Center
Wednesday, October 26 Columbia, SC Township Auditorium
Friday, October 28 Charlotte Ovens Auditorium
Saturday, October 29 Charlotte Ovens Auditorium
Sunday, October 30 Atlanta Fox Theatre
Tuesday, November 1 Raleigh Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Wednesday, November 2 Knoxville Tennessee Theatre
Friday, November 4 Memphis Orpheum Theatre
Saturday, November 5 Tulsa BOK Center
Sunday, November 6 Kansas City Music Hall
Tuesday, November 8 Denver 1st Bank Center
Wednesday, November 9 Salt Lake City Kingsbury Hall
Friday, November 11 Vancouver Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Saturday, November 12 Seattle Paramount Theatre
Sunday, November 13 Seattle Paramount Theatre
Tuesday, November 15 Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, November 16 Reno Reno Events Center
Friday, November 18 Fresno Save Mart Center
Saturday, November 19 San Jose San Jose Civic Auditorium
Sunday, November 20 San Diego San Diego Civic Theatre
Tuesday, November 22 Bakersfield Rabobank Theater
Friday, November 25 Los Angeles Nokia Theatre
Saturday, November 26 Los Angeles Nokia Theatre
Sunday, November 27 Las Vegas Orleans Arena
Tuesday, November 29 El Paso Abraham Chavez Theatre
Wednesday, November 30 San Antonio Lila Cockrell Theatre
Friday, December 2 Houston Verizon Wireless Theatre
Saturday, December 3 Dallas Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Sunday, December 4 Austin Cedar Park Center
Tuesday, December 6 New Orleans Mahalia Jackson Theatre
Wednesday, December 7 Tallahassee Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center
Friday, December 9 St. Petersburg, FL Mahaffey Theater
Saturday, December 10 Fort Lauderdale Broward Center
Sunday, December 11 Fort Lauderdale Broward Center