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2016 Biltmore Summer Concert Series

Once again, the 2016 Biltmore Summer Concert Series has us queueing for tickets and booking hotel rooms on the estate so we can listen to outstanding artists under the stars on the South Terrace of Biltmore House. We’ve seen quite a few memorable performances at Biltmore, made more so by the mesmerizing sunsets, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the beauty that is Biltmore.

This year, Biltmore has an eclectic lineup of concerts that will appeal to a wide variety of visitors and music fans. Tickets for all shows go on sale May 18th.

North Carolina’s own, Daughtry, will rock out on the South Terrace on Thursday, July 28th at 7:30 p.m.

Rock General Admission: $62
Reserved Seating: $72
Premium Seating: $87

Daughtry is part of the 2016 Biltmore Summer Concert Series

Casting Crowns, with special guest Jeremy Camp, will perform Friday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m.

General Admission: $60
Reserved Seating: $65
Premium Seating: $75

Casting Crowns will be part of the featured entertainment this year during the Biltmore Summer Concert Series

Twelve-time Grammy award winner Emmylou Harris will perform on Sunday, August 14, at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Mary Chapin-Carpenter.

General Admission: $51
Reserved Seating: $61
Premium Seating: $86

12-time Grammy Award winning artist Emmylou Harris will take the stage as part of the Biltmore Summer Concert Series

photo by Michael K. Riley

The 80’s are back as Rick Springfield will be on hand with Night Ranger and The Romantics on Tuesday, August 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Rick Springfield will take part in the Biltmore Summer Concert Series

General Admission: $65
Reserved Seating: $75
Premium Seating: $90

Carolina in the Morning — A Musical Exploration

I’ve shared different videos of artists throughout this post to show you the differences each one has given this iconic tune.

Catchy songs always hook me, especially choruses filled with joyous reverie. That’s how “Carolina in the Morning” gets my toes tapping every single time I hear it. While it doesn’t have true roots in North Carolina, it has been adopted by North and South Carolina and definitely deserves mention here at Handmade NC. Written by Gus Kahn, with music by Walter Davidson, “Carolina in the Morning” started showing up in Broadway Musical Revues as early as 1922. I probably first heard this song when Daffy Duck impersonated Danny Kaye on Looney Tunes.
Carolina in the Morning
The song was originally featured in a very risqué Broadway revue called “The Passing Show” and interpretations are varied. However, they mainly left out from the mainstream today as the chorus is the big draw. Adopted by North and South Carolina, this song has been covered by popular artists including Phish, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Jimmy Durante, Dinah Shore, Judy Garland, and Danny Kaye. Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a rock and roll version. If you’re old enough to have watched the Dick Van Dyke show, you probably remember Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore performing their own version. A Cappella groups around the world favor this tune for their performances.

My favorite rendition is the one by Al Jolson, recorded in 1947, and outselling the original recording done by Van and Schenk by nearly double. I’ve included both renditions and will let you choose your favorite!

Lyrics (part of public domain):

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina
In the morning
No one could be sweeter than my sweetie when I meet her
In the morning,
Where the morning glories
Wind around the door
Whispering pretty stories
I long to hear once more.

Strolling with my girly where the dew is pearly early
In the morning.
Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each little buttercup
At dawning.
If I had Aladdin’s lamp for only a day
I’d make a wish and here’s what I’d say:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina
In the morning!

Where the morning glories
Wind around the door
Whispering pretty stories
I long to hear once more.

Strolling with my girly where the dew is pearly early
In the morning.
Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each little buttercup
At dawning.
If I had Aladdin’s lamp for only a day
I’d make a wish and here’s what I’d say:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina
In the morning!

The video quality isn’t great, but this is a recording of Phish performing “Carolina in the Morning” in Connecticut in 2007.

And again in Greensboro in 2003:

The 2015 N.C. State Fair “Nothing Could Be Finer” and the “Homegrown North Carolina” Concert Series for 2015

After this long hot summer we’ve been having in North Carolina, we are all ready for the N.C. State Fair. Counting down the days to the fair means cooler weather, fun foods, games that challenge our skills, exhibitions, as well as a great concert line up. The North Carolina State Fair is the largest 11-day event in North Carolina, attracting more than 800,000 attendees. Managed and produced by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, it is consistently ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America.

The 2015 N.C. State Fair will be held this year on October 15-25 with the theme is “Nothing Could Be Finer.” Started in 1853, the N.C. State Fair has become a traditional fall-time event that aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy. Their mission is to showcase and promote the state’s agriculture, agribusiness, arts, crafts and culture through the annual agricultural fair. (Ilina and I have a mutual friend who is a multiple Blue Ribbon winner in the baked goods category at the Iowa State Fair. We’re hoping she will visit one day and bring us some of her award-winning cinnamon rolls.)
2015 NC State Fair "Nothing Could Be Finer"
The State Fair is a a great event for families, groups of friends, or a fun first date. One of my personal favorite things to do is check out the display featuring the largest pumpkin and watermelon in the Expo Center. It’s always a great photo-op and makes a fun photo for your photo albums and Instagram.
Bumper Crop of Fun

Fun things to do at the N.C. State Fair:

  • Try to name as many crops, animals, pieces of machinery and crafts as you can in alphabetical order
  • Check out the 21-foot-tall Smokey Bear display and learn about healthy forests and how to prevent forest fires
  • Find out what the “buzz” is about at the Bee and Honey competition area in the Expo Center. Beekeepers are on hand to talk about beekeeping and the critical role bees play in producing our food. (The exhibit features a screened cage with an active beehive.)
  • See a Milking Demonstration and answer that age old question: Does chocolate milk come from brown cows? (Held between the Graham Building and Expo Center. Check out the daily schedule for times.)
  • Feeling Patriotic? Visit the WWI exhibit in the north-side lobby of Dorton Arena. A partnership between the Department of Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina National Guard, this exhibit explains the plight of the American soldier during WWI, and even the role the North Carolina State Fairgrounds played in the victory!
  • Head over to the Expo Center and check out the unusual shaped vegetables
  • Decide which agricultural heritage activity you found most interesting at the Village of Yesteryear on the fairgrounds (blacksmith, boat making, craft-making, growing large horticulture crops, cutting flowers, raising and showing livestock, making clothes etc.) and then Instagram a photo with the hashtag #NCStateFair

Sights from the Expo Building
Take the kids to check out the kids who participate in the fair:

  • Livestock barns and shows. Many youngsters participate in livestock shows, some barely taller than the animals they are showing. In the Expo Center, students can even milk a cow at the N.C. State University Animal Science Club’s Milking Booth.
  • Folk Festival. This event features kids of all ages competing in dance and singing.
  • Arts and Crafts. School work for grades K-12 are on display in the Kerr Scott Building.
  • 4-H Displays in the Education Building features scenes created by 4-H groups in the state.
  • County Fair Best of Show Exhibit (Commercial & Education Building), where adult and junior Best of Show winning entries from fairs across the state are displayed.

Sights from the Flower ShowFirst Weekend: Oct. 13-16

I’m looking at heading over to the fair on October 15th to see an old favorite band from my youth, Firehouse. I might even break out my very old, err, vintage rocker gear to wear to the show! Wait, I think it’s time for a NC Handmade Trivia Question: What was the original name of Firehouse? The answer will be at the end of the post.

NC State Fair Homegrown Concert Series

Oct. 15 — Firehouse with The Fifth

Oct. 16 — The Summit Church featuring Kaimy Masse, Hank Murphy and Summit Worship

Oct. 17 — Jason Michael Carroll, Luke Combs, Stephanie Quayle

Oct. 18 — Orquesta GarDel

Oct. 19 — Nuv Yug Presents Bollywood Night

Oct. 20 — Black Sheep with Shadina

Oct. 21 — Band of Oz and The Embers

Oct. 22 — Wake Chapel Choir, Instrument of Praise Gospel Concert Chrale, Watts Chapel Gospel Choir

Oct. 23 — The Love Language

Oct. 24 — Charlie Daniels Band and Kasey Tyndall

Oct. 25 — Nantucket and Sidewinder

All concerts are free, but floor seating (closest to the stage) will require a ticket, which can be picked up beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the show at the Dorton Arena Box Office. There is a limit of six tickets per person and tickets will only be available for that day’s show. First-come, first-served seating will be available in the arena’s permanent seating section.

Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., with shows starting at 7:30.


The N.C. State Fair runs Oct. 15-25. For more information, go to www.ncstatefair.org.

Discount tickets to the 2015 N.C. State Fair go on sale on Monday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m.

Trivia Question Answer: Firehouse used to be called “White Heat.” I saw them play when I was a freshman in high school at the local community college.

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World {Summer Adventure List}

Discovery Place science museum in Charlotte, NC, will always be one of my favorite places to visit in the Queen City. They consistently bring top tier exhibits to our area and I try to attend each one. I was more than pretty excited when they sent me an invitation for GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World. I am an audiophile whose family is filled with musicians (bluegrass) and quite a few of my friends gig professionally in bands.

This traveling exhibit is truly one for every age group. GUITAR explores the history of the world’s most recognized musical instrument in this fully immersive exhibition that showcases nearly 100 historical artifacts, including more than 60 guitars. It has made my Summer Adventure List, not just because of the historical and scientific significance, also because so many schools are cutting funding for music eduction. (And if you know me and Ilina, you know how important education is to us.)

GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World #HandmadeNC

When I walked in, it was wall to wall stringed instruments, along with performance video and audio, as well as hands-on interactive displays. I headed straight over to learn about guitar strings and after strumming each type, now realize why metal strings are preferred over plastic or catgut. The sound is so much better and the tone is clean and pure.

Science and Guitars

But Discovery Place is a science museum, why would they have this exhibit? Because so much of music and guitars have their basis in science. The human brain is uniquiely wired to remember musical patterns better than a series of numbers or letters. Researchers have found that seven times (i.e. numbers, facts, letters, etc.) are about the maximum that most people can keep in their memory. The exception to this is music. Much of popular music is built on riffs, which are groupings of notes that are repeated throughout a song. Our mental ability to embrace musical patterns allows us to remember long riffs when we can’t remember that many numbers.

Electric guitars also rely on electromagnetism to produce sound. Each electric guitar has a mechanism called a pickup that converts the mechanical energy of a vibrating string to an electrical signal, allowing it to be amplified, processed and reproduced. When the magnetic field of the pickup is disrupted by the vibration of a metal string, it creates a current in the copper wire. The current is transmitted through another wire to potentiometers, which are often used as tone and volume controls. The potentiometers, controlled by the knobs, adjust the frequencies in the signal that control volume and tone — just like a dimmer switch that adjusts the level of light from a bulb.

Sound can be measured. Sound waves move through the air, which creates pressure. The speed of sound is around 343 meters per second. You hear noises because your ears respond to this pressure. Decibels are the units for measuring sound pressure, just like the inches are units for measuring length. One a decibel scale, the louder the sound, the higher the number decibels. Zero decibels is the softest sound that can be hears and 194 decibels is the loudest sound that can be created.

Highlights of GUITAR

One of the highlights of the exhibit is the world’s largest playable guitar, a 2,255 pound, 16 foot wide and 43.5 feet long replica of the Gibson Flying V. This Flying V was prototyped in 1957 and released into production in 1958. The list of well-known musicians who have played the Flying V range from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Stanley of Kiss, and Eddie Van Halen, to name a few.

Other iconic instruments include the Rock Ock, the world’s only playable 8-neck guitar; a PRS Dragon guitar inlaid with 238 pieces of gold, red and green abalone, mother of pearl and the ivory of a wooly mammoth; a Ztar Z7S synthesizer guitar with a button for every fret and string (204 in total); and early Fender Gibson, Ovation and Martin Guitars that date as far back as 1806.

In the hands-on gallery, you can:

• Strum the world’s largest playable guitar, a 43-foot long replica of a Gibson Flying V
• Test your musical memory by playing challenge riffs on a virtual fretboard
• Bang out a beat on a variety of wood types. Which sounds the best?
• “Freeze” a vibrating string using a strobe light
• Design your own dream guitar

The rare instrument exhibit includes over 60 remarkable instruments such as:

• Early Fender, Gibson, Ovation, and Martin guitars (from circa 1835 to present)
• A Ztar Z7S synthesizer guitar with a button for every fret and string – 204 in all
• The Rock Ock, the only playable guitar with 8 necks
• A stunning PRS Dragon guitar inlayed with 238 pieces of gold, red and green abalone; mother of pearl; and woolly mammoth ivory
• Guitars with outrageous paint jobs and shapes designed for rockers like ​Steve Vai


Plan you visit to Discovery Place. GUITAR will be on exhibit from May 30, 2015 – September 7, 2015 and is covered by regular museum admission fees.

The following artists, manufacturers, luthiers, and collectors have provided instruments, information, and/or support to the collection: 

  • Steve Vai
  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Liona Boyd
  • Vic Flick
  • Johnny Winter
  • Adrian Belew
  • C.F. Martin and Company
  • Fender Musical Instruments
  • Pete Brown
  • David Hill/Nina Riccio
  • Phantom Guitarworks
  • EKO
  • National Reophonic
  • The Electrical Guitar Company
  • Dan Larson
  • Rich Maloof
  • PRS Guitars
  • Danser Guitar Works
  • Visionary Intruments
  • Starr Labs
  • XOX
  • Cochran Guitars

Six-String Saturdays at Discovery Place:

This summer, Discovery Place is activating Tryon Street with Six String Saturdays, a free music series featuring genres including jazz, pop, rock, sitar, Celtic, country, bluegrass and folk.

Enjoy live music on the patio near our N. Tryon St. entrance every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted). No Museum admission necessary.

May 30 – A Sign of the Times Duo: Van Sachs and Toni Tupponce
June 6 – Sabra Callas
June 13 – School of Rock
June 20 – SITAR from Festival of India by Amrita
June 27 – Shana Blake & Keith Shamel
July 4 – Kevin Jones & Joe Allen
July 11 – School of Rock
July 18 – Tom Billotto
July 25 – Alan Barrington
August 1 – Back Creek Bluegrass Boys
August 8 – School of Rock
August 15 – Bassments
August 22 – The High Ridge Pickers (2:00 p.m.) / Hannah Case (3:30 p.m.)
August 29 – J. L. Davis Duo
September 5 – A Sign of the Times Duo: Van Sachs and Toni Tupponce

Related links:

Summer Adventure List 2015  

April is International Guitar Month -North Carolina Edition 

International Guitar Month — North Carolina Edition

I’m something of an audiophile and couldn’t let International Guitar Month slip by without creating a list of famous North Carolina musicians who have graced the airwaves. This is a list I certainly enjoyed creating and hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it.

1. James Taylor — While Sweet Baby James wasn’t born in North Carolina, we heavily associate him due to the time he lived here and the one song that brings me to tears each time I hear it, “Carolina in my Mind.” In this video he explains that he wrote the tune due to homesickness and that is all we need to know. He’s a Carolina Boy. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

2. Ben Folds — Ben is a multi-talented Winston-Salem native who plays all of the instruments on the song I’m sharing next “Rockin’ the Suburbs.” The littles in your life will recognize this tune from the movie “Over the Hedge.” He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

3. Blind Boy Fuller — It would not be a list without adding Wadesboro, NC’s own Blind Boy Fuller. An American blues guitarist and vocals, he was one of the most popular of the recorded Piedmont blues artists. I particularly enjoy this track as it sounds like multiple guitar tracks were layered, but that technology did not exist until the 1950’s. He got his name after going blind in 1928 due to the long-term effects of untreated neonatal conjunctivitis.

4. Doc Watson — I grew up listening to bluegrass and it is the music of my soul. I am thankful to have watched Doc Watson perform more times than I can count. Born in Deep Gap, NC, and an eye infection caused him to loose his sight before his first birthday.

According to Watson on his three-CD biographical recording Legacy, he got the nickname “Doc” during a live radio broadcast when the announcer remarked that his given name Arthel was odd and he needed an easy nickname. A fan in the crowd shouted “Call him Doc!” presumably in reference to the literary character Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick Doctor Watson. The name stuck ever since.

I’m sharing Doc’s final performance on April 29, 2012, at Merlefest, accompanied by the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Doc was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

5. Edward “Little Buster” Forehand — Little Buster was born in Hereford, NC. He was an immensely talented blues guitarist and soul singer. Like Doc Watson and Blind Boy Fuller, he was sighted, but developed glaucoma at age of three. By the time his vision was completely gone, he was fluent on six instruments, including the guitar. His music is evocative of the 60’s sound and makes you want to snap your fingers and sway along.

6. Elizabeth Cotten — Born in Chapel Hill, Cotten was a self-taught left-handed guitarist. “Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar (usually in standard tuning), not re-strung for left-handed playing, essentially, holding a right-handed guitar upside down. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as ‘Cotten picking’.”  If you love finger picking on the guitar, you’re in for a treat.

7. Etta Baker — Another great Piedmont Blues guitarist was Etta Baker, born in Caldwell County, NC. She played both the 6-string and 12-string forms of the acoustic guitar, as well as the five-string banjo. Baker played the Piedmont Blues for ninety years, starting at the age of three. Her skill, like Elizabeth Cotten’s leaves me a little breathless.

8. Tal Farlow — Self-taught jazz guitarist Farlow was from Greensboro, NC. “Nicknamed the “Octopus”, for his extremely large hands spread over the fretboard as if they were tentacles, he is considered one of the all-time great jazz guitarists.” He learned how to play on a ukelele which influenced his playing throughout his career. I’ve only recently started listening to the work of Farlow, but find it a refreshing change from some of the other jazz artists I have on heavy rotation.

9. Warren Haynes — I’d be remiss not add Asheville’s Warren Haynes. As founding member of Gov’t Mule and long time guitarist of the Allman Brother, he’s also spent time playing with David Allan Coe, Dickey Betts, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead. I’m sharing my favorite Allman Brothers songs with Haynes performing, “Jessica.”

10. Chuck Brown — Born in Gastonia, NC, Chuck Brown was the “Godfather of Go-Go,” a funk music sub genre originating in the Washington, DC, area. If you want some amazing music that will get a crowd out on the dance floor, play Chuck Brown and dare them not to dance. Here’s Chuck performing at the 9:30 club in Washington, DC.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at North Carolina guitarists, but is a snippet of the great musical talent from the Old North State. Share your favorite North Carolina guitarists and musicians in the comments.