A festival for the rest of us

Festival season is in full bloom, and it seems as if there’s a celebration or gathering for just about everyone. Most of them involve stages featuring live music, imbibed along with pints of cold beer. This weekend, however, puts a spin on that tried-and-true formula. The 48 Hour Film Project, a national short film competition, challenges film teams to complete a movie in — you guessed it — two days. The Asheville Percussion Festival offers novice and expert drummers alike a chance to find their rhythm, and at the Asheville Tattoo & Piercing Expo, artists, families and pinup girls gather to celebrate their ink.

Your people are out there. Go find them.

48 Hour Film Project

WHAT 48 Hour Film Project, 48hourfilm.com/en/asheville

WHERE Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

WHEN Friday to Sunday, June 20-22. Premiere screenings Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24, 25 and 26 at 7 p.m., 10 p.m. Team registration is $175

The UNC Asheville team film during the 2013 competition.
The UNC Asheville team film during the 2013 competition. Photo courtesy of the 48 Hour Film Project.

Working under pressure is one thing, but the 48 Hour Film Project takes tight deadlines to a new level. On Friday, June 20, local filmmakers will convene at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co., where each team will be randomly assigned a prop, a snippet of dialogue, a character and a genre. By Sunday — 48 hours later — the completed short films will be shown on the brewery’s big screen.

“One of the things that excites me most about [the event], and the reason I do this is, all these people are learning,” says Bruce Sales, the international competition’s local producer. “It is the trial by fire, make your mistakes and really remember after that what you need to do in that situation. … For many people, this is part of their professional trajectory. Many people have gone on to start production companies, and that’s what they do for a living.” The 48 Hour Film Project takes place throughout the summer in cities across the globe.

Participants, says Sales, range from “amateurs with lots of enthusiasm to people who already have a production company.” Everyone has a chance to move on to the next level and perhaps win $10,000. Local filmmakers Katie Damien and Lela Winton of Gorilla with a Mustache Films, took part last year and showed their film at Cannes this spring.

And while some might view the 48 Hour Film Project as a slightly masochistic (or at least sleepless) way to spend a weekend, Sales insists that the challenge is the fun. “It’s the experience. … A lot of people watch films, and they’re big fans, but they don’t actually make films,” he says. “This is their chance to make a film. Even for the people who make films on a regular basis, you not only make a film, but in two days you’re seeing it in the movie theater with hundreds of people.”

Asheville Percussion Festival

WHAT Third annual Asheville Percussion Festival, ashevillepercussionfestival.com

WHERE Diana Wortham Theatre (Friday and Saturday) and OM Sanctuary (Sunday).

WHEN Friday through Sunday, June 20-22 with concerts on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Full festival pass is $150, weekend pass is $75, individual concerts are $25, individual workshops are $20

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Ferenc Nemeth, a Hungarian jazz drummer and composer, will teach a class titled “A Modern Approach to Drum Set for all Styles” at the Asheville Percussion Festival. Photo by Michael Weintrob


River Guerguerian often challenges people to name three famous percussionists. If someone comes up with any names at all, they’re typically legendary musicians from decades past. With the Asheville Percussion Festival, Guerguerian, the event’s founder, hopes to shine a little light on that often underappreciated but always crucial drummer. “For me, [the festival] is taking percussion to the next level,” he says. “That’s always been my life’s mission, to bring [rhythm] to the forefront, because whether you listen to classical music or country or rock ’n’ roll, the drummer is always in the back.”

The drummer will be at the forefront at this year’s festival, however, which happens Friday through Sunday, June 20-22. For the first time, it will be held at the Diana Wortham Theatre. The lineup includes a mix of beginner-friendly and advanced percussion workshops, as well as concerts by local and visiting master percussionists. Workshops covering such topics as performing, improvising and composing will be taught by world-renowned performers including David Kuckhermann, Sameer Gupta, Ferenc Nemeth, Lionel Loueke, Marla Leigh, Billy Jonas, Naghmeh Farahmand, Adam Maalouf, Adama Dembele along with other national and regional instructors.

For Guerguerian, it’s all about showing people what percussion can encompass. “There is this whole other world of percussion that people don’t know about,” he says, “whether it’s the abstract or the meditative, Asian music, African music — whatever it is, where it’s not based on this very simple grid.” He adds that while the concerts are sure to inspire anyone who appreciates good music, the festival is largely participatory and accessible to everyone.

“Rhythm is part of our DNA,” the musician maintains. “It’s a part of molecular structure. Everything has a frequency and resonates and vibrates, so we’re all just trying to refine that and be more in tune with that.”


Asheville Tattoo & Piercing Expo

WHAT Asheville Tattoo & Piercing Expo, tattooasheville.com

WHERE The Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville

WHEN Thursday through Sunday, June 19-22. Three-day passes are $45, two-day passes are $35, single-day tickets are $20.


Local tattoo artist Daron James rallies the crowd at a previous tattoo convention. Photo by Micah McKenzie
THINK INK: Local tattoo artist Daron James rallies the crowd at a previous tattoo convention. Photo by Micah McKenzie

Asheville is known for its art scene, and body art is part of it, says Daron James, co-founder of the Asheville Tattoo & Piercing Expo.

And it’s certainly true that anyone who’s engaged in a bit of Asheville people-watching knows that locals like their tattoos. “We live in a city that’s already widely known for its art community and the festivals that embrace the art of tattooing,” says James, who owns Diamond Thieves Body Piercing & Tattoo. “Just like art collectors of the past, society has begun to collect expansive works of art, substituting their bodies as the art gallery.” Participants will have a chance to peruse that unusual exhibit — and even add to their own collections — at the Asheville Tattoo & Piercing Expo, Thursday, June 19, through Sunday, June 22, at the Crowne Plaza Resort.

The expo’s motto is, “For the tattoo family, by the tattoo family,” making it clear that the target audience isn’t limited to any particular subculture. Kids are welcome, and James says that whether it’s the on-site zip line or the pinup competition, there’ll be something for everyone at the expo. “Our tattoo convention is a meeting and exhibition for tattoo artists and their families, tattoo collectors, enthusiasts and anyone who is just curious enough to see the world of tattooing up close,” he says.

The event is produced by Pirate’s Life Productions (James and his longtime friend “Lil” Tommy McCarter of Ace Custom Tattoo in Charlotte). In addition to 90 local and national tattoo artists and vendors, attendees can expect a slew of tattoo competitions — best beard and mustache are thrown in there, too — plus live music, seminars, children’s activities and afterparties.


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About Lea McLellan
Lea McLellan is a freelance writer who likes to write stories about music, art, food, wellness and interesting locals doing interesting things.

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