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Aug
22

Hunt Library is American Architects Project of the Week

HuntInterior1This year American-Architects.com is profiling one building per week, each from a different state. This week the survey reaches North Carolina, and NCSU’s Hunt Library is the feature project. The short interview for the piece features some of the background and goals Snøhetta felt were important in the design process.

The Hunt Library is open to the public. Free tours begin at the Floor 1 entrance and are at the following times:

  • Wednesdays at 9:30 am
  • Fridays at 3:00 and 4:00 pm
  • Second Saturdays at 10:30 am
Apr
24

Elon Named Most Beautiful College Campus

Congratulations to Elon University for being named #1 in the Top 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses by thebestcolleges.org. Other area colleges were named to the prestigious list, too:

  • #49 Wake Forest
  • #35 Duke
  • #27 UNC
  • #1 Elon

Note to NCSU’s designers and planners: Plenty of these universities have new campus areas featuring modernist buildings. Get your act together and make that campus attractive!

Apr
09

Southern Living Taps Durham as South’s “Tastiest Town”

Good news, Durhamites! Southern Living concluded its voting for the Tastiest Towns contest, and you won! Author Paula Disbrowe describes the city as “A scrappy scene of artisans devoted to coffee beans, brews, and the craft of humble foods.” Congratulations!

Jan
01

Broughton Band Featured in Tournament of Roses Parade

Tomorrow morning (Monday) the Broughton Band will take another long-awaited step into the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. The Golden Regiment first marched this parade in 2008 and ever since rumors have floated about the actual retirement date of the band’s director, Jeff Richardson (“JR”). It was this second shot for which JR held out, and it was completely worth the wait, according to JR. After becoming active in the hosting process of the parade in recent years, the band was invited to not only return to the parade, but to march in the parade’s coveted final band slot. JR’s retirement is for real, this time, however, as his replacement will take the reins on February 1..

The parade will be aired from 11am to 1pm. While NBC is the more prominent network covering the event, HGTV (TWC Channels 1350 and 350) blows NBC’s coverage away year after year. Not only is their commentary about the craft of each float superb, they also show the marching bands for more then 5 seconds each.

Take a look at the Broughton Band during their first pass of the Raleigh Christmas Parade six weeks ago:

Aug
29

Solas Named to Top 50 Late Night Finds

OpenTable Diners have spoken, and they have named Raleigh’s Solas among their list of best late night eats in the country. No other restaurants in North Carolina won the award.

Jun
20

Renaissance North Hills Gets Four Diamonds, Best Marriott Award

RenaissanceIn a press release (.pdf) from earlier this week, Concord Hospitality Enterprises announced that their flagship hotel, The Renaissance Hotel at North Hills, was offered the Four Diamond award by AAA. The hotel was also named a Marriott International, Inc. 2010 Hotel of the Year.

Each year AAA awards Four and Five Diamond ratings to the finest hotels in the nation. The Resnaissance joins this list of Four Diamond hotels in North Carolina:

  • ASHEVILLE:  1900 Inn on Montford (2009), Albemarle Inn (2003), Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville (2009), Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park (2010), Inn on Biltmore Estate (2001), The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa (2001),
  • BOONE – Lovill House Inn (1997), 
  • CASHIERS – Innisfree Inn By-The-Lake (1994)
  • CHAPEL HILL – Carolina Inn (1997), The Siena Hotel (1996)
  • CHARLOTTE – Hilton Charlotte Center City (2007), Marriott Charlotte SouthPark (1989), Omni Charlotte Hotel (2001), The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte (2003), The Duke Mansion Historic Inn & Meeting Place (2005), The Westin Charlotte (2004)
  • DURHAM – Arrowhead Inn Bed and Breakfast (2003), Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club (2000)
  • GREENSBORO – Grandover Resort & Conference Center Golf & Spa (1999), O. Henry Hotel – (1999), Proximity Hotel (2008)
  • HIGHLANDS – Old Edwards Inn and Spa (2005)
  • LAKE TOXAWAY – Greystone Inn (1986)
  • PINEHURST – Holly Inn (2002), The Carolina Hotel (1982)
  • WILMINGTON – Graystone Inn (1999), The Verandas (2002)

The state has three Five Diamond Award winners:

  • CARY – The Umstead Hotel and Spa (2007)
  • CHARLOTTE – The Ritz-Carlton (2010)
  • FEARRINGTON VILLAGE – The Fearrington House Inn (1994)
May
26

Raleigh Celebrates McCreery’s Win: a New Perspective

A crowd of around 8,000 was on hand last night at the RBC Center to watch as garnernorthcarolina–native Scotty McCreery was named the American Idol for Season 10. Congratulations to Scotty! I had a chance to be in that crowd and saw the event from an unexpected perspective.

As is evident in the video, the crowd went nuts when Scotty’s name was announced. As you watch the video, however, note the general amount of noise in the room as Ryan is leading up to the pause, then notice the total silence as the Idol monotone sound effect is finally heard. With 8,000 waiting with baited breath, all it took was the “Sss” sound by Ryan Seacrest to send the room into a frenzy. We never even heard “cotty McCreery”. This was a special aspect of the evening that local news outlets have missed. Here are a few other points:

Production

The RBC Center staff welcomed the crowd with a lower level of security than we typically see at NCSU and Hurricanes events. As the crowds filed in ushers guided people sequentially filling each lower level section in order to get the best flying camera shots on the national television production. A few concession stands were open selling basic concessions including beer, however probably 70% of the crowd was under 21 years of age.

With the hockey season over, the RBC Center floor has no ice and the hockey walls have been removed. Therefore we got the unusual view of an empty, gray arena floor that was dotted with a few chairs and a boom camera. Sections 106 thru 117 of seating were completely empty, so the empty seats and empty floor presented some odd acoustical problems for the RBC Center’s presentation on the scoreboard video screens. The audio was loud, but somewhat shrill and echoing, so the sound quality would have been much better in my den. However the crowd on hand cheered at the exact times the crowd in Los Angeles did, so it made the event unexpectedly come to life.

American Idol sent Matt Rogers, a Season 3 Idol contestant, to be the Master of Ceremonies. Matt’s banter with the crowd and crew during commercials was refreshing. One of the biggest responses of the night came when he noted that the cameraman was on the floor of The Pit the night of April 4, 1983.

The highlight of Rogers’ duties came at the end of the night. Swarming with elated fans, Matt was pictured on the video boards holding and kissing a cardboard cutout of Scotty. If only National had time to show that hilarious moment.

Timing

Rogers also alerted the crowd to times that National was possibly going to cut to Raleigh, and kept us apprised of the finale’s timing difficulties. One of the planned acts for the show was to include live interviews from both Lauren’s and Scotty’s home crowds, but these segments were cut due to overruns. During one of the TV show’s acts, the Raleigh crowd was told to be silent as Rogers and the production crew blocked a revised Raleigh cut, however that segment was cut, too.

We can’t understand how a 2 hour production runs so long that acts are cut. There were no free-form blocks in the acts outside of Ryan Seacrest’s introductions. All of the musical performances were preblocked with the lighting crews, and all of the video packages are all a finite length.

As the Raleigh segment was cut, we noticed Ryan Seacrest blowing through the introduction of performances and even wondered if the abbreviated performance of “Dream On” by Steven Tyler was a late change. It seemed to be the only act in the second hour with flexibility, as production crews could not cut Lady Gaga’s song or that dreadful Spiderman performance.

Ratings Behemoth

Early numbers are in and it appears that last night’s finale drew 29.3 million viewers, so it will likely be the #2 watched television show of 2011, falling second only to the Super Bowl. For reference, the NCAA National Championship Football and Basketball games drew 15 million and 12 million, respectively. Dancing With The Stars’ Finale drew 21 million.

Garnernorthcarolina

It was an exceptional night for the town of Garnernorthcarolina, as Scotty calls it. The Blue Crew of Scotty’s high school friends completely filled section 119 and did a good job of cheering on the rest of the crowd. The Wave even made an appearance during one of the show’s final commercial breaks.

Choral Directors

One of the great moments of the show was the introduction of Lauren and Scotty’s most influential teachers. Not only did the two get invited to the AI Finals, they were acknowledged on international television and given new Ford cars. Garner High School choral director Meredith Clayton was stunned and elated as one of her greatest moments as a teacher got even better.

I’m here to say that any male at Garner High School who isn’t in that woman’s program is a complete idiot. She is adorable and added to the fantastic presentation of this area. Oh, and she’s probably a pretty good choral teacher; it’s in her pedigree. (Clayton’s mother was Clay Aiken’s choral teacher.)

Something In The Water?

Raleigh native and Broadway star Lauren Kennedy was ecstatic watching the American Idols finale. She even went to Twitter wondering if there is something in the water in North Carolina given, yet another, American Idol impact performer. Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, and Anoop Desai were all sensational on the show, but Scotty is the area’s first champion. Kennedy’s point makes one wonder if the area has even more to give in future seasons…

I Saw It Coming

2011-05-25_22-06-14_731The reason I took my family to the RBC Center last night is because I had a strong inclination that Scotty was going to win. Scotty never gave me “WOW” moments like other contestants did, however winning Idol depends on getting votes, and getting them from the people who vote. A lot more goes into this equation that simply soaring vocals. One of the interesting facets to Dentistry is getting a sense of the buzz in the general population. After the last 5 seasons, I think that American Idol has become something that is largely determined by middle-aged, strong Christian women who would like to lose 20-50 pounds. This demographic has been right on par with who wins in each of the last 5 seasons. The result is a clean-cut, somewhat talented singer who doesn’t show off. Let’s look at those last 5 seasons:

Jordin Sparks vs. Blake Lewis – Jordin Sparks is an All-American type woman with a great voice. Blake Lewis is a good singer, but his beat-boxing, rap-leaning music did not resonate with the demographic. Had Lewis been a more of a smiling pop singer, he could have won.

David Cook vs. David Archuletta – At first one would think that the devout Christianity of Archuletta would excite the demographic, but that isn’t what totally excites them. They actually like rock-leaning pop music over vanilla pop.

Kris Allen vs. Adam Lambert – No one will argue that Adam Lambert doesn’t have a phenomenal voice, however he was too flamboyant and screamed too much to overcome that smile that the demographic loves.

Lee Dewyze vs. Crystal Bowersox – Crystal was the one that blew everyone’s doors off in Season 9. However when it came down to two, the grunginess of Crystal didn’t excite the demographic as much as Lee’s moderate pop and smiling eyes.

Scotty McCreery vs. Lauren “Alaina” – (Lauren’s last name is not Alaina, btw) Season 10 featured an accurate singer with low, but narrow range winning over a beautiful voice that needs more seasoning. That’s not what swayed the vote at all, though. Genre was a wash as both singers exclusively sang Country songs. Scotty has a big smile and never projected a cocky demeanor. That’s difficult to overcome, even for a really good voice. Lauren was my family’s early pick based on who would get the cascading loser votes, however that was based on Scotty finishing around 5th. In the end it appears that Scotty is the only person that Lauren could not beat. Match Lauren against any of the other 11 final contestants, and The Demographic picks her every single time.

The Judges

So, the demographic I mentioned seems to be the set that is most likely to pick the winner, but they are swayable each year, and this was no exception. In each of the last 4 finals, the judges have unofficially anointed the better voice as the winner. However in each of those nights, we’ve seen a huge backlash. This season the backlash was exacerbated by the show’s emphasis on Lauren’s vocal injury in rehearsal.  The result was: people who would have voted for Scotty 10X voted 150X. This is exactly the case with someone I know, and I’ll venture to say those numbers were repeated throughout The Demographic.

Lauren’s Future

We did some digging and found where Lauren Alaina lives. It’s at the dead end of a country road near Chattanooga. Sounds like the beginning of a country song, doesn’t it. Lauren’s family has obviously struggled financially and it is great to see Lauren get this chance. She has been gifted with an excellent voice and has noticeably improved as a performer over the last 3 months. Lauren had serious confidence issues in the first half of the competition, and learning more about her background helped to explain this. She still needs to perform past the first two rows of the auditorium and she still needs to work on hitting the climax of a song correctly. I have complete confidence this will come with more training and maturity, and fully see Lauren Alaina having an excellent career in Nashville along the lines of Lee Ann Womack or LeAnn Rimes.

Scotty’s Future

The one overriding question in the American Idol aftermath is whether Scotty can overcome the Idol Curse. Of the nine Idols, only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have been able to advance their career’s beyond “Idol Winner” status. Scotty has a very decent chance of being the third, not because of his talents per se, but rather because of the market.

Country music used to be only popular in rural areas and the South. However since Garth Brooks’ breakthrough, the genre has steadily seen growth in other areas of the country and social strata. With Rock being as dead as it has ever been and stations like G105 forcing Lady Gaga and Kanye West into pop radio, a very serious backlash is about to occur. Teens are quickly turning toward Country music in droves, and there really is no end in sight.

Scotty’s new single, “I Love You This Big” was released this morning, and the producers have done a sensational job of capturing the powerful portions of his voice. The song will be a hit this Summer in Country radio. Scotty is hitting the wave at the perfect time, as there aren’t any big teen country singers right now. Paired with good songs (and that has been a problem for so many Idols), Scotty can be the next Idol to break through.

The Others

This year’s show produced an extremely good group of finalist. James Durbin is quite likely to have success in the dormant Rock realm, Pia is likely to be a hit in Adult Contemporary, and the sky is the limit for Casey and Haley. Casey is enormously talented and keeping him focused will be a key while Haley showed with her version of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” that she doesn’t have to shout to be outstanding. Paul McDonald and Jacob Lusk are a couple of others who, if matched with the right songwriters, could also see good careers. We’ll see.

* * *

It’s crazy that we are even talking about this. Two months ago many of us thought we had an versatile, typical young country voice on our hands. Now here we are talking about Scotty McCreery being the next in a long list of Springtime major, national successes in the Triangle area. The Idols tour comes to the RBC Center on July 27, and you can expect one of the longest ovations in that building’s impressive history when McCreery takes the stage.

May
12

Raleigh Area in Championship Hunt, Again

Stanley Cup Parade - Glen Wesley and The CupWith Scotty McCreery’s appearance in next week’s American Idol Semifinals, the Raleigh area has, once again, found itself as a factor in a national Springtime competition. Given all of the hoopla surrounding Duke’s lofty ranking for most of the basketball season, and with UNC’s genesis once Larry Drew II mercifully withdrew from school, it looked like this area would once again celebrate another Final Four event. However this year it’s the world’s most famous Garnerian that has captivated us.

Over the past 50 years, the area has had a local competitor in a large-scale national event during 36 of the past 50 Springs, and 22 of the past 24. The only down years since 1962 have been 1962*, 1965, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1996, and 2007.

Click after the break for the detailed events per year since 1962

read more…

Feb
03

Pigs and Politicians

bbq An AP story by Tom Breen detailing the N.C. Barbecue argument was released yesterday, and shows up today at Forbes.com. It is a tongue and cheek response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s proclamations of barbecue as one of Charlotte’s assets earlier this week when the Queen City was named as the next Democratic Convention site. The article has a classic quote about Charlotte in the 4th paragraph that is worthy of a good chuckle.

While it is a good-natured overview of the barbecue argument in North Carolina, the article also carefully explains that the art of wood-cooked barbecue, such as that at Wilbur’s, seems to be a dying art. Those who good steaks on charcoal instead of propane can relate to this “problem” all too well.

They say that one of Charlotte’s assets is that it is an hour from Shelby, alluding to the prominence of excellent small-town outlets in the state, and the Raleigh area is no different. We have some good barbecue in Raleigh, but the best Eastern N.C. products are found in stores about an hour east of here.

I’ll risk all of my life-long Raleigh street cred to name my favorite, so here goes: The Blue Mist (Asheboro). I know, I know, it is a different style, but ohmygosh! I’ve only eaten there a few times, it was always to go, and I only had a pulled pork sandwich with slaw, but those times were fantastic and had me tempted to do a U-turn and go back for more.

Dec
30

2010: Best of the Year

As you may have noticed, the posts here have slowed down quite a bit. It’s a direct reflection on the dull year that was 2010. In retrospect, however, there were plenty of significant events that happened. Here are the Top 40 events of 2010:

  1. N.C. Museum of Art Opens New Building
  2. The Walt Opens
  3. Hopscotch Festival Begins as Huge Success
  4. Moore Square Redesign Approved
  5. Caniac Coach Begins Service
  6. Duke Wins National Championship
  7. Elizabeth Edwards Dies
  8. Ira David Wood IV Fills in for Ailing Father
  9. NHL Announces All-Star Game to Raleigh, Finally!
  10. Hillsborough Street Renovation Complete, with Roundabouts
  11. 90-Degree Heat Record Set
  12. The Container Store Opens
  13. John Wall is Selected First In NBA Draft
  14. NCSU Grad Loses Secret iPhone4
  15. Josh Hamilton Named Major League Baseball’s MVP
  16. North Hills Harris Teeter Opens with Controversial Design
  17. Raleigh Loses Hamid Mohajer of Mo’s Diner
  18. “Hudson Belk” Becomes “Belk”, Gets New Image
  19. William D’Auvray leaves Buku
  20. H&M Opens in Raleigh
  21. Golden Corral Razes, Replaces Home Store
  22. City Council Endorses Western High(er) Speed Rail Route
  23. Mike Krzysewski Becomes #2 Winningest Coach
  24. Broughton Band Selected for Rose Bowl Parade
  25. Penzey’s Spices Opens in Cameron Village
  26. Get Motivated Seminar Brings Top Names in Leadership, Ties Up Traffic
  27. Another Samaratan Falls to Death on Beltline, Prompts New Fencing
  28. Taylor Swift Plays Sold Out RBC Center
  29. Mami Nora’s Opens in Raleigh
  30. Winterfest Returns to Downtown
  31. North Face Store opens in Crabtree
  32. Brind’Amour Retires, Staal Named Captain
  33. D.H. Hill Relights Art Wall
  34. Catapano Retires from Sanderson
  35. Varsity Mens Wear Moves from Crabtree to North Hills
  36. Sparians, Zoe’s Kitchen, Piola, and Brueggers Open in North Hills
  37. R-Line Food Tour Comes to Downtown Raleigh
  38. TWC Remaps Channels
  39. Evan Rachael Wood Engaged to Marilyn Manson, Splits
  40. Meat House Opens

We got a few new retailers and restaurants about which we’ll be excited for many years to come. Some others were lost and might be missed one day:

  • Buckhead Saloon
  • Ten Ten Chinese Buffet
  • Yoho Asian Bistro
  • Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe
  • Bear Rock locations
  • Uno’s Grill
  • Space Savers
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Ted’s Montana Grill
  • Duck and Dumpling

While we didn’t make a lot of big news, there was plenty of entertainment. I’ve always told people from bigger cities that there is more to do in the Triangle than I have the money and/or time for. Perhaps you got to spend an evening being entertained by some of these fine artists:

read more…

Oct
27

Raleigh, Chapel Hill to Host Women’s 2012 Action

Congratulations to N.C. State and UNC as basketball venues were selected to host 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament action. Early round games will take place at UNC, while the RBC Center will be one of the four regional sites for the tournament. The Final Four for that season will be staged in Denver.

Sep
30

Broughton Band Selected to Return to Rose Parade

CongratsWideCongratulations are in order for the Broughton High School band which tonight revealed their invitation to participate in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade. This is a true honor for the band as they recently participated in the 2008 parade. This was expected to be Band Director Jeffrey (J.R.) Richardson’s final year teaching. However his announcement before tonight’s homecoming game came as a shock to band members, parents, and alumni alike. Congratulations BHS!

Jul
14

Cary, Chapel Hill Make Small Town List

Money Magazine has released its best small towns list, and two triangle towns are in the Top 40. Chapel Hill comes in at 40, and Cary ranks #23.

The results are interesting. Living in Chapel Hill is a distinct experience. All residents definitely feel the center of the town, the Franklin Street/Carr Mill axis. However Cary feels more like a series of subdivisions and strip shopping centers. Cary certainly feels different than Chapel Hill and North Raleigh, but does Cary really have a distinct vibe, or is it just a coincidental collection of new developments in Triangle, USA?

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