Traditional Scottish Music At A Pub In Kirkwall, Orkney


I always feel like a trip isn’t over until I’ve stopped writing about it. My wife feels the same way. So we were a bit down when I finished my series on our visit to the Orkney Islands.

To cheer ourselves up, I decided to share a video with all of you of an excellent cafe/pub/music venue in Kirkwall called The Reel. In summers they have three or more concerts a week of traditional Scottish music. While it’s certainly not the only such place in Orkney, The Reel has become justly famous for its atmosphere and the talent it attracts.

When I trolled Youtube for a video to share, I discovered this one. The concert looked familiar, and when the camera panned to the left, lo and behold there I was in my yellow sweatshirt with a pint of Orkney beer! I don’t remember anyone filming that concert, not that I was paying much attention to the crowd.

My wife isn’t in this shot. She was nice enough to take our son back to our rental apartment and put him to bed while I stayed until the end. Yep, despite the light streaming through the windows it’s actually nighttime, at least 9 p.m. Orkney summer days are wonderfully long!

Sweetlife Festival to feature hot music and sustainable eats

sweetlife festivalIt isn’t often you get invited to a party with a purpose. But that’s exactly what the Sweetlife Food & Music Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, will be: an all-day extravaganza celebrating the values of “sustainability, community and fun.” Scheduled for April 28, the festival will feature a stellar lineup of musicians, including: Avicii, Kid Cudi, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Fitz and the Tantrums, A$AP Rocky, and Fun. In addition, the event will offer healthy, sustainably sourced food options.

The third annual Sweetlife Festival is organized by the founders of Sweetgreen, a northeast chain of eco-friendly eateries known for dishing up fresh, local ingredients and changing the way the country thinks of fast food. This year’s festival will feature twice as many music acts as well as a second stage, called The Treehouse, which will host a roster of emerging artists. Festival-goers will be able to participate in environmentally-focused interactive activities between sets and nosh on munchies from the likes of Jose Andres’s Pepe Truck, Shake Shack, Roberta’s Pizza and Smucker Farms in the Food Forest, presented in cooperation with Serious Eats.

“Our vision is to extend Sweetgreen’s hip and eco-conscious ethos from the table to all facets of the Sweetlife – including the festival fare,” said the press release.

General admission tickets went on sale today and are available for $75 on ticketfly.com.

Exclusive video: inside Virgin America’s DFW launch

If you’ve been reading Gadling in the last week, you’re probably aware that Virgin America launched their first mid-continent destination just one week ago in the heart of Texas. Now, see what it’s like to shake hands with Richard Branson and be on the inside of a Virgin America launch event – bulls, barbecues, bandanas & all.

Special thanks to the W Dallas-Victory, Winspear Opera House, & the entire Virgin America crew. For more photos and a closer look at the company’s future plans, check out the in-depth article here.

Inside Virgin America’s mid-continent arrival

Virgin America DFW

I don’t think I actually understood the implications of Virgin America’s launch into “fortress-hub” Dallas/Fort Worth until we touched down on the tarmac.

As we taxied to our gate, I could see nothing but a endless row of silver fuselages; all adorned with the iconic blue & red “AA” logo. It felt almost as if we were silently making our way through the front gates of a modern-day Troy.

The only difference, of course, was that this Trojan horse was bright red, equipped with mood lighting, and ready to be received by a cheering crowd of residents, city officials, and the rebel billionaire himself, Sir Richard Branson. To top it off, the tarmac was host to a pen of live bulls, tent with cocktail service, and full fledged Texan barbecue – the type of spectacle I’ve come to know, love, and anticipate when Virgin wants to catch people’s attention.

And it certainly seems as if American has already taken notice. In the weeks leading up to the launch, the legacy carrier lowered fares by 20% and offered double frequent flyer miles aboard Dallas-San Francisco and Dallas-Los Angeles routes.

DFW Public Affairs Manager, David Magaña, also mentioned that American hasn’t been able to stop talking about Virgin’s arrival preceding the event, as it signifies the first of several low-cost carriers that will be entering the Dallas market in 2011. While this loosens American’s 85% share of flights from the hub, it spurs competition and ultimately lower fares for passengers.Virgin America’s first mid-continent destination comes at a good moment in the airline’s young story. They posted their first quarterly net profit (as opposed to operating profit) in Q3 of 2010 and were rated top domestic airline for the third year running in the 2010 Zagat Global Airline Survey. At this year’s Farnborough Air Show, they announced plans to more than double their fleet with a purchase of 40 new Airbus A320’s. Now, with their entrance into Dallas consummated, they’ve shown that they’re ready to make their presence tangible and (thankfully) shake thing up a bit.


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However, to make a significant impact, they’ll have to add more flights. At the moment, Virgin America will offer two daily nonstop flights between DFW and Los Angeles, and two to San Francisco. Although it plans to add a third on each route, it would require significantly more options to directly compete with the hundreds of flights per day that American and American Eagle offer.

“It signifies a second stage for the company. We knew eventually that we’d be going into the middle of the country but now seemed the right time since we’ve blanketed most of the coasts. So this is the second stage of our network development.” Virgin America CEO David Cush said in an interview on the flight.

He also emphasized the company’s dedication with hiring “creative, smart, risk-tolerant people who are willing to go out and push the envelope.” as they grow, and that they’re “not sitting back”, but pursuing the development of a “new in-flight experience” that could be ready as soon as 2012.

The night proceeded to unfold in Dallas’s emerging and surprisingly modern downtown arts district with an intimate performance by activist & music icon, Willie Nelson. Following Nelson’s recent arrest for possession of marijuana, Branson donned a shirt that read “Free Willie” and cheekily quipped that the 77-year old musician looked good after “losing six ounces”.

Virgin America DFW

In partnership with nonprofit foundation Stand Up To Cancer, Virgin transformed the Winspear Opera House into a glowing red hub of its own; filled with Dallas’s elite and hundreds of donors that had gathered friends for Stand Up To Cancer’s cause.

It was an impressive occasion that only an airline leveraging Branson’s magic could pull together, and one that sent a clear signal to the rest of Dallas. Virgin America has entered the mid-continent rodeo, and is ready to take the legacy bulls by their horns.

For more information, check out Virgin America’s introductory fares and schedules right here.

Vail: Eight free ways to rock snowless slopes

Your skis are jammed in the closet, and you’re more concerned about traffic en route to the beach than you are about getting out to the Rockies. Well, it’s time to change your thinking. Dash off to Colorado this summer, and you can escape the heat and find some exciting ways to recharge away from home. Oh, and you won’t have to pull out your wallet when you get there.

Check out these free ways to have a blast in Vail this summer without dropping a dime:

1. Music: Enjoy the Hot Summer Nights Tuesday Free Concert series

2. More Music: Tuesday isn’t enough? Get greedy and hang out until Thurday for jazz concerts outside the Arrabelle at Vail Square. If you can’t get enough jazz, linger at the Vail Farmer’s Market on Sunday, too.

3. Ride: Stick your kids on a gondola. It won’t cost you a thing, and you can get them out of your hair for a bit.

4. Play: Try your hand at horseshoes or bocce (among others) at Adventure Ridge.5. Hike: Walk the trails of Vail Mountain with a guide.

6. Serve and volley: Are you into tennis? Pick up a match at the Golden Peak Tennis Courts.

7. Learn: Take advantage of free admission to the Colorado Ski Museum.

8. Park: Yeah, it doesn’t sound like much, but anyone who lives in a city, especially, will appreciate this one. Vail Village and Lionshead offer free parking all summer long.

And if this isn’t enough for you, there are some deals to be had. Both the Arrabelle at Vail Square and The Lodge at Vail are kicking in solid discounts, with rates at the former starting at $199 a night and the latter at $149 a night.