Larry Sabato and His Crystal Ball Comes to the Outer Banks

Larry Sabato at First flight High School.
Larry Sabato at First flight High School.

Larry Sabato is a pretty interesting guy. At least on stage he is when he’s talking about elections, the electorate and all things political

The Bryan Cultural Series brought Larry Sabato and his Crystal Ball to the Outer Banks on Wednesday night and what he said was a welcomed relief from some of the discourse that happens at times.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball Project

Sabato’s Crystal Ball is a University of Virginia political science effort that has been around for almost 20 years. Over that time he and his students have built a remarkable reputation for predicting what is happening in the political world.

He was very careful with his predictions on Wednesday, pointing out that some of the trends favor one party, but other trends favor the other.

Beyond the predictions, though, he brought a refreshing perspective. He pointed out, as an example, that yes, the Democrats made huge gains, but it was not by any means a tsunami. He also had a graphic of a tsunami to make his point.

Humorous in his presentation, his hour long lecture seemed to fly by. Much of his humor was tied into the presentation, so it’s difficult to take it out of context. Too bad too, because he did have the audience laughing.

His lecture contained cautionary as well as hopeful notes. He noted that even in districts that were considered safe because of gerrymandering, the other party one. It was proof, he felt, that the will of the people will find a way to be expressed.

He expressed concern about what he felt was polarized electorate. His solution seemed so simple—we just have to talk and listen to one another.

It was a very interesting night on the Outer Banks. Held at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, the Bryan Cultural Series did not charge local students admission. A fair number of kids took advantage of that. Good to see.

The Outer Banks is the best prescription for the winter blues. Check out our Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates listings for the best locations.

Outer Banks Performance of Messiah a Real Treat

Tshombie Selby performing during Sunday evening performance of Handel's Messiah.
Tshombie Selby performing during Sunday evening performance of Handel’s Messiah.

An Outstanding Performance of Messiah, an Oratorio

Sometimes rare treats occur in unexpected places. That was certainly the case on Sunday when the Outer Banks Community Chorus and Orchestra performed Handel’s Messiah.

The Hallelujah Chorus is certainly the best known part of the work, but the composition is actually much longer, telling the story of Christ’s life in song. The full composition is actually about three hours in length and is rarely performed in its entirety.

Under the direction of John Buford, the Oratorio that was performed at the Holy Redeemer Church in Kitty Hawk were section from the work.

What seemed to make this recital stand out were a number of performances. The accompanying orchestra, small but very talented, framed the music wonderfully—especially Leslie Erickson on first violin. Erickson can usually be seen performing for local weddings.

John Buford, who is usually the First Flight High School chorus director, did a magnificent job of conducting the piece. A challenging composition, the music is difficult, there are a number of changes in tempo and each solo vocal performance calls for its own technique.

If there was one aspect of the evening that made the oratorio memorable it was the vocal soloists.

Tenor Tshombe Selby grew up in Manteo but is now in New York, studying voice with some of the finest vocal instructors in the world, as he builds a career and the power and beauty of his voice was unmistakable.

Mezzo soprano Adrianne Derr was very good. The clarity and pitch of soprano Anna Feucht’s voice was astonishing. Soaring over the voices of the chorus and orchestra, her voice created an image of beauty as she sang the verses recounting the shepard’s story from Luke.

Kudos also go to Join Buford who took on the bass role, and did it very well.

The Messiah, with it’s memorable chorus and unforgettable music seems perfect for creating a holiday spirit as the end of the year approaches.

Finding the Holiday Spirit on the Outer Banks

Illuminating the night and creating holiday spirit at the Elizabethan Gardens Grand Illumination.
Illuminating the night and creating holiday spirit at the Elizabethan Gardens Grand Illumination.

Thanksgiving is almost here and that, of course means the Holiday Season is just around the corner.

Sometimes it takes just a bit of effort to get into that Christmas spirit, so in the interests of promoting goodwill and cheer among all our visitors to the Outer Banks and local residents, here are two Thanksgiving weekend events that we think will get just about anyone into the spirit of the season

Grand Illumination-Winter Lights

Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island is a magical place at any time, but as the days get shorter and the nights darker, strolling the paths of the Gardens, illuminated by thousands and thousands of lights in the trees, plants and everywhere is amazing. There are also some wonderful special decorations that seem to create a wonderland.

This is a not to be missed Outer Banks tradition.

The Grand Illumination is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it s a wonderful celebration of the Outer Banks community. High school choirs perform, there are cookies and cider—and best of all, maybe, the fire pit in the middle of the Garden seems to have an endless supply of marshmallows for roasting.

It’s hard to imagine a better way to find the holiday spirit.

Handel’s Messiah at All Saints Catholic Church

Located in Kitty Hawk, All Saints Catholic Church is as close to a perfect setting to perform Handel’s classic holiday opus as there could be. Spacious with amply seating, with it’s high ceiling and hard walls, sound reverberates. Perfect for the Messiah.

John Buford, who is conducting, is the First Flight High School music director, but that is just one small part of what he does. A remarkably talented musician, he is classically trained and has a real knack for bringing out the best in his choirs.

The performance begins at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

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.

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.

OBX Scalawags Fall to Harlem Ambassadors


Playing musical chairs with the Harlem Ambassadors.
Playing musical chairs with the Harlem Ambassadors.

Ambassadors Bring Basketball and Fun to First Flight High

The Harlem Ambassadors came to town yesterday for a game basketball with the local Scalawags. Although game is a loose description of what happened on the court.

Sponsored by the Dare Education Foundation, there was some resemblance to basketball, although it wasn’t always apparent.

There were usually five members of each team on the floor, occasionally the Scalawags had six, and when the ball went through the hoop, points were scored. Not always in a way recognizable by NBA or amateur rules, but a basket did count for something.

Playing before an almost sold out gym at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, the Ambassadors, made up of former college players fresh out of school, were in clearly better shape with better ball-handling skills. It’s very doubtful that any of the Scalawags, mostly teachers with a few youth league coaches thrown in, could still dunk…if they ever could. Except for the lone women, all the Ambassadors were comfortable playing above the rim.

Focus on Kids

But if the day was short on classic basketball, it was long on fun and providing a great time for the kids, and there were a lot of them on hand.

At halftime the kids in the audience came out on the court for a little exercise and a quick basketball camp. Between periods the Ambassadors brought a small group of kids to the court for a different form of musical chairs.

In this version, the visiting team carries the chairs around the floor as the children follow them around waiting for the music to stop. It was still the classic where the floor is always one chair short, but it seemed like a lot more fun than usual for the kids. And the little boy who won was beaming when he realized he was the last one sitting.

Making it a special day for kids and families was really what the event was about. There was some basketball played, and the Scalawags were given a lot of point handicaps to try to keep the game close, but when the final score was posted, it didn’t really matter, even if the Scalawags lost 100-90.

The event was brought to the Outer Banks by the DEF. The DEF supports a number of programs for Dare County teacher and students.

Outer Banks Wedding Expo Opens This Weekend

Outer Banks Wedding Expo coming Saturday and Sunday January 13, 14.
Outer Banks Wedding Expo coming Saturday and Sunday January 13, 14.

The Outer Banks—beautiful and romantic—has become one of the most popular wedding destinations on the East Coast.

As its popularity has grown so has a wide variety of professionals have found a home on the Outer Banks specializing in making that special day a dream come true.

The 19th Annual Wedding Expo is this weekend at First Flight High School and First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills. The events may be held in the local schools, but the pros on hand have become masters at transforming the space into something magical.

Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and effort and with so many vendors and services gathered together at one time, there is a great opportunity to get to see the most Outer Banks wedding professionals gathered together in a single location.

There are over 200 vendors on hand and tours of wedding venues are also offered. However, with so much to do and so many people to see some pre-planning is helpful.

Things to Know


Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Sunday 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Shuttle busses run between the schools and they run very frequently

Some Advice

Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved. The high school area extends through what would be a cafeteria to a large gym. The middle school is not quite as extensive, but it does cover a lot of area.

Take a good appetite. There are a lot of restaurants, food and drink vendors and caterers on hand. All of them are handing out samples and the sample are very good.

Take notes. This is really important. With 200 vendors on hand, it is simply not possible to remember every conversation and every impression.

Have fun. This is all about planning an event that will begin what will hopefully be a happy life together. Have some fun with it and remember to laugh.

Great Evening of Music on the Outer Banks

Combined FFHS Advanced Choir and Naugatuck High School Chorale performing "Prayer."
Combined FFHS Advanced Choir and Naugatuck High School Chorale performing “Prayer.”

Some of us sing pretty well, some of us not so well and everyone is rock star in their car. But last night at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills we witnessed something wonderful and marvelous—music that was transcendent.

Traveling from Connecticut, the Naugatuck High School Chorale combined with the Manteo and First Flight Choirs to produce an evening of music that will last in memory across time.

The Naugatuck Chorale tours every year, alternating between Europe and the US. They were on the Outer Banks five years ago, and that concert was amazing, but this one seemed even better.

The Naugatuck Chorale sang beautifully in their portion of the evening, their songs ranging from the traditional—“Ave Maria”—to a song poking fun at men and marriage—“I Wish I Was Single Again.”

There were performances as well from the First Flight and Manteo Middle School choruses, the Manteo High School Chorus and First Flight High School Advanced Choir.

The last two performances really took the evening to a new level.

The Naugatuck singers combined with the FFHS Advanced Choir to sing “Prayer,” a choral arrangement that took a prayer Mother Teresa wrote and put it to music. The should is haunting, beautiful and the music is very complex—and the choirs with one days practice sang it to perfection.

The showstopper though was the last number. Every choir came on state and performed Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie’s “We Are the World.” With voices lifted in song and a wall of sound filling the auditorium it was . . . transcendent.