A&E Roundup: BRCC debuts rare anagama kiln

FIRE EATER: Blue Ridge Community College's new anagama kiln required five days of seasoning to prep for its first use. Photo courtesy of BRCC

Blue Ridge Community College is now home to a rare anagama kiln. Like a traditional groundhog kiln, the anagama uses wood to fuel the sustained high temperatures needed for firing pottery. But unlike its simpler relative, the single-chamber anagama has a narrow sloping tunnel shape and is described by its designer Preston Tolbert as “a very technical kiln.” The version on BRCC’s Flat Rock campus has a flat-top lid that can be jacked up and rolled off, allowing potters to load their creations from above, thereby reducing the amount of wasted space within the kiln.

Construction of the anagama began in June, and numerous artists from across the Southeast have taken part in seasoning the kiln — prepping it for use by burning wood under 24-hour supervision for five consecutive days — and contributing pieces of pottery for its initial test run. Among these creators is Zirconia-based David Voorhees, whose wood-kiln-centric Instagram account (@davidvorhees) has nearly 3,000 followers.

“There’s an energy that happens around this type of kiln because of the participation it requires to operate,” Voorhees says. “This is like having something akin to a cool sculpture in a city — people want to come here and be around this kiln. I think it’s great for the college.” blueridge.edu

Lucky rabbit

SoundSpace@Rabbit’s is booking time in its three music rehearsal rooms. The co-venture by Asheville-area artists Claude Coleman, Jr. — the drummer for Ween — and Brett Spivey seeks to provide the local music community with affordable practice spaces while also serving touring acts. The business is housed in the former Rabbit’s Motel at 109 McDowell St., which provided lodging and soul food for Black travelers in the segregation-era South, including Chitlin’ Circuit musicians and Negro League baseball players. To further honor that history, SoundSpace@Rabbit’s will soon feature a late-night soul food kitchen in partnership with chef Clarence Robinson of Cooking With Comedy Catering. soundspaceavl.com

Blast from the (recent) past

Asheville Community Theatre is putting a creative spin on trick-or-treating with Guess Who: A Costume Quest. Between 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29-Saturday, Oct. 31, attendees will take part in an outdoor walking tour and interactive game in the parking lots and surrounding grounds of ACT and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Twelve costumed actors from past ACT plays and musicals are featured during the activity.

“They’ll each share a clue or two about themselves, and you’ll try to guess who they are and which show they’re from,” says artistic director Chanda Calentine. “These are recognizable characters from our family-friendly shows, and even if you haven’t seen these shows at ACT, we think you’ll still be able to make a good guess. And, at the end of the tour, we’ll have treats for you to take home.”

Tickets are $25, each of which admits up to four people for a single tour. Start times will be staggered to maintain social distancing. All patrons will be required to sign a waiver on the night of their tour, undergo a temperature check and verify wellness upon arrival. All patrons ages 6 and older are required to wear a mask throughout the event. ashevilletheatre.org

Really big shows

As winter nears, The Grey Eagle is making the most of the remaining (relatively) warm weather with three more shows in its Drive-In Concert Series in Maggie Valley. On Thursday, Oct. 29, high-energy soul rockers St. Paul & the Broken Bones perform at the Ghost Town In The Sky parking lot. The series then moves back to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds with performances by Southern rockers Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires (Thursday, Nov. 5 — sold out as of press time); soul rocker Martin Sexton (Saturday, Nov. 7); and fusion artist Keller Williams (Friday, Nov. 13).

Gates open at 6 p.m. for each show, and the music starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range $75-$275 per carload (maximum of 4 or 6 people, depending on the show) and include the use of a 20-foot-by-20-foot space (20′ x 15′ for the St. Paul show) to park one’s automobile and enjoy the concert from outside the vehicle. Attendees are invited to bring camping chairs, but for those who wish to remain inside the car, the performance will be broadcast via FM. thegreyeagle.com

And following successful drive-in shows at Waynesville’s Smoky Mountain Event Center, Asheville Music Hall shifts to Pisgah Forest’s new El Parc venue (formerly Glen Cannon Country Club) for three consecutive nights of shows by Greensky Bluegrass. Thursday, Oct. 29-Saturday, Oct. 31, gates open at 4 p.m., and the music begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $185-$350 per night (good for four people per car, with a maximum of two “add-on people” tickets, and a 20-foot-by-15-foot space for parking and watching the show), $600-$900 for three-day passes and available exclusively in advance online.

The three shows will be followed by rockers JJ Grey & Mofro on Friday, Nov. 6. Gates open at 4 p.m., and the music begins at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $120-$350 and available exclusively in advance online. All El Parc performances will utilize a full PA system with relay sound speakers and video screens to ensure proper sound and visuals at all parking spots. In the event of inclement weather, the performance will be broadcast via FM. ashevillemusichall.com/drive-in

Drag at the Odd

The Odditorium hosts a Halloween Drag Show on Saturday, Oct. 31, featuring members of Party Foul. First-come, first-served, limited capacity, socially distanced seating begins at 7 p.m., and the performance begins at 9 p.m. According to the event poster, the evening includes “drag, dancing, fire performers, music and food.” Masks are required, and digital tipping is encouraged. Tickets are $10 and available exclusively for patrons ages 18 and older in advance online. avl.mx/8n1


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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