Raleigh and Las Vegas

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Heading into Raleigh, NC, we had previously booked a flight out to Las Vegas for a few days, but we had time for a brief visit in the city.  Our first stop, the North Carolina Museum of Art, features the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures in the the southeastern U. S.  The free museum is also the site of the 164-acre Art Park, which includes more than a dozen outdoor sculptures, in addition to  winding trails, benches and picnic tables, a great way to spend an afternoon.

Luckily, our visit happened to overlap with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards and Festival.  Last year, an estimated 140,000 people attended the festival, and I think the crowds we witnessed this year would beat that number.  With around 85 bands, playing at numerous concerts and venues, in addition to vendors, workshops and films, there was always something going on.  The final 2 days of the festival include the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival with all free entertainment along downtown Fayetteville St, with several streets blocked off for six different stages.  Raleigh will be hosting the week long festival annually through 2018.

Having spotted Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen on the schedule, we made a point of being at the City Plaza Stage for their show.  This group was awarded the IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year the previous night.  With an award winning guitarist, mandolin player, banjo player and bassists comprising the band, it’s no surprise that as a group, they make great music together.  You can check out their music here.  They were followed on stage by Scythian, with a high-powered bluegrass, Celtic and gypsy sound.  The audience was clapping and dancing for the entire performance. (They've even played for the President and Congress, though that was a much more staid audience.)   Listen to their music here.  A dance tent featured clogging, swing and square dancing throughout both days, with the floor open to the public in the evenings.  Lots of fun!

On Saturday, we flew out to Las Vegas for a trip that was arranged a few months ago.  Having purchased a print by Anthony Hopkins at the Higgins Harte International Gallery during our trip to Maui a couple years ago, we were invited to an event featuring the actor and his newest art.  With about 400 in attendance, the venue at the Four Seasons Ballroom was set up with about half the room displaying primarily original pieces but a number of his prints as well.  Everyone in attendance had an opportunity for at least a brief conversation with Tony, in addition to having a photo taken with him.  

Taking advantage of our trip to Vegas, we squeezed in two shows.  Jersey Boys was top-notched
entertainment, telling the story behind Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons along with their music.  Las Vegas! The Show! was a combination of song, dance and comedy with a talented cast and beautiful costuming.

Now back on the east coast we're moving west into Virginia for our favorite bike trail in Damascus.  

Anthony surveying his art.
At the Four Seasons.

New York New York "Statue of Liberty" with roller coaster in background.
Paris Hotel and "Eiffel Tower" in Vegas
Fountain show at Bellagio
Dance tent in Raleigh 

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