Not so obvious

“You can ask any old friend of mine: I’m a f••ing comedian, a fun guy, and that’s what most people thought I’d become; not Old Misery Guts,” British singer/songwriter Beth Orton recently confessed to Believer magazine. It’s true that every interviewer claims the 6-foot-tall musician is almost punchy, always cracking jokes and telling crazy stories. […]

The ex factor

“I had so much racism and ill feelings toward whites that I had to back up a lot to gain perspective once I decided to follow Jesus. “Anyway, now I’m able to see what and where the true issues are at,” writes Speech, front man and mastermind of the recently reunited hip-hop group Arrested Development, […]

Redheaded stepchild

“The guy who plays drums for Kronik cuts my hair each week,” reveals Lewis Lankford, president of the West Asheville Business Association. And Bryan Marshall of country act Bryan Marshall & The Gone Wrongs, well, his wife Terra owns The Beauty Parade, a nearby salon. Lankford is naming off many of the musicians who not […]

Vital Signs

“We want to be a visible presence; we want to be taken seriously,” insists Sylvia, a founding member of the Asheville Vegetarian Society. As if to drive that point home, four group members have met me for lunch at the Early Girl Eatery — and together, we’re a server’s nightmare. “Does this have any dairy?” […]

Everybody’s doing it

“Once it’s had as much as it can take, it falls off,” pop star Britney Spears recently announced on the Web forum Contact Music. “It’s supposed to fall off every six months,” the bad press-beleaguered singer lamented. “Mine falls off every other day.” Perish whatever see-through-body-suit, Madonna-tongue-kiss thoughts you might be having: Spears is talking […]

Let’s get it om

“I want to have people on the dance floors singing ‘Om’ … instead of ‘shake that ass.’” – Bhagavan Das It was Beat poet Allen Ginsberg who once said, “Bhagavan Das never had anything better to do than call up Mystic Mama on the Mantric Telephone.” He was talking about Das’ practice of singing the […]

Bond: strange bond

“If I had known you were coming I could have at least stocked up on burritos,” Miss Wilma tells her prodigal daughter, Sarah, who’s just mysteriously arrived from Santa Fe, 10-year-old daughter in tow. It’s a rather odd greeting, considering that the older woman has been all but estranged from her own offspring for the […]

Vital Signs

“Call them a poor man’s racehorse,” jokes Bob Simpson, secretary of the Blue Ridge Racing Pigeon Club. But racing pigeons — and we’re not talking about the kind that hang around Pritchard Park chasing bread crumbs — don’t necessarily come cheap. Prices for these specially bred birds can soar into the thousands of dollars, says […]

Green mind

When most people get Celtic musician John Doyle on the phone, they invariably start talking about guitars. He’s a left-handed player and uses a dropped D tuning, instead of the classic DADGAD. But I don’t know much about guitars — left-handed or otherwise. I tell Doyle this right off. “Fine,” he says. “I’m sick of […]

Getting your hands on acoustic music

For those who want to do more than just play around when it comes to their music, Western North Carolina abounds in spring and summer with many varieties of acoustic-instrument workshops. Below is a short list of what’s available. • Acoustic Corner (105-F Montreat Road, Black Mountain) This store features unique acoustic instruments popular with […]

O brother(hood), where art thou?

Don’t go milking Brad Land’s grueling Goat for any epiphanies. Giving readers “a grand observation” is the aim of most tell-all books, acknowledges the 27-year-old, South Carolina-based author. “That’s something I’ve seen a lot in memoir,” he says. But he deems the approach “kind of bulls••t.” Goat (Random House, 2004), his debut, has met with […]

Freedom fighters

“I am reggae. I decide what reggae is, because I create the music.” – Ziggy Marley “No one told Gandhi it would be easy,” muses Spearhead front man Michael Franti. Resistance movements, the musician points out, never are. However, “through music, we have a chance to be joyful,” Franti continues. “That’s why I create the […]

Little stop on the Prairie

Sound-effects man Fred Newman has Garrison Keillor, a notorious Midwesterner, to thank for his current gig. But a certain Southern businessman gets the credit for inspiring Newman’s whole career. “I [learned] all these sounds from the storytellers at the Jack Fling’s Cash & Carry Gro,” the New York City-based noise-master remarked by phone recently. Newman, […]

Navel gazing

Smile at your belly, and your friends will smile with you. “We’re in this together,” insists Lisa Sarasohn, the local author behind The Woman’s Belly Book: Finding Your Treasure Within (Self-Health Education, 2003). As a yoga teacher and health educator, Sarasohn speaks out against unhealthy rivalry and self-defeating body images. “Women are sometimes set against […]

Vital signs

“I was never a gym girl,” insists Nicole Bookman, one of the four partners who own Namaste Yoga & Healing Center. Like many of us, Bookman was raised on the intimidating “feel the burn” philosophy of fitness. “The first time I went to a yoga class, they talked about nonviolence,” she recalls. “About going into […]

Sure shot

“I’m the only person in my town other hustlers would come to beat, except that it doesn’t happen anymore. There are so few of us left.” “And do they, would they beat you?” “No,” Cassie said. “No, they wouldn’t.” So explains Cassie Claiborne, the unforgettable force of Haven Kimmel’s latest novel, Something Rising (Light and […]

Can’t stop this

Among the offerings they’ll present at the upcoming Asheville Fringe Festival, The Future of Tradition Center for Folkloric Arts will give audiences a modern gypsy cabaret and the piece “Panty Raid Burlesque” — which is just what it sounds like. “What would be really fringy would be to combine them,” muses Susan Collard, artistic director […]