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Archive for December, 2008

by Alli Marshall in Vol. 15 / Iss. 23 on 12/31/2008

Mountain Xpress

http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2007/123108any_reason_for_the_season_the_other_new_year/

Once, when Asheville-based musician Andy Pond passed through customs into the Montego Bay airport, a member of the Mento band (which greets tourists) noticed his banjo case. “Going to Jamaica with a musical instrument makes people treat you differently,” Pond says. He suddenly found himself picking along with the band, welcoming fellow tourists—including the cast of MTV’s “Jackass” series.

Sound crazy? In under three hours’ flight time, you could be in sunny Jamaica, rum drink in hand, warm breeze blowing off the turquoise ocean and strains of—no, not reggae or steel drums—Larry Keel welcoming you to paradise.

Unlikely but true, and all part of the annual random-but-not-without-reason Chinese New Year Celebration (CHNY), held in the Jamaican beach town of Negril. This January’s gathering, which attracts many Western N.C. residents, artists and musicians, heralds the year of the Ox.

This particular Chinese New Year event got its start as a gathering of friends that moved from country to country. The Jamaican location stuck—despite the oddity of a Chinese holiday in the Caribbean—and soon word got out, catapulting the private festivities to public ones.

“The intention of the celebration is to … build a culture of peace and community through travel, music, arts and play to set a positive tone for the New Year,” reads the event Web site. In fact, CHNY has been taking place for the better part of a decade and not only provides a full itinerary of music and fun in the sun, but also opportunities to explore Jamaican culture and contribute to social projects.

One project, close to the heart of Pond (who first came to CHNY—and Jamaica—in 2001 when his band, Snake Oil Medicine Show, was invited), is the West Haven Children’s Home for the Disabled. “We originally volunteered to play a concert for the kids,” he recalls. “It was heavy. This is an orphanage for physically-challenged children andadults.” Organizers approached the Children’s Home staff to see how CHNY attendees could help. The answer: “We don’t need money, we need humans to visit,” Pond says.

“We spent a week doing art projects and serving food,” Pond recalls. “I always wondered if we helped them or just helped our own consciousness.”

He adds, “You can impact one person for one week. I go [to Jamaica] and realize how much I actually have.”

Pond understands that for some, the visit to Jamaica is about vacation and concerts. “That’s okay,” he says. “We know it’s not comfortable to go to the orphanages and see people who have less.” CHNY’s service mark also comes in the event’s commitment to support Jamaican-owned businesses. This is especially important on the Caribbean island where international resorts bring no return to local economies. It’s worth noting that while CHNY comes with a price tag (even musicians and volunteers pay their own way), the event organizers have already done the legwork to help visitors make the most impact with their American dollars, and avoid as many hassles as possible.

Another opportunity to learn (and WNC connection) comes through the ongoing One Love Reasoning Seminars, lead by Robert Roskind, author of Rasta Heart: A Journey into One Love and Gathering of the Peacemakers, both of which deal with Jamaican elders who wish to further the Bob Marley principal of love and freedom for all humanity. Roskind is a resident of Blowing Rock, N.C., but he and his wife Julia travel frequently to Jamaica.

Pond notes that there’s a long-standing (if informal) exchange program between the Appalachian Mountains and Jamaica. “Asheville and Negril have a strange exchange of music. Before there was Snake Oil Medicine Show, there was Ras Alan,” he says. “I personally had a musical epiphany. The simplicity and the poetry of reggae touched me.”

what: Chinese New Year 2009, a week-long celebration of peace, community, the arts and travel
where: Negril, Jamaica
when: Saturday, Jan. 24-Saturday, Jan. 31 (Packages run $750-$2610, not including airfare. At press time, airfare ran around $300 for a direct flight from Charlotte, N.C. to Montego Bay, Jamaica.http://www.chny.org.)

The lineup

Chinese New Year 2009 attendees may be surprised by just how familiar the bands performing at the Jamaican resort seem. That’s because a significant portion of the roster is Asheville-based. Here’s who’s playing:
• Kenyatta “Culture” Hill: The son of ‘70’s era reggae star Joseph Hill, Jamaica-based Kenyatta carries on the family legacy. He recently released his first solo album, Pass the Torch.
• Laura Reed and Deep Pocket: Influenced by roots reaching from front woman Reed’s South African home to the American South, this Asheville-based big band blends reggae, R&B, soul and funk for a captivating and high-energy live show.
• CX-1: At first look, CX-1 is a mini-version of Snake Oil Medicine Show. In fact, the Pond Brothers’ side project (a.k.a. “The Blackhole Bluegrass Boys”) allows its members to further explore the connections between reggae and bluegrass.
• The Overtakers: This Negril-based husband and wife project (led by Ruben and Ruth Brooks) has collaborated with CX-1 for a transcendent Asheville show, as well using their music to uplift their own Jamaican community.
• Josh Phillips: Formerly of Asheville’s Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Phillips recent went solo with a the seamless debut release, Wicker. Upbeat songwriting and folky reggae-meets-hip-hop make up a not-to-be-missed Josh Phillips performance.
• Fred Tackett and Paul Barrerre: These guitarists, both of the legendary band Little Feat, have their own band known appropriately, as Paul and Fred-The Acoustic Duo. Fred is from Arkansas, Paul from California.
• Acoustic Syndicate: Formed in 1992 by brothers Bryon and Fitz McMurry and cousin Steve McMurry, the acoustic Americana outfit logged many road miles and built an impressive fan base before they quit touring in 2005. After a two-year hiatus, the core group reunited for occasional show dates.
• Larry Keel & Natural Bridge: Expert picking, fiery licks and roots music performed with modern flare underscore a Natural Bridge show. The sounds are second only Virginia-based musician Larry Keel’s penchant for creating a family feel wherever he goes.
• Snake Oil Medicine Show: This long-term Asheville collective, including George and Andy Pond, Caroline Pond, Billy Seawell, Sean Foley and, occasionally, painter Phil Cheney, has the uncanny ability to turn any crowd into a party.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Asheville Mural Project – seated dinner at the YMI Cultural Center December 20th, from 7 – 10pm – 39 South Market St (corner of Eagle St)

http://www.ymicc.org/ 828-252-4614
$35, 160 seats available
http://www.ashevillemuralproject.org/

www.arts2people.org/amp

http://www.arts2people.org/

www.myspace.com/arts2people.org

(Asheville, NC) Assist The Asheville Mural Project (AMP) in fulfilling the dream of creating more community-made public art, creating new spaces, and revitalizing old by attending the AMP’s Silent Art Auction and Banquet on December 20th at the YMI Cultural Center, on the corner of Eagle and Market Streets downtown. This will be a seated banquet dinner from 7pm until 10pm. There will be music, a silent art auction, live painting and auction, cultural arts speakers and a slide show on the creative culture in Asheville, focusing on the mural project. Be sure to get your tickets early as there is limited seating; tickets are $35.

Supporting the arts by attending this banquet also means getting a taste of some of the finest food that Asheville Culinary Artists have to offer. This buffet-style dinner consists of food contributed from over 15 of the areas finest independent restaurants, including Table, Mela, Bouchon, Heiwa, Zambra, the Marketplace, Salsas, The Lobster Trap, Jerusalem Garden, Early Girl, Thai Basil, the New French Bar, MoDaddy’s, Laurey’s Gourmet Catering, Barleys, Doc Cheys, amongst others.

Entertainment for the evening includes classical guitar, members of the Asheville High School Choir, as well as other local music acts. Mingle about as you bid on the art donated to the silent auction by local artists. Four AMP Artists will also be painting live on stage throughout the evening and will auction of the finished pieces. There will also be guest speakers and a slideshow presentation about the history of murals, as well as cultural and community development of murals. Guest speakers will give a narrative about the importance of grassroots arts in Asheville and how art can be used a positive force in every-day experience. Speakers include AMP Director Molly Must, AMP Artist Dan Beck, Arts2People’s Executive Director Kitty Love and others to be determined.

This banquet is a fundraiser for the completion of the Lexington Gateway Mural, located on the support pillars of the I240 overpass marking the Northern Corridor into downtown Asheville. Moneys raised will go to support AMP artists and buying the remaining necessary materials, including the high cost of scaffolding, to complete this cultural heritage mural. After having raised $10-15k for the implementation of this project, an additional $10,000-15,000 is needed to complete this mural, including the painting of the Merrimon Ave side of the support pillars.

Any extra funds raised will go towards several of AMP’s newest potential mural sites, including the Asheville Public Library, the Asheville Transit Center (bus station downtown), and the Montford Corner Store; and to pay staff to sustain the program, write grants, and other administrative details. Help AMP fulfill the dream of creating more community-made public art, creating new spaces and revitalizing old. Private Donations are always welcome.

If all goes well, AMP will begin painting again on the Lexington Gateway Mural as soon as it gets warm enough in the spring, and will simultaneously begin coordinating the Montford Corner Store Mural (under the direction of Dan Beck).

The Asheville Mural Project, a branch of Arts 2 People, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, exists to beautify and diversify Asheville’s urban landscape, providing artists and local community members with the opportunity to design and implement their own public art. AMP believes that murals enhance quality of life and create artful metropolitan experience through the transformation of conventional architecture. AMP’s murals are both the testimony and celebration of a lively local arts culture.

Arts 2 People also houses the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF), the REACH Programming series, the new Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program, Moving Women, the Faces of Asheville and more. LAAFF has played in integral role in the fundraising and awareness raising efforts to support AMP for the past six years; we are all excited to see this vision turn into reality. Arts 2 People is devoted to promoting the role of the arts as an integral part of our culture by serving the entire community through arts outreach, bringing the arts to those in need of the healing power of art, supporting the careers of artists, and through community cultural development. To find out more, visit http://www.arts2people.org/.

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