Posts Tagged ‘Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival’

The Mountain Xpress in Asheville printed some wonderful coverage of this years Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF).  I am going to post some exceprts from each with inks to the full articles and intermingle a few of my shots from the fest… Check it out.

Great article on the LAAFF Music, the Asheville Music Scene, and the evolution thereof:

Rockin’ in the freak world

This year’s LAAFF music lineup is more indie than ever

by Alli Marshall in Vol. 17 / Iss. 06 on 08/31/2010

Molly Kummerle of Paper Tiger

Browsing old Xpress coverage of the inaugural LAAFF turned up this walk down memory lane: “More than 25 local acts [are] scheduled to appear on two stages. Highlights include Devilish Mary (all-girl string band with Cary Fridley, performing at noon); The Oxymorons Comedy Troupe; rising rock stars Drug Money; West African drum-and-dance group Ballet Warraba; and celebrated burlesque troupe The Rebelles.”

Yes, it was just as eclectic seven years ago as it will be this year, only this year there are almost twice as many acts and six stages. And, there’s another notable difference: This year’s LAAFF takes on an indie-rock flavor that it’s never had before.

“We try not to have repeats from year to year,” explains festival organizer Erin Scholze. “We sift through the genres. It seems like this year there are just a lot more successful indie bands.”

Here’s what that evolution looks like: Toubab Krewe headlined in 2005 (along with Strut, stephaniesid, the Great Slide, Cabo Verde, Fifth House, Mad Tea Party, the Buckerettes, Aaron Price and Christina Aurea).

LAAFF Electric Stage 2010

In 2006, Jeremy Long (then-percussionist with Avec La Force Percussion and Dance Initiative) told Xpress, “The planning committee decided LAAFF needed to be more diverse this year.” Enter Flamenco Saltado, Soora Gameela, Baraka Mundi, Banana da Terra, the Shining Rock Reggae Band and Nbale (Newborn Ancient Love Ensemble) with Biko Casini of Strut on West African balaphone — a group formed just for LAAFF.

LAAFF circa 2007 hinted at indie rock — the Sophisticated Chimps fit that bill, along with Speedsquare and Nevada. But the balance was jam, experimental and world music.

“Do everything faster”

… … … … …Check out this portion of the inter view with Kovacs and the Polar Bear here.

Just for LAAFF

Take Nbale. That band formed for LAAFF four years ago after Scholze noticed a number of players (Nbale included Casini, Ryan Reardon, Simon Tisman & Sage Sansome) from various bands waiting out a rainstorm together in a College St. storefront and suggested they try playing together. Another mashup was Sons of a Keeled Over Snake with members of Sons of Ralph, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and Snake Oil Medicine Show.

“We’ve always called it a showcase event,” Scholze says of LAAFF. “You walk up the street and you are going to hear something you never would have heard. It’s a way for the musicians to intermingle with each other as well.”

Asheville Horns LAAFF 2010

Asheville Horns was also born of an opportune moment: A group of local brass players were tapped to record with Laura Reed and Deep Pocket. “Someone said ‘You should become a horn-rental section,’” recalls trombonist Derrick Johnson, whose main gig is with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. They did, and putting a bunch of horn players together “gave us a chance to play different types of funk,” says Johnson. Soon, Asheville Horns wasn’t just a brass section for hire, but a band with its own shows.

Johnson, a fan of collaborations, co-created the local Funk Jam (held every Tuesday at the Emerald Lounge) when friends from a Long Beach, Ca.-based funk band were visiting Asheville and looking for a place to jam. Musician/soundman/promoter Frank Bloom offered up Emerald Lounge, and what was meant to be a one-off evolved, over the last two years, into a full-on scene. That scene attracts not just local performers, but touring musicians from bands like Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic and Phish. For new-to-town musicians, “It gave people a chance to get established in the scene,” says Johnson. “People started getting different phone calls for different gigs. It was a card-swapping music exchange.” … Networking for funk players.

A festival that helped build the musical landscape

Dj Candice B at LAAFF 2010

Those kinds of opportunities to meet and mix have changed the sonic topography of Asheville in recent years. When LAAFF started, “People didn’t know each other,” Scholze says. “As the years have gone on, they started doing the funk jam and that brought in people like Vertigo Jazz Band and Matt Williams. That [created] the soul-jazz thing and now they’re cultivating that.” Scenes have formed around common interests, and each scene (jazz, jam, funk, etc.) has its own following. “But I think the next step is for the [various] scenes to start connecting and opening up, maybe connecting the soul-jazz people to the orchestra-jazz people; maybe connecting some of the singer/songwriters to the funk jam,” says Scholze.

So, will next year bring a more decisive move toward indie-rock? Or perhaps an indie/world fusion? Will The Archrivals battle Nataraj? Will Woody Pines bring a DJ on stage? Will Sky Lake add a balaphone to its lineup? Whatever the next LAAFF brings — or this one, for that matter — it’s sure to be a surprise.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/090110rockin-in-the-freak-world

Great writeup on the happenings other than the music at LAAFF. This article also gave a round up of all the LAAFFter parties:

LAAFF: More than music

Vol. 17 / Iss. 06 on 08/31/2010


Tall Bike Freak Michael Mooney

• Bike Jousting: Though Michael Mooney’s tall bike will not return to LAAFF this year, his bicycle jousting — a game that Mooney developed specifically for LAAFF — will. Contestants gear up in foam armor, sit astride a bike with a banana saddle and elliptical wheels, and try to dismount their opponent with a boxing glove at the end of a long pole. Fun for kids and adults.
• Big Wheels for Big Kids: This new-to-LAAFF sport was also invented by Mooney and his friends. Adults board low-rider tricycle-like vehicles and race a track made of tires.
• Miss Kitty’s Interactive Arts Area: Made for adults and kids, the arts area features many performers from the ongoing Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program. Asheville Hoops will be on hand, along with Stina Andersen’s Tunnel of LAAFFs, which gives participants a chance to note what they love about the festival on a CD that is then woven into a bamboo tunnel. Melissa Glaze of the Asheville Mural Project does live painting, Our VOICE organizes a hand-print project and a hope box for survivors of sexual violence. Check out a preview of the upcoming Freaks of Asheville Calendar and hang out in the sideshow world created by Royal Peasantry.
…and more…


This year, 82 arts and crafts vendors will sell their wares along Lexington Ave. Since the festival’s inception this number has grown along with the square footage of LAAFF itself, which now extends all the way to BoBo Gallery. The number of arts vendors this year exceeds the number represented in this year’s Arts Park at Bele Chere.


Catch two very different theatre shows on the LaZoom Bus Traveling Stage: Asheville Playback Theatre…The Feral Chihuahuas…Unifire Theatre…Asheville Vaudeville…Street performers


There’s more than just music at LAAFF; there’s dance, too. Local movement artists show their stuff — many of these performers also teach classes…Belle Afrique…Asheville Dance Revolution…Asheville Hoops Troupe…Lisa Zahiya hip-hop and bhangra…
READ THE FULL ARTICLE with performer descriptions HERE: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/090110laaff

Wonderful Local Food at LAAFF:

Festival of Flavor

LAAFF has eats and drinks to keep you dancing

by Mackensy Lunsford in Vol. 17 / Iss. 06 on 08/31/2010

The Hop Ice Cream serving it up

What’s a street festival without food? A grouchy group of drunken zombies, that’s what. Fortunately, for festival-goers, there are plenty of local restaurants available to help soothe the blood-sugar woes at LAAFF. Just what can revelers expect to see and taste?Several Lexington Avenue merchants will be represented at the LAAFF food court, and it’s only fitting — local is what this block party is all about. Look for local buffalo short ribs from the Lexington Avenue Brewery, for example. Want something a bit more exotic? Visit Mela’s booth for a taste of Indian cuisine on the streets of Asheville.

… … …

Plenty of local beer will be available at LAAFF, which should come as no surprise. Should you be teetotalling, however, there are options for you, too. Buchi will be pedaling their special brand of local kombucha, and two lemonade stands will be on hand to slake your thirst sans alcohol.

Enjoy the party — and don’t forget to bring your appetite.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/090110festival-of-flavor

LAAFF stage schedules were laid out here http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/090110laaff-schedules

Full descriptions of the interactivities at 2009 LAAFF. Asheville Hoops, Stina Andersons-The Tunnel of LAAFFs, Melissa Glaze of Asheville Mural Project: Live painter, Freaks of Asheville Calendar Preview, Royal Peasantry and more are all laid out here in the MX  Interactive Arts area Performer Descriptions

LAAFF for the Kids:

Edgy Mama: LAAFFing with kids

by Anne Fitten Glenn on 08/29/2010

Related topics: parenting, Edgy Mama, LAAFF
It’s time again for that funkiest and most family-friendly of Asheville street fests: the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival, coming to that once raffish downtown area often referred to as Lex this Sunday, Sept. 5.There again will be a multi-tented kids’ area based in the parking lot between Downtown Books & News and Heiwa Japanese Restaurant. For the first time this year, Kids Universe, as it’s been dubbed, is being organized and run by the Asheville-based Earth Fare supermarkets.

READ THE FULL POST HERE: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/edgy_mama_laaffing_with_kids

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There are so many great shots from this year’s Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival. I have posted some shots below- all which link back to their original albums. Check em out, and please post a comment with links to YOUR shots is they are not already in here. Cheers~!

Great shots of the lovely Ladies on Stilts, Hula Hoopers and other colorful Stuff.  Click the photo for the whole album:

Ladies on Stilts LAAFF 2010 Photo by Mignon Petrini

Bright Life Photography~ Alisa Whelan~ got some amazing shots from the day. Check out the album by clicking on the photo below.

The Pons Brithers on the LaZoom Bus at LAAFF 2010. Photo by Bright Life Photography

Joseph Carney III got some excellent shots as well. Click the photo to see his album:

Derrick Johnson form the Asheville Horns. Photo by Joseph F. Carney III

There are some wonderful shots in this Blog by Romantic Asheville. Click the photo for the full blog post and lots of pictures:

Kenny The Clown. Photo By Romantic Asheville

Find some great pics by G SocialMedia Gary here: http://ashevillenorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2010/09/laaff-2010-photo-album-see-these.html and they are also posted on facebook. Click the photo for the facebook album:

LAAFF Co-Founder Kitty Love. Photo by G Social Media 2010

Here is an album with some great shots of the LAAFF Photo Dress-up Booth that was in Miss Kitty’s Interactive arts area. Click the photo for the whole album:

LAAFF Photo Dress up Booth 2010

Peter Lorenz got some excellent shots of Jack and Rosetta’s wedding at LAAFF. Click the photo for the full album:

Jack and Rosetta's wedding at LAAFF 2010. Photo by Peter Lorenz

And the Mountain Xpress got some Great Wedding shots as well by Photgrapher Jonathan Welch. Click the Picture for the full album:

LAAFF Wedding Parade by Jonathan Welch with the Mountain Xpress

The Mountain Xpress also had a fantastic Photo booth set up complete with a boxing ring. Click the photo below for their full album:

Mountain Xpress Photo Booth LAAFF 2010

More Great Shots in the Xpress by Jonathan Welch. Click the pic for more:

Big Wheels for Big Kids at LAAFF 2010! Photo by Jonathan Welch

Here are some great shots by Edgy Mama. Click the pic for more form her.

Wretler at LAAFF 2010. Photo by Edgy Mama.

Some great pics by MyGothLaundry. Click the picture for the full album:

LAAFF 2010 Photos by My Goth Laundry

Andolent posted a great photo journal of LAAFF Here as well. Click the photo for the whole album.

Photo by Andolent. LAAFF 2010

Here are some pics on Facebook by Earthfare of the LAAFF Kids Area. Click the photo for the album:

Bouchon restaurant got some fun shots as well. Check em out by clicking the pic below.

Crepes! Photo by Bouchon.


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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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Bold Life http://www.boldlife.com

If you’re in Downtown Asheville on September 7 and you happen to see a crowd of people painting a car, please do not be alarmed. It’s art, and it’s part of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival.

Whereas the typical art festival involves two types of people — artists and the public —LAAFF merges the two and allows the public to participate.

Hence, the Art Car Painting Party.

“How many times in your life are you going to get to go hog-wild with a paintbrush on somebody else’s car?” asks Rachel Waterhouse, art car organizer. Participants may even see the art car driving down the road after the event. In years past the art car was raffled. Not so this year. But there will be a raffle of children’s toy cars, which will be painted by the children themselves throughout the day.

If art car painting isn’t your thing, try one of these other participatory art projects: Make a giant squid out of trash (which will later be paraded around the festival). Fire dance with flaming balls (sorry, the public will not be allowed to use actual flaming balls, but will learn the moves). Step right up and get your picture taken — disguised as a freak — at the photo freak booth. At the Canvas Dance you can dip your feet into paint and then dance around on a giant canvas.

There will be many more artistic opportunities, as well as live music and healing arts. There will be a Tall Bike Show and the ever-popular bicycle jousting. There will also be food and drink, including a commemorative American Style Pale Ale brewed by French Broad Brewing Co. especially for the festival.

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LAAFF 2008 Poster Art. Art by Phil Cheney. Poster Design by Jim Julien

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by Anne Fitten Glenn on 09/01/2008

Related topics: parenting, children, LAAFF

Mountain Xpress

The edgy mama organizers of this year’s Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival have ramped up activities for the kidlings at the funky street fest.

In past years, the center of the action has been painting a donated old car that’s raffled off after being coated with many colors and studded with plastic figurines. There will be an art car again this year, although LAAFF organizer Kitty Love notes that children working on the art car will be more closely supervised than in the past.

“Every year, little ones paint over some really beautiful stuff, so this year we’re guiding things a bit more. There will be a kid’s bike and a small plastic car for everybody under 3 feet to paint,” she says.

And there will be lots of other crafty stuff for kids to enjoy, including building giant creatures – such as a squid—from recycled materials. Organizer Katie Elkins says the creation of the squid’s armature is underway, and she hopes both kids and adults will complete the project by decorating the critter with fabric, yarn, metal, beads and other findings.

Once the squid is complete, Katie plans to attach LED lights to the bottom of its tentacles and parade it around the festival, with help from some of the creature’s kid creators. Organizer Laura “Lulu” Edmonds asks that folks bring recyclables with them to add to the creature, including metal, paper, plastic bottles, etc.

Other crafty activities at LAAFF will include transforming reclaimed T-shirts into useable grocery sacks and making dragonfly wands to promote fluttering around the fest. The kids’ area will be in the parking lot next to Heiwa. At some point, kids’ music and storytelling will blossom. I’m guessing there will be hula hoops around as well.

Kid activities at LAAFF close down around sundown, because Lulu needs to perform with Unifire (this gal is a kids’ librarian, LAAFF kids’ area organizer AND a fire dancer). Also, the party’s on a Sunday night (Sept. 7), and Monday’s a school day. Finally, as much as I love the local hippie scene at LAAFF, it can get a bit wild after dark.

You’ve heard this from me before, but here’s your packing list if you’re planning on taking the kids to a street festival: sunscreen, ball caps, water bottles (filled with H20), snacks (major money saver), a couple of bandanas (when you’re desperate for a tissue/wipe/napkin), hand sanitizer and a permanent marker.

Most of these items are self-explanatory. The least obvious, but most important, is the permanent marker. Even if your kids know your cell-phone number by heart, the moment they wander off in the crowd and can’t find you, all relevant identification information will disappear from their anxious brains.

I use the permanent marker to temporarily tattoo my cell phone number on the inside of my kids’ arms. If they get lost, I tell them to find someone who looks like a mommy and ask her to call the number. This is LAAFF, so I’ll tell them that anyone in a fairy costume will do as well.

So don’t forget to LAAFF. And bring the kids.

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Throughout the end of May and the month of June (phase one)

Location: Lexington Avenue, under I-240 Overpass

www.ashevillemuralproject.org www.arts2people.org/amp

(Asheville, NC) The first stroke of paint on the I-240 underpass on Lexington & Broadway Avenues has begun on the six concrete piers supporting the bridge marking the Northern Corridor into downtown. Director of Arts 2 People’s Asheville Mural Project (AMP), Molly Must, expects phase one of the painting of the much anticipated Lexington Gateway Project Mural to be complete by the end of June.

“This bridge has always been a sort of dirty monument emerging from a conventional urban pattern.  It ushers hundreds of people to and from the downtown area every day, including a steady stream of local pedestrians.  The space presents wonderful opportunity to memorialize and further manifest the unique and beautiful collective intention that keeps so many of us in this town.  If we’re going to complain about gentrification, we should surely try harder to embrace the culture we still have, surround ourselves with it, and push it to the surface”, states Must.

AMP has full support from the Asheville City Council, the Public Art Board, the Office of Economic Development, the Asheville Downtown Association, the Downtown Commission of the City of Asheville, Public Works, the Department of Transportation, and many others throughout the community.  There are still sponsorship opportunities available to support this imaginative and creative project. Anyone interested should contact AMP director Molly Must at molly@arts2people.org.

The AMP team, consisting of 5 local artists and several auxiliary painters, has planned a variety of themes for this expansive mural. The majority of the mural will portray original images of local characters and scenes that represent the unique Asheville community.  Themes include Sustainability, Arts and Culture, Community, and Asheville Saints.

The Asheville Saints portion of the mural will consist of over forty standing portraits of actual Asheville people, painted on the insides of the 3 x 12 foot concrete columns.  AMP seeks community input for the Asheville saints and is calling for nominations.  Nominees may be contemporary of historical, and should be community-minded and active in some way. A team of five community members will be established to select saints from the nominations. The committee members will be elected based on their knowledge of local issues, history, and their respective community interaction and involvement. To nominate a saint, visit www.ashevillemuralproject.org.

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 www.arts2people.org.


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Beyond art cars

by Alli Marshall in Vol. 13 / Iss. 6 on 09/06/2006

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/

“This festival has a feeling of friends performing for friends,” asserts dancer Severine Gaubert-Rousseau. She’s talking about the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF), which, a handful of years since its inception, is still fiercely local in orientation.

Sure, it spans the shopping area of North and South Lexington Avenue. It features local artists, musicians, performers and vendors. But this year — at least as far as performances go — what’s local in nature is also increasingly global.

Take Flamenco Saltado, Gaubert-Rousseau’s trio: It features a Spanish-born guitarist and Flamenco dancers from France and Louisiana.

Looking for more world beats? Cabo Verde plays their version of modern Flamenco; perennial favorite Baraka Mundi performs Middle Eastern music and belly dance; Banana da Terra serves up electric Brazilian jazz; the Shining Rock Reggae Band does Caribbean-flavored grooves; and Nbale (Newborn Ancient Love Ensemble) will feature Biko Casini of Strut on West African balaphone.

“It’s like the best block party,” surmises musician August Hoerr, who will play his third LAAFF with hypnotic Egyptian-inspired trio Soora Gameela. “This is how a festival should be.”

“A predisposition to a certain sound”

It’s not exactly coincidence that LAAFF has moved in a world-music direction, though Jeremy Long (a percussionist with Avec La Force Percussion and Dance Initiative) says that international bands and dance groups aren’t the festival’s sole focus.

“The planning committee decided LAAFF needed to be more diverse this year,” Long notes. “We decided we didn’t want to do the same thing every year.”

Festival attendees would likely be hard-pressed to find anything mundane about past LAAFF events: Think art-car contests, costumed revelers and bicycle jousting — hardly your run-of-the-mill dunking booth and Moon Walk.

But planners wanted to up the ante.

“Asheville is an amazing place for world music,” Long continues. “You can [find] almost every genre. So many people are drawn to this area. It’s got a reputation as an arts and music town, so people are moving from all over.”

“It’s always been one of our goals,” LAAFF organizer Erin Scholze says of the increased diversity — although, interestingly, she interprets this year’s music menu a little differently: ” … We’re representing the punk and indie-rock scene a little more,” says Scholze. “We owe a lot to BoBo [Gallery] for setting up a stage there.”

Soora Gameela is one of the groups playing at BoBo. And the trio’s sound lands quite far from typically hectic punk thrashings — “We have a lot of shows where people just sit down and close their eyes: It’s trancelike,” Hoerr attests. Still, if you read “punk” as “grassroots,” the connection is more easily made.

“I am devoted to things that had their heyday long before I was born … and will probably never, ever be back in style again,” Hoerr says on his Web site (check out the band at myspace.com/sooragameela). He tells Xpress some of his early influences include Tom Waits and an Egyptian accordion player. “I was predisposed to a certain sound: a minor key,” explains the musician, who now plays accordion and rababba, an ancient Egyptian violin-like instrument.

Soora Gameela came into being five years ago as a backup band for belly dancer Diana Shahein. “Over time, as we were playing, we wanted to try different things and pull from different sources,” says Hoerr. The band — a reportedly democratic endeavor — includes New Orleans-based percussionist Gwendolyn and bassist Joe Burkett. Despite being geographically far-flung, the trio recently released its first album, The Thread, available at Harvest Records.

“We all have a certain kind of music we want to play,” says Hoerr. “[Ours is] cinematic and full of longing. When the three of us get together, that happens.”

Where drum-circle experience doesn’t count

Equally cinematic — though possibly more party-oriented — is Flamenco Saltado. “It [means] to be freed — like someone who was captured and then set free,” says guitarist Nelson “Papito” Morales.

“We’ll be doing a lot of traditional Flamenco, which is very rhythmic and dramatic,” he promises. “We’ll also do something with folklore, too.”

“Folklore” is a theme shared by popular drum-and-dance troupe Avec La Force, whose members come from outfits like The Afromotive and Ballet Warraba.

“We’re sticking to the roots of West African dance music, but we’re trying to incorporate the whole drum-and-dance folklore style,” explains Long.

Folklore, in this case, refers to the difference between theatrical, prop-oriented performances (which, Long explains, was the prerogative of now-defunct Ballet Warraba) and a down-home, in-the-streets show.

“But it’s still choreographed,” Long affirms. “These are really intricate rhythms that take a long time to learn, so [people who attend drum circles] can’t just sit in.”

Morales levies a similar claim. “Anyone who tries to get the [Flamenco] beat — even percussionists — they can’t. The first six beats are structure, and the last six are counter-structure.

“I’ve been playing since I was nine years old,” he points out. “There was a time I was only playing a couple times a week, but now I’m playing four hours a day … like I was born to.”

Both Flamenco Saltado and Avec La Force bring syncopated rhythms and athletic dancing to downtown Asheville — a combination that performers and festival planners hope will inspire audiences.

“It’s good for dancers and [dance] teachers to get exposure, too, because dance is not as widely accepted as music,” says Long. Avec La Force percussionist Kevin Meyame teaches African dance classes regularly at Future of Tradition, and drummers are also welcome to attend.

Similarly, Flamenco Saltado is a spin-off of a local Flamenco class. LAAFF will be the trio’s debut performance — but they’re not sweating it. “We’re actually more excited than scared,” Morales laughs. “We just do it.”

LAAFF facts & acts

The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival runs Sunday, Sept. 10, from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. See arts2people.org for more information.

The Electric Stage
11 a.m.: Katie Kasben’s Jazz Trio
12:10 p.m.: Tyler Ramsey
12:55 p.m.: J.P. Delanoye of Ghost Mountain
1:30 p.m.: Cabo Verde
2:40 p.m.: Wayne Robbins & The Hellsayers
3:25 p.m.: The Hunab Kru with local hip-hop
3:50 p.m.: Shining Rock Reggae Band w/special guests
4:35 p.m.: Mid-Afternoon Costume and Music Parade
5 p.m.: Sidney Barnes and his Good Time Band
6:10 p.m.: Hollywood Red
7:20 p.m.: Jen & The Juice
8:30 p.m.: Agrolola
9:30 p.m.: The Rebelles Burlesque

Performing Arts Stage
11 a.m.: Jarrett Leone on didgeridoo
11:20 a.m.: Ash Devine
12:20 p.m.: Jodie Taylor and her Dancers
12:40 p.m.: Blake Burris: Shake it Like a Caveman
1:05 p.m.: The Asheville Interplayers(TM)
1:25 p.m.: Pierce Edens
1:55 p.m.: Veil of Fractured Moon Dance
2:15 p.m.: Taylor Martin and Johnny’s Inhaler
2:45 p.m.: Seve’s Modern Dance Ensemble
2:50 p.m.: Menage
3:30 p.m.: LEAF in Schools and Streets
4:30 p.m.: Deep Roots Sound
5 p.m.: Butoh with Julie B.
5:10 p.m.: Avec La Force Percussion and Dance Initiative
5:55 p.m.: Flamenco Saltado
6:20 p.m.: Nbale: The NewBorn Ancient Love Ensemble
7:05 p.m.: Chicotlatolxochitl Aztec Dancers
7:30 p.m.: Hunab Kru Breakdancers
8:25 p.m.: Baraka Mundi Live Music and Dance
9 p.m.: Unifire Fire Spinners

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by Will Cumberland

The Laurel  of Asheville


LAAFF, Sunday, September 4th – Asheville, NC

Want to try something a little different? The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival is possibly the  largest community produced art show in South East and a sure fire bet for anyone looking for something different to do while they are in Asheville. Going all day Sunday from 11AM to 10PM, the festival has plenty to see, experience and do. Last year’s LAAFF, brought in well over 10,000 people to the Lexington district. Artisans, musicians, poets and street
performers from the Western North Carolina area, get together each September to create this homegrown extravaganza of the arts.

Kitty Love, one of the festival’s originating artists, says, “This is a celebration of our local grassroots created culture – by providing a place for creativity, we are actively enhancing the quality to life in and around Asheville. We do this by simply utilizing local talent. Asheville is truly an art based community.”

LAAFF takes place right on Lexington Ave and is free to the public. Art cars own the street, along with belly dancers, fire spinners and drummers. Local bands, DJ’s and singer-songwriters give LAAFF its musical bounce. Two stages of music, dance and performances going will be going on well into the night. There’s a bicycle joust too. Kids also have plenty to do; face and art painting, puppetry, bubbling and creativity circles abound. The festival features the Underground Art Show and silent auction, and the finale is a drive-in theatre style showing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of OZ. Plenty of local food vendors will be on hand with the French Broad brewery providing beer for the festival.

Festival goers can purchase locally created jewelry (beadwork), eclectic clothing, Appalachian quilts, paintings, pottery, glasswork and creative pieces to bizarre to name.

Proceeds from this year’s festival will go to support the efforts of Arts2People and the Asheville Mural Project. Arts2People is a public art forum that works in partnership with the Asheville Arts Council and the Mountain Micro Enterprise Fund. For more information, visit Arts2People.org.

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by Stuart Gaines in Vol. 11 / Iss. 7 on 09/15/2004

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/

Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, downtown Asheville; Sunday, Sept. 5

Despite all the kind-veggie hoopla surrounding this year’s Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, the local-arts extravaganza still saw a spot of trouble. Early in the day, Asheville police questioned one costumed patron about his decorative long sword and additional side arms.

The gentleman in question, who — in apparent response to LAAFF coordinators’ requests that patrons wear costumes — came dressed to the hilt in full Middle Earth battle gear (complete with a puzzlingly unrelated, ghost-white, Brandon-Lee-in-The Crow makeup job), subsequently found himself stripped of his defenses. In the end, he looked less like Aragorn or Legolas than a playful young sprite or medieval clown.

Thankfully, this was one of the more serious disturbances at an otherwise passive to passive-aggressive display of our city’s eclectic local-arts scene. Pristine, late-summer mountain weather blessed the creative chaos, ushering in an impressive herd of locals and a healthy helping of tourists, most of them unencumbered by costumes or weapons of any kind.

One notable exception was the bicycle-jousting competitors, who provided substantial comic relief via the padded lancing of several would-be knights. And just down from that heated competition, the local-band stage featured a pleasant barrage of area-based music throughout the day.

All the acts I encountered on the south-end stage made the most of their limited time slots, without exception giving energetic, happy-to-be-there performances. The Labiators‘ Fugazi-esque, distortion-riddled sound proved the most appropriate soundtrack for the nearby jousting, while roots-reggae from The Zion Project kept a number of twirl-happy dancers in a blissfully dizzy place. The herb-healing practitioners of GFE fought through some poorly timed power outages in their otherwise funk-tabulous set, while Scrappy Hamilton closed things out with their swinging brand of rock ‘n’ roll.

Up the street, a partisan-specific voter drive unfolded near the performing-arts stage, where newly registering voters were presented with their choice of a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker or pin after completing the necessary paperwork.

Team Nader and supporters of the incumbent president were noticeably absent, and this one-sided dynamic — especially in the midst of such an eclectic crowd — was the day’s only noticeable weak point: While the freak-in-Asheville set enjoyed a fruitful showing at this year’s LAAFF, other manifestations of local diversity were noticeably absent. Children (with young parents) were a common sight, but seniors, African-Americans and Latinos — all comprising substantial local demographics — remained few and far between.

Despite the mostly rice-flavored crowd, the performing-arts stage boasted a culturally diverse lineup, ranging from the African dance and drumming of the colorful and inspiring Ballet Warraba to the old-school break-dance shenanigans of Hunab Kru. The latter, defying gravity to the break-beats of DJ Brett Rock, expertly demonstrated their craft as a vastly underrated, retro art form — and one requiring a good bit more skill, muscle power and practice than even the most competitive bicycle jousting.

The evening wound up with the groovy-yet-saucy collaboration of Scrappy Hamilton (playing as The Pheremones) and The Rebelles Burlesque, performing excerpts from the latter’s latest production, A More Perfect Union. One particularly vivid segment came sandwiched in an instrumental treatment of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” with an elaborate puppet/puppet-master scene unfolding between a pair of The Rebelles’ finest.

Scorecard: On the cartoon-couples scale, the third-annual LAAFF scores a Homer and Marge Simpson: Despite the blue hair, mild alcohol abuse and silly antics, they’re still a happy family in the end.

[Asheville-based music writer Stuart Gaines, a contributing editor at An Honest Tune, can be reached at // ‘;l[1]=’a’;l[2]=’/’;l[3]=”;l[30]=’\”‘;l[31]=’ 109′;l[32]=’ 111′;l[33]=’ 99′;l[34]=’ 46′;l[35]=’ 111′;l[36]=’ 111′;l[37]=’ 104′;l[38]=’ 97′;l[39]=’ 121′;l[40]=’ 64′;l[41]=’ 121′;l[42]=’ 116′;l[43]=’ 105′;l[44]=’ 99′;l[45]=’ 115′;l[46]=’ 105′;l[47]=’ 104′;l[48]=’ 116′;l[49]=’ 119′;l[50]=’ 111′;l[51]=’ 110′;l[52]=’ 107′;l[53]=’ 117′;l[54]=’ 111′;l[55]=’ 121′;l[56]=’:’;l[57]=’o’;l[58]=’t’;l[59]=’l’;l[60]=’i’;l[61]=’a’;l[62]=’m’;l[63]=’\”‘;l[64]=’=’;l[65]=’f’;l[66]=’e’;l[67]=’r’;l[68]=’h’;l[69]=’a ‘;l[70]=’= 0; i=i-1){
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