Around Town: Blue Ridge Pride Festival seeks to inspire

COME ONE, COME ALL: On Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m., Western North Carolina’s largest pride celebration kicks off its latest gathering in Pack Square Park. Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Pride Festival

Tina White, executive director of local nonprofit Blue Ridge Pride, worries that, as a nation, “We have forgotten how to share public space.”

Stadiums, churches and rallies, she believes, have become “tools for dividing people and sowing hatred.”

The organization, which promotes equality, safety and quality of life for Western North Carolina’s LGBTQ and allied communities, is preparing to host its annual pride festival, and White says she hopes to create “a one-day model of what our community could look like if only we welcomed everyone into a space in a spirit of hope and inclusion.”

On Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m., over 100 local organizations and an additional 100 local artists, food vendors and merchants will join the nonprofit for the latest Blue Ridge Pride Festival, which kicks off in Pack Square Park with its family-friendly parade.

According to White, this year’s welcoming procession has drawn a record number of organizations interested in participating. “The mix, scale and involvement of sponsorships has changed,” she says. “But in the past, many just sent us a check. This year, they are far more engaged.”

The festival will have two stages of entertainment from local artists, including Melissa McKinney, Fancy and the Gentlemen, Lo Wolf, David Zoll, Miriam Allen and Laura Blackley. There will also be a drag showcase.

“We try to create, if only for a day, a tiny city that models the society we hope to become,” says White. “We want people to experience how wonderful it can be when an entire community shares space and grows together.”

For more information on the festival schedule, visit avl.mx/bzm.

The moon and New York City

For 20 years, South Carolina native Jenny Renee Bradley was smack in the middle of the New York City scene, running a music school where lessons were taught in the homes of some influential Manhattanites. But it wasn’t until she left the Big Apple for the Land of the Sky that she found time and inspiration to create her own album, with the assistance of her children, daughter Blu Belle,12, and son Bud, 11.

She credits the time the pandemic afforded her and her family, along with the “quiet of the mountains,” for enabling the creative process and production of their upcoming album, Deep Medicine. The title track “is a song about how these mountains changed our lives for the better,” says Bradley. “I had breast cancer a few years ago, and beating it entailed so much treatment and surgery. So I know the feeling of trying to heal. What I didn’t expect was that the mountains of North Carolina would offer a very different kind of healing — peace of mind.”

And when it comes to names, the band’s moniker, Moon Water, was inspired by something daughter Blu decided to do one evening, not long after arriving in WNC. “Blu collected rainwater before the flower moon and then sat it out the night of the full moon. There the water became moon water. We keep it in a Mason jar as our positive energy force.”

The magic seems to be working. Bradley formed the band with Blu and Bud, and created the album along with some local luminaries, including guitarist Matt Smith, fiddle players James Schlender and Lyndsay Pruett, and dobro player Tommy Maher. The album, released this month, is produced by Gar Ragland at Citizen Vinyl.

Bradley is confident she made the right move. “Asheville has a tightknit music community,” she says. “We all support one another, and that’s been a beautiful experience. I’ve learned so much from Asheville musicians because the element of competition seems to be nonexistent. There’s a real sense here that we are playing for the sake of music, not money or fame. It’s so pure and wonderful.”

For more information, visit avl.mx/bzs.

Life lessons

A retired local dentist has conceived a program that will offer affordable learning opportunities, in partnership with nonprofit organization Folkmoot USA. The Folkmoot Life Long Learning program gives residents a chance to enroll in six-week courses on a variety of subjects.

“This could be a great service to our community as an instrument to engage retirees and all that have time available to learn of our area’s history and to be more involved in our community,” says Dr. Darryl Nabors in a press release.

The inaugural courses begin the first week in October and include Introduction to Comedy Improvisation, The Civil War in Haywood County and Swedish Weaving.

“There will be many additional subjects offered in the future, and our intention is to develop the 2023 full curriculum based on the 2022 results with feedback from class attendees,” says Brett Pinkston, operations manager at Folkmoot USA in the same press release.

Folkmoot USA is at 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. For more information on the courses, which are $20 per subject, visit avl.mx/bzl.

Guild-ed

Two new member exhibitions open this month at the Folk Art Center.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild debuted Inspiration in the center’s Focus Gallery on Sept. 3, which is on display through Tuesday, Nov. 15, and features jewelry, fiber, clay and wood from six guild members.

Participating fiber artist Elizabeth Garlington has 13 items featured. “These pieces were crafted specifically for this exhibit and with great intention and planning — from fabric pulls, to patterns and color, to the size and dimensions of each work,” she says in a press release.

On Sept. 17, the guild opened the New Member Exhibition in the Main Gallery, with works from 21 artisans who joined the guild in 2019-21. The exhibition showcases works of stained glass, mixed media, jewelry, clay, wood, fiber and more, and runs through Wednesday, Jan. 4.

The Folk Art Center, Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Island time

The Art on the Island Festival returns to Marshall’s Blannahassett Island on Saturday, Sept. 24. The gathering features makers from throughout WNC, with a focus on artist demonstrations and hands-on experiences.

Guests will witness live blacksmithing, glass blowing, basket making and fabric dyeing, as well as an opportunity to learn about the benefits of kudzu from nonprofit group Kudzu Culture.

Attendees will also have a chance to take part in a robot-building workshop, which has been a popular activity in past years.

Art will be for sale, as well as a variety of local food and beverages. The family-friendly event also includes live music on the island’s stage.

Blannahassett Island is on the French Broad River in downtown Marshall. The festival is free and takes place 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit avl.mx/c02.

On the river

At the end of July, New York-based funk group The Budos Band played to a grassy field full of folks next to the French Broad River, as a steady downpour threatened to cause the river to swell over its banks. It didn’t flood that evening, and the rain seemed to lend to the vibe of the music at The Outpost, The Grey Eagle’s newly opened venue on Amboy Road, says marketing director John Zara.

The idea for the site, a partnership with Asheville Adventure Co., came after hosting drive-in shows in Maggie Valley during the pandemic. “Ever since, Grey Eagle Events has been looking for a more permanent place to have outdoor concerts,” notes Zara.

There are plans to hold more than just music shows, Zara continues. The partnership will allow for community events as well as adventure trips on the river.

This week, The Grey Eagle team and their producing partners, Plugged-In Productions, are gearing up for a concert with country music giant Marty Stuart, who will perform with His Fabulous Superlatives. Opening for the five-time Grammy winner will be local singer-songwriter Taylor Martin and The Song Dogs, featuring special guest Amanda Anne Platt.

The show, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m., will be the largest to date for the new spot. “It’s going to be awesome to watch [Stuart] break in The Outpost,” says Plugged-In managing partner Kyle Davies. “Marty Stuart is one of country music’s legends, and it’s about time we got him back to Asheville.”

The Outpost is at 521 Amboy Road. Tickets to Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives are $36 for the lawn. Seated tickets are available for $56. For more information, visit avl.mx/c03.

Stay tuned … 

The Crow & Quill, downtown’s speakeasy-era style whisky bar, announces that is can no longer host live music events — for now.

“We were getting too busy, and the fire marshal has been active on the block,” says owner Casey Campfield. “We’re going to look at increasing our occupancy and will get going again after that.”

The Crow and Quill is at 106 N. Lexington Ave.

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