Grammy-nominated bassist John Brown and his band delight audiences with jazzy, jubilant tunes and an inter-musician chemistry that has garnered the group an award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for its short film on recording music. During a traveling Christmas concert, the band grooves through a playlist of classic holiday favorites and original pieces, including an a cappella reading of John Brown's Christmas list. While Brown lends his internationally admired plucking to the score, a troupe of trombones, saxes, and guitars dusts off Christmas carols and sends them high-kicking and Lindy-hopping through the theater.
Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
After earning more than 50 national awards for its beer since the 1990s, Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery turned its attention from microbrewing to microdistilling. At Top of the Hill Distillery, each batch begins with 100% organic soft red winter wheat from Scotland Neck, which distillers handcraft into a line of award-winning liquors. Those include one of the country's five wheat-based whiskeys, a sweet-tasting vodka, and a gin that packs subtle hints of vanilla, black pepper, and hazelnut. When they're not making libations, the Top of the Hill team lead tours through its USDA-certified organic distillery, which culminate in tastings of each spirit.
The face of the clock determines just what sort of gathering you'll find at La Residence. On Fridays at lunchtime, crepes leave the kitchen stuffed with sweet and savory fillings, from sriracha-spiced shrimp to bananas and chocolate. But as the sky darkens, a more classical air settles over the dining room. The fireplace begins to crackle, and patio lights flicker on above brick flooring. Chefs prep appetizers of baked brie and warm bruschetta?overtures to an innovative French supper. They fill crispy pot pies with fresh seafood while monitoring pink cuts of filet mignon. Every night finds them experimenting with a different risotto and fish, just as each season heralds a new menu, replete with ingredients from local farms.
Even when dusk has come and gone, the restaurant doesn't sleep. Four nights a week, it becomes a late-night cocktail lounge: Cafe LaRez. Guests sip on mojitos, mint juleps, and French 75s made with gin and champagne. A dance floor beckons to antsy feet, but sitting-room corners and a terrace by Rosemary Street provide space for quieter chats. On some evenings, the restaurant even hosts weddings, amplifying the romance of the occasion with its rose gardens and historical charm. Guests can also opt to dine in an enclosed patio and joy an evening under the stars.
It takes a village to build a healthy lifestyle at the Chapel Hill–Carrboro YMCA. Fitness and friendship intertwine as positive staffers infuse the community with values such as generosity and perseverance. Teamwork fuels group sports such as soccer and baseball and more than 40 weekly exercise classes, which range from yoga to cycling to Zumba. Solo exercisers can flutter toward physical fitness in a 25-yard pool or chase it down on a host of cardio machines. In addition to building strong bodies, the facility fortifies spirits with fun-filled programs such as youth summer camps and parent retreats. Memberships come with several complimentary perks, including childcare, fitness orientations, and short-term access to other YMCA branches, and a free iPhone app shares updates about class schedules and flying-saucer landings.
At Snap Fitness? 24-hour gym, guests come and go armed with their access keys and are able to work out at their convenience. Around the gym, rows of cardio machines and stacks of free weights stand by as personal trainers show guests the most efficient ways to pump iron and bench-press their old refrigerators.