Otherworldly explorations: Whether they’re singing about intergalactic dinosaurs or thought revolution or a world of flowers, Asheville’s Secret B-Sides want to “tempt their listeners into enlightenment.”

Crowd pleasers

There's a lot happening on the soon-to-be-released album, Flowers and Chocolate, the sophomore effort by local band Secret B-Sides. There are synthesizers and horns, party noises and samples, guest artists and hip-hop verse — and, like a slinky backbone through it all, the blithe and soulful lyrics of Juan Holladay. There's also a lot going […]

Around-the-world ticket: "Once you start to travel, your perspective changes,” says Taj Mahal, whose sound is based in the blues but touches on elements of the Caribbean, the South Pacific and Africa, among other influences. by Jay Blakesberg

Doors always open

"My drummer Chester Thompson says, 'What you ain't seen hasn't passed you yet,'" says singer/songwriter/blues innovator Taj Mahal. Considering that his career has spanned five decades, taken him around the globe and seen him combine forces with the likes of Ry Cooder, kora master Toumani Diabate and Indian slide guitar player V. M. Bhatt, it's […]

Poetic license: Keith Flynn, who has been part of the local literary scene since before the Renaissance of the 1990s, performs a poem to the music of his band, the Holy Men.

Rhyme and reason

"I write poetry to stay current with myself. I read poetry to stay current with the world," says local poet, Asheville Wordfest organizer and Blue Ridge Parkway poet laureate Laura Hope-Gill. It's her motto, as a writer, but it's also an especially poignant dictum: Lately, Hope-Gill has been writing poetry about Japan and its recent […]

A megaphone for drama: Asheville Lyric Opera’s production of Puccini’s La Bohème includes the return of some beloved local talent (including tenor Jason Baldwin and guest conductor Robert Hart Baker), a cast of around 45, and a specially made set.

Bohemian rhapsody

Drama sells. So does violence — and we're not just talking True Grit here. Themes common to nearly all the enduring operas are revenge and opposing forces, says stage director David Carl Toulson. However, the production he'll direct for Asheville Lyric Opera (ALO) has neither. And, says Toulson, "It's arguably the most famous opera." It's […]