Apr 24 2019
In March, we wrote to you about North Carolina’s US National Whitewater Center. Knowing how the Tuck Fest event turned out last year, we had to get this information out to you. It was an amazing time for everyone involved. If you are in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, plan ahead because this event is one that you don’t want to miss.
Located in Charlotte North Carolina, the creatively designed USNWC ignites a love for outdoor adventure for both family as well as competitive sport enthusiasts. This weekend, the USNWC will be hosting its annual Tuck Fest. From April 25-28, 2019, guests may observe or participate in competitions or clinics. Vendors will line the walkway surrounding the whitewater events while excitement fills the air. The Tuck Fest celebrates the joy of the outdoors in this four-day, fun-filled event.
Be sure to plan ahead as the schedule of events is complete. From marathon and mountain bike races to kayak and raft races, opportunities to challenge your skills are plenty. As many will be attending, all athletes are encouraged to register early online. If clinics are your interest, the list abounds for learning as well. Rock climbing, belaying, kayak polo and fishing, trail running, yoga and more are scheduled for clinics. There will even be a class on Wildlife Rescue! Each day packs a full schedule of events.
Visitors don’t need to participate in competitions or clinics to enjoy the experience. The atmosphere created at Tuck Fest alone with music, food, family and friends is a win-win for all.
Inclusive Excursions will be one of the many outdoor industry vendors featured at Tuck Fest. Keep your eye out for our tent and stop by. We are looking forward to meeting you all. We ar also raffling off a Strider Bike so the little ones can start riding early! All proceeds will be donated to the Altivas Canas Children’s Project in Peru. Mentionthis blog and get a 10% discount on apparel!Come out and enjoy the event.
Fantastic Negrito is the incarnation of a musician who is reborn. In fact, the name Fantastic Negrito represents his third rebirth, literally coming back from death this time. The narrative on this man is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy. Fantastic Negrito is the story of a man who struggled to “make it”, who “got it”, who lost it all, and somehow managed to find his way back. These are singular songs by a true musician who writes and produces his own work. His songs are his fuel as he continues on the third comeback of his life, at a time when our world is in upheaval.
The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.
Heading into Destroyers of the Soft Life, the fourth LP by J. Roddy Walston and The Business, JRWATB pursued a brighter, more nuanced sound that teased out the band’s latent pop sensibilities without skimping on energy or attitude. As you press play on the opening track “You Know Me Better”, anthemic guitars scream out of buoyant, hooky lyrics as Walston’s chugging piano supplies a persistent heartbeat. The “bar band” sound of the past has been replaced by an aspirational, booming cacophony that could fill stadiums.
Instead of the raucous bombast JRWATB manifested on their breakout hit album Essential Tremors, the band’s leader had certain rules he was determined to follow on Destroyers of the Soft Life. One was:“Speak/sing clearly, no hiding behind mumbles.” Another was, “D.I.Y. but hi-fi —record ourselves as much as possible but have it sound amazing and full.” The final, most important, rule was, “Nostalgia is a cancer —acknowledge that you are in the present.”
Marcus King has been writing songs, performing onstage for half his lifetime, and fronting his own groups for nearly a decade. Since he was a teenager, he’s been trading licks with famous fans and mentors, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, whenever their paths have crossed. Haynes was so blown away by the then-19-year-old’s artistic precocity that he signed King to his Evil Teen label, released the band’s debut album, Soul Insight, in 2015 and produced the band’s self-titled follow-up a year later.
“Forgive me for I have sinned,” Marcus King implores, on the gorgeous, contemplative “Confessions,” an essential track from The Marcus King Band’s third full-length album, Carolina Confessions. “The pain that I put you through is killing me inside/Thought if I could make you leave/Then you would see/I ain’t worth a damn anyway.” This highly revealing moment from the multi-talented, confident 22-year old artist gets to the heart of the album’s fundamental themes, guilt and the quest for absolution. Carolina Confessions is confirmation of a preternaturally mature artist coming into his own; it’s a sprawling, scintillating work that affirms King as one of today’s most engaging, singular songwriters. He may be young, but King’s eloquent songs, expressive guitar playing, and ecstatically soulful singing mark this gifted, thoughtful young prodigy as a force to be reckoned with.
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it. Years–with its sharpened songwriting, unique perspective, deepened sound and roll-up-your-sleeves attitude–will grab you by the collar and put a defiant finger to your chest. It is resolute, blunt, and unflinching. Inspired by artists such as the Sex Pistols, Elliott Smith and Hank Williams, Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track, coloring the tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep.
Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that’s simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold. “I was writing an album about being in the mountains,” Childers said. “I wanted it to have that gritty mountain sound. But at the same time, I wanted a more modern version of it that a younger generation can listen to — the people I grew up with, something I’d want to listen to.”
Caamp is a folk trio from Ohio, making beautiful noise. Started by boyhood friends Evan Westfall and Taylor Meier, Caamp came to life in Athens, Ohio. Taylor began penning and playing original songs at coffee shops around Athens in 2013. Evan moved down a couple of years later and together in a hazy attic, enjoying light beers, they would find the heartfelt sound that became Caamp. Since independently releasing their self-titled first record in 2016, they have climbed Spotify charts, headlined the US, purchased denim jackets and added a bass-playing buddy, Matt Vinson – who also enjoys light beers and denim. With their sophomore album Boys on the horizon, the Ohioan folk trio have high hopes and no reservations.
With gritty vocals over rock riffs and horns, The Commonheart delivers an emotion-packed, soulful sound that lights up any stage. Frontman Clinton Clegg is a powerhouse who commands full attention with his limitless onstage energy and vocal range. The new album Grown is a remarkable display of each member’s talent interlacing heavy blues, soul, and gospel influence across trumpet, saxophone, keys, guitar, and singers. The Commonheart’s sound is a true testament to the past while completely holding its own as one of today’s most promising acts.
Known for their progressive song writing and energetic live performances, Mo Lowda & The Humble’s beginnings were in the beer-soaked basements of Philadelphia. Following the release of their first full length album in 2013, the trio, consisting of Jordan Caiola, Shane Woods, and Nate Matulis began playing venues throughout the city. After experiencing the high of multiple sold out hometown shows, Mo Lowda took their act on the road and began consistently touring the country. Their 2016 sophomore release, Act Accordingly, was a short and sweet embodiment of the band’s natural progression; refining their already formidable sound. Following that release, Jeff Lucci stepped in as the new bassist, bringing his unique songwriting and tasteful use of effects pedals into the mix.
A grassroots following, now hundreds of thousands deep, has turned to Sean for a kind of musical exploration for almost 20 years. Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Meat Loaf, Jake Owen, Brothers Osborne, Christina Aguilera, Buddy Miller and more have all recorded his songs––a dizzying list that spans not just styles, but generations. Success shows no sign of slowing: Sean earned his first no. 1 single on country charts in early 2018 with breakout artist Brett Young’s delivery of “Mercy,” which the two co-wrote. As a performer, Sean packs listening rooms and quiets unruly bar crowds. His sound––a warm tenor painting vivid stories over acoustic guitar often cushioned by keys or other strings––has prompted a diverse range of music scenes from the storied Boston folk community to Texas’s defiantly self-sovereign camp to warmly claim Sean as one of their own.
“My payoff is just making the music,” Sean says, then smiles. “Everything else is bonus.”
At 34 year-old, Sean has the catalog of artists twice his age. He released his first album at just 15, and until his acclaimed eponymous record in 2015, he did it all independently. “Bootstrapping your own career, you get to build at an organic pace that allows you to grow with your music,” he says. “It teaches you how most musicians do it. Overnight success is not the rule––it’s the exception. Most of us are doing it the other way.”
The Milk Carton Kids’ All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do waltzes into disaster and its aftermath. Though they didn’t approach the new album conceptually, a theme of shattered realities began to emerge out of the songs that sparked to life. Recent events provided a bruising background for the record, yet the project is somehow bigger than any personal grief. Two-part harmonies ride acoustic guitars high above the haunting landscape created by the presence of the band, as if Americana went searching for a lost America.
Souvenirs. Drew Holcomb has collected many of them. A road warrior for more than a decade, he’s spent his adulthood onstage and on the road, traveling from place to place with a catalog of vibrant, honest songs that explore the full range of American roots music. He turned a new corner with 2017’s Souvenir, a highly-collaborative album that finds Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors focusing on the things that truly stick with you — including family and friends, music and memories, people and places — in a fast-moving world.
“It started with golf clubs and country clubs, but now it’s all rock clubs”, Liz says, giggling. She spent the majority of her life developing her golf skills, only to drop her college scholarship to move to Nashville and pursue music. “Writing songs and playing the guitar came as naturally to me as golf did. But music tickled my brain in a way nothing else ever could.”
But, Liz didn’t know a soul in Nashville when she moved. So, she went and got a job at a familiar place: a country club. “Liz may not have known anyone when she moved here,” says the Stampede low-end provider Grant. “But now, I feel like she knows pretty much every person she walks past. She just doesn’t stop smiling, and people don’t stop smiling back.” Coincidentally — or not so coincidentally cuz, well, Nashville — some fellow co-workers at the country club also had a band. They called themselves Future Thieves, and they offered to record Liz’s first EP, Monsters. After that, Liz began writing songs as frequently as she smiles. She formed a band with Ky Baker on drums and Grant Prettyman on the weird long guitar, and they recorded the Live at the Silent Planet EP. And now, there’s enough new songs to record a full-length album. “The record we’re working on now is a combination of Liz’s darkly-lit, reclusive songwriting habits, and Grant and I’s Rolling Rock induced rock and roll” chimes Ky. “It’s about bringing our different styles together to create something that makes us all question what kind of music we even like anyways.”
For more information about daily schedules, race registration or to purchase tickets, go to www.tuckfest.usnwc.org.
Apr 12 2019
Hiking in a tropical paradise with panoramic views, breathtaking waterfalls and volcanic landscapes is on the bucket list of many, especially when considering the island of Hawaii. With trails ranging from family-oriented or easy to skilled or expert,this chain of volcanic islands offers opportunities to explore unlike any other place on Earth.
One of the most famous hikes is the Kalalau Trail. This 22-mile round trip hike located on Kauai, traverses through five valleys and across cliffs. Here you will find epic views on the NaPall Coast. It leads to Kalalau Beach, which is only accessible via this hike. It is a tropical paradise where you will enjoy panoramic views, turquoise water and white sand. However, please beware. Trails are narrow and quickly flood. Falling rocks make for unsafe swimming. Always remain cautious, but what an experience! It’s an outstanding hike.
Kaena Point is another popular destination. This is an easier hike with some folklore attached. It is said to be the place where souls go after death to leap into the otherworld. This wraps around Kaena Point on the western tip of Oahu where a lighthouse oversees a serene beach. Here there are natural tidepools, stone arches and stunning views. Often monk seals can be seen lounging in the tidepools. Little shade can be found on this hike, so remember to pack plenty of water and sunblock.
Diamond Head Trail is another easier hike on Oahu on the edge of Waikiki Coast. This three-mile round trip hike has a 500’ elevation gain with two sets of steep stairs, which can be strenuous, but it’s worth it. It winds inside an extinct crater where volcanic rock covers 450 acres. At the summit you will reach the Diamond Head State Monument where on a clear day you will see a spectacular view of Oahu’s popular south shore.
Another great hike is the Koko Head Crater Trail, which is also on Oahu. Depending on your ability, this hike will be thirty minutes to an hour, but it is one of the best. Be sure to take breaks as you climb the 1,000 steep stairs. This trail can be a grueling workout, but the panoramic views of Diamond Head and lava rock beaches are most rewarding!
The easy to moderate Manoa Falls Trail traverses through lush vegetation with spectacular scenery. Much wildlife may be observed including many varieties of birds. Please take extra care in the rain as trails may quickly become slippery. Also keep in mind that while the falls are quite a sight to experience, swimming may be hazardous and is not recommended.
Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike winds along the Kaiwa Ridge on Oahu. It leads to a stunning view of Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands. Its nickname “pillboxes” come from the boxes scattered along the trail. This hike is especially recommended for beautiful coastline sunrise views. If hiking with the sunrise in mind, begin early and bring a flashlight.
One of the more dangerous or adventurous hikes is the Olomana Three Peaks Trail on Oahu. Caution is especially advised here as there is no room for error. It is very steep with many drop-offs. Do not attempt this hike if you have any fear of heights. Dry days are the best to plan this hike. Peak One is strenuous with drops on both sides. Peak Two is less challenging with stunning views. Peak Three is only for the most experienced mountaineers. This trail is popular with mountain bikers and rock climbers alike.
Before undertaking any hiking trip in Hawaii, there are a few unofficial rules for all hikers as even the easiest hike may be dangerous. Preparation is key to success. Always tell someone where you are going! Proper footwear is a must. No sandals. Considerations for changeable weather is on the list. Flash flooding remains a constant threat, so beware of that possibility. Pay attention to ground conditions as slippery mud can be treacherous especially on steep slopes. Be sure to pack enough water for each hiker (½ liter per mile) and include plenty of snacks as well as sunblock. Also, there are many areas that are sacred to locals, so treat all areas with respect. Always make note of trail difficulties and only traverse those you know you can handle. Some hikes include dangerous cliff walks, where fatalities have occurred. Personal safety needs to be a priority. One last thought, beware of the temptation for the ultimate selfie. Use care when planning your photos.
Choices for hiking seem endless in Hawaii, so before you leave for your trip, be sure to research. Only a few hikes are summarized here, but there are many. When planning, in order to make the most of your trip, know your strengths and consider carefully. Most of all enjoy this spectacular experience!