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:


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.


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.


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.


RBC Center To Host American Idol Finals Party

American Idol will host a Season Finale Results Show viewing party at the RBC Center on Wednesday night. On that night we will learn who the next American Idol is. Will it be Chattanooga’s Laurin Alaina or our favorite Garnerian, Scotty McCreery? Fan reactions from the RBC Center will be broadcasted live on FOX.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. While admission is free, parking is $10. So, baby, lock them doors and go out to the RBC Center to pull for Scotty!

Calendar Note: For some reason the Google Calendar plug-in in the right margin is showing this week’s American Idol events as being on Wed and Thur, though the actual Google Calendar from which the data is copied shows the correct days of Tue and Wed. Please make a note of this. Gogoraleigh apologizes for any confusion this may have created.


Barking Cow Pub Coming to Lake Boone

The space formerly occupied by Second City Grill in Lake Boone Shopping Center will apparently become the Barking Cow Pub this summer, according to a sign in the window. Earlier in the year there were talks surrounding the highly successful Lake Boone location of Chubby’s Tacos moving into the space. Apparently a deal could not be completed, so Chubby’s will stay in the former location of a bar while a bar moves into a restaurant space.


O.A.R. Returning to The Walt

OARO.A.R. makes its way back to Raleigh on Thursday, July 14. The band was one of the first acts booked into the venue last summer. They will be supporting their yet-to-be-released CD, “King”.


Sandwhich Stacks Satisfying Punch

20070202-126In 1981 Lex and Anne Alexander started Wellspring Grocery in Durham. The market emphasized organic and locally-grown produce, as well as an excellent selection of prepared foods. Ten years later her sold his small chain of stores to Whole Foods and while they’ve done a good job, their concept and mission is a bit different than Wellspring’s was. However what is really different is the group of recipes being used for the prepared foods. Whole Foods has good options, but I do miss Alexander’s food.

A few years ago Alexander opened a small sandwich shop in Chapel Hill called “Sandwhich”. The restaurant was tucked way behind what used to be Pyewacket in a space that ultimately didn’t make economic sense. Recently, however, they moved to the restaurant space to the left of McDonalds on Franklin Street, and the rest is history.

Sandwhich is so popular now, it is having a difficult time meeting lunchtime demand. The secret is apparently out about this wonderful food. My favorite item is the turkey sandwich. It contains turkey, excellent tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and harissa (spicy chili) mayonnaise on sourdough bread. The makes a great sandwich, however Sandwhich adds a twist to make this a Home Run. Before assembly each slice of homemade bread is lightly buttered and grilled on one face. That face becomes the inner face of the sandwich and big surprise to the diner.

The Rotisserie Chicken Salad sandwich is also excellent. IT sits on whole wheat bread. Also worth trying is the Outrageous BLT. Sandwhich’s potato chips are also not to be missed.

Sandwhich has a wide assortment of drinks, however their soft drinks are canned and are presented in an only moderately chilled refrigerator. Another disappointment with Sandwhich is the price. While they are putting much more efffort into their sandwiches than, say, Subway, it still is cost prohibitive for many to seek a $14 lunch very often. Apparently this isn’t a problem for many people, though, as the line runs out the door for lunch on weekdays.

Alexander could easily expand this concept into Raleigh. Places like the old Johnson’s Pharmacy, The open restaurant space in Oberlin Court, or a storefront along Hillsborough Street near Second Empire would all do well. Until then we’ll just have to keep this as a Road Trip Recommendation from gogoraleigh.


McCreery Makes Idol Semifinal

mcreery[1]Tonight the results of the American Idol final four week were announced and Garner’s Scotty McCreery has made the show’s Top 3. This weekend Idol producers will go home with its top 3 contestants, therefore Garner is preparing for a parade and a 3pm concert by Scotty at Lake Benson Park.

For those planning on participating in all of the events, be sure to be at the park BY NOON. All parking will be at Bryan Farm (1832 New Bethel Church Road – map it), and no pets, tents, or coolers will be allowed. Be sure to show your consideration of others by using ponchos and raincoats instead of umbrellas.

Here is the schedule for Saturday’s rain-or-shine events:

  • 10am – 5pm: Shuttles will run from Bryan Farm
  • 10am – 7pm: Buffaloe Road closed to thru traffic
  • 11am – 4pm: Entertainment, crafts, and inflatables
  • Noon: Parade Lineup on Buffaloe Rd.
  • 2pm – 3pm: Parade
  • 3pm – 4pm: Concert

Congratulations, Scotty!


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…


THIS…Is More Like It

morganeThanks to the hair and makeup crew behind the WRAL news productions for salvaging the mess that was Deborah Morgan’s new hairstyle. It appears that cut and color have both been addressed, and the result looks great. Good thing we aren’t talking about a bad tattoo!


Grace Potter Coming to Lincoln

gracepotterOn Sunday, May 29, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will come to Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre. Opening will be Futurebirds, Gary Clark Jrl, and Julian McCullough. Tickets are $20 advance.


Huey Lewis Coming to Cary

hueylewisOn Sunday, July 24, Cary will go back in time as Huey Lewis plays Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Tickets start at $43 and go on sale to the public tomorrow (5/13).


Firebirds Awakens Mid-Price Steak Market

FirebirdsOne of the most successful restaurant chains out of North Carolina is Firebirds. The mid-level, 18-store steak chain found its way into the Triangle market with the opening of Southpoint, however it wasn’t until the rebuilding of North Hills that they were able to enter the Raleigh market.

Firebirds’ decor is based on a cozy, dark, mountain lodge theme. The bar and restaurant are well divided, and the noise level is quite low.

The menu offers a basic selection of steaks, as well as an expected selection of sandwiches and salads. It’s a menu that offers a flexible experience, and allows the diner to choose a comfortable price point.

My favorite menu item is the Chile Rubbed Delmonico. While the cut is always more fatty than I like, the crystalized chiles on the exterior are fantastic. Firebirds has a great loaded potato as well, mainly because their bacon is excellent.

Many dishes offer a small salad to begin, and the best of these options is the BLT salad. That excellent bacon makes another appearance along with ripe tomatoes and a homemade Ranch dressing. The dressing has a bit too much of a garlic kick for me, but it’s just right for many.

Another couple of good options for a less formal dinner are the Colorado Chicken Salad and the Grilled Tenderloin Salad. The tenderloin salad has crumbled bleu cheese, tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette. I prefer the grilled chicken salad with the Ranch dressing than the raspberry chipotle dressing that normally comes on the dish.

Firebirds also has hamburgers, but they are among the city’s most disappointing. The meat is usually overcooked, and the buns have always been stale and tasteless (which is surprising given the excellent dinner rolls). As burgers go in North Hills, the better option is at Five Guys, however I don’t have an answer for an alternative in a full-service restaurant (Fox & Hound is not better). Stretching out into Raleigh for better burgers? Try the Raleigh Times, Cameron Bar and Grill, Porters, and Chow.

Firebirds has been a big success in North Hills, with waits for tables on many weekday nights. Perhaps when the economy picks back up, there will be opportunities for them in North Raleigh and Cary.


Ray LaMontagne Returning to Cary

LaMontagneOn Monday, September 19, Ray LaMontagne will return to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Brandi Carlile opens. Tickets go on sale this Friday morning (5/20).

Here’s a little something for the sneering hipsters to ponder: when I was at Macaroni Grill, they were playing Ray LaMontagne. (commence writhing)


Follow the Durham Bulls Google Calendar

bulls1[1] The Durham Bulls released their schedule several months ago, and I have finally gotten a chance to create their home schedule as a Google Calendar. The calendar features abbreviated team names, so instead of “Durham Bulls vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees”, your calendar will simply display “DUR vs. SCR”. Each event page still contains all of the Bulls’ vital info such as their website link and the link to purchase tickets.

In order to add this calendar to your collection of Google Calendars, simply click on the Calendar tab at the top of this page, scroll down to the Durham Bulls calendar, and follow the link/instructions there.

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