RECAP| Art of Cool Festival 2019 @AOCFest Ft. Jill Scott, Ari Lennox, Big Daddy Kane, RUN-DMC and more! #AOCFest

Art of Cool Festival 2019 | Recap by SobeSavvy.com

Art of Cool Festival 2019 | Recap by SobeSavvy.com

Durham, NC was the place to be this past weekend (Friday, September 27-Sunday, September 29) for the 6th Annual Art Of Cool Festival also known as the AOCFest! This festival, which features great music, good food trucks,community engagement and sponsor activations, has quickly become the premiere late summer cultural experience that should not be missed!

PLAN YOUR STAY

Since SobeSavvy.com was there to provide local media coverage for the weekend, I decided to make it a workcation and checked into one of the official hotels of the AOCFest. The Aloft Durham Downtown proved to be an excellent choice with its urban style and comfort amenities PLUS it is the closest hotel to the festival’s main venue, Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Guests attending the festival were provided a special group rate if booked in advance. I definitely would plan ahead to stay here next year or anytime you want to Stay & Play in Durham!

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2019 LINEUP

Produced by The Dome Group LLC, AOCFest 2019 featured 20+ R&B, Neo-Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz, alternative and spoken word artists at multiple venues in Durham.

FRIDAY

The Masonic Lodge is where various DJ parties were being held all weekend in one of their event rooms. DJ RNB was spinning and there was also a bar sponsored by Durham’s own Bedlam Vodka, who I had the pleasure of reviewing and sharing recipes >> here on my blog!

Later that evening, “Cooligans” were seen at the 2019 AOCFest Urban Vendor Market being held on Blackwell Street. Food Trucks along with a variety of vendors lined the closed down area. We had a few delicious shrimp tacos from @shrimptrucknc to fuel us up for the headliners at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium next door.

We also did a little shopping at the 2019 AOCFest Urban Vendor Market and I purchased some organic Shea Butter products from Nailah’s Shea. I also ate chicken and waffles from Big C’s Waffles food truck. We also spotted “Thelma” from Good Times, Bernadette Stanis who had her books for sale and was taking pics with fans!

We arrived in time to see the group Black Violin were on the stage. A duo from Florida, this group takes classical violin training and combine it with a hip-hop twist.

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Next up was artist Ari Lennox. She is the first female signed to J.Cole’s record label. Fans got to hear and see her perform hits from her successful album entitled “Shea Butter Baby”. Her creative singing style and bold lyrics energized the crowd. Her future is limitless and as bright as her smile!

Up next was the the incomparable Miss Jill Scott. She has been an entire industry upon herself over the past almost 20 years. Album upon album of iconic poetry tinged R&B songs captured the attention of an entire generation. Her catalog is deep and she did not disappoint. Her stage presence is simply unmatched. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand. We sang the songs with her and just showered her with love and affection for all her music means to us. Great night to kick
off the festival.
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SATURDAY
A stay at the Aloft Downtown Durham allowed for me to wake up to an awesome view of Diamond View Park at the American Tobacco Campus where Power Yoga, a free community engagement event hosted by The Art Of Cool Festival, was held at 10am & 11am on Saturday. Such a great way to start the day!

DJ Fatz took us back with a “2Pac vs Biggie” during a day party at Masonic Lodge. He did an awesome job blendiing two titans of rap by mixing their hits back to back. Every lyric to every hit record was sung by the festive crowd. Realizing how we lost both so young was sobering but celebrating their music was inspiring.

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We headed back to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium for a night full of legendary hip-hop featuring
Big Daddy Kane, Whodini and RUN- DMC. Before they took the stage DJ
Skillz showed some amazing work on the 1’s and 2’s. He played everything from old school hip to new school R&B. This man truly is in a league of his own in the DJ world.

Big Daddy Kane feat. The Symphony took the stage looking and sounding amazing! Back like he never left, he
performed as if he has not lost a step. His rapping skills go from fast to slow and he rocked the mic no matter the tempo. He was joined on stage by his Bboy dancer, his little son showed of his moves too, and the legendary Cool G Rap was there for an epic performance of The Symphony. If you ever get a chance to see Big Daddy Kane live you will see there Ain’t No Half Steppin EVER with him!

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Next up was the group Whodini, who blazed the stage performing hit after hit such as “Big Mouth”, “One Love”, “The Freaks Come Out At Night” and “Friends”. Lead rapper Jalil did come out in his signature Zorro style hat and the ladies went wild!

By the time RUN-DMC took the stage, the electricity of anticipation was in the air. Rap was still in it’s infancy during the mid 80’s and RUN-DMC almost single handidly was responsible for rap crossing over to
mainstream America. Every successful rapper owe them a debt of gratitude. Time stood still during their set. It was as if they transported all of us back to the 80’s. Their catalog of hit records is immense. They only performed a sampling of them with “King Of Rock”, “It’s Tricky”, “Peter Piper”, “Run’s House” and many more! The crowd showed their love by coming dressed in Adidas, or rocking RUN DMC tees. Even AOCFest was selling “RUN AOC” tshirts to honor the group and he festival. RUN DMC are true icons that are rightly revered as some of the founders of Hip-Hop.

The festival ended on Sunday with a VIP Brunch featuring The Hamiltones that took place at the Durham Convention Center.

If I had one word to describe the Art Of Cool Festival 2019 it would be DOPE! Amazing weekend and phenomonal performances. The AOCFest once again proved that with the right mix of artists and audience, you can expect a dope cultural experience. 👀 Watch my full recap video for more fun highlights

For more information on the 2019 Art of Cool Festival (AOCFest), visit aocfestival.com.

Twitter: @AOCFest #AOCFest

Instagram: @AOCFest #AOCFest

Facebook: Facebook.com/AOCFest

Spotify: AOCFest Playlists

********Read previous AOCFest recap coverage >>>here

Did you attend AOCFest this year? If YES, who did you enjoy most? If NO, which artist would you have been most excited to see?

#DateNight Ideas|Plan a Havana Nights Theme Night Out in #Durham @amendolacigars @CubanRevolution

It’s Friday night and my 7 year old has plans to go on her first sleepover, so I let my creative juices flow and planned a Date Night Out for my husband and I. The Theme: Havana Nights. The Place: Durham,NC …but first I had to get date night ready and shop for the perfect outfit. I hit up a thrift store for these Cuban inspired fashions.

DATE NIGHT OUTFIT

Red Dress + Heels by Jessica Simpson + Bracelet + Hair Flower Accessory and Printed Shirt for Him from Carolina Thrift

This Mama is date night ready!

Residents living in The Triangle are blessed to have a plethora of choices when it comes to date night. Durham was our area of choice this Friday night because its a vibrant city that has been in the midst of an urban renaissance over the past 10 years and it continues. There are a multitude of bars, lounges and hot spots all over Bull City. So we got in the car and headed to Downtown Durham. My husband made a customized Latin Jams playlist on Spotify for us to jam to along the way! My new fave is by Will Smith/Marc Antony/Bad Bunny! Have you heard it? Take a look and listen here ⤵️

Lounging at Amendola Family Cigar Co.

Living in Miami for almost 20 years, my husband and I grew an appreciation for cigars. However it is a pastime that we just don’t get a chance to indulge in as parents. I knew surprising him with a visit to Amendola Family Cigar Co. would be a great place to kick off our date night!

This local down-to-earth cigar lounge is a converted house with a full size walk in humidor and also a fire pit on the front patio that welcomes cigar aficionados to sit fireside and relax with their favorite cigar. It is the brainchild of founder Jeff Amendola. Originally from Bronx, NY. he states…”My interest in cigars created a bigger monster, collecting cigar boxes! In 2010, I decided to put my fascination and love for cigars into action and started my own cigar manufacturing business! I want the cigar smokers in my community and beyond to experience a fresh hand rolled cigar without having to go to Cuba, The Dominican Republic, or cities like Miami to enjoy a fresh hand rolled cigar.” Jeff invited us to try out two of their cigars. A full bodied Maduro for my husband and the Sweet Carolina, a mild cigar with a sugar tip, for me.

We sat and chatted over a glass of bourbon and rum (the lounge is BYOB} for about an hour while Jeff walked us through their business and supply line from Honduras. Only premium Honduran leaf and some in his line have Cuban seed. They sell cigars from Chocolate to Bold and everything in between! The lounge also offers various memberships that allow patrons to have their own custom name plated locker where they can keep their stash of cigars and libation secure on the premises. The comfy atmosphere and choices make Amendola the go to spot on a date night or just when you want to sit solo and reflect in a relaxing space. It’s the perfect place to pregame, end the night or just unwind anytime. Be sure to check them out and follow on Instagram @amendolafamilycigars.

Dinner at Cuban Revolution Durham

Let’s face it, when you mention NC, the words “latin” is not the first thing to come to one’s mind. Lucky for us we were invited to try out a restaurant called Cuban Revolution located in Durham’s Warehouse District on Blackwell Street. A stone’s throw from the DPAC and Durham Bulls Stadium, this restaurant/bar had quite a vibe on a Friday night!

Their menu covers the very best of Cuban cuisine. You can choose to get a few tapas and cocktails or a full blown dinner. The iconic Cuban Sandwich is front and center. All their sandwiches are made on pressed authentic Cuban bread. They also had different pork entrees in the Cuban tradition.

We started off our Havana Nights culinary adventure with two cocktails and two tapas : Mango Mojito • Caipirihna • Fried Green Beans • Gambas Ajo. The tapas were a recommendation of our server named Demi. She was quite helpful and knowledgeable of the menu. We decided to share a Havana Pork Platter. The pork is slow roasted in Mojo and Adobo served with rice, beans and plantains. It was just enough for the both of us to have room for some of their Key Lime Cheescake and a Cafe Cubano.

SobeSavvy Tip: Every Friday and Saturday night a band starts at 9:30pm, so make plans to enjoy a live performance with your meal. For more info, follow on Instagran @cubanrevolution

👀Watch YouTube Video of Highlights from our Date Night In Durham -“Havana Nights”❤

➡️As parents, date nights are rare, so I wanna know, on your last date night, where did you go? Let me know in the comments below!⤵️


CONNECT WITH ME – Leslie at SobeSavvy.com Facebook |YouTube| Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Celebrate #NationalVodkaDay with @BedlamVodka + Try this Fall #Vodka #CocktailRecipe

October is here?! Can you believe it. Seems like the summer has gone by so quickly, which is why I try to make the most of every season. Life in general is to be celebrated and I like making the most of any occasion.

Today I am celebrating National Vodka Day and sharing with you a Fall cocktail recipe using Bedlam Vodka. Based in Durham, NC, Bedlam has a unique smooth flavor profile and was recently voted top 10 by USA Today as one of the 10 Best Craft Vodka Distilleries in the United States! A panel of 7 distinguished spirits experts from throughout the US nominated the final 10 distilleries and it was a proud moment to see my fave that is made here locally on the list! One taste and you will see why this vodka is an outstanding base for a myriad of different cocktails recipes as well as great served chilled by its self.

Fall means shorter days and a chill in the air (although here in NC, we are forcasted for high 80s this week). It also means fans of cocktail culture get a chance to indulge in seasonal favorites. Now I do enjoy Bedlam all year long, but I like to make one of my favorite cocktails for friends in celebration of the arrival of Autumn.

Hubby likes to mix things up for our patio chats and this time he created what I like to call “The Fall Harvest“. Served in traditional mule copper mug, the recipe is below:

THE FALL HARVEST COCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

Fresh Lime Juice
Ginger Beer
Apple Cider
Bedlam Vodka
half slice Fuji Apple on Top

●Shake ingredients and pour over ice filled Copper Mug and top w/apple

It’s an awesome fall cocktail for the season! Check out more Bedlam Vodka cocktail recipes here: https://bedlamvodka.com/cocktails/

Thank you for reading and please let me know in the comments below what cocktail will you be enjoying this Fall? Cheers🥃!

Event Recap | The Art of Cool Festival 2018 – 5th Yr Anniversary @aocfest #AOCFEST | by SobeSavvy.com

The Art of Cool Festival 2018 has come to a close, but we here at SobeSavvy.com was fortunate to attend and share with you some of the magical moments from #AOCFEST. There has been so much growth since we attended the Art of Cool Fest in 2015, and I am so glad to be apart of highlighting this amazing festival. This past weekend, we celebrated the 5th Anniversary of this great music festival that brings jazz-inspired music, artists and all the Cooligans together in Downtown Durham, NC. Trust me, you don’t want to miss next year!

This year the AOCFEST experience was expanded to include Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop and Soul performances by renowned artists from around the world! 20+ artists, 6 venues, 1 price to enjoy: Live Music Concerts, shop from local vendors at the Urban Street Market, dance, mingle and network at the various Day Parties, savor Durham cuisine from the featured Food Trucks and quench your thirst at the Beergarden. The AOCFEST 2018 truly had something for everyone. It’s an amazing sensory experience you must see, taste, hear, and feel!

DAY 1- SEPT 28

The fun began on Friday with the arrival of music lovers to Downtown Durham. Festival goers could shop for some official merch at Wristband City, grab a cocktail, and listen to live music at various pop ups and attend free Innovate Your Cool seminars / workshops focused on Innovation, Music and Culture. I caught at DJ set on the rooftop at Unscripted Hotel where The Lux Blog held a meet-up mixer to welcome everyone including bloggers/social media influencers to the Art of Cool festival. It was a vibe!

Downtown Durham is a walkable city and the perfect place to host the AOCFEST because all the venues are conveniently within walking distance to each other. Just a couple of blocks over from Unscripted, I was able to catch MeShell N’degeocello at the Carolina Theater. She is a talented singer and musician who reminded us in the audience that although the lighting was not ideal, MUSIC. IS. SOMETHING. YOU. FEEL. She took us down memory lane by singing her funky smooth renditions of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam “I Wonder If I Take You Home”, Al B. Sure “Night & Day” and TLC ‘s “Waterfalls” along with her classic song “Grace” from her album Bitter.

Maxwell headlined at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which is new on this list as an official AOCFEST stage. Everyone who was either seated in the stadium watching his concert from the jumbo screen or on the field could see his moves and feel his groove! There were so many favorite songs by the incomparable male singer that turned into a sing-a-long, such as “Pretty Wings”, “Bad Habits” and “Fortunate”.

Watch Video Highlights of Photo Recap from Day 1 As Seen on the Scene by SobeSavvy.com! ⤵️

Day 2 – SEPT 29

Downtown Durham was the place to be for the second and last day of music and festivities. Even if you were not going to the concerts, there were so many ways to support the community and enjoy the amazingly cool city of Durham. A 90’s style vintage pop up party hosted by The Key to Style was my first stop before heading to the heart of the Bull City. CCB Plaza, near the iconic bull statue, is where emerging artists performed cyphers and Hip Hop radio station K97.5 held a block party showcasing local talent.

From there, I took a short walk to Pinhook, an iconic live music venue in Durham perfectly sized for intimate performances. Durham’s own Zoo Cru were up first. This quartet of musicians jammed out to their own unique sounds that is really beyond description. Not electronica and not R&B but a subtle blend of both. I love to support local, so I enjoyed my first listen from this popular band.

Next up at Pinhook was renowned trumpeter Keyon Harrold. He has done music and horns for A listers such as Beyonce and JayZ over the years. In addition, Mr. Harrold did the music for the hollywood movie “Miles”, so his resume is unmatched. Wynton Marsalis has called him “The Future of the Trumpet”. He did not dissapoint. His breath control and range were simply amazing. He was paired with a female vocalist which added a different angle to his horn. Unique and dynamic music is just one of the many things you will always experience at AOCFEST.

What’s a festival without the opportunity to shop from a variety of vendors? The Urban Market, set up on Blackwell Street, was the answer for those of us who like to shop local. Vendors were on hand selling quality products such as clothing, artwork, accessories and natural body care products, like my favorite Nailah Shea. Enthusiastic and stylish crowds took advantage of the warm, sunny afternoon in the Bull City. It was fun for the whole family!

My AOCFEST experience ended with seeing the one and only Erykah Badu, who is the first female to headline the Art of Cool Festival. Nas had just rocked the mic and said goodnight as i was entering the stadium. Before Ms.Badu came to the stage at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the crowd heard from the new President and VP of The Art of Cool Festival, Sulaiman and Lesleigh Mausi, Founders of The DOME Group, LLC. They thanked the sponsors and all the fans for a fabulous Art of Cool Festival weekend.

Ms. Badu came to the stage with her big hat, her big hair to match her big voice and asked..”Brothers, how y’all feel? Sistahs, y’all alrite” ? She really needed no introduction because her energy fills up any atmosphere. Erykah Badu almost single handidly created the genre called “Neo Soul”. Her music, style and delivery of colorful lyrics has made her one of the most unique talents of our time! Fans filled up Durham Bulls Athletic Park and joined together to celebrate her greatness which like her song, goes “On and On”.

Watch Video Highlights of Photo Recap from Day 2 As Seen on the Scene by SobeSavvy.com! ⤵️

Electric ending to another exciting and informative Art Of Cool Festival. The AOCFEST is one of the best music festivals that gets better every year. Be sure to check out aocfestival.com • #AOCFEST and make plans to visit Durham, NC to experience the Art of Cool Festival next year! Congratulations again to Art of Cool Festival for 5 years strong!

Looking for a place to celebrate #NationalDrinkBeerDay on 9/28 ? Head to @PourTaproom #Durham #NC

Beer Lovers Rejoice! September 28 is National Drink Beer Day and I am excited to share my experience of a local place where you can celebrate: Pour Taproom Durham! Located in Bull City, I recently mentioned how my husband and I checked out this spot during our staycation in downtown Durham and we loved it!

 

At Pour Taproom, you can literally sample over 60+ different beers, wines and ciders on tap. That’s like enjoying the variety you would at a beer festival but with a tasting room atmosphere, except it is Self Serve! That’s right, this new (opened in June 2017) self-pour taproom allows you to get it yourself, no bothering-the-bartender necessary.  We appreciated the touch screens above each tap, which gave tasting notes as well as a ‘Beer Pouring 101’ instructional how-to.

Start a tab and you will receive a computer bracelet which allows you to pour yourself any amount of any tap in the room. They charge by the ounce, so never have a full glass of beer you don’t enjoy. I loved the fact that I could try some beers at my own pace and amount, as well as the freedom to explore new tastes and varieties. Pour Taproom Durham features a curated selection of the finest Durham’s local craft brews, as well as regional, national and international favorites.

We got to meet Dan Enarson, a Durham resident and Co-Owner/General Manager of Pour Taproom Durham. I learned that this taproom is owned by four friends, who spent the past decade working as aid workers among refugees and communities affected by war and disaster in places like Darfur, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda. 

 “We found that whether you’re sitting under a tree with a group of elders in a remote village or visiting the home of local friends, you’re going to get served a drink. It might be water, fermented milk, or a warm beer, but you always drank, and it was always good.”        “We believe it can be a sacred thing to share a drink in community, and it’s universal to want to connect in that way,” Enarson said.


Pour Taproom Durham has outside seating available, but we chose to sit inside the bright, airy 2,250 square foot space. There are some communal tables, which encourages conversation with Durhamites and visitors alike who enjoy experiencing the best of craft beer, cider and wine. Rest assured you can grab a bite to go along with your drinks of choice. They have a great menu to compliment their on tap selections. We tried a delicious tasting board of salami, cheese and brie! Yum!

SobeSavvy Tip: A kids’ snack menu is available, and per their “What’s On Tap” community board, kids eat free on Sundays! Yay to kid-friendly places! 

So now you know where to go for National Drink A Beer Day, Sunday Funday or any day when you want to enjoy community and relax with a drink. Bring family, friends and your thirst for some amazing beers to Pour Taproom Durham!  Cheers! 🍻

POUR TAPROOM DURHAM

202 N. CORCORAN ST., #200  *(ground level of Unscripted Hotel)

DURHAM, NC 27701

{Open from noon to late night seven days a week}

For more information, visit pourtaproom.com/durham/ or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

To see more SobeSavvy.com photos of Pour Taproom Durham..see here.