Archive for August, 2009

pol·li·nate : verb [pä-lə-ˌnāt] — to innovate and collaborate to grow a more sustainable and vibrant community

by Suzanne Hacket, 2009 August 30

[See the Blog for Pollinating Asheville for more links to different pollinators mentioned in this article]

LAAFF Poster Design By Sound Mind Media

LAAFF Poster Design By Sound Mind Media


The 8th Annual LAAFF, or Lex Fest, is coming up one week from today on September 6 from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville. Usually I highlight specific people as “Pollinators,” but as I sat and talked with Erin Scholze, I realized that there are so many people and business involved that the entire festival is a Pollinator.

A Bit of History (or Herstory, as it were)

LAAFF was the brainchild of Miss Kitty Love and tall bike freak, Michael Mooney. In 2001, in order to celebrate their gallery and the downtown culture and businesses, they wanted to have an art car parade. Instead they decided to have a festival. Alexis Gault (former Rebelle’s and now Lush Life Designs) had already started Arts2People and wanted to partner. And, LAAFF was born under the umbrella of Arts2People in 2001. Rebecca Hecht, Adorn Salon, has organized the arts vendors since year one.

2002: enter Erin Scholze. As a caretaker for Kitty’s son, Erin caught the LAAFF bug and started organizing the music for the festival. Graham Hackett (Catalyst Poetix and Poetix Vanguard) and Alexis Gault partnered with Erin in helping to program the festival. Alexis and Graham both moved on to their own personal projects, and Erin has become a major face for LAAFF focusing on music and public relations.

2004: enter Brad and Elizabeth Reichardt, owners of BoBo Gallery. Brad, an original Burning Man visionary, wanted to be involved and expand the festival, and schedules the BoBo stage outside of the venue.

2006: LAAFF focuses on greening the festival. Long-term volunteer, Aaron Johnston, organizes with local organizations to make sure their are options for compost and recycling. They ask vendors to use Jack’s Boxes.

NEW For 2009

New LAAFF DIRECTOR: Kitty Love steps down as director to focus on Arts2People to connect with arts organizations in town around an Artist Resource Center. Frank Bloom, former music committee member, is hired as the new director of LAAFF.

LA ZOOM TOURS: Jim and Jen Lauzon made art cars for LAAFF and recently have built their most extravagant art “car” yet, a huge rococo-style purple performance bus, La Zoom. This year, LaZoom is also going to be a performance space for LAAFF. They are doing bus rides around town with live entertainment.

ASHEVILLE BREWERS ALLIANCE: Long-term partner, French Broad Brewing Company, extended an invitation to the newly formed Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (Beer City USA Y’all!) to partner with the festival. Multiple local brews will be available at LAAFF this year.

The stage at Walnut is now located in the parking lot at the corner of Lexington and Walnut.

And, every year more and more businesses and Lexington Ave. spaces want to be a part of the festival and have built it into the largest independent street festival in Asheville, and perhaps in Western North Carolina. LAAFF now draws about 12,000 people.

The other most important part of LAAFF are the volunteers. Interested in volunteering? They still need help. Email Justin Mitchell, volunteer@lexfestasheville.com

And, the sponsors and partners…LAAFF wishes to thank Greenlife Grocery and Mountain Xpress, in particular, and all the other local sponsors.

Other Pollinators involved with LAAFF

LEAF in Schools & Streets, LaZoom Tours, Barley’s Taproom, French Broad Brewery, Jenny Greer of Soundmind Media, Andrew Usher, Stewart Sound, Charles Mooney, Tristan and Jackson, Bob Robertson of Mountain Roots Management, Aslan Roshon of RALAK Fest, Bill Mesmer, Arts2People Board of Directors, Honey Pot, Asheville Mural Project Artists, Phil Cheney of Cheney Graphics, Asheville Downtown Association, Margaret Lauzon of Villasonica, Christina Aurea, Jay Sanders of Sum Networks, Earthfare, The Orange Peel, WNC Magazine, WNCW, vendors, all performers and volunteers who have generously donated their time.

Erin and I sat at Earthfare and brainstormed this great pollination, but we are sure that we missed many who have helped. Please use the comment section to let us know how you’ve contributed to LAAFF!

See who’s playing this year.

Look in this week’s Mountain Xpress for further information and schedule or go to LAAFF’s new website.

from → Arts & Thoughts Artistic, Community Growth & Development, Pollinators & Cultivators: People to Know

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By Carol Motsinger • August 30, 2009 12:15 AM
Asheville Citizen Times Sunday Edition

At the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival in 2007, Megan and Leslie Abernathy (sisters) hula-hoop.  At the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival in 2007, Megan and Leslie Abernathy (sisters) hula-hoop. (Paul Balicky/special to the Citizen-Times)

At the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival in 2007, Megan and Leslie Abernathy (sisters) hula-hoop. At the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival in 2007, Megan and Leslie Abernathy (sisters) hula-hoop. (Paul Balicky/special to the Citizen-Times)

ASHEVILLE — For Frank Bloom, directing the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF) is more than a day job. The festival, which is taking over a few blocks downtown Sept. 6, is one of the reasons he moved to Asheville.

Before making the permanent move, Bloom traveled from his home in Charlotte to help with the sound for the festival’s stages. One group turned out to be a sound engineer’s nightmare: There were more people than square footage on the stage. The group of dancers and drummers had never performed together.

“They weren’t even a band,” Bloom said. “They were more like an experiment.” But despite Bloom’s handwringing, the performance went off without a hitch.

“It was really cool…it was a little welcome to Asheville,” Bloom said. “It was one of those experiences that was a decision-maker for me moving here.”

Four years later, Bloom is no longer behind the sound board; he’s up front at the helm of the 8th annual event celebrating all things arts, music and Asheville. The free festival will fill three blocks of N. Lexington Avenue between College Street and the I-240 overpass from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 6.

And in a lot of ways, Bloom’s new gig isn’t too far removed from the afternoon he made sure the sounds of that 20-person band got the crowd dancing. “It’s organized chaos,” Erin Scholze, who booked the bands, said of the planning process.

The art at LAAFF, as seen at a previous festival, isn't dominated by paintings of fall colors and the Flat Iron Building.

The art at LAAFF, as seen at a previous festival, isn't dominated by paintings of fall colors and the Flat Iron Building.

But organized it is. In just one day, the festival will showcase more than 30 bands and 70 artists. Not to mention a kids area, a circus side show, street performers, a new stage in the La Zoom purple bus and whatever other spontaneous acts of creativity decide to show up.

“It’s a showcase,” Scholze said. “For us, it’s really about maxing it out and sensory overload.”

Forget the stages: Scholze’s favorite part of the festival is the “fabulously freaky” characters who make up the crowd.

“I always love seeing the people in costumes,” she said. “You might see the person who just served you at Zambra walking around in this random costume.”

“That’s the spirit of LAAFF…it’s very eye-opening,” she added.

Bloom’s primary goal this year “was to continue the spirit and the atmosphere of the festival,” he said. And what is that spirit? It’s celebrating everything that makes up Asheville: Local art, food and beer, he said.

“This has a party atmosphere,” he said. “We definitely want to keep that identity.”

A street performer entertains the crowd at last year's Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival.  A street performer entertains the crowd at last year's Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival. (Erin Brethauer/Asheville Citizen-Times)

A street performer entertains the crowd at last year's Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival. A street performer entertains the crowd at last year's Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival. (Erin Brethauer/Asheville Citizen-Times)

That certainly doesn’t mean there haven’t been changes. “In eight years, the area around the festival has definitely changed,” he said. “The festival celebrates that indie spirit that was the beginning of the re-birth of downtown.”

As the city center has flourished, so has the festival. When Scholze started working with LAAFF in its second year, some 3,000 people came out to the party. The event now draws 12,000 people downtown, she said.

Festival organizers also try to “integrate the evolution” of Asheville, Bloom said. For instance, they will be serving six local beers instead of just one, as they have in previous years. When the festival started, Asheville wasn’t known as a beer city, Bloom said.

There will be some subtractions this year as well. Michael Mooney will not be attempting to ride the world’s tallest bike this year, a stunt that’s so fundamental to the festival that it’s part of the official poster. They also won’t paint a donated car this year, Bloom said. But bicycling jousting (another Mooney original and crowd favorite) is still planned and they have some new surprises Bloom wanted to keep hush-hush.

But the most unique part of the festival may not be the break-dancing pirate or the kooky couple hula-hooping to funky beats. What makes this event special is the personal investment of the people who volunteer their time to make it happen, Scholze said.

“The community really takes ownership of it,” she said.

The same folks show up year after year. “It’s like a big family reunion,” Scholze added.

A kooky cast of characters entertain the crowds at last year's Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival. (Erin Brethauer/Asheville Citizen-Times)

A kooky cast of characters entertain the crowds at last year's Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival. (Erin Brethauer/Asheville Citizen-Times)

Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival performers
Blue Rags, Dehlia Low, Eymarel, Hunab Kru, Jen and the Juice, Mad Tea Party, Melmacpink, Roberto Hess, Swayback Sisters, tHE POLES, U-N-I verse, Zabumba!. Asheville Dance Revolution, Baraka Mundi, Blackjack, Brushfire Stankgrass, Ceol Leinn, Galen Kipar Project, Modo, Now You See Them, Runaway Circus and Loose Caboose, Taylor Martin, The Chx, Velvet Truck Stop, Angi West, Arundas, Dip-N-Flip E.Normus Trio, Lulo, Pierce Edens, Pilgrim, Poetix Vanguard, Secret B-Sides, Ash Devine w/ Quetzal, Hillbillionaire$, La Feral Zoom: Rollin’ Barks of Laughter, LEAF in Schools and Streets: Youth at Jazz, Oso Rey, as well as a bluegrass jam, celtic jam and old-time jam.

LAAFF Performers Schedule

8th Annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival.
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 6.
Three blocks of N. Lexington Avenue between College Street and the I-240 overpass.
For more
about LAAFF 2009 www.lexfestasheville.com
about Arts 2 People www.arts2people.org

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by Tad Dickens with Cut N’ Scratch in the Roanoke Times


Mad Tea Party, just off of a few FloydFest sets, hits The Sun Music Hall, Floyd, on Saturday.

Last week, the duo’s Jason Krekel joined us to talk and stream tunes before the band’s Aug. 29 show at The Sun Music Hall, Floyd.

Krekel comes from heavy-duty Nashville, Tenn., mainstream success — his father, the late Tim Krekel, wrote hit songs for such artists as Crystal Gayle and Patty Loveless. The older Krekel, also a session and touring musician, even played the guitar solo on Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

Jason Krekel’s career has been a lot different. He’s been an early or original member of such outfits as Snake Oil Medicine Show, Larry Keel Experience and Firecracker Jazz Band. These days, he spends most of his time working with his girlfriend, songwriter/ukulele banger Ami Worthen, in Mad Tea Party.

We discuss all of that and more in this podcast.

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Written by Rob Moore Friday, 03 July 2009 14:59
Crankit Mag

Asheville-based Jonathan Scales Fourchestra has a uniqueness that is just theirs–steel drums and jazz. This cool combination is a product of Appalachian State’s alumnus Jonathan Scales. Taking the calypso-style (style of Afro-Caribbean music) sounds of the Caribbean steel drums, fusing then together with jazz and reggae, and putting them together is his signature. He manipulates the sound of his steel drum in ways that are refreshing, yet distinct in the island sounds.

Photo By Jon Leidel

Photo By Jon Leidel

His band is made up of Ryan Lassiter (drummer and fellow App alumnus), Duane Simpson (guitarist), and Shannon Hoover (bass). Simpson and Hoover are new to the band this year and in Jonathan’s words, “They are ripping it.”

“How do you mix the traditional Caribbean, jazz, reggae in your music?” I asked.

“Well, I’m influenced by everything I’m around, but I didn’t grow up listening to Caribbean music. I grew up like any typical kid, and when I went to college I listened to classical and modern music. That’s pretty much my musical influences,” said Scales.

He named one of his main influences as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He also has other influences like the Derek Trucks Band, Andy Narell, Pat Metheny, Cannonball Adderley, and Chick Corea to name a few. He has also had the opportunity to play with Jeff Sipe (most recently he has toured with Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe and Jimmy Herring Band), Future Man, and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck’s drummer) and and he has woven all of that influence and knowledge into some cool sounding music.

“In playing with Sipe and Coffin, what inspirational growth have these two given you to help open new musical opportunities? I asked.

“Jeff Coffin in particular is a big influence on me,” Scales said. “I actually tried to get him to play with me on the first CD and he wouldn’t do it. I learned a lot about being professional and producing quality, and the second time around he said he would do it because I proved I could step up.”

Stepping up is exactly what Scales has done. He has produced a second CD, the first being One Track Mind in 2007, titled Plot Scheme. This CD features Jeff Coffin and others, but is full of that jazz, steel drums and Caribbean flavor that’s their signature style and a “more developed sound,” according to Scales.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra will be at Music On The Mountaintop on August 29, in Boone, N.C. He played the inaugural event last year and put on a very good show. Very refreshing. This year he will move up the totem pole to a better stage.

“What are you going to bring to the table at Music On The Mountaintop? Anything cool?” Scales was asked.

“We’ve got some new music that’s still Jonathan Scales, but some of our newer stuff seems to be edgier than it was before and I don’t know why.” Scales said. “I am also bringing my new lineup. A new and improved band.”

Well, we are looking forward to his show in Boone. He will also have a tour coming to the upstate of South Carolina in the fall so be sure to catch a show. You can catch his sound and play dates online at his MySpace, www.myspace.com/jonathanscales and www.jonscales.com.

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Jonathan Scales Fourchestra performing “This Road” from Plot/Scheme at ASU JazzFest (Appalachian State University) Boone, NC.

Ryan Lassiter – drum set
Shannon Hoover – bass
Duane Simpson – guitar
Jonathan Scales – steel pans

Cameras – Kuldeep Chudasama , Carole Barber, Margaret Inman
Runner – Dusty Bradshaw
Sound engineer & mixing – Daniel Shearin
video editing – Jonathan Scales

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by Cary Stemle
August 21, 9:57 AM
Louisville Arts & Culture Examiner www.examiner.com

I got a note from earlier this week about a late-breaking Louisville show by Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, a hot bluegrass quartet from Virginia.

They’re in Kentucky for the International Newgrass Festival (performing Aug. 21) in Bowling Green, and they’ll head up I-65 to play Saturday evening, Aug. 22, at the Hideaway Saloon, the cozy Highlands pub that’s nearly hidden away at the intersection of Bardstown Road and Bonnycastle Avenue (across the street from the Guitar Emporium). Keel and band are set to go on around 11 p.m., preceded by the Whiskey Bent Valley Boys ($10 adv/$12 day of show).

Keel has a well-established name in bluegrass circles — he’s a two-time flat-picking guitar champion, a fine songwriter (he’s had tunes covered by Del McCoury and Acoustic Syndicate) and a strong vocalist with a warm, deep and expressive voice. His quartet is rounded out by Jenny Keel on bass fiddle/vocals, Mark Schimick on mandolin/vocals and Jason Flournoy on banjo/vocals.

Photo by Jon C Hancock

Photo by Jon C Hancock

Listening to a few MP3s, I’ve been impressed by their hot musicianship and vocal harmonies, and the sound recalls newer ’grass outfits like Union Station and Nickel Creek, without straying too far from tradition. It’s a lively and powerful sound — each picker is a heavyweight — and I can only imagine how it’ll pop at the Hideaway. (One of my musical axioms is that bluegrass, in particular, is a form that really must be seen live to be appreciated.)

The outfit’s latest album, Backwoods, came out in February (produced by Keller Williams — download a few songs here.) Keel appears in the soon-to-be released film, “The Man They Couldn’t Hang,” and also performs two songs.

“Over the past decade and a half (Keel) has made a name for himself through his fiery-fingered guitar mastery, his almost other-worldly vocal style, and his wild, progressive mountain sound that has one foot firmly planted in tradition while the other reaches out beyond the boundaries,” wrote The Velvet Rut. “In the end there is very little in the world of bluegrass music that comes close to sounding like Larry Keel.”

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Carol Motsinger • August 14, 2009 12:15 AM
Asheville Citizen Times

A mermaid graces the cover of the  A mermaid graces the cover of the "Freaks of Asheville" calendar that's being celebrated in an exhibit starting Friday at Pack Place.

A mermaid graces the cover of the A mermaid graces the cover of the "Freaks of Asheville" calendar that's being celebrated in an exhibit starting Friday at Pack Place.

ASHEVILLE — A nun with a bad habit and a mountain-living mermaid sound more like characters in a bizarre dream than glossy calendar girls. Yet these individuals have found a home in the Arts 2 People’s Freaks of Asheville Calendar.

The images in the calendar, as well as photographs and artifacts from the organization’s Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, will be celebrated in an exhibit opening 5-7 p.m. today at Pack Place.

The calendar features some of Asheville’s creative professionals, “a certain slice of the Asheville experience,” said Kitty Love, Arts 2 People’s executive director and driving force behind the calendar.

“I really just wanted to highlight who these people are,” she said. The calendar also features important dates in freak culture, such as moon phases and death and birth dates of some of the important people who contributed to the current community.

Love teamed up with John Elliston and Michael Traister, photographer for Sock Monkey Dreams and the Faces of Izzy’s project, to create a series of black-and-white portraits of Asheville’s “freaks.”

But what exactly is a freak? For Love, freaks “have been deformed by the power of their own creative potential,” she said. “They have an overwhelming creative urge, insatiable curiosity, but difficulty being amused.”

The calendar is essentially 12 months of performers and artists like burlesque performer Corky Bordeaux and folk artist Bob Seven.

“I mostly just wanted to celebrate the people who are constant contributors to the magic I see every day,” Love said.

Traister kept the setup simple — neutral background and no props other than what the subjects brought with them — to make sure the “subjects come out more,” he said. Traister thinks that part of what makes Asheville special is that there is a sense of freedom for people to be who they want and to express who they are, however they see fit.

It’s exactly that spirit that Love hopes the calendar will highlight — and help preserve. “It’s important that we retain this part of our culture as we develop into a bigger city,” she said. “I want to see the creative culture considered in terms of economic development, in terms of tourism and everything else Asheville does.”

The calendar is just the beginning for the project. Love hopes to produce a set of Asheville freak-themed Tarot cards and possibly a larger collection of portraits for a book. Organizers hope to have the calendar available for sale at the upcoming LAAFF, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 6, and at downtown retailers soon. A portion of the proceeds will go toward Arts 2 People.

The Pack Place exhibit also includes images previewing next month’s LAAFF, an arts celebration organized by Arts 2 People. The exhibit will also host Michael Mooney’s bike jousting gear, a sport regularly featured at the festival. Mooney, also known as “Medieval Knievel,” a co-founder of LAAFF, also has a spot in the calendar.

Through all of its projects, “Arts 2 People has worked really hard to try to create something that can move the creative cultural experience forward,” Love said. “We want to create an opportunity for self-expression and community building.”


What: Exhibit for the Lexington Ave. Arts and Fun Festival and the Freaks of Asheville Calendar.

When: Opening reception 5-7 p.m. Friday. The exhibit runs through Aug. 29.

Where: Pack Place Front Gallery at 2 S. Pack Square.

More information: http://www.arts2people.org or http://www.lexfestasheville.com.

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