Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Website Preserves Soul in Durham's History

Durham has a big heart and a vibrant soul, but did you know that it was once a hotbed for soul music in the 1960s and 70s?

Bull City Soul, a new website, brings the story of Durham's local rhythm and blues, funk, and soul and their place in black cultural life and community in 1960s and ‘70s. The site displays information, artwork and music gathered from Carolina soul music expert Jason Perlmutter, historian Joshua Clark Davis, and graphic designer Lincoln Hancock, in collaboration with the Durham County Library’s North Carolina Collection.

The site features an “Origins and Influences” section that reveals the influence of nationally know figures with Durham connections—Clyde McPhatter of The Drifters, gospel great Shirley Caesar, and comedian Pigmeat Markham of “Here Comes the Judge” fame. “On the Air” and “Soul Spots” are windows into where fans heard the music—from WAFR radio and J. D. Lewis’s “Teenage Frolics” TV show to the Baby Grand Club. The “Artists” section includes acts such as Tracy and the Jammers, the Shamrocks, and John Snells. Snells, known as “The He, The She, The It,” may have been the most popular soul singer in Durham not to put out a soul record. Infamous for his live shows performed in drag, he was backed up by a gender-bending singing group called the Rocksteady Dancers.

Listen to singles by bands such as Johnny White and NCCU, find out about spots like Snoopy’s and the Stallion Club where they played, and get a feel for the times and the context in which the music was created.

For more about Durham's music history, learn about the Piedmont Blues, or search for current music events on the Durham Event Calendar.

DPAC Sets New Broadway Season Ticket Record

The SunTrust Broadway Series at DPAC - Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham has set a new record for season ticket holders. More than 15,000 season seat members have made DPAC the #1 one-week selling Broadway season ticket program in the United States. That's why it's even more important to get your tickets now before they sell out!

The last broadway show to sell out was Jersey Boys, but as the 2014-15 gets underway there are still shows with seats available. At present, none of the shows at the theater have sold out for the Broadway series.

The upcoming shows pack quite a punch, too. Phantom of the Opera is coming back, but it's an entirely new production; the story is the same but the whole experience is different, so even those who have seen it previously will be engaged. The aforementioned Dirty Dancing starts tonight, Jersey Boys returns on 9/26, Wicked returns for the third time with a 3 week run on 10/4 - this is the only Broadway show to do so at DPAC. Also coming up are Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cindarella, Annie, Motown the Musical, Kinky Boots, Pippin, Newsies, and Stomp.

The theater continues to wow audiences each year with an exceptional experience and customer service, as well as top notch shows. The theater has received TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence several times. Those shows draw quite large crowds, too. DPAC consistently ranks in the top five busiest theaters in the US.

Learn more about upcoming events in Durham with the Durham Event Calendar, and plan a visit online.

Friday, September 19, 2014

This Week at the Durham Farmers' Market

Great variety and authenticity are expressed exceptionally well in Durham’s food - that's why Durham is the Tastiest Town in the South. Part of Durham’s exciting food culture comes from a fascination with locally grown and raised products, and from the chefs who prepare celebrated cuisine recognized in regional and national media. Each week at Durhams's farmers' markets everyone can be a chef with access to fresh local produce.

Produce available this week includes: apples, muscadine and scuppernong grapes, peaches, green beans, corn, chard, eggplant, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and more! Also look for meats, cheeses, flowers, specialty items and crafts.

Durham Farmers' Market
Visit the Durham Farmers' Market Saturdays from 8am- Noon and Wednesdays 3:30-6:30pm in Durham Central Park.

South Durham Farmer's Market
This week, there will be Pizza Faces with local vegetable in the Kid's Tent Visit the South Durham Farmer's Market on Saturdays from 8am-Noon and Wednesdays 3:30-6:30pm at Greenwood Commons, 5410 Highway 55.

Visit the farmers' markets, tour a farm, and discover more great agritourism opportunities in Durham.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Centerfest Arts Festival to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

Centerfest arts festival is coming soon in Durham for its 40th year. It's a great community event featuring food, music, activity, and for serious art buyers to view pieces from local artists and for casual art appreciators to browse and enjoy.

September 20-21, there will be 140 juried visual artists representing 17 states (including 81 North Carolina artists; 19 Durham artists) showcased and sold their original, handcrafted work in clay, drawing, fibers, glass, painting, photography, printmaking, wood, jewelry, mixed media, and sculpture.

There will be more than 70 performing acts on six stages featuring more than 600 performers with continuous music, dance and entertainment. A Creative Kids Zone will  provide hands-on arts activities and entertainment. Locally-sourced foods and international cuisine will be available for purchase. This year's festival will feature valet parking for bikes and a.Bull City BUCK$ CenterFest “scan“venger hunt. Scan codes at popular CenterFest locations such as the stages, food areas, information booths and artist booths to earn BUCK$.

Keep up to speed on everything happening here with the Durham Event Calendar, and plan a visit online.

DCVB Recognized For Exemplary Workplace Practices

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) has been honored for the sixth time with the 2014 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.

This award is part of the national When Work Works project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which recognize employers of all sizes and types in North Carolina and across the country.

DCVB's environment is a carefully crafted balance of work and life. "DCVB has always valued the work and the worker," said Shelly Green, DCVB's President and CEO. "Our team is held to - and reaches - very high standards. That level of performance is achieved by allowing staff to be people first and employees second. The flexibility we maintain within the organization is our nod to that need," she added referencing the efforts the organization makes to allow maximum adaptability employment demands to life outside the office.

The award is the result of a rigorous assessment. Worksites must first qualify in the top 20% of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers. Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an anonymous employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being, and engagement. “These employers are making work work in innovative and inspiring ways and set an example for employers both nationally and internationally,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of Families and Work Institute.

“The When Work Works Award recognizes organizations that foster a culture of workplace flexibility and effectiveness, which gives them a competitive advantage. Their practices set them apart from other organizations,” said Lisa Horn, director of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative. A list of winners is here and includes winning organizations by state: 

When Work Works is a national project that shares research results on what makes an effective and flexible workplace with the business community. For more information about the When Work Works initiative and the When Work Works Award (formerly known as the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility) visit online.

About DCVB
The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is Durham’s marketing agency. It is chartered as a Tourism Development Authority by the N.C. General Assembly and local governments to spearhead the proactive, strategic, visitor-centered economic and cultural development of Durham by reinvesting a portion of the visitor-paid “room occupancy and tourism development tax” in destination promotion and marketing. Employment opportunities with the organization are listed on the Durham Hospitality Jobs website. The organization is currently filling two positions.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Living Wage Trend Growing Organically in Durham, NC Restaurants

To talk with Gray Brooks about the subject of staff as family, it’s easy to get confused. Though not blood relatives, his employees are highly valued because they are involved in the common goal of serving customers well with the best product available at Pizzeria Toro in Durham.

In the view of Brooks, and his partners Cara Stacy (also his wife) and Jay Owens, as well as owners at other Durham establishments like Monuts Donuts and Cocoa Cinnamon, staff members deserve to earn a living wage. In a town so focused on doing things locally, welcoming diversity, and removing barriers to entry, this trend isn't a surprise.

"These are just a few examples of the brand values many restaurants in Durham represent,” said Shelly Green, President and CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB). The organization regularly touts the local focus of the community because it rings true in so many measurable ways. “Durham is known for helping businesses grow from concept to completion with the support of the community. That local restaurants value employees by paying them a living wage and offering benefits just furthers the reach of that cycle of support,” Green added referring to the fact that employees fairly compensated can be active consumers in the community they serve.

“We have a living wage guarantee for all tipped bar hours for all crew members,” says Leon Grodski de Barrera who owns Cocoa Cinnamon with his wife, Areli. He added that Cocoa Cinnamon also has a minimum wage of $13 per hour for all non-tipped work, as well. The specialty coffee and chocolate beverage cafe in Durham has had tremendous success in part because its passionate staff cares about the work, their products, and customers at the same time. On this wave of success, a second location for the business is in the works now at the corner of Trent Dr. and Hillsborough Rd.

“We value the full cycle of food from farmers to those preparing it,” said Lindsay Moriarty of Monuts Donuts.  For Moriarty, and her husband and business partner Rob Gillespie, this is not only about fairness, but it’s also good business. The two are moving their business to the location formerly occupied by the Magnolia Grill on Ninth St. – a space more than twice as large as the one they currently occupy.

“It’s great to see local businesses and the community of Durham taking steps to care for their staff appropriately by their own volition, and not in response to outside pressure,” said Green. “It says a lot about our community.”

Brooks is succinct in his position and sums his thoughts up nicely. “Our employees are worth it. They are the reason we are successful,” he said.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Official Durham Visitors & Relocation Guide Now Available

Discovering what to do and see in Durham keeps getting easier and easier.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau has just released the Official Durham Visitors & Relocation Guide (VRG) for Fall/Winter 2014-2015 both online and in print.

The new Fall/Winter edition of the popular, digest-sized guide features new content in the categories of things to see and do, dining, shopping, arts & entertainment, nature & recreation, history, and events. Durham’s three historic sites along with a discussion of Durham’s unique history are featured prominently in this edition in an effort to shine a light on Durham's offerings for visitors and residents interested in history. Durham, as the site of the largest surrender of the Civil War, is considered to be the place where the conflict effectively ended, and is the site of considerable visitor-focused activity in the coming months through the Spring of 2015.

The paper guide is designed to assist visitors who are discovering Durham while on foot and is a companion to online resources like the official Durham visitor website.

This guide is distributed to more than 145 targeted channels throughout Durham, at NC Welcome Centers on interstate highways, and is delivered directly upon request through the website.
Guides can be picked up at the Visitors Information Center at 101 E. Morgan Street in Downtown Durham, and requested online here.