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Sunday, September 5, 2010
Labor Day Weekend
All Local ~ All Original

11am – 9pm
~ FREE and Kid Friendly~
director@lexfestasheville.com
North Lexington Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
www.arts2people.org
www.lexfestasheville.com

Join us in the annual FREE end-of-summer celebration of Asheville’s artistic and musical communities, The Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival. LAAFF is entering our 9th year of filling three blocks of N. Lexington Ave in downtown with all local art, food, beer, music, street performers, and random acts of creativity. LAAFF takes place on Sunday, September 5th, 2010.

LAAFF has become the showcase event for all types of talent on multiple stages and performance areas including rock and roll, indie pop, funk, folk, reggae, world beats, singer-songwriters, bluegrass, old time, African drummers, clowns, magicians, contortionists, belly dancers, modern dancers, vaudeville actors, break dancers, hula hoopers, and more. LAAFF has grown over the years to become known as Asheville’s largest independent street festival with upwards of 15,000 in attendance.

LAAFF is an experience the whole family can get into. Kids will love making art, dancing, getting their faces painted and having fun all day long. Kids are also in on the act showing off their breakdancing, parading, and making music. The big “kids” will enjoy the ever popular bicycle jousting, local brews provided by the Asheville Brewers Alliance, an eclectic culinary and artistic experience, as well as the new big people game: Big Wheels for Big Kids. There will be lots of fun new vendors as well as old favorites with a ton of variety.

Created specifically for LAAFF by Co-Founder Michael Mooney, LAAFF’s ever popular Bicycle Jousting is always a mainstay attraction! This is a fun and safe bike joust where contestants are armored up with foam and helmets. The sit upon bike with banana seats and wheel with elliptical hubs which make the bike bounce up and down like riding on a horse. Each contestant holds a long pole with a boxing glove on the end..If they can reach each other they try and joust the other off the bike. It is extremely fun to watch and a great activity that Michael created as an event at LAAFF. To see the gear in advance go to Pack Place’s Front Gallery… will you dare to ride?

LaZoom Tour Bus hosts a rolling LAAFF theatre for the day! If you just want to enjoy an easy going ride… LaZoom has traveling sideshows with a variety of acts (Including kids acts and adult only acts) throughout the day in 40 minute loops around Asheville. This is set up as an affordable way to fund-raise at LAAFF with extra entertainment to the festival.

Various arts schools and organizations have in the past teamed up to create the LAAFF Kids area. There is always face painting and a chill out zone for parents with babies who may need to sit down and relax, breastfeed, or change a diaper.

As part of an ongoing commitment to improve and expand the role of the Lexington Avenue Arts Festival in the community, greening efforts and more emphasis on environmental issues will continue to increase. The core principle of being an all local event has been a foundation of the festival’s efforts to support local artists, musicians, restaurants, and non-profits. For instance, using water sales as a way for local non-profits to raise funds and involving the Asheville On Bikes organization to host a bike corral, encouraging participants in the festival to ride bikes, use public transportation, and carpool to limit their impact. Reducing waste has always been an important goal, and last year composting was added to the recycling and reuse efforts. Many of the food and beverage vendors are now using compostable cups and utensils. The festival will continue to include local non-profits, especially environmental and arts organizations and hopefully will showcase renewable energy in LAAFF’s to come. For more info email greening@lexfestasheville.com.

LAAFF also has a great merchandise area with LAAFF T-shirts, water bottles, and performer merchandise. 100% of performer merch proceeds goes back to the bands themselves. There is also a silent auction to raise fund for Arts 2 People of which some donated items are available to see on our “silent auction” page of this website. We accepting items up through the morning of the festival each year. Email vending@lexfestasheville.com if you would like to donate or be a vendor at the event.

LAAFF relies on community support to ensure our success each year. LAAFF is a volunteer driven event, with a core staff, put on by and for the community. Your tax-deductible contribution ensures the ongoing successes of this much anticipated yearly Asheville celebration. LAAFF is a project of 501(c)3 non-profit Arts 2 People.

To get involved email director@lexfestasheville.com for info on how to plug in. For publicity inquiries please email dreamspider@gmail.com.

FIND LAAFF on the web:

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By Noor Al-Sibai

naalsiba@unca.edu

Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009

UNCA’s The Blue Banner

www.thebluebanner.net

Photo by Emily Kerrr

LAAFF 2009

laff 1 laff 3 laff 6 laff 9 laff 11 laff 13 laff 14 //

Fairy wings, rainbow-hued hair, pirate attire and other sundry modes of dress adorned this year’s Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival. Festival-goers, artists and vendors alike said LAAFF is the most local of happenings in Asheville.

LAAFF ran from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The three stages, two courtyards, 60 vendors and six bus tours made LAAFF a success, according to PR director Erin Scholze.

“The community really owns it, which is amazing” said Scholze.

The stages, placed at various locations on Lexington Avenue, were the Greenlife Electric stage, the Mountain Xpress Walnut stage and the BoBo Gallery stage.

Each stage offered up a variety of local and national acts, from Pierce Edens to the nationally acclaimed Blue Rags.

“There’s no such thing as free time, and I’m not so sure about luck. There’s no easy way to break up,” sang Shane Conerty and female lead singer Dulci as their band, Now You See Them, played the Mountain Xpress stage.

Listeners at New You See Them show included a couple from Knoxville, Tenn. who came to LAAFF exclusively for the band and for beer, and a baby with a mohawk who split his time between schmoozing with the audience and lead singer Conerty.

Now You See Them, originally from Pennsylvania, were very excited to play LAAFF according to drummer Jason Mercer.

Down the street and a few hours later, Ami Worthen and Jason Krekel of Mad Tea Party ravaged the crowd as various fairy-winged women boogied like zombies alongside men in skirts and face-painted children.

Around sunset at the BoBo stage, acoustic singer-songwriter Angi West captivated the crowd with a voice reminiscent of folk singer Joanna Newsom as fans lounged on the street.

West’s breathy, gospel-tinged vocals accentuated the dwindling sunlight and the ambiance it created during the festival.

The cross-legged audience sat in a hush as Mad Tea Party’s vocalist smiled near the sound booth.

Songwriter’s circle at Liquid Dragon Tattoo’s courtyard had the appearance of spontaneity as local songwriters democratically performed acoustic versions of their own music.

“It’s just amazing to hear a person with their instrument and their song” said Rory Carroll, a local performer.

Cello during Ash Devine’s haunting performance flowed with Carroll’s bluesy voice, while Now You See Them’s Conerty brought about an upbeat note.

“I’m so grateful to be a part of this community,” Carroll said.

Indeed, community was a dominant theme at LAAFF.

Groups of friends gathered on the street and in front of stages, parents and children conversed with other families, and strangers stopped to talk to not only those dressed outlandishly, but to offer genuine compliments to each other.

The party atmosphere was supported by the nature of the goods being sold.

Booths selling handmade jewelry and local foods were flanked by vendors selling clothes both tie-dye and hand-printed, as well as novelty stands selling paintings and pottery.

One such stand was a man with the bottle cap truck, a mainstay at arts festivals such as LEAF, whose proprietor was wearing a white tailcoat with multicolored fuzzy craft balls.

The eccentric attire of many of the festival goers fazed none, and were even considered by some to be beautiful.

“The most beautiful thing I saw was a woman with curly hair down to her knees” said Tommy, a local attendee. “She was slow-dancing.”

Alongside festival-billed oddities such as bike jousting were many impromptu happenings, a symbiosis of street performances and participating spectators.

Near Spiritex clothing store, a woman played harpsichord for hours while another woman played a silver painted snare drum.

The performance art of LAAFF did not end with musicians. There were at least three people on stilts roaming the festival at their leisure, sometimes stopping to pose with other personalities, and otherwise perpetuating the carnival atmosphere the festival created.

Another of the festival’s main draws was the beer.

Eight local breweries supplied LAAFF attendees with enough plastic cups to need “compost only” trash-cans.

The community building reached beyond Lexington Avenue.

Various shops sold scraps of fabric and took donations to support Responsive Education Accessing Creativity for Healing, or REACH, a program for battered women.

LAAFF’s impact varies almost as much as the outfits of those who attend, but they all agree on at least one note: Ashevillians, out-of-towners and artists alike love LAAFF.

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by AskAsheville

The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival is going to be awesome! Here is Erin of http://twitter.com/dreamspiderweb Dreamspider Publicity in Asheville, NC telling us about the plans for the day. LAAFF is on September 6, 2009 in the downtown area. Thousand and thousands of people will be there. We expect a social bloom to happen in the area at this event. Make plans to come out and attend LAAFF in Asheville!!!

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Cover Art by The Mountain Xpress. Photo by Jonathan Welch

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by Rebecca Sulock in Vol. 16 / Iss. 6 on 09/02/2009 Mountain Xpress

www.mountainx.com

Here’s one for the annals: The first-ever Freaks of Asheville calendar, set to debut at LAAFF this year. Photographer Michael Traister (Sock Monkey Dreams, Faces of Izzy’s), known for his stunning portraiture, turns his deft lens to some of our town’s “cultural creatives,” creating portraits of some local eclectic personalities.

Sister Bad Habit, aka LaZoom Tours' Jim Lauzon. Photo by Michael Traister.

Sister Bad Habit, aka LaZoom Tours' Jim Lauzon. Photo by Michael Traister.

“Each month will feature a classic portrait of a noted Asheville ‘freak’ and tell the story behind their uniqueness,” writes Erin Scholze of Arts2People. Included in the calendar are some key milestones in local counter-culture history. Partners in the endeavor include LAAFF founder Kitty Love, Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston and Asheville Fringe Festival co-organizer Jim Julien. The project is a fundraiser for Arts2People. Here’s to all those with an abundance of creative energy, each month of the year.

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by Alli Marshall in Vol. 16 / Iss. 6 on 09/02/2009

The Mountain Xpress

www.mountainx.com

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Greenlife Electric Stage (bottom of Lexington Avenue)

• The Swayback Sisters (singer/songwriter trio with Nikki Talley, Laura Blackley and Lyndsay Wojcik), 11-11:45 a.m.
• Eymarel (keyboard & drum duo), 12:05-12:50 p.m.
• Roberto Hess (spoken word), 12:55-1:05 p.m.
• U-N-I-Verse (reggae), 1:10-1:55 p.m.
• Hunab Kru (break dance),  2-2:10 p.m.
• The Poles (rock) 2:15-3 p.m.
• Hunab Kru (break dance), 3:05-3:15 p.m.
• Dehlia Low (bluegrass), 3:20-4:25 p.m.
• Parade (begins at Bobo Gallery, ends at stage), 4:15 p.m.
• Zabumba! (Carnival rhythms), 4:25-4:40 p.m.
• Mad Tea Party (vintage rock), 4:45-5:50 p.m.
• Melmacpink/Asheville Hoops (hula-hooping), 5:55 – 6:05 p.m.
• The Blue Rags (blues-ragtime boogie), 6:15-7:15 p.m.
• Jen and the Juice (folk rock), 7:45-9 p.m.

Mountain Xpress Walnut Stage

• Ceol Leinn (traditional Celtic), 11-11:50 a.m.
• Blackjack (kid rockers), 12:10-12:45 p.m.
• Asheville Dance Revolution (kids’ dance group), 1-1:30 p.m.
• Now You See Them (folk-pop), 1:40-2:15 p.m.
• Runaway Circus and Loose Caboose (comedy, music & sideshow act), 2:25-2:55 p.m.
• Galen Kipar Project (folk blues), 3:10- 3:50 p.m.
• Taylor Martin (singer/songwriter), 4:15-5 p.m.
• The Chx (female drummers), 5:15-5:50 p.m.
• Velvet Truck Stop (rock), 6-6:35 p.m.
• Brushfire Stankgrass (psychedelic bluegrass), 6:50-7:30 p.m.
• Baraka Mundi the Bandit Queens of Bellydance, 7:45-8:15 p.m.
• Modo (jazz rock), 8:25-9 p.m.

BoBo Stage

• Dip-N-Flip (DJs) 11:10 -11:45 a.m.
• Lulo (free jazz), noon-12:45 p.m.
• The E.Normus Trio (jazz), 1-1:45 p.m.
• Pierce Edens (gritty rock), 2-2:45 p.m.
• The Poetix Vanguard (spoken word), 3-3:45 p.m.
• Arundas (world) 4-4:45 p.m.
• The Secret B-Sides (soul) 5-5:45 p.m.
• Pilgrim (indie-folk) 6-6:45 p.m.
• Angi West (singer/songwriter), 7-7:45 p.m.
• Dip-N-Flip (DJs), 8-9 p.m.

LaZoom Tour Bus

• LEAF in Schools and Streets: Youth at Jazz (kids show), 2-2:45 p.m.
• Ash Devine (singer/songwriter), 3-3:45 p.m.
• Hillbillyonaire$ (alt-country), 4-4:45 p.m.
• Oso Rey (acoustic folk), 6-6:45 p.m.
• La Feral Zoom: Rollin’ Barks of Laughter (adults only), 7-7:45 p.m.
• Unitard: hilarious one-woman show from Kelly Barrow (adults only). 8-8:45 p.m.

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by Alli Marshall in Vol. 16 / Iss. 6 on 09/02/2009

The Mountain Xpress

www.mountainx.com

If LAAFF is a free pass to dress and act as our most wildly creative selves (keeping it PG, of course: The festival is for the kids, too), it’s also an opportunity for local musicians to get experimental.

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That’s the case for The Swayback Sisters, which features singer/songwriters Nikki Talley, Laura Blackley and Lyndsay Wojcik. All three of these ladies have viable careers on their own. They also all have very different styles. Talley’s brand of indie rock is acoustic-instrument fueled — sometimes it’s driving, sometimes it’s mellow — and serves as the perfect backdrop for her dusky, comfortable vocals. Blackley’s bands over the years have run the gamut from folk-rock to country blues, but no matter the genre, Blackley’s rich and swampy vocals color the music. Her songs are a blend of folklore, family-inspired tales and love songs. Wojcik has a breezy-pretty presence, a relaxed banter with her audience and a penchant for roots and soul-tinged sounds. One thing to be said about this trio: There’s not a diva in the bunch. Just solid performers who know how to shine individually and blend their styles — and their voices — for something utterly fresh.

Of course, being experimental doesn’t have to mean a break from form. Alt-country band The Hillbillyonaire$, who claim to have started as a “three piece autoharp and dulcimer orchestra that catered to playin’ for the Ladies Auxillary,” puts its own unhinged and bass-heavy spin on chestnuts like the gospel tune “Ain’t No Grave.” Pilgrim shares little with the Hillbillyonaire$ beyond being a trio. Fronted by poet/musician Jaye Bartell, the slow-core band crafts atmospheric notes and haunting imagery. Themes of birds, nature and loneliness are palpable in these quiet songs.

And then there are the traditionalists (though it could be argued that, amidst the alt-ness of LAAFF, orthodoxy is new heterodoxy). Celtic band Ceol Leinn, from Hickory, plays traditional Scottish and Irish music. In kilts. With highland bagpipes, penny whistles and a marching snare. And, perhaps every bit as exciting (and immemorial) as a double dose of bagpipes is classic rock. Think: The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds.” That’s what Hendersonville-based BlackJack brings to the stage. The departure for these rock purists is that the entire group is middle school-aged.

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by Alli Marshall in Vol. 16 / Iss. 6 on 09/02/2009

The Mountain Xpress

www.mountainx.com

Photos by Jonathan Welch

Photos by Jonathan Welch

If memory serves, my eighth birthday involved a swimming party in our backyard pond and carob cupcakes that none of my friends would eat (but decades later still laugh about). For the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival’s eighth, the day-long celebration promises costumes, a parade, a couple dozen performers, jam sessions, DJs, visual art, costumed revelers, bicycle jousting, local food and beer and spontaneous creative expression (and heck, maybe a carob cupcake, too). LAAFF knows how to throw a party.

So, as downtown Asheville’s most unique shopping district gears up for its most unique festival, what sort of tricks does LAAFF have up its sleeve? For starters, a new director. In July, Frank Bloom stepped into that leadership role, and really, who better? Bloom brings a wealth of experience (he’s managed food and beverage outlets for a NASCAR track, booked shows for Emerald Lounge, run sound for both Donna The Buffalo and Acoustic Syndicate, worked as drum tech for Mickey Hart’s Global Drum Project and performs with Asheville’s Thunderdrums).

Next on the roster of important deets: Beer. LAAFF has, since the beginning, taken a local-brews-only stand. This time around, better than a selection from a single local brewery, Asheville Brewers Alliance (comprised of eight beer crafters) is involved. Wash the suds down with an array of snacks from Crepes of Wrath, Rosetta’s Kitchen, Blue Daisy Cafe, Mela Indian Restaurant and more. You’ll need the sustenance — this is a marathon day of fun.

090209hulahoopJonathan WelchSpeaking of fun, the best way to get into the spirit of LAAFF is to come in costume. Yeah, Asheville is pretty open to all manner of dress. Jeans and flip-flops are de rigeur, dresses are paired with boots, dudes wear skirts, wings and horns are perfectly acceptable accessories. Even so, why pass up a chance to spend a day in full festive regalia? Dress as your favorite alter ego and then cut loose with the newly added Big Wheels for Big Kids activity or saddle up for a round of bike jousting. (What not to look for this year: Daredevil Michael Mooney won’t go for a third attempt at a Guinness World Record for the three-story tall bike ride. Mooney — as “Medieval Knieval” — will lead the foam armor- and banana-seat bicycle jousts.)

Don’t have a costume? Never fear: Honeypot hosts Sew Your Own Art Clothes.

OK, LAAFF is a whole lot of activity, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of chances to cool your heals and just be entertained. Sit back and take in a (mobile) show on the LaZoom bus (LEAF in Schools and Streets’ Youth at Jazz and singer/songwriters Oso Rey and Ash Devine with Quetzal perform on the 40-minute tour loops. Tickets are $2 for kids and $3 for adults. Sketch comedy troupe The Feral Chihuahuas put on an adults-only show). Beat the heat in one of Lexington Ave’s shady courtyards where Celtic, bluegrass, old-time and DJ sessions take place.

There’s more, of course. LAAFF tends to morph the way organic, homegrown things do. Most of it’s mapped out (check the festival Web site for more info), but the street performers, musicians, artists and attendees who show up have a way of adding their own personal, unique and perfectly wacky touches.

090209gracieJonathan Welch

Gracie May is adorable, but please leave dogs at home!

There’s more, of course. LAAFF tends to morph the way organic, homegrown things do. Most of it’s mapped out (check the festival Web site for more info), but the street performers, musicians, artists and attendees who show up have a way of adding their own personal, unique and perfectly wacky touches.

who: Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival
what: All-local music and arts celebration
where: Lexington Ave. between the I-240 overpass and College St.
when: Sunday, Sept. 6 (11 a.m.-9 p.m. Free. http://www.lexfestasheville.com)

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By Carol Motsinger • August 30, 2009 12:15 AM
Asheville Citizen Times Sunday Edition
www.citizen-times.com

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

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

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By: Sam Hunt

Issue date: 9/11/08 Section: Features

Blue Banner http://www.thebluebanner.net/

The seventh annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF) hosted more than 30 bands from the Asheville area on Sunday amid dozens of other locals in the visual and performance arts.

“The idea is for everyone to create and be rewarded from that creation,” said Kitty Love, co-founder of LAAFF and executive director of non-profit arts promoter Arts2People. “Culture inspired by personal expression can be an economic engine. Amassing to the maximum number of dollars for personal equity is the goal of life.”

The all-local street festival blocked off Lexington Avenue from beneath the I-240 bridge to the College Street intersection. The street was packed with local artists, fans and families, some of whom wore zombie and circus costumes.

“It’s great to see 400 or so artists come together because all of their work is weird, quirky and unique to Asheville,” 21-year-old Moraea June said.

Joel Hutcheson, owner of Static Age Records on Lexington Avenue, said the festival is healthy for Asheville’s music scene and record stores.

“It’s a response to the Bele Chere festival in the sense that it spotlights local Asheville bands only,” Hutcheson said. “(LAAFF) also helps the record stores out. We don’t sell much more, but there is more generated interest.”

LAAFF attracted music lovers with three performance stages and a variety of genres. The Greenlife Electric Stage featured full-sized electric reggae, jazz and bluegrass, while the Mountain Express Performing Arts Stage hosted more stripped-down country, electronic and rock acts.

June said she preferred the Earth Fare BoBo Stage, which showcased acoustic world bands such as Cabo Verde and singer/songwriter Angi West.

“Angi West was the best artist of the festival,” June said. “There were three band members, but it was mostly Angi singing. She had a unique feminine presence unlike the rest of the bands that were almost exclusively male.”

Crystal Kind, a male four-piece reggae band, supported the legalization of marijuana on the Greenlife stage after their first song.

“Let’s legalize that medical marijuana,” singer/guitarist Ras Berhane said to the Lexington Ave. crowd. “They smoke it all day in California.”

Perhaps the most gripping band of the festival was The Broomstars, an experimental pop/rock band that formed seven years ago in Albuquerque, N.M. and relocated to Asheville in 2006.

The Broomstars stood out on the Mountain Express stage with a surplus of guitar equipment.

“We play around with noise more than most bands in Asheville,” said Broomstars guitarist Jeff Santiago. “We like to experiment with every dynamic to paint a distinct sonic palette.”

The Broomstars return to Lexington Avenue on Saturday for a show at the Emerald Lounge with the Silver Machine, an Asheville-based psychedelic electronic rock band.

“That’s the great thing about LAAFF and Asheville in general; there’s a huge sense of community and so many venues for such a small city,” Santiago said. “It’s hard not to find different types of music on the same bill.”

Rhys Baker, a sophomore student at UNC Asheville focusing on interdisciplinary ethics and social institutions, experienced LAAFF for the first time on Sunday.

“The festival really highlights local music and builds community,” Baker said. “There was a lot of different culture everywhere in sight. I loved the belly dancing and music.”

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