About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.

Are Your Favorite Music Festivals Canceled For 2020?

Music Festivals canceled and rescheduled

I started out this year with a pretty sweet list of music festivals that I wanted to try to cover. Last year, I was recovering from my heart attack, so I only covered 3 [Epicenter, Carolina Country Music Fest and Firefly Music Festival]. So I decided to take on a few more this year including ones I have covered in the past [Merlefest and Hangout Fest] as well as new additions: Bonnaroo, Tortuga Music Festival and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.

But then Coronavirus came along and lots of music festivals canceled or rescheduled. Everything changed. For me. For music. And for the world.

music festivals canceled

Music Festivals Canceled for 2020

Because of the global pandemic, many notable festivals have either canceled or postponed including Coachella and SXSW. Of the festivals I have been planning to attend, Merlefest was the first to cancel, followed closely by Epicenter. And then Firefly Music Festival announced its cancellation a few days ago.

*Hangout Fest is currently in limbo. They have canceled the originally scheduled dates of May 15th-17th and announced that they would make a more definite determination of whether the festival could be rescheduled in a couple of weeks. As of now, it looks like they are trying to reschedule, but until they release rescheduled dates, I am considering this festival canceled. Fingers crossed they can reschedule. They had a really sweet lineup.

Music Festivals Rescheduled For 2020

In an early move, Bonnaroo rescheduled for September 24-27 a few weeks ago. Tortuga Music Festival rescheduled for October 2-4 and Carolina Country Music Fest announced this week that they would now be holding their beach festival 9/17-9/20. Honestly, I am all about September at the beach, so I am really looking forward to this. Sadly, Joe Diffie was one of the acts lined up to play at this year’s Carolina Country Music Fest and he passed away a few days ago from complications due to Coronavirus. In a very classy move, his slot is now replaced with a Joe Diffie Tribute. I feel like, for me, this will be the festival that brings life back to normal.

music festivals canceled or rescheduled

If you can’t make it for the rescheduled dates for CCMF and you need to sell your tickets or if you are looking to buy some, there is now a Facebook group to help facilitate this.

Music Festivals Unaffected For 2020

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience seems to be the only festival on my checklist unaffected by the virus so far. I have my festival suggestions listed on the right side of this blog along with their dates. You can click the links to go to their sites for more information. I will also be updating the list as information becomes available. It’s still early in this pandemic though and things are rapidly evolving and changing. Let’s all just pray that this is over soon and that we can all get back to doing the things that we love.

Until then be safe everybody. <3

Were you planning to go to a music festival that was canceled? Tell us about it in the comments below or on social media.

3 Hour Slow Cooker Beer Brats Recipe

beer brats

When you are trying to cook something at home without making a trip to the grocery store, it’s nice to use the items you have on hand and still have something tasty. Am I right? No stress, no frills, just some tasty comfort food. Well, grab a beer and get ready to feel like you are hanging out with your friends at the sports bar or a cookout. Today’s #TastyTuesday recipe is super simple 3 Hour Slow Cooker Beer Brats. Yum!

3 Hour Slow Cooker Beer Brats

Ingredients

•   1 Package Original Bratwurst 
•   4oz Beer
•   1/2 Stick Butter
•   1 Tsp Salt
•   1 Tsp Pepper
•   Rolls
•   2 Large Red Onions Sliced 
•   Mustard & Ketchup (Optional Toppings)

Instructions

Start by browning the bratwurst in a skillet.

beer brats
beer brats

Place bratwurst is the slow cooker. Sprinkle in the onion, salt & pepper. nd top with butter.

beer brats
beer brats

Pour in the beer and cook on high for 3 hrs. Serve these bad boys on buns & enjoy!

beer brats

How do you like your beer brats? Let us know how your recipe varies in the comments below or on social media! We would love to hear from you.

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Easter Magic Bars | Outnumbered 3 To 1

Spaghetti Squash Bowls | Life Family Fun

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks | Eat Play Rock

Peeps Marshmallow Treats | Cheap Is The New Classy

Easy Banana Walnut Muffins | Outnumbered 3 To 1

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies | Simply Southern Mom

Country Music Stars Mourn The Passing Of Joe Diffie

Country Stars Mourn The Loss Of Joe Diffie

On March 29th, 2020, country music lost Joe Diffie. He was receiving treatment for Coronavirus but, sadly, was not able to overcome it. Since hearing of the news, I have had “Ships That Don’t Come In,” my personal favorite of his songs, running on a loop inside my head. Diffie had huge hits with “Pickup Man,” “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox,” “John Deere Green” and many more. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans. He will be greatly missed.

Country Stars Mourn The Passing Of Joe Diffie

“Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away. Sincere condolences to his family. It’s such a shock and such a loss for Country Music. Rest in Peace, Joe.” – Charlie Daniels

“I was saddened to hear that my friend and fellow Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie passed away today. Joe was a great singer, songwriter, and entertainer that left his mark in Country Music. His clear voice and unique singing style made him immediately recognizable. We will all certainly miss him.” – Ricky Skaggs

“Joe Diffie. A great friend. A great man. A great singer. A GREAT loss.” – Larry Gatlin, The Gatlin Brothers

“One of the best artists ’90s Country ever served up. I worked fairs all over the country with Joe. It’s sort of like losing a classmate. Recently he sang a song with me, Lorrie Morgan and Darryl Worley, ‘Summer Wine.’ It was a perfect performance. He never hit a bad note and was just a regular guy. We all loved him. RIP, Joe Diffie.” – Pam Tillis

“I’m so sorry to hear about Joe Diffie’s passing. We always met with a smile and we’ll see each other again with a smile.” – Doug Gray, The Marshall Tucker Band

“So tragic to hear that another great legend’s voice has gone silent. He was and will remain one of country music’s great vocalists. It’s truly a sad day for our industry. Joe please tell our friends Kenny Rogers and Jan Howard we love them and to send down a prayer for all of us during this difficult time on earth. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Tara and their family.” – T.G. Sheppard

“I am deeply saddened at the news of Joe Diffie’s death. He and I were labelmates on Sony Epic Records for many years. We worked together a lot over the years. I can honestly say that Joe was one of the truly good guys in our business. A real gentleman, and obviously, one of the greatest Country Music singers who ever lived.  His records, ‘Home’ and ‘Ships That Don’t Come In’ are among my favorite records of all time. I am honored, and humbled, to have known him. May God Bless and comfort Joe’s family and welcome him into Eternity. We’ll miss you, Brother.” – Collin Raye

“I am in total shock and disbelief at the passing of my friend, tourmate and Country legend, Joe Diffie. My heart is broken and I’m praying for his family and for our country as we deal with this horrible pandemic. You will be missed, Joe. Rest in Peace.” – Aaron Tippin

“I keep saying almost every night on stage Joe Diffie is the best Country voice in Country Music today. Gonna miss Joe. God bless him. Love you brother.” – Sammy Kershaw

“I knew this was bound to hit close to home. Today it did. I just heard the news of Joe Diffie’s passing. I am sick in my spirit because I can’t bear the thought of not hearing that voice for a while. He was a dear friend and he understood me and my convictions. Most of all, he accepted me for who I am and I felt the same about him. There’s no filling his shoes and he will be missed by many. I loved him like a brother, and I’m thankful that I know where he is. My brother, I look forward to seeing your sweet face again. Please pray for the family and loved ones devastated by this terrible loss.” – Darryl Worley

“Joe Diffie, he was a singer’s singer. I have been a fan since his first single, ‘Home,’ hit radio. Condolences to the family. He will be missed in our hearts as well.” – Marty Raybon, Shenandoah

“So sad to hear the news of Joe Diffie’s passing today. He and I were both born on the same day, December 28, 1958. We would always talk about that when we were around each other. Rest in peace, my brother. You will be missed.” – Mike McGuire, Shenandoah

“I’m so sad to hear of the passing of a brother in music, Joe Diffie. What a voice! We have worked around each other for decades. Really one of the good guys. I’m so shocked. Thoughts for his family, his team and friends from myself and the entire Restless Heart family!” – Larry Stewart, Restless Heart

“First we lose the legendary Jan Howard, and now we’ve lost Joe Diffie. It’s a heartbreaking time for Nashville and Country Music fans worldwide. Restless Heart started out in the business around the same time as Joe, and our paths crossed many times over the years. Joe blended humor and music better than anybody, and he always went out of his way to be kind and supportive. Sending our love and prayers to Joe’s family and friends.” – Dave Innis, Restless Heart

“The passing of our friend, Joe Diffie, hit us all hard. We did many shows over the years and will never forget his happy smile, funny jokes and amazing voice. We send out our prayers to his family and will miss seeing him down the road!!! RIP friend. – Del Gray, Little Texas

“I don’t really know if people realize how great a singer Joe Diffie was. We were buddies before we ever had our record deals. He had a great sense humor. He proved that to me when he recorded a funny tune I wrote called ‘Good Brown Gravy’ and invited me to sing on the record with him. Joe Diffie set the standard for our Country sound back in the 90’s. He was just a regular Joe, as he would put it, but he also will go down in history as one of the greats, I do believe.” – Billy Dean

“Joe was a simple man with a very kind heart. His aptitude and soulful command of a Country song was unparalleled. The memories of sharing the stage with him are indelible. We all love you Joe, and our heart breaks for you and your loved ones.” – Henry Paul, BlackHawk / The Outlaws

“His album, Average Joe, was not a made up record company marketing idea. Joe was common as dirt and he never changed. He always loved it when he and the Kentucky Headhunters got to play together, he always said we made the day fun for him. Here’s to a real Country guy who could sing with the best of them. Peace, Joe.” – Richard Young, The Kentucky Headhunters

“We lost the original “pickup man” yesterday and he can never be replaced. Country music will never be the same without a Joe Diffie in it.” – Dom McManus

“I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Joe a few times over the years at random events. He was always super nice and generous to everyone, not to mention one of the best singers to ever grace Nashville. Big loss for country music.” – Jason Duggins, Montgomery Gentry

“Joe Diffie was one of those guys that hooked me on 90’s country. He was a helluva singer, the kinda singer that other singers look up to… and what a great guy. He will be missed.” – Ray Scott

“I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of Joe Diffie. His traditional sounding voice had a soothing timber and I enjoyed hearing him sing. He recorded songs that touched everyday folks and for me it was his recording of  “Ships That Don’t Come In” that changed my life. The song and his delivery were the inspiration that led me to come to Nashville to work at taking my music to a larger audience. I will be forever grateful to Joe for following his dreams of being a singer and for recording a song that fueled my dreams. I will miss you Joe.” – John Berry

I am in shock and so sad over the passing of my long time friend, Joe Diffie. Joe and I go way back to when we both started out in this business. He IS without a doubt one of the finest country singers that has ever sung into a microphone. His pronunciation and country vibes were amazing, but he backed that up with a voice that could belt out a song like a tenor doing a duet with Pavarotti, that’s what made him truly one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. Joe was so fun and a blast to hang with at all times and he made me laugh. I will miss my friend and salute him by cranking “Ships That Don’t Come In” till I go to sleep tonight. Rest in Heaven brother and sing one when you’re ready, they’re gonna love you! – Tim Rushlow

Extremely hard to lose two Opry family members within two days, Jan Howard, and now Joe Diffie.  Joe brought a special energy with his music, not only to radio but to the Grand Ole Opry. He’s always had a distinctive country sound, but updated to fit his generation. His personality matched his music – warm, friendly, energetic and fun. It just always felt good to see him. Everything about Joe Diffie will be missed and my heart goes out to his family, our Opry family and his many fans around the world. – Jeannie Seely

There are voices that come along and catch our attention…and then there are VOICES that come along and capture our hearts forever more. We lost one of the greatest Country voices of ALL time today!! Joe Diffie was special in every way! His vocal range was absolutely massive…. like those lungs were unreal. His tone was as rich as the OK dirt he was raised in. His heart was as warm as the comfy front lounge of his bus where he’d proudly serve up his homemade craft brews and shared stories of life, love, and the road. Joe was real, and that resonated with all of us from his peers, to family, to friends, to his millions of fans alike. Joe made me want to be a better singer without a doubt. I’d sit on the side of the stage and wait for Ships That Don’t Come In or White Lightenin’. Anything that came out of his mouth was stylistic AND mechanically perfect. You usually don’t get to have both qualities, but Joe did. I’m humbled and honored to have called him my buddy and my heart breaks for his wife Tara, his beautiful kids, and big extended family as well. “One take Joe” came on in here and made us all feel special for awhile…now, he’s leading the choir of heavenly honky tonk angels! He made one hell of a mark…. – Heidi Newfield

“I had the great honor of writing and producing a track for Joe Diffie, a song Milton Brown and I wrote for a movie entitled Mi Amigo. Joe had the purest and beautiful voice. So thankful I had the chance to work with him.” – Steve Dorff

“Shocked and heartbroken to hear of old friend Joe Diffie’s death from COVID-19. Prayers for his family.” – Exile (Sonny LeMaire, JP Pennington, Marlon Hargis, Les Taylor and Steve Goetzman)

“Joe was a good one. We played a lot of the same radio shows together and charity golf tournaments back in the day. I just saw him on the Country Music Cruise last year and enjoyed our time together. Hard to put loss like this into words. Godspeed Joe!” – David Ball

“Joe Diffie was one of my first concerts in high school. I drove 45 min to see him play in Parsons, Kansas. “It’s Always Something” and “So Help Me Girl” were my favorite songs at the time. In “It’s Always Something”, he says “lunchtime, a new place, waitress says her name. Why does it have to be? Emily!” I had a huge crush on a girl named Emily at the time so the song was very fitting and I would cruise what we called the oval in my small town, blasting Joe Diffie. Thank you for your music Joe, Country Music won’t be the same.” – Kyndon Oakes, Lockelend

“Prop Me Up Beside The JukeBox” & “Pick Up Man”, we’re two of the biggest songs I remember from my childhood.  I hear those tunes and it takes me right back to my hometown. Thanks for the music Joe.” – Mark Vikingstad, Lockeland

“Thank you Joe for the beautiful legacy of stories, laughs, tears and memories. Your music was real, and so are all the lives you have touched over the years. Deepest thoughts, prayers and condolences to Joe’s family, friends and bandmates.” – Michael Boris, Lockeland

“Our hearts are heavy today as we say goodbye to a musical legend and friend, Joe Diffie. We had the privilege of getting to know Joe over the last couple years and got to jam on some tunes with him on the 2019 Country Music Cruise. He always had a smile and a song ready to belt out and man could he bring it! Thank you for touching the hearts and lives of everyone around the world with your love and music, Joe. Country Music certainly lost a treasure.” – Darin and Brooke Aldridge

“I am so saddened to be reading the news of my friend Joe Diffie’s death. His family is in my prayers.  I can’t imagine the sadness and shock they must feel. I told someone a little while ago that this loss is a kick in the gut! The virus may seem like a mystery and even far away to most of us, BUT to Joe’s family it is a very real thief that has stolen their husband and father and brother or sister. This brings it too close to our circle.” – Linda Davis

“Joe Diffie’s music IS 90’s Country. His presence in the music business was iconic, his voice and look were instantly recognizable, and his songs were the soundtrack of so many lives… especially ours.” – Joe and Martina

A couple years ago some friends and I went on a writing retreat and one night at dinner we were talking about songs we wish we had written. Without hesitation, I yelled out “John Deere Green”. Yes, it’s one of my favorites for the songwriting but also for the voice that sang it. It would’ve been a dream come true to have that voice on one of my songs. Joe Diffie was born to sing country music and, in my opinion, will continue to be one of the greatest country vocalists of all time. The world lost an amazing person and artist today.. This song was so hard for me to get through, but I wanted to sing it in memory of him. Thank you for the songs and for sharing your voice with us, Joe Diffie, fly high. – Dallas Remington

Do you a favorite Joe Diffie memory that you would like to share? Leave a comment below or on one of our social media channels. Hug those you love and stay safe.

Easy Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks Recipe

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

I am all about an easily prepared meal. How about you? I am no chef, by any stretch of the imagination. My cooking skills can best be described as “adequate,” but this Easy Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks Recipe is something that even I can handle. You can put this #TastyTuesday recipe together in just minutes with only a few items that you probably already have on hand. And they are so good that I think your whole family will love them!

Easy Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 6 Drumsticks 
  • 1 Ranch Packet
  • 1 Stick Butter (Melted)

Instructions

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

Make sure that the drumsticks are as dry as possible by patting them down with a towel. 

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

Coat each drumstick thoroughly in butter. Next, place drumsticks on air fryer basket without overcrowding. 

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

Cook at 375 degrees for 25 minutes and remove from air fryer. Next, coat drumsticks thoroughly and evenly with ranch powder.

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

Place drumsticks back in the air fryer for another 10 minutes. Remove from the air fryer and make sure that the drumsticks are well done or cook longer if needed. Enjoy!

Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks

We recommend enjoying this Easy Air Fryer Ranch Drumsticks Recipe with Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese for a satisfying comfort meal or check out these 10 Delicious Summer Recipes With Vegetables for more variety.

We Recommend These Other #TastyTuesday Recipes

Peeps Marshmallow Treats | Cheap Is The New Classy

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies | Simply Southern Mom

Easy Banana Walnut Muffins | Outnumbered 3 To 1

Epicenter 2020 Onsite Entertainment And Food Offerings

Epicenter 2020

Who is ready for Epicenter 2020 taking place at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 1, 2 & 3? Their massive lineup includes one of my main bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd, so you know I am not planning it missing it. Also, headlining for TWO nights is Metallica! I’ve never seen them before so I am pretty stoked to catch them, not once, but twice in one weekend! Other performances include Disturbed, Deftones, Godsmack, Volbeat, Staind, Papa Roach, David Lee Roth, Gojira, Chevelle and many more.

Epicenter 2020 Onsite Entertainment And Food Offerings

With less than two months until the kickoff of the incredible spring festival season from Danny Wimmer Presents, the independent festival producer has announced additional onsite entertainment and unique food offerings for the second year of Epicenter, May 1, 2 and 3 at its new home at Rock City Campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

The 3-day destination music experience features an incredible lineup of chart-topping headliners and up-and-coming buzzworthy bands across the rock spectrum on four stages. The weekend includes one of the only chances to see rock legends Metallica in the U.S. in 2020 as they headline Friday, May 1 and Sunday, May 3, performing two different sets. Multi-platinum band Disturbed will headline Saturday, May 2. Additional must-see talent includes Lynyrd Skynyrd (in an exclusive 2020 North Carolina performance), Deftones, Godsmack, Volbeat, Staind, Papa Roach, David Lee Roth, Gojira, Chevelle, Cypress Hill, Rancid, Royal Blood, Anthrax, Dropkick Murphys, I Prevail, Alter Bridge and many more.

General Admission, VIP passes, and camping are available for purchase.  Passes are selling quickly so consumers are encouraged to buy now.

In addition to performances from top music artists, attendees at this year’s Epicenter can enjoy a variety of local and regional food and beverage offerings provided by Levy and DWP’s affiliate concessionaire Southern Hospitality Concessions LLC. Festivalgoers will be able to experience a variety of top-notch food offerings, from fan-favorite Island Noodles to a multitude of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available from vendors on site serving up Carolina BBQ, wood-fired pizza, Creole, street tacos, mouthwatering burgers and more.

Fans 21+ can enjoy multiple specialty curated beverage experiences. Varietals from Caduceus Cellars & Merkin Vineyards (owned by Maynard James Keenan, co-founder of international recording acts Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer) will be available at the Caduceus Wine Garden, and the Heavy Tiki Bar will provide a shaded tropical oasis filled with killer cocktails. Additional drink options will be available all weekend from Bud Light, Jack Daniel’s and Deep Eddy Vodka.

At Epicenter, Danny Wimmer Presents is also proud to offer a collaboration with Metallica’s Blackened American Whiskey and Enter Night Pilsner. Blackened is a super-premium American whiskey blend, crafted by the late Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and finished in the earth shattering music of Metallica. The finest bourbons and ryes were hand selected to create something revolutionary—finished in black brandy casks and pummeled by sound. Enter Night Pilsner is Metallica’s collaboration with the rock stars of craft brewing, Stone Brewing. Blackened and Enter Night will come together under one roof to offer guests a one-of-kind musical festival experience. The massive Boilermaker pop-up will feature a Blackened & Enter Night Pilsner Boilermaker, as well as craft cocktails and ice-cold Enter Night Pilsner. This exciting collaboration marks the latest in a long line of amplified guest experiences only available through Danny Wimmer Presents music festivals. Learn more at http://BlackenedWhiskey.com.

Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation will also be present at the Boilermaker pop-up, sharing information about the foundation’s mission and giving fans a chance to donate.AWMH is a non-profit, philanthropic organization created by the members and management of Metallica,dedicated to creating sustainable communities by supporting workforce education, the fight against hunger, and other critical local services. 100% of donations go directly to local organizations that the Foundation supports. Please visit www.AllWithinMyHands.org for more information.

Additional Epicenter onsite experiences include:

Art Tent: New this year at Epicenter, this immersive art experience will feature world-renowned artists showcasing one-of-a-kind original pieces alongside limited-run poster prints only available for purchase at the festival. More information and the full list of artists will be announced soon.

Safe House presented by Demons Behind Me: A safe space within the festival grounds which offers festivalgoers who may struggle with PTSD, substance abuse, mental health issues, and more a place to retreat from the effects of the shows and the crowds, and gives them an opportunity to be with a supportive group.

FYE Pop-Up Shop: Hosting the ultimate fan & artist interactive experiences throughout the festival, FYE is the only place at the festival to get all your favorite band’s music — and maybe even get to meet your favorite Epicenter performers.

The Music Experience: An interactive exhibit featuring guitars, basses, amps, drums, keyboards and other electronic gear used by today’s bands. With contests, meet & greets and other interactive exhibits all day, this is an experience you don’t want to miss.

Zippo Experience: Zippo will be back in action at Epicenter with a brand-new look and a full stock of Zippo lighters, including limited-edition festival designs. Come by and check out their giveaways, snap a commemorative photo, get a free lighter fill or tune-up, and be sure to ask about how you can attend Zippo Sessions.

Fxck Cancer/Dyin 2 Live: Fighting cancer by raising awareness and educating about early cancer detection. The Dyin 2 Live wish-granting program looks to enrich the lives of those fighting cancer by offering them an experience that will bring joy, hope, inspiration, and courage into their lives.

Take Me Home: A not-for-profit, volunteer-based foundation that has been saving the lives of homeless animals since 2001 by helping to fund mobile veterinary hospitals in under-served areas and supporting local animal charities. Come by the booth to help out our furry friends by buying a shirt, signed merchandise, or entering a raffle at www.takemehome.tv.

Epicenter sponsors include Bud Light, Jack Daniel’s, Deep Eddy Vodka, Zippo, FYE, Mortus Viventi, The Music Experience, Demons Behind Me, Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Diamond Resorts, ESP Guitars, Take Me Home and Fxck Cancer.

Rock City Campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway is located at 7301 Bruton Smith Blvd. in Concord, NC, just outside Charlotte, and less than two hours from Raleigh/Durham, Columbia and Greensboro.

Get Social With Epicenter 2020

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

5 Italian Restaurants Las Vegas Residents Love

italian restaurants las vegas

Las Vegas is a large city with a variety of restaurants, and it can be hard to choose one, especially if you are in the mood for Italian. If you are craving some of your favorite Italian dishes from lasagna, to risotto, to carbonara, to truffles, or looking for a traditional spaghetti, you can find it in Las Vegas.

Whether you are in the mood for northern, southern, family-style, or gourmet Italian cuisine, you can find a restaurant in Vegas. Below you will find five Italian restaurants that Las Vegas residents love.

5 Italian Restaurants Las Vegas Residents Love

1. Bottiglia

At  Henderson Italian Restaurant Bottiglia, customers can enjoy the bright and lively surroundings, that flows through to the menu. On the list, you will find a variety of antipasti, salads, fresh fish, and homemade pappardelle Bolognese. Henderson Italian Restaurant offers its visitors delicious Italian cuisine and a unique wine list with a variety of choices. Local residents enjoy the Tuscan-style food, as they enjoy the open atmosphere and view of the Las Vegas desert at Henderson Italian Restaurant.

2. Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar Since 1985 Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar have been offering Las Vegas residents a unique and authentical Italian dining experience.  Chef Mimmo is a trained Italian chef, and the best ingredients are used in the restaurants homemade pasta, sausages, breads, and desserts. 

At Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar, pastas, breads, and desserts are made daily on-premise. There are also whole-wheat and gluten-free pasta options available. Along with good food, you can complement your dinner with delicious wine from the extensive wine cellar at the Wine Bar.

3. Chicago Joe’s

If you are looking for a budget-friendly restaurant that has excellent food and reputation, then look no further then Chicago Joe’s. The vibe at Chicago Joe’s is a down-home Italian eatery, and on their website, they keep a picture gallery of visitors. It a popular spot with locals because they can enjoy authentic Italian food without breaking the wallet and get away from the hoopla of the strip.

 4. Scarpetta

The Scarpetta is an elegant restaurant located in The Cosmopolitan in the Boulevard Tower. Customers are treated to a remarkable view overlooking the Las Vegas strip. It’s a great spot that locals like to celebrate birthday or anniversaries at Scarpetta. The menu has lots of seafood, gluten-free, and vegetarian options available for customers to enjoy.

5. Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy

Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy is off the beaten path and is a place people love to visit for there mobster-style, speakeasy theme, with the restaurant itself dimly lit, and red booths to sit and enjoy your meal.  The food and service are excellent, making Capo’s Restaurant and Speakeasy a popular spot for Las Vegas locals. Enjoy a mobster themed meal, with all dishes being named in a mobster style, for example, “Sawed-off Sauage and Peppers” or  “Bust a Cap.” There’s a variety on the menu for customers to enjoy from traditional family specialties and modern adaptations.  You’ll never forget your eating experience at Capo’s Restaurant and Speakeasy.

Final Thoughts

If you are traveling to Las Vegas for the first time, make sure you relax and have a good time! Look for places that local residents enjoy eating at since locals help keep areas open, the restaurants must offer some pretty good food. If you are really in the mood for one of your favorite Italian dishes, such as carbonara, lasagna, traditional spaghetti, risotto, truffles, or focaccia, then definitely start by visiting one of the five restaurants listed above to get your fix on. You’ll find your favorites from pastas, seafood, breads, and desserts at one of these famous Italian restaurants: Henderson Italian Restaurant, Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar, Chicago Joe’s, Scarpetta, and Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy.

Catching Up With Del Gray Of Little Texas

Del Gray Little Texas

Every country fan who hasn’t lived under a rock the past 30 years knows the song “God Blessed Texas” by Little Texas. Their other songs that have really stuck with me over the years are “What Might Have Been” and “Amy’s Back In Austin.” I also really love “You And Forever And Me.” For some reason that song always makes me think of the start of spring. So I am excited to finally get to see them tonight in Liberty, NC [concert info at the end of this interview]. Won’t you join me?

Catching Up With Del Gray Of Little Texas

Eat Play Rock: This weekend you’re playing in Liberty [NC] and you guys are also playing in the Everglades, right?

Del Gray: We are. It’s a last minute gig that came up. We did that gig a few years ago and I guess somebody fell out. And the promoter called to see if we could do it so we’re, we’re headed there as well.

Eat Play Rock: Nice. That’s a lot of traveling in one weekend, but I guess you guys are used to it.

Del Gray: Oh yeah. Well we are and we have two bus drivers so we can run continuously.

Eat Play Rock: That’s good. I read that, when you guys were first becoming really popular that you played like 300 plus shows a year. And you didn’t always have the best driver. Is that true?

Del Gray: Well, by the time we started doing that many shows we did but, you know, the van and trailer days, we played everywhere from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, all the way up to Phoenix Arizona and every place in between. The year that our first single “Some Guys” was released, we actually played 319 dates and continued that pace for the next five, six years. I mean we would do anywhere from 250 to 300 days a year so we worked it hard. But you know what’s nice about that is it really sets up for what we do now. I mean we kind of laid a lot of groundwork and and built some great relationships. And I tell people I get to be a rock star on the weekends and I’m home with my family during the week because we do about 70 to 75 dates a year. So it’s basically weekend work, which is fun.

Eat Play Rock: Yeah, that’s nice. That’s a big change in the amount of shows. Do you ever feel antsy, like you’re not playing enough or are you good with the momentum you guys currently have going?

Del Gray: Not really I mean we play almost every weekend, it’s a little slow in the winter but after after a busy summer we’re kind of ready for some downtime so no, at 31 years into it, that’s a perfect schedule for us.

Eat Play Rock: Shows in general are just slow in the winter. There’s just not a lot going on from anybody really.

Del Gray: You know, we do some theaters but, the bulk of our work is fairs and festivals and we play some casinos. We happen to be kind of moving into the theater year round playing. We’re playing some smaller theaters in the winter and that’s that’s fun. It keeps us working. So we’re excited to get over to North Carolina and play. Back in the 90s the bulk of our record sales was in North Carolina, South Carolina. We played a club called “Cowboys Nightlife.” And there was about three or four those, so we really had a good fan base in the Carolinas.

Del Gray Little Texas

Eat Play Rock: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of fans for Little Texas here. You said that you guys play theaters and fairs and casinos mostly. Do you have to change your set a little bit to cater to the different audiences are they basically the same?

Del Gray: We do. I mean, a festival or, or a fair – it’s a little more rocking. And a theater show… we grew up on Willie and Waylon and Merle. We also grew up listening to KISS and Van Halen and Rush. And so we’re highly influenced by rock and the Eagles were one of our favorite bands. But in a theater setting, its a little tamer. More stories about the songs get told. It’s more intimate.

Eat Play Rock: Speaking of The Eagles. You guys did an awesome version of “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Do you still play that today?

Del Gray: We do, absolutely. We just put that back in our set a couple of months ago and so, yes, you will hear that, depending on our week. We played a theater this past weekend and our acoustic guitar player, Dwayne O’Brien, sings that song. He was a little under the weather last weekend and was having some vocal trouble so we we didn’t do it. But I’m sure he’ll be all ready to go this weekend when we play.

Eat Play Rock: We definitely hope he feels better. Okay, so you guys broke up for a while. What let you know that it was time to reunite and go back on the road?

Del Gray: Like three or four of us became staff writers and had success with with other artists in the music business. And we would see each other at events and somebody called one day and said, “Hey you want to go rehearse at SIR?” and we kicked into “Amy” and kind of looked around and said “Yep, this sounds like Little Texas.” It was one of those things where I tell people the best thing that ever happened to us, is the fact that we took a break. It gave everyone a chance to grow up and kind of enjoy what we had worked for the 10 years previous. So, when we put it back together it was easy. It was like hey let’s go do this.

Eat Play Rock: I also read that you guys reworked some of your songs since Little Texas has a little different lineup now. Is it true that some of your songs are a little more guitar-centric now? And, if so, how do you think it’s changed the feel of some of the songs?

Del Gray: Well, we’ve always been a guitar driven band but we no longer have a keyboard player. And we kind of love it. It’s great. And it rocks a little harder and it gives Porter a chance to even play more – which he is a fabulous guitar player. So, the band now is four pieces – all original guys – and Porter Howell is our lead singer. He wrote the bulk of the songs, the hits, back in the day, and he was kind of a stunt vocalist anyway.

Eat Play Rock: Well, as far as like the newer sounding music, the keyboard isn’t really an instrument that, in my opinion, has stood the test of time anyway. If you are going to lose an instrument, it’s not the worst thing to lose. The music sounded good back then but the keyboard is not something I think that’s necessary for today.

Del Gray: What’s neat is we just went in and cut 16 new songs, 8 of the hits and then 8 new songs for a 30th anniversary project that we’re working on this year. And, Porter, basically if there was any kind of keyboard part that was prominent in the mix, he was able to do on guitar. So, it’s something that you just don’t miss.

 

Eat Play Rock: So, you guys were on “Star Search.” That’s the first reality music based competition I remember. What do you think about when you see those competitions today and how they compare to “Star Search” back in the day?

Del Gray: I wish everybody well. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I don’t have to watch that. I mean, people say, “Well what do you listen to today?” I search out great music and Americana music and older music. I love some of the girl singers in country. Miranda Lambert is one of my favorites. I’m a fan of Eric Church. But I don’t listen to the radio and I don’t keep up with it. I’m a fan of talk radio. And my radio stays on talk radio.

Eat Play Rock: Besides radio, it’s interesting all the formats you can get music in today. I mean you can download it, even vinyl has made a resurgence. What do you think about the availability of just so many ways to enjoy music today?

Del Gray: What’s neat about that is, that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are all finally getting a handle on all the different streams. So you would think that a band 30 years into their career, that the royalty checks would be dwindling, and that’s not the case for us. Because of all the different streams, we’ve seen an increase over the last three to five years.

Eat Play Rock: Well, I mean, “God Blessed Texas” is on every other movie you see so you have to be making bank off that one in particular.

Del Gray: Oh yeah!

Catch Little Texas live locally tonight at 7pm at Liberty Showcase Theater and check out the rest of their tour schedule here.

Del Gray Little Texas

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How Does A POS System Work, Anyway?

POS System

A point of sale system is where all aspects of your business come together: inventory, customer relationship management, and of course, overseeing transactions.

The POS System has evolved a great deal over the years. They were once simple cash registers that required employees to enter the price of every product manually—now, they can generate reports, keep track of inventory in real-time, apply customer-specific promotions, and so much more. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the various things they can do, but you still wonder: how do they actually work?

How Does A POS System Work, Anyway?

We don’t need to get into the minute details of the technology, because honestly, POS systems are diverse and flexible. People use them in a myriad of ways that make sense for their unique businesses. There are a few basics, though, here’s an overview of what POS systems are made of and what they do:

POS System: The Hardware Elements

Most POS systems include a few key components: a monitor, a credit card reader, and a cash drawer. The monitor displays your store’s database so that employees can interact with it. Some systems only need a tablet to function because they are cloud-based.

The credit card scanner is self-explanatory, and you should always have a cash drawer for customers who prefer this method of payment (it’s crucial not to shut them out by going card or electronic-only—some people have no choice).

Now, depending on your business, you can opt for a few other pieces of equipment, like a barcode scanner or receipt printer. Many systems enable email or text message receipts, so many choose not to use the latter.

Barcode scanners are useful for businesses that need to scan products quickly so that the system can total the cost and send customers on their way. Establishments that make their products on the spot, however—like beverages—will probably require manual entry, though POS software can create shortcuts.

POS System: The Software Components

Software is where POS systems differ significantly. Some can rely on on-site servers while others are cloud-based. If you opt for the former, then you install the software locally, but this may require professional assistance and regular maintenance. You’ll also need to purchase a software license (or multiple). However, it does not require internet access to work, so it has security benefits and works in the event of an internet outage.

With cloud-based platforms, your provider uses their servers to store data, and you can access it via the internet. Vend’s POS system, for instance, is cloud-based. You’ll most likely pay a monthly fee for this option, which can add up over time, but it updates automatically and requires no maintenance on your part.

POS systems include frontend and backend components. The frontend is what you and your staff members will use as an interface on the tablet or monitor screen. You can access the backend separately, which handles analytics and other behind-the-scenes functions your customers don’t interact with directly.

Together, the frontend and backend create a comprehensive system that provides you with an assortment of tools for managing your business instead of merely sticking to handling transactions.

What Can Different POS Applications Do?

POS systems are wide-ranging. Some are even industry-specific and include features that no one else would find useful, such as table layouts for restaurants that make it easier to track which orders go where. There are a few standard features every sound POS system has, though, such as:

Reporting: Creating sales reports is a tedious yet necessary task. You most likely review your business’s sales history on a monthly or quarterly basis and adjust your strategy according to what the numbers reveal.

Electronic POS systems can generate these reports for you. If you want insight into your business’s performance over the past month, week, or even day, most platforms can compile data that it collects in real-time and present it to you in a digestible format. This way, you are never clueless about how well business is going, and you can act quickly if things go wrong.

Customer relationship management: Instead of offering general promotions and hoping a few customers take advantage of them, POS software can create customized promotions on an individual level. Is there a customer that buys similar things fairly often, but they interact with a different employee every time? That’s fine—your system can remember who they are and apply relevant discounts.

Inventory management: Instead of using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of how much of every product you have, a POS system can keep track of this data for you. It updates itself in real-time, too, so it subtracts a product from the database whenever a customer purchases it. You and your employees won’t have to keep customers waiting to check the backroom if everything is searchable on a screen!

POS systems are capable of the basic functions that cash registers are, but they are capable of much more and work efficiently. Will you implement POS technology in your business?

*This post contains collaborative content.

What’s In & What’s Out In Adventure Travel In 2020

Check out this fresh report from Global Rescue and it’s international team of crisis travel specialists, former military special forces, medical professionals, and security experts. They’re on the leading edge of what’s “in” for 2020 and what’s not.

What’s In & What’s Out In Adventure Travel In 2020

Destinations

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: Chernobyl

Set-jetters, the travelers who visit the destinations of favorite TV shows or movies, are heading to Chernobyl, Ukraine, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster and subject of the HBO miniseries by the same name. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the radioactive isotopes lingering in the atmosphere are at tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time. Experts urge traveling with a licensed guide and visiting only for limited periods of time (maximum of two hours). It’s a trend, for sure, but not one we’d recommend visiting.

Out: Croatia

The Croatian metropolis was the featured location for the popular series, Game of Thrones, and quickly became a favorite destination among fans. Unfortunately, over tourism took its toll prompting local officials to stem the onslaught of visitors.

Peaks

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: Aconcagua & Kanchenjunga

Climbers are considering options to skip the steep costs and increasingly crowded conditions at Mt. Everest. Argentina’s Aconcagua is the second highest of the Seven Summits (after Everest), its popularity is rising, permits are inexpensive, and 60 percent of the 4,000 annual summit attempts succeed. On the other end of the scale is Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain on earth. It’s tough and dangerous, yet more people are climbing it than ever, according to the Himalayan Database.

Out: Everest

The highest point on earth, Mt. Everest continues to draw record numbers of climbers looking to summit the 29,035 ft. peak. So why is it “out”? Higher climbing permit fees, bad press, and new rules to reduce the number of inexperienced climbers are expected to reduce crowding. Climbing expert Alan Arnette said, “I have had people tell me they have no interest in climbing Everest due to those issues. I do believe that the number of people attempting Everest will decline. However, as the highest point on Earth, Everest will always have an irresistible draw, like bugs to a light bulb!”

Safety

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: Millenials

When it comes to travel, Global Rescue members receive medical or security services under all kinds of circumstances, not least of which include emergencies. In 2019, members born between 1981-1996 had the lowest per capita need for crisis support than any of their generational counterparts.

Out: GenXers

In a startling change, Global Rescue members born between 1965-1980 required emergency rescue in 2019 at a rate four times greater than in the year prior.

Gear

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: Portable Solar Panels

Outdoor enthusiasts stay charged using portable solar panels that pack small and light, eliminating the need to carry multiple, heavy power banks. While new tech is cool, experts from REI, EMS, and others say nothing replaces a map, compass, and strong nav skills.

Out: Cell Phone Power Banks

There’s still a huge market for power banks but the sales growth trend is several percentage points behind portable solar panels. Hikers, bikers, and campers are always on the hunt for lighter options and power banks may be losing their charge. Again, experts routinely urge continued reliance on traditional orienteering.

Health

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: Self Care For TD

Traveler’s Diarrhea (TD) is the leading trip killer, effecting between 30-70 percent of travelers. Take charge of prevention by sanitizing your hands, filtering/purifying water, using factory-sealed bottled water and canned drinks, wiping off rims before drinking, and skipping buffets. If you get TD then drink plenty of water, avoid dehydrating caffeinated drinks, and follow a bland diet. You can take bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and/or Imodium to help.

Out: Antibiotics For TD

Due to growing antibiotic resistance among returning travelers, the use of antibiotics for TD is not advised for mild or even most moderate cases. Consult your travel health professional to see if carrying antibiotics with you is the right call.

Preparation

Adventure Travel in 2020

In: A Back-Up Plan

Whether you’re traveling for adventure or wellness, long-term stay or a minivacation, business or pleasure, you should have a back-up plan just in case you get sick or injured. A Global Rescue membership includes medical and security advisory services and field rescue from the point of illness or injury to the nearest appropriate health care facility.

Out: Paddle-Free

The phrase “up a river without a paddle” means you don’t have the resources to get where you’re going. No one plans to lose their passport, forget their prescription medicine, accidentally fracture a wrist, or get trapped during civil unrest. But it happens more often than most people realize. Going “paddle-free” is not the same as care-free, frankly it’s careless, costly, and potentially dangerous.

*This post contains collaborative content.

Eli Young Band’s Mike Eli Talks About “Love Ain’t” & “Break It In”

eli young band
Photo Courtesy John Shearer

With megahits like “Love Ain’t,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Crazy Girl,” the Eli Young Band is one of the best country acts out today. They have a long track record of producing tunes that are both catchy and relatable, thus garnering the band multiple awards and nominations including Song of the Year and Group of the Year. If you haven’t gotten to catch the Eli Young Band live, you have several chances locally this weekend. Read on to learn about their inspirational “Love Ain’t” video, new single, “Break It In,” and how that particular song applies to both their lives and careers.

Mike Eli Talks “Love Ain’t”

EPR: So first I’m going to ask you about the video for “Love Ain’t” and what was your inspiration? I mean what made you guys decide to cover that subject matter?

Mike Eli: We do a lot of work with the Wounded Warrior [and] we were brainstorming. We wanted to find kind of the ultimate love story because “Love Ain’t” is obviously a song about what love is. We wanted to find that ultimate love story, whatever it might be, whether or not it’s something that we create in a video format. And at the time we were working with the Wounded Warrior Project and talking about what we’re doing with the single and they said, “You know what? Let us let us look around because we may have something.”

So they started streaming us some of the footage of Taylor and Danielle Morris and we were incredibly moved by what we saw and what we were told about them and it kind of just started snowballing after that. It was such a huge opportunity to be able to be a part of telling their story to a lot of people who didn’t necessarily know…a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of these men and women, when they come home from serving their battles, a lot of relationships don’t survive. The Wounded Warrior Project and a lot of organizations out there do their best to help families and circles survive from the war.

EPR: Yeah, they do seem like such a wonderful and dedicated couple and it’s really amazing to see what they’ve been through and how they’re able to, you know, work through that together.

Mike Eli: They are every bit as awesome as you think they are.

eli young band
Photo Courtesy Cal Quinn

Eli Young Band And Their College Days

EPR: Well, okay, so to switch subjects, you guys started as a college band, is that correct?

Mike Eli: That is right. We started the band in North Texas, back in the day. In the beginning we were, obviously this was a hobby and really an outlet for us to be able to make music while we were getting our degrees and it turned out that we were able to continue.

EPR: So did you all meet in college because I know that two of you did for sure but was that the case for all of the band members?

Mike Eli: Actually yes. So James and I ran into Jon and then Chris which is part of the story. The other three guys had met prior to that, and had kind of started jamming and making music together before we started the band. and I started college ’99 and they had been jamming together and I said, “Hey man, I sing. Maybe I can join in.”

So James and I had started writing music, a few songs, and so we started kind of playing acoustic at some of the local places in Denton [Texas] where we started the band and it was working until October of 2000 when the other two guys jumped on stage with us and they played about four songs, and it all snowballed from there. ‘

Mike Eli On “Break It In”

EPR: That’s really cool that kind of fate brought you guys together like that. A lot of groups can’t stay together that long because they just can’t get along. Being that y’all met in college and have been through a lot together, can you tell me how that applies to your single “Break It In?”

Mike Eli: Yeah, I mean, I think that “Break It In”, is one of those songs that is an incredibly appropriate song for where we’re at in our lives and our career. We feel like we’re kind of just drinking this thing in. You know, I think over time, we’ve figured things out and we’ve become better musicians, better performers and better entertainers and we kind of feel like we’re hitting our stride 20 years later. And there’s not an awful lot of bands that can can feel that way as far as being the same four dudes making making music together.

On The Road & Time Off For Christmas

EPR: Will you get to take any time off for Christmas?

Mike Eli: We will. Yeah. This is our last weekend and we’re ready to play our show in Charlotte and then we are off for about a month.

EPR: That’s great any big plans?

eli young band
Photo Courtesy Cal Quinn

Mike Eli: Yeah! A whole lotta Christmas and some traveling and family and those things that we’ve been neglecting too much over the first of the year. So we’ll be playing some catch up will be a lot of with that. That will be a lot of what that month is all about.

EPR: You already mentioned the show in Charlotte. But you also have a show in Greensboro this week. Do you want to tell me about your shows and what people can expect to see?

Mike Eli: Obviously, the show, will be revolved around the hits, but we play a lot of those old songs that maybe just the fans who have been with us a long time will know. will find that maybe you know. So, it won’t just be the radio hits. It will be a lot of the stuff that the hardcore fans that have been with us and supporting us for a long time will know.

It’s an old school rock’n’roll show. We’re a band that’s very rooted in old school rock and roll and I think that when people come to our show, that’s what they see. You know, we’re just getting up there and turning our amps up and having a good time. And we really feel like that we’ve hit our stride and the shows have just been a ton of fun and and hopefully people come out to just have a really good time.

Catch the Eli Young Band TONIGHT at Cone Denim Entertainment Complex in Greensboro, TOMORROW NIGHT at The Fillmore Charlotte and at House Of Blues in Myrtle Beach on SATURDAY. Check out the rest of their touring schedule here.

Get Social With The Eli Young Band

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