Archive for February, 2011

Grammys Hit Durham Again!

by Lou Perron

Last year it was Mamadou Diabate’, the Malian kora player who resides in Durham. He won a Grammy for Best Traditional World Music.

Then this year, Merge Records, a local Durham label won Album of the Year for The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.

But I especially want to congratulate the Carolina Chocolate Drops for winning the Best Traditional Folk Album for Genuine Negro Jig .

         Photo by Julie Roberts, courtesy of Nonesuch Records

I first heard The Chocolate Drops a number of years ago, at an unlikely venue: E. K. Powe Elementary School.  Surprisingly, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were willing to spend their time playing at a public school with an audience of youngsters.  This alone was great of them.  But they put on a workshop of both music playing and playfulness.  And they had the rapt attention of both young and old (me.)   Through their musicianship, they preserved and enlivened this music, passing along an “aural” tradition and keeping it from extinction.  So they’re incredible teachers as well.


And these are not the only Grammy winners who live in Durham.  But it’s not just Grammy artists that make great music in this town.  Live music is at the heart of Durham.  You can find it almost every day or night. Go out to hear it and give it your support!

Here’s a totally incomplete mix of links for live music in Durham:

And some of the local venues/groups:

For more, try the Independent Weekly

So much live music here.


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Leave Your Car At Home


Over the last several years I’ve occasionally pondered the benefits of walking and biking in place of driving.  In my mind there are several advantages, though I will just focus on a few.

One of the clear and most recognized benefits is exercise.  My peak fitness levels over the years have occurred during periods of bicycle-dependent transportation.  During these times,  I could keep up with friends on mountain bike trails even when I wasn’t riding the trails frequently simply due to endurance built through everyday cycling.  While commuting by bike adds to my travel time, the exercise it provides enables me to cancel a few dedicated workouts throughout the week.

A second advantage is the way walking and biking lends itself to mental clarity and promotion of thought. I’ve noticed clearer and increased levels of thinking when biking or walking.  For me, the slower a transportation source becomes (car to bike to foot) the more my mind is free to think about things on a deeper level.  Although I’m not certain of the cause, I attribute it to the having more time and being less distracted when compared to the often-stressful car commute.   When compared to car travel, walking and biking promotes a peaceful existence and stress reduction.

Last, I connect more with my surroundings when I’m outside of a car.  I am more prone to exchange a smile, eye contact , or even a few words with someone walking by, than I would behind my music-filled metal and glass world.  Just last week I had a conversation with a fellow cyclist, which was sparked by his one word question: “commuting?”  This brief encounter, fueled by our bicycle connection and crossing of paths, left me feeling energized and was a bright spot in my day.

As a resident of Old West Durham shared with me recently:

Given the choice, we wouldn’t want to live anywhere other than a walkable, urban neighborhood like Old West Durham.  We can walk to a lot of amenities, like several great restaurants, shopping, dry cleaners, and even the grocery store.  In our neighborhood, traveling to Ninth Street or Broad Street is a short walk on all pleasant, neighborhood streets-  a far cry from getting in the car and navigating the multi-lane madness of the suburbs.  But more than that, in a neighborhood like ours we can really get to know our neighbors.  On our street we run into people walking their dogs, or working in their yards, or even talking to other neighbors out in the street.  When we head down to Dain’s or The Regulator, we often run into people we know from the neighborhood.  So for us, the walkable scale of our neighborhood not only gives us convenience, it also helps us be part of the community.

In conclusion, even in the midst of winter, consider how you might trade the car a few days a week to travel by bicycle or a pair of shoes.   As a result, you should notice advances in your physical and mental health, thought-life, and connection with the community around you.  I hope to see you on a Durham sidewalk soon.

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DPAC adds more accolades to a growing list!

In just over two years,  DPAC -Durham Performing Arts Center has really made a name for itself.  Just this month, Pollstar Magazine ranked DPAC #9 in highest year end ticket sales in the nation.  This says a lot about the community support the center has received since its opening in late 2008.  DPAC has been able to bring world class performing arts programs to Durham through its continued excellence.  Make sure you take time to see some of the wonderful events coming soon.

“If you haven’t been to DPAC yet there is no better time than this winter and  spring. We have over fifty different performances to choose from. Our mission is to present unique, one-of-a-kind live entertainment event. From Broadway to concerts, comedy to family shows… there really is something for everyone at DPAC, ” says Bob Klaus, GM at DPAC.

Read the press release about the ranking and note their upcoming calendar of events.

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We Have Moved!

We Have Moved to 401 C Foster St!  Same great building but more space!

By Mary Rae Hunter:

Last Friday, we packed our bags and moved to our exciting new office space.  We loved the location of our old space so much that we chose to make a move just a few doors down in our current building.  With the incredible growth that Urban Durham has been experiencing, we were anxious to relocate to an office that could accommodate our expansion, yet keep us proximate to where we make our home away from home:  Foster Street by The Farmer’s Market and Piedmont Restaurant.  Well, we were fortunate to find space within the same complex, so … we made the move and now we want all of our clients, friends and family to come and celebrate our new digs with us.  Very soon, we will be inviting everyone to a Grand Open House!  If you are near Foster Street, please stop by anyway!  You are always welcome!

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