Friday, March 24, 2017

Are we losing beach music?

Thanks to the power of social media, some friends and I had a very nice time the other day reminiscing about beach music and the memories that those songs conjure up. Songs like "With This Ring" and "Carolina Girls" and " You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book" and so on. Beach music is arguably the one style of music that is most synonymous with the Carolinas. The Shag dance itself, some say, originated off the Carolina Beach boardwalk.

For some of the older folks in the discussion, the conversation took them back to times shaggin' in Myrtle Beach or Atlantic Beach. For me, it was more about thinking back to the songs we listened to while spending summer evenings in my grandparents' cottage on Topsail Island and then, later, enjoying concerts at various college events featuring General Johnson and the Chairmen of Board, the Embers and even Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts. (My wife and I even learned the Shag for our wedding reception.)

But the discussion also touched on something else: is beach music dying? As one person commented on Facebook, "My big thing is how much all this great stuff has faded into history. The new generation needs to be educated. How about we form a 'Beach Music Revival Society?' "

Thankfully, through conversations like this and through events like the North Hills Beach Music Concert schedule in Raleigh, beach music continues to live on. (The N.C. State University marching band even plays "Hey Baby" in-between the third and fourth quarter of football games, which results in a stadium singalong.) Even some of those same bands continue to tour and perform. But let's do our part to keep it alive. In fact, we've created a Spotify playlist that is open; feel free to add appropriate beach music songs.

In the meantime, enjoy these oldies and (definitely still) goodies.














Monday, February 20, 2017

This weather is awesome ... unless you're a ski resort

I'm not gonna lie, y'all -- the ability to be out in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of February is pretty amazing. There were even some previously-scheduled indoor activities that I had agreed to this past weekend that made me feel guilty that I wasn't outside. (They seemed like great ideas at the time.) But you know who probably doesn't like this weather? Our good friends at the North Carolina ski resorts.

To wit ....

"[U]nseasonably warm weather has caused headaches for ski resort operators in North Carolina ..."

" 'This weather is crazy,'  said Chris Green, mountain manager at Sapphire Valley, about an hour south of Asheville. "When it's this warm no one's thinking about going skiing. We have a short time to cover our bills. Skiing on the East Coast is a very short season. Any time we lose skiing it hurts us."

Keep in mind, those comments were made almost a month ago. I doubt things have improved much since. Which is a shame, since the ski resorts offer some great economic benefits to the state. According to this article, a November 2015 economic value report commissioned by the North Carolina Ski Areas Association showed that the six ski areas contributed $197.2 million to North Carolina's economy during the 2014-15 season. In addition, the study found that the region's six ski areas had more than 650,000 visits, provided 87 year-round jobs and 1,787 seasonal jobs and generated nearly $40 million in gross revenue from ski area operations.

There's still hope. We still  have March to go. And it's not uncommon for us to get some white stuff then. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

State-themed North Carolina FC shoots for MLS status


After a decade in existence, the Carolina RailHawks soccer club in Cary, N.C., is no more -- well, sorta. On December 6, 2016, it was announced that the club is now known as North Carolina FC. And in addition to the rebranding, owner Steve Malik stated that he is "aggressively" pursuing a new downtown Raleigh stadium that will hold more than 20,000 people, and that he plans for the team to be part of Major League Soccer in the next 12-18 months.


The look and branding of "NCFC" has a distinct North Carolina feel, from the colors down to the symbolism, which we have touched on before here. From the team's website:

NC Star:
The white five-point star sits at the peak of NCFC’s crest and is a stark symbol of the star on the North Carolina state flag. ...
The Triangle Area:
The lower right point of the NCFC star, in the shape of the geographical Triangle area, stands alone to place emphasis on the club’s location. ...
Wordmark:
“North Carolina” sits in the center of the badge in white letters. The proprietary font titled Sir Walter honors the state capital’s namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh.

Football Club Wings:
The “FC” acronym lies between two airplane wings as an ode to North Carolina’s motto: “First in Flight.” Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright invented and flew the first successful airplane, the Flyer, from atop of Kill Devil Hill in Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. ...
Atlantic Blue:
Representing loyalty and stability, the crest’s predominant color, Atlantic Blue, lays the framework of the NCFC logo. Known for its iconic lighthouses, the North Carolina coast meets with the Atlantic Ocean for over 300 miles. Blue is one of the two official state colors and is the vertical field on the left of the state flag.
Cardinal Red:
Named for the North Carolina state bird, Cardinal Red incorporates the energy and passion of the club’s identity and fan base into the NCFC crest. Red is the second official state color and is found in the horizontal bar of the North Carolina state flag.
Southern Gold:
Southern Gold encircles the NCFC crest and is concentrated within the lower right point of the star and airplane wings. The color honors the state’s history of abundant gold resources and athletic excellence. The discovery of a 17-pound gold nugget in Cabarrus County, NC sparked the North Carolina gold rush in 1799, boosting the state’s enterprise into the 19th century. ...
Oak City Acorn:
The crest’s shield resembles the shape of an acorn, representing the club’s allegiance to the state’s capital affectionately known as the City of Oaks because of the oak-lined streets in the heart of Raleigh. As the seed of the deep-rooted oak tree, the acorn symbolizes the growth and ambition that NCFC possesses.
From Peak to Point:
The top point of the five-point star creates a peak that epitomizes the state’s vast mountainous region. With the highest mountain peaks east of the Rockies in the Appalachian Mountains, to the state’s seven world-renowned coastal lighthouses, North Carolina is a state that is diverse, unique and unparalleled.

Seems like the state is pretty well covered. About the only thing missing is a way to incorporate the likeness of Andy Griffith.

In all seriousness, kudos to NCFC for really embracing the state -- whether you are jazzed about the team name or not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We still love you, N.C.

The Old North State has been taking a serious beating of late thanks to HB2 and its fallout. Whether you are for or against the bill, it's hard to argue against this: it's been a public relations AND a financial nightmare for North Carolina. It may take a while to recover.

One positive (if you can call it that) that has come out of this is the level of praise for the state and for its people that has come from different corners of the world. For instance, musician Henry Rollins wrote this:

"It is almost impossible to describe how beautiful North Carolina is. For a few summers, I was shipped off there to live in a tent at a summer camp. Each day, we were given chores. Milking cows, feeding chickens, getting beetles off the vegetables. Since the late 1960s, I have always had an affection for N.C."

So as our state continues to take a beating, here is a simple stream of consciousness list of the things that are good and beautiful about the "Vale of Humility." Feel free to add to this list. There's no way to accurately capture all the superlatives. But, by God, I'm willing to try.  #westillloveNC


  • Barbecue
  • Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Blue Ridge parkway
  • Outer Banks
  • Crystal Coast
  • Char-Grill
  • Asheville
  • Avett Brothers
  • The Connells
  • Red clay
  • Red Clay Ramblers
  • Cheerwine
  • Pepsi
  • Grandfather Mountain
  • Tweetsie Railroad
  • Wine
  • Craft beer
  • Furniture
  • Sherry's Bakery in Dunn
  • Our colleges and universities (public and private)
  • Our teachers
  • Cape Hatteras
  • Our State magazine
  • Big city downtowns and small town Main Streets
  • The suburbs, too!
  • Sugar Mountain
  • Music festivals
  • Waterfalls
  • Grey squirrels
  • White squirrels
  • Cardinals
  • Venus fly trap
  • The Lost Colony
  • The Greensboro Four
  • College basketball
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Golf courses
  • Blowing Rock
  • Tim McLaurin
  • Lee Smith
  • James Taylor
  • Biltmore Estate
  • Grove Park Inn
  • Wilmington
  • Bald Head Island
  • N.C. Zoo
  • Pine trees
  • Dogwoods
  • Lake Lure
  • New Bern
  • Bath
  • Blackbeard
  • Angus Barn
  • Carowinds
  • Chimney Rock
  • Fairy crosses
  • Emeralds
  • Brown Mountain Lights
  • Chatham County Line
  • Ocracoke
  • Andy Griffith
  • Mount Airy
  • Link Wray
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Michael Jordan
  • Ava Gardner
  • Cape Lookout
  • Krispy Kreme
  • David Thompson
  • Halifax Resolves
  • Bojangles
  • Red wolves
  • Durham Bulls
  • Mount Mitchell


#westillloveNC



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Urban-rural-suburban chasm redux

This deserves repeating. With absolutely no additional commentary. Seriously. None.

The push by Republican leaders is the latest front in a battle in the Old North State between liberal-leaning cities and more conservative areas of the state, and it’s also the latest front in a national battle over LGBT rights. ...

The state is deeply divided between liberal cities and conservative rural areas, and with few prospects to take back control in Raleigh, progressives have looked to local government as a way to enact change.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's the holiday season, y'all!




We like to puff our collective chest out here in North Carolina. And mostly for good reason. One area in which our fair state excels is agriculture. And this time of year, boy oh boy, is it a good ag time of the year.

As we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's a good time to take stock of where N.C. ranks among the typical holiday trimmings, such as turkey, sweet potatoes and even the literal trimmings (Christmas trees).

How does N.C. rank?
Sweet potatoes -- We're No. 1! We're No. 1! In fact, half of the U.S. supply of sweet potatoes come from our state.
Turkeys -- The Old North State is currently second, behind Minnesota.
Christmas trees -- No. 2 behind Oregon.
Pork (Ham) -- Also second. However, Duplin and Sampson counties are the top two hog-producing counties in the United States.

Nothing Compares. Indeed.

[Image from Pinterest]

Monday, July 06, 2015

Nothing Compares



Driving back west down I-40 last night, I saw a billboard my friend Shannon had told me about. It's simple; it shows the letters "NC" with a pine tree in between with the catchphrase "Nothing Compares" below.

I saw it and tweeted (@matt_lail): "I'm digging the 'NC: Nothing Compares' ads. Nice job, @VisitNC !"

Unfortunately, I name-dropped the wrong state agency. The "Nothing Compares" campaign is a new branding campaign via the N.C. Department of Commerce, not Tourism. However, the point remains that I think this is very tasteful and very classic.

I followed up that tweet by saying that it's as if North Carolina said, "we see you and your Palmetto, SC. And we raise you a pine."

Anyway, here is some more info about the look of "Nothing Compares:"

With its scenic beauty and welcoming spirit, North Carolina has a special place in the hearts of residents, visitors and business leaders alike. Conversations with the people who know and love North Carolina helped us define the qualities that make the state so inspiring, and create the new expression of the North Carolina brand. The logo symbolizes the brand by focusing on the longleaf and other pine trees, a reflection of North Carolina’s strong roots and continued growth. The colors move from green to blue, mirroring the diverse landscape from the mountains to the sea. The tagline Nothing Compares captures the excitement of being connected to a place rich in ideas and opportunities.

The website itself features some nice pieces about the people of North Carolina, the very folks who "Inspire us all."

All in all, I really like this new brand and kudos to Kim Genardo and everyone at Commerce for pulling this off. It clearly has legs as I've seen caps and shirts with this look on them. (If anyone wants to send me some swag, I'm all for it!)  Even the Governor is getting involved. From a recent economic development announcement release (bolding is mine):


“Proto Labs is one of those 21st century companies that is helping North Carolina stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” said Governor McCrory. “By more than doubling its workforce, the company is demonstrating that nothing compares to North Carolina when it comes to being a great place for innovative ideas.”

The Nothing Compares site promotes a brand video; however, I can't get it to load at the moment. So, instead, here is Sinead O'Connor with "Nothing Compares 2 U."



(Image from the NCCommerce.com site)