Is it just me, or does a weekend that starts with a free festival seem somehow more auspicious than those weekends that don’t? (Even if you’re not a fan of this Friday’s Downtown After Five lineup, you can get your money’s worth—$0—in people-watching alone.) Beyond that, there’s free theater, a CD release and some of the area’s best-loved bands. All for five bucks or less.
Friday, July 17
• Jen & the Juice brings its “hooligans of Bohemia” folk-rock (and the trademark platform boots and lampshade hats of front woman Jenny Greer) to Asheville’s Downtown After Five. The free street show kicks off around 5:15 p.m. near the I-240 overpass on Lexington Ave. Other bands on the bill: “Roots Rock Blues Jazz Funk” group King Johnson and Southern rock headliners Hill Country Revue.
• For truth in advertising, turn to appropriately-named Acoustic Swing, playing at Blue Mountain Pizza (55 N. Main St., Weaverville, 658-8777). 7-9 p.m., free.
• Hendersonville’s Music on Main Street kicks off at 7 p.m. with the beachy sounds of Caribbean Cowboys. Live music and dancing takes place at the Visitors Information Center (201 S. Main St., Hendersonville, 693-9708). Free.
• Love local rock outfit WiLSsin? Check out “WiLSin-lite” at Tolliver’s
Crossing (733 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 505-2129). Says drummer Isaac Wells: “Mic rockin’ brosefs kickin’ it realz? Yeah, I’m into that. We’re going to be back at Tollivers with oxygen tanks in case the smoke gets a little thick and we suggest you wear sweatbands upon wrist and brow on account of the sweat you are likely to endure gettin’ down to our funky jams. Word to the Maternal.” 9 p.m.
• Local indie-rockers Leopard Island (along with Slow Claw and Mystery Cult) play the new French Bar (12 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, 225-6445) at 10 p.m. $5.
• Ukulele rockers Mad Tea Party (pictured) plays an all-too-rare local show at BoBo Gallery (22 Lexington Ave., Asheville, 254-3426). 10 p.m., $5.
• Wrap up the night at The Hookah Bar (formerly Hookah Joe’s, 38-B N. French Broad Ave., Asheville, 252-1522) where local DJ collective Subterranean Soundz presents Ganjafoot, “an international roots dread group with influences in the Grateful Dead, Phish and more rooted in a solid reggae foundation.” 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5.
Saturday, July 18
• Indie-folk trio (and recent Last Band Standing winner) Now You See Them teams up with Buffalo for a free set at the Lexington Avenue Bizarre Bazaar (Lexington Park Courtyard, Asheville), round about 2 p.m.
• Hendersonville-based Christian rockers Prayvail perform a free benefit show (for Nick Thompson) at Heavenly Perks (2560 Chimney Rock Rd., Hendersonville, 692-8866). 7 p.m.
• Take in the Montford Park Players free performance of Cymbeline (at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater off Pearson Ave., Asheville, 254-5146). In case you can’t make it this Saturday, the show runs Friday and Saturday nights through July 25. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic. 7:30 p.m., donations accepted.
• Indie rock quartet Albatross Party takes the stage at The Boiler Room (11 Grove St., Asheville, 505-1612) with Fairground Ave. and The John Douglas Co. 8 p.m., $5.
• Eclectic funk-jazz-rock collective The Discordian Society performs at Hookah Joe’s (38-B N. French Broad Ave., Asheville, 252-1522). 9 p.m., $5.
• Get your Grateful Dead fix with Phuncle Sam at College Street Pub (4 College St., Asheville, 232-0809). 9 p.m., $2.
• Local techno band Zapotech celebrates the release of its new album, Glowsticks and Mali. Be the first to hear new tracks at The Garage (101 Fairview Rd., Asheville, 505-2663). 9 p.m., $5.
Sunday, July 19
• Garage-rockers Pure reunites in celebration of its 20-year anniversary (they’ve been on hiatus almost that long). According to press, “Pure only released one 7-inch called Ballard before breaking up, but live cassettes in the members’ basements are helping them to resurrect the live set.” Don’t go searching for MySpace tracks; do check out their first show in 18 years to be held at The Grey Eagle (185 Clingman Ave., Asheville, 232-5800). It’s free; The Labiators open.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter