OBX Weekend Music Highlights Spring Festivals

Southern Culture on the Skids performing at Shred Fest.
Southern Culture on the Skids performing at Shred Fest.

Hot music but cool temperatures…that sums up the weekend music scene on the Outer Banks.

Last fall we lost out on one of the best music weekends anywhere when Hurricane Matthew caused the cancellation of the Mustang Music Festival and the Duck Jazz Festival. This past weekend may have made up for that with Shred Fest on Saturday and the Mustang Spring Jam on Sunday.

Saturday-Shred Fest

It looks as though Shred Fest is here to stay and if so, that is great news for the Outer Banks music scene. And for the shredders out there on skateboards, BMX bikes, roller blades and yes even a scooter.

Saturday started with temperatures near 80 and it was all downhill for the chill factor after that, but the rain held off, and with headliners Southern Culture on the Skids and Los Angeles based Pharcyde, the sounds were varied, innovate and great.

S.C.O.T.U.S. never disappoints. A great show with their send up of Southern culture including throwing fried chicken in to the audience. But the show only works because they are so good musically that the audience keeps coming back for more.

It would be hard to imagine any two groups being any more different that S.C.O.T.U.S. and Pharcyde.

Hiphop and rap based rhythm and vocals, seem to have nothing in common with the tight musical chords of S.C.O.T.U.S., but talent always wins out, and the Pharcyde is talented and creative and worth seeing.

Shred Fest does benefit local charities, including the Mustang Music Outreach Program, veterans groups and the special need population.

Sunday-Mustang Spring Jam

Mike Dianna has been putting on the Mustang Spring Jam up in Corolla for the past six years. It looks as though this is going to be the only Mustang music festival this year as Mike recovers from the Hurricane Matthew forcing him to cancel his fall Mustang Music Festival.

One thing’s for sure—Mike has the magic touch when it comes to music promotion.

The head liners, Big Something and London Souls were fantastic.

Big Something’s music is a complex weaving of different styles with band members playing a variety of instruments.

London Souls is in your face, loud, head banging rock; but take a step back from how cranked up the volume was this is a duo that’s almost redefining what two musicians can do with music.

What Mike always does at his Mustang festivals is bring out some of the best of local talent and this year was no exception with Zack Mexico and the debut of The Ramble.

The Ramble was really good, playing a wide variety of arrangements and playing it really well. They’ll be playing around the Outer Banks this summer, so they are definitely worth checking out.

The shows always begin with the kids from Ruth Wyand’s Mustang Music Program. They never disappoint.

Music, Fun & Food Highlight May OBX Weekend

Music, Music, Music

There is so much happening on the Outer Banks this weekend that the only way to get to everything may be to strap on a jet pack and fly from event to event.

Saturday is the day a tough decision may have to be made…or split time between two the two events.

Sanctuary Vineyards kicks things off at noon on Saturday with their first ever Buns N Rosés – Grand Crü, BBQ and Brü 80’s Rock Party in Jarvisburg, A couple of wines will be coming out of the barrels, live music and local pit masters will be vying to see who makes the best barbecue around.

Shred Fest

Just two hours later, at 2:00 p.m., Shred Fest gets rolling at the Nags Head Event Site.

Shred Fest is a fund raiser for Dare 2 Care and a couple of local causes including area veterans, the special needs community and the Ruth Wyands Mustang Outreach Program that gives area kids a chance to learn how to perform on stage.

The headliner? Southern Culture on the Skids.

For anyone who has never seen S.C.O.T.S.—well, you’re in for a treat. Incredibly talented musicians performing an eclectic blend of country, rock and jazz, they never lose sight of how much fun it is to be on stage.

Mustang Spring Jam

For music lovers, Sunday brings the Mustang Music Spring Jam. Mike Dianna always does an outstanding job of bringing some of the best music around to the Outer Banks and it looks as though this year is no exceptions.

Big Soul is headlining, bringing to the stage a jazzy kind of a funk style. Hard to call London Soul a warmup act but they’re getting second billing. Expect a hard rock wall of sound done with talent and skill.

Ruth Wyand’s Mustang Music Outreach kids will start things off and they make it worth while to get there early. Some local talent on hand as well— Zack Mexico, and Graham Outten and Myles Wood’s new band The Ramble.

A nice touch for any Mike Dianna show—two stages…never a break in the music.

The weather is looking great for the weekend, so plan on being there.

Dowdy Park Grand Opening Worth the Wait

Three Hour Weather Delay Creates a Great Day
Painting a wall at Dowdy Park during Artrageous on Saturday.
Painting a wall at Dowdy Park during Artrageous on Saturday.

That three hour weather delay for the Grand Opening of Dowdy Park in Nags Head sure came in handy. If the weather was overcast with a little wind, at least it didn’t rain.

And that was a good thing, because the Grand Opening was as advertised and maybe a bit more.

Combining forces with the Dare County Arts Council to hold a springtime Artrageous in conjunction with the Grand Opening, Dowdy Park, located next to Nags Head Elementary School, was packed with kids, parents and good number of people who just wanted to be where the fun was.

DCAC Artrageous

Artrageous is a wonderful celebration of kids, creativity and the arts and at every turn there were kids trying their hand at painting, jewelry making, blacksmithing and so many more activities.

There is a very nice little stage at Dowdy Park and the local talent that performed was outstanding. The older students of Ruth Wyands Mustang Music Outreach Program really rocked the house.

Of course, after Artrageous leaves—it is a one day event—there is still Dowdy Park. And this is one time when the town of Nags Head really got things right.

With major grants from Trillium Health Resources and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Dowdy Park seems to have something for just about the whole family.

There is a wonderful playground for kids featuring some really innovative designs. Plenty of parking, although the crowds certainly overwhelmed the parking on Saturday. There are lots of picnic tables, many of them a large pavilion; a nice walking/jogging trail…this is a shining star for the town of Nags Head.

Once upon a time this was the site of Dowdy’s Amusement Park, but after the park closed in 2005, it took a while to figure out what was going to happen with the property.

Luckily, after purchasing it in 2014, the town made the decision to try to create a public area that everyone could enjoy.

It looks as though they succeeded.

Dowdy Park Grand Opening Delayed 3 Hours

Rescheduling the Start Time
A children's playground and walking/jogging path are just some of the features at Dowdy Park.
A children’s playground and walking/jogging path are just some of the features at Dowdy Park.

Will the Dowdy Park Grand Opening happen? That is the question of the day as we cross our fingers and hope the weather miraculously clears for tomorrow, Saturday.

It looks as though it will clear, although a bit later than hoped.

But to take advantage of that late clearing the skies the start time of the Grand opening ceremonies have been moved back to 1:00 p.m. That 1:00 p.m. start time may be a bit optimistic, but some time by mid afternoon the weather is supposed to clear and the day should end on a really good note.

The plans for the Grand Opening are pretty spectacular. One of the biggest—and best—of the Dare County Arts Council’s outreach program is there Artrageous, a celebration of the arts, community and children.

Traditionally held in the fall, the DCAC rescheduled to coordinate with the Town of Nags Head for the Dowdy Park grand opening. If the weather permits, that would make for one of the best kid’s parties around. Lots and lots of creative things for kids to do, local organizations are on hand with booths, there’s live music…in short it’s a wonderful celebration of community.

The weather has throw a monkey wrench into the plans, but the Plan B should work.

Today, Friday, it’s cloudy, very windy and spitting rain from time to time.

Some Background

We’ll have to hope it does turn out ok because the Town of Nags Head looks like it hit a home run with this one.

The park is located next to Nags Head Elementary School, which is also where the Board of Education offices are located. It was originally Dowdy amusement park.

At one time Dowdy’s was a wonderful little park—a great place to take kids for a couple of hours. It was very much a family operation; small, friendly with a wholesome local town feel.

Modern times seem to have overtaken it and by the time it closed in 2005, it seemed to be struggling.

When the town took the property over, a number of ideas were kicked around, but the one everyone seemed to agree upon was a park.

And it is a wonderful park.

HMS Pinafore Sails into the Outer Banks

New York Theater Comes to the Outer Banks
Sir Joseph, in the Admiral's hat, and Cousin Bebe in the purple dress. A plot twist at the end brings Sir Joseph and Cousin Bebe together romantically.
Sir Joseph, in the Admiral’s hat, and Cousin Bebe in the purple dress. A plot twist at the end brings Sir Joseph and Cousin Bebe together romantically.

Two years ago the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players (NYGSP) brought the Pirates of Penzance to the Outer Banks. On Sunday evening they were back at First Flight High School, but this time with HMS Pinafore.

One thing is for sure—two year has not diminished the skill or professionalism of the NYGSP. It was a wonderful evening of theater, on par with anything anywhere.

Like most Gilbert and Sullivan plays, the plot is a bit thin, the final twist that brings everything together absurd, but the reason these plays or operettas have survived for 140 years is because of the music and the lyrics.

Admittedly some of the lyrics are pretty thin, love ballads, but even when the lyrics don’t have the power of their political commentary, the music is exquisite.

But it is the political commentary in the lyrics that has made plays like HMS Pinafore timeless.

There is Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, who polished door knobs so well at his first job the “…now I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navee…” By his own admission, the only ship he has ever been in is a partnership.

The Love Story

As he explains to the captain of the Pinafore, in spite of his exalted status, the British sailor is the equal of any man—giving hope to Able Seaman Real Rackstraw, who is in love with the Josephine, the daughter of the the Pinafore’s captain.

She loves him, but he is beneath her station. They finally admit their love for one another, much to the chagrin of Sir Joseph Porter who had hoped to marry her.

The romantic twists and turns of the play are really just a vehicle for Gilbert and Sullivan to skewer 19th century society and politics. And what makes their plays so remarkable is how relevant the themes are to 21st century America.

The Songs

Beyond the political satire, HMS Pinafore may hold the record for the most well-known songs in one performance. The is the play that gave us When I Was a Lad, Sir Joseph’s song about polishing door knobs and becoming the ruler of the Queen’s Navy.

This is where Now Give Three Cheers—“Give three cheers and three cheers more for the Captain of the Pinafore…” first appeared. And I’m Called Little Buttercup. “They call me sweet Buttercup, Dear little Buttercup, Tho’ I could never tell why…”

Perhaps the best known of them all is He Is an English Man. Probably intended originally as a way to poke fun at spate of patriotic hymns and songs, the tune was quickly adapted as a point of pride by the British public.

The play was brought to the Outer Banks by the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Art Series. This was the last of their shows until the fall, but what a way to go out for the season.

It’s OBX Strawberry Picking Time

May Brings Perfect Berries to the Outer Banks
Strawberry hut and strawberry fields.
Strawberry hut and strawberry fields.

For about as long as anyone can remember there has been a strawberry patch just on the other side of the Wright Brothers Bridge. That’s Point Harbor for anyone studying a map.

It’s a U-Pick ‘em patch and the berries seem to be as good as they have ever been this year—sweet, bursting with juice with just a touch of tartness in the flavors.

Mr. and Mrs. Malco have been operating that patch for at least 20 years and probably longer than that.

This is the place where toddlers three and four years old learn about the magic of fresh picked fruit. This is where families keep coming back year after year because it has become a part of springtime tradition. This is where memories are made.

Strawberry season is short and spectacular. By the first week in June, summer heat is affecting the flavor and texture, but for the five or six weeks that they are in season, it’s as though the gods of fruit and flavor have blessed the earth.

How to Pick’ Em

There is some technique to picking strawberries, there is some stooping and kneeling involved. It’s probably a good idea to not tug too hard on the strawberry when harvesting it. Either the strawberry will fall apart or the vine it’s attached to—called a stolen—will detach from the plant. It’s also possible a couple of unripe strawberries will come with it.

This is a great activity for kids. Anyone seven or eight years of age and older should be able to pick strawberries unsupervised. Mostly because younger children try to pick anything they can get their hands on. It’s also important that they between the rows and don’t go walking through the plants.

We always made sure the kids tried two or three strawberries that were just picked. It keeps the curiosity in check and it is an incredible treat.

Starting just about the time strawberry picking is done, the Malcos have a few acres of blueberries to pick.

After crossing the Wright Brothers Bridge look for the strawberry sign on the right. If it’s there, it’s strawberry picking time.

A Great Way to End a Great Season

Virginia Symphony in performance at First Flight High School.

Virginia Symphony in performance at First Flight High School.

Outer Banks Forum Tradition

For almost 25 years the Outer Banks Forum has been bringing music to the Outer Banks. Over that time a few traditions have evolved. One of those is closing out the season with the Virginia Symphony.

That’s a tradition that we really hope continues and since they’re already booked the Symphony for April 28, 2018 it looks as though it’s good for one more year at least.

Saturday evening’s concert at First Flight High School was magic. The musical selections were outstanding. There was almost a cohesion to them; they seemed to make sense when grouped together.

Virginia Symphony Performance

The musicians themselves were absolutely amazing, which is to be expected from a professional orchestra. Still, they exceeded expectations.

And the conductor—Benjamin Rous…an absolute delight. Funny, informative and animated he kept the audience involved and interested.

He began by informing everyone that just 14 minutes ago he had been on the beach, talking to some bikers from western North Carolina. He wondered out loud about some of the names of local restaurants, and seemed particularly puzzled by Biscuits and Porn.

But mostly, he did a great job of explaining what was happening with the music.

It’s hard to pick out a favorite from the selections that were performed. There were some Brahms pieces that were challenging and wonderful to listen to. Two Sousa marches were performed—Thunderer March and Hands Across the Sea. And they were performed really well.

But a favorite? That’s difficult to say.

Princess Leia’s Theme by John Williams was so beautiful as it painted a musical picture of yearning for something unattainable. The Spiderman theme was a surprising choice and very effective.

And then there was the audience participation at the end with Rous conducting the symphony as he also conducted the audience telling us to not clap at all, clap softly or clap as loud as we could.

A lot of fun and it made for a wonderful evening of music.

Great Weekend Weather for OBX Bike Week

Slow Start but Great Finish for 17 Annual Outer Banks Bike Week
Bikers gathered at Longboards in Kitty Hawk for 16th Annual Outer Banks Bike Week.
Bikers gathered at Longboards in Kitty Hawk for 16th Annual Outer Banks Bike Week.

It’s the Outer Banks Bike Week happening right now. The weather didn’t cooperate much at the beginning of the week but it would be hard to imagine better conditions than we’re having right now.

This is the 16th Annual Outer Banks Bike Week and the weather through the end of the week is certainly the best we’ve seen in a number of years.

The music this year has really stepped up a notch with a two day music festival featuring Great White (Band), Slaughter and Molly Hatchet playing at Outer Banks Harley in Harbinger, just a few miles north of the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge.  That’s on Friday and Saturday.

Of course, there’s a lot more than just the music, although that lineup is really good. There are poker runs, contests and a lot lot of vendors are on hand with everything from custom tooled leather jackets to custom parts of bikes.

Vendors are located at the Outer Banks Harley Davidson, the sponsor for the Bike week, and Longboards and BK Shuckers in Kitty Hawk.

There is more music than the festival too. Longboards and BK Shuckers are also getting in the act with some great local talent.

The event started slowly this year—the wind and rain made riding to the Outer Banks a problem. But looking through the rest of the weekend, the weather gods appear to be cooperating.

There is a chance of rain early tomorrow morning, but after that, bright sunshine and perfect weather for the rest of the weekend.

Flying Pirate Half Marathon Attracts International Runners

Part of the fun of the Flying Pirate Half Marathon are the costumes.
Part of the fun of the Flying Pirate Half Marathon are the costumes.
The Race

A little more than 1600 racers were registered for the Outer Banks Flying Pirate Half Marathon. Somewhere between The Woods Road in Kitty Hawk and the finish line at the YMCA in Nags Head 400 runners dropped out, although weather may have played a role in that.

With a stiff northeast wind and hard rain at the start time this morning, it’s possible some runners decided not to even give it a try.

Too bad if that’s the case.

The Flying Pirate Half Marathon is a beautiful run though two maritime forests—Kitty Hawk Woods and Nags Head Woods. The course parallels Kitty Hawk Bay of much of the run and for the most part it’s a flat course, although there are some hills at the end.

Race conditions at the start were a bit wet and blustery, but it did calm down a bit, creating almost a perfect condition for long distance running. Cool temperatures and a light rain to keep the body from overheating.

The winning time seemed to reflect that. Asheville native, Chass Armstrong crossed the finish line in a blistering 1:12:13, almost 15 minutes faster than the second place finisher.

The Flying Pirate Half Marathon highlights a weekend of race related activities including a 5K and fun run on Saturday.

Sponsored by Outer Banks Sporting Events, the weekend is a fundraiser for two local nonprofits—the Dare Education Foundation and the Outer Banks Relief Foundation.

Where the Visitors Originated

In addition to its role as a fundraiser, OBSE races, which include the Outer Banks Marathon in November, are designed to promote the Outer Banks as a destination.

They may have outdone themselves this year. Although most runners were from North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland—and quite a number form the Outer Banks—there was a good representation of visitors from Georgia, Michigan and California.

However, the entry that really stood out were the four or five runners from Dalian, a port city in Northeastern China.

Kitty Hawk Looks to Restore Soundside Shoreline

Overwash from a March storm made Moor Shore Road impassable.
Overwash from a March storm made Moor Shore Road impassable.

Last month a storm blew into the Outer Banks from the west. As Outer Banks storms go, it wasn’t particularly memorable.

The wind blew hard from the west; there was about a half inch of rain and temperatures hovered around 50 degrees.

What the storm did do, though, what push water into Kitty Hawk Bay—that’s what west winds do— and that water overwashed Moor Shore Road, a low-lying street along the water.

Kitty Hawk Bay Overwash

The overwash has become increasingly common.

In a presentation to the Kitty Hawk Town Council earlier this month, Michelle Clower, Coastal Specialist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation noted that NOAA observations indicate the shoreline in along Moor Shore Road is eroding at 1’ per year.

At the presentation, Clower discussed two plans for shoreline restoration.

The simplest plan would restore approximately 400’ of shoreline. The complete plan would encompass 866’ and would restore and protect the shoreline along the entire length of Moor Shore Road from the bridge at the north end of the problem area to the multi-use path on the south end.

Project Details

One of the reasons the Coastal Federation felt the Moor Shore project was particularly important are the many uses of the road.

Although a secondary road that sees little traffic, it is an important part of the bike trails that link Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills as well as being part of the Outer Banks Marathon route. This weekend, it will be part of the Flying Pirate Half Marathon.

The smaller project has a cost of $70,000. The larger project would cost the town about $145,000.

Kitty Hawk Mayor Garry Perry, speaking for the Town Council, felt the larger project was the better choice, noting the longterm cost would be considerably less because of the greater protection it offered.

Perry indicated the Council would examine the issue in its budget workshop in May and see if the moneys could be found in the upcoming budget.