76. Black 2 Hip Hop
The Blind Tiger held the second annual Black 2 Hip-hop concert in February, hosting dozens of local and regional hip-hop artists. A sold-out show, the concert satisfied the Triad’s thirst for good rap and hip hop, whetting appetites for a return in coming years.
77. PhuzzPhest… not
After three years of independent rock strewn throughout downtown Winston-Salem, PhuzzPhest promoter Philip Pledger called it quits. Instead of the weekend-long, downtown festival, he’s been spreading the acts around the Triad in smaller, one-off shows. “The Phuzz Records events are the exact sorts of things that the festival would do,” Pledger said to TCB in January, “just spread out over time.”
78. Folk Fest finale
The National Folk Fest ended its three-year run in downtown Greensboro with sets by Dark Water Rising, Dom Flemons, the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Tremé Brass Band and dozens more in September. ArtsGreensboro announced it will continue the tradition with a NC Folk Festival set to begin in 2018.
79. Coltrane fest develops
High Point’s John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival bolstered its credentials this year with substantial bookings that included Robert Randolph, Spyro Gyra, Special EFX and Branford Marsalis.
80. Austin Hicks RIP
Austin Hicks, a drummer from Pilot Mountain, was 19-years-old when he met Matt Walsh, a High Point blues guitarist nearly twice his age. They instantly connected as musicians and friends, creating a joyful synergy in the stripped-down blues duo the Low Counts, which recorded prolifically and toured the byways of Appalachia for the past couple years. In March, Hicks passed away under circumstances that remain undisclosed. “He was the sweetest, kindest good person,” Walsh said. “He touched so many people. Today the number of people who are coming out of the woodwork and grieving over him just shows you how much impact he had. He had a listening ear for anyone. To me he was like a brother. He was like a son; I’m older than him. He was my equal; I never saw him as anything but being equal. I think that’s why we got along so well.”
81. Downtown construction
Downtown districts in both Greensboro and Winston-Salem suffered from outbreaks of orange cones, confounding traffic — and business — for the better part of 2017. In Winston-Salem, the worst may have been near the corner of Fifth and Cherry streets while the Benton Convention Center was undergoing a massive renovation that wrapped in July. Businesses in downtown Greensboro’s LoFi neighborhood suffered from extensive renovation along Eugene and Smith streets to accommodate Roy Carroll’s massive project.
82. Henrik Stenson
The 41-year-old Swedish golfer won Greensboro’s Wyndham Open Championship in August, finishing with the week at 22 under par, enough to beat American Ollie Schneiderjans by a single stroke.
83. Roberto Bautista Agut
The Spaniard won the singles category at the Winston-Salem Open in August, his second title of the ATP season and sixth overall. In the doubles category, Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania took the doubles title.
84. Wrangler pop-up store
After more than 100 years in Greensboro, Wrangler jeans opened a downtown pop-up store on South Elm Street. Its immediate popularity set other downtown merchants to speculate on its sales figures.
85. Billboard backlash
In February, an anonymous buyer posted a billboard on Business 40 proclaiming: “Real men provide, real women appreciate it.” It quickly generated controversy on social media and a protest at Merschel Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem. It was replaced a couple weeks later with one that read: “Much Ado About Nothing A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard — Bless their hearts.”
86. Tanger Center breaks ground
In May, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Downtown Greensboro Inc. President Zack Matheny, Coliseum Director Matt Brown, Gov. Roy Cooper and a couple other players held a groundbreaking at the site of the Tanger Performing Arts Center. This was before a budget had been approved by council, before any work permits had been obtained, before a construction contract had been set and before an actual groundbreaking date had been set. Very little has happened on the site since.
87. Solar eclipse
In August, a rare solar eclipse was about 95 percent visible in the Triad skies. In Greensboro, clouds rolled over the city just in time to obscure the peak.
88. Cone Mills
After more than 100 years in northeast Greensboro, in October Cone Mills announced the closing of its White Oak Plant, where its signature selvedge denim was made, by the end of the year. The company will move its operations to existing plants in China and Mexico.
89. A&T football
The Aggies posted the first-ever undefeated 12-0 season in the history of the MEAC, and went on to win the Celebration Bowl against Grambling State in December.
90. UNCG men’s basketball
The Spartans put up a 20-win season on its way to the SoCon championship game, which they lost to East Tennessee State in March. Yet they still scored an invite to the lesser NIT Tournament in Syracuse, postponed due to a late-winter blizzard. Greensboro residents Grady Riddle and “Pretty” Ricky Keene drove through this blizzard to see the game — the only UNCG fans who showed.
91. Glitters closes
After 30 years in downtown Greensboro, most of them at the corner of South Elm and Washington streets, Glitters’ owner Gary Barskey announced in November that he will be closing the head shop and curio store at the end of the year.
It was a good year for barcades too. Besides Greensboro’s Boxcar, Reboot opened on Winston-Salem’s Liberty Street and Monstercade, adjacent to Slappy’s Chicken, brought a live music into the mix.
93. Marty Kotis’ murals
The Greensboro developer had a hand in throwing up more than a dozen murals around town, including a large installation at his property on Gate City Boulevard. In Midtown, Australian artist Matt Adnate painted a building-sized portrait of a man in Lumbee dress on the side of the Midtown Financial Advisors building. In October, Kotis commissioned an 80-by-28-foot mural, inspired by Blade Runner, to grace the side of RED Cinemas.
94. National Black Theatre Festival
The National Black Theatre Festival, which occurs every other year in downtown Winston-Salem, brought dozens of performances to various venues and celebrity sightings on the street. The NBTF kicked off with a performance by the comedian Sinbad, who told TCB: “I don’t call it ‘political material’ anymore. Politics has gotten woven into real life. You cannot run away from politics now. You got a president who tweets every day. We can’t look away. I don’t think we should look away. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or a liberal — we’re at that point where the country is so divided. You meet someone and they ask who you voted for, and that directs where the conversation goes. You’re almost gonna have a hatred for someone or a dislike of someone based on who they voted for. Alternative facts. Now nothing is real; all news is fake; everybody’s lying. So what are we gonna do? If all the news is a lie, if all the media is a lie, why are you watching? It’s the circus, man. We’re all like the circus.”
95. Business 40 closing
The long-awaited closure of Business 40 began in November, kicking off a two-year NC DOT timeline for road improvements. Traffic hasn’t been quite as bad as people (including us) predicted, and the timeline has been shortened by a few months. But you still want to avoid it during rush hour.
96. Guilford College men’s/women’s basketball
The Guilford College men’s team won the ODAC tournament and advanced past the first round in the lesser NCAA tournament. The women won the ODAC, too, but lost in the first round of the national tournament.
97. Winston-Salem ‘High Line’
A stretch of unused train tracks near Krankies has been transformed into an urban walkway that connects with the Salem Creek Greenway and will eventually link in to a future pedestrian path to Baptist Hospital. It looks great lit up at night.
98. New booze in the Triad
In March, Broad Branch Distilling in downtown Winston-Salem released Smashing Violet, a blueberry-infused version of its Nightlab white whiskey. In Greensboro, Fainting Goat Spirits released its first brown liquor, Fisher’s, a single-malt whiskey, in December.
99. The Garage closing
Proprietor Tucker Tharpe announced he would be closing longtime downtown Winston-Salem rock room the Garage after a New Year’s Eve show. The Garage opened in 1999, part of the first wave of revitalization on Trade Street.
100. Bookmarks + Foothills
The longtime downtown brewpub joined forces with Winston-Salem’s annual literary festival to create a bookstore/lounge/coffeeshop behind the brewpub on Fourth Street. Foothills owner Jamie Bartholomaus bought a coffee roaster years ago, he said, and had been looking for something to do with it before this opportunity arose.