Around Town: Grindfest gears up for Memorial Day Weekend

KEEP GRINDING: The annual Grindfest AVL will take place over Memorial Day weekend in the River Arts District. Photo courtesy of Black Wall Street AVL

Grindfest AVL will celebrate and promote Black-owned businesses with entertaining and professional events on Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28, in Asheville’s River Arts District.

“We’re excited to host Grindfest 2023 and provide a carnival-themed space where Black-owned businesses can shine,” says a Black Wall Street AVL spokesperson in a press release. “Our mission is to foster community and unity among Black residents and businesses in Asheville, while also educating the public about the history and significance of Black Wall Street.”

The free event, which begins at 10 a.m. each day, will feature a Black Wall Street marketplace where Black-owned businesses showcase their products and services, as well as a dance battle, hip-hop aerobics, a drag show and story times. Attendees can also enjoy food trucks, a beer garden and carnival games and rides.

On Friday, attendees can register for the Nonprofit Social Enterprise Summit, which takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Black Wall Street building. The learning summit will offer a chance for nonprofits to network and share ideas. On Saturday at 6 p.m., rappers Big Boi, Waka Flocka Flame and Talib Kweli will perform in a special concert at Salvage Station.

The organizers are expecting 15,000 to attend the family-friendly festival.

Black Wall Street is at 8 River Arts Place. For more information, visit

Big Blue World

The new nonprofit Asheville Junior Theater will perform Finding Nemo Jr. at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts on Memorial Day weekend. The rights to the show were released in January, and this will be its Western North Carolina debut.

The show is Disney’s 60-minute musical adaptation of the 2003 Pixar film Finding Nemo.

“We are a boutique junior theater company who at the core believes that theater is a valuable tool for helping children discover who they are,” says AJT owner, producer and director Kelly Haas in a press release. “We give kids a focus and a purpose to show them what they are capable of with hard work and drive.”

Parents of the children in the company also get involved by donating at least 10 hours to each show, helping with costumes, sets and props. “AJT is a special place,” says parent Carla Delangre. “The fact that we all have to chip in to bring this show to life creates lifelong bonds among the children and the parents. As this show sparkles on the big stage, our family takes great pride in knowing that we helped turn our daughter’s dream into reality.”

Finding Nemo Jr. will be staged Saturday, May 27, at 2 and 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 28, at 2 p.m.

The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is at 18 Biltmore Ave. For more information, visit

Home at last

Members of Asheville’s Steely Dan cover band, Dirty Logic, are no strangers to being on the road. The band is celebrating five years together in 2023.

With 11 people on stage, most of whom are also with nationally and locally touring local bands, scheduling and logistics are the group’s biggest challenges, says Jake Wolf, bassist.

“With so many in-demand players, we have had to work really hard to make sure we have the availability we need to book shows,” says Wolf. He says this makes the annual outdoor hometown show at Salvage Station even more special.

The band will play Steely Dan’s album Aja, which includes the song “Home at Last,” at the River Arts District venue on Thursday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. The musicians will perform more selections by Steely Dan in a separate set.

Aja is one of our (and many people’s) favorites,” says Wolf. “It really signaled Steely Dan’s pivot from being a pop/classic rock band to something deeper, with more jazz sensibilities and more complex song structures.”

Wolf adds that with all of the “logistical gymnastics” and rehearsing that goes into their shows, he and the other band members feel especially rewarded when they play in Asheville.

“Hometown shows, especially outdoors at Salvage Station, are the most fun,” says Wolf. “We really try to pull out all the stops and put on an amazing show for our Asheville fans, many of whom are friends of the band and fellow musicians. Also, the Steely Dan fans are way into it!  They come in costume and sing every word. It is a big treat for us.”

Salvage Station is at 468 Riverside Drive. For more information, visit

Folkmoot festival on hold

Due to financial constraints, Folkmoot’s 40th anniversary won’t be celebrated with its traditional international summer showcase.

At its peak, Waynesville-based Folkmoot — an organization created in 1983 to preserve and showcase local and world culture — hosted up to 10 international groups of dancers and musicians for two weeks in late July. After 9/11, visa issues and travel restrictions began to present challenges, and when the pandemic hit, the festival had to be shut down completely, and financial problems increased.

The board of directors has started a plan to stabilize the organization’s finances and increase revenue at the Friendship Center, where performances and special events are held in the auditorium. The center also rents out space and houses local artist studios and offices.

“The board is dedicated and determined to make tough choices in order to protect the legacy of Folkmoot,” says Alan Fletcher, president of the Folkmoot board, in a press release. “We’ve made our rental spaces affordable for nonprofits and local artists and are doing all we can to keep the doors open. The mission of Folkmoot USA is to celebrate many cultures and champion arts, education, creative entrepreneurship and tradition.”

Folkmoot is currently planning a one-day festival as well as a summer fundraising soiree.

For more information, visit

Indigenous Writers’ Workshop

“Confluence: An Indigenous Writers’ Workshop” will be offered at no cost to citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Created in partnership with Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, author of the novel Even as We Breathe and MCI board member, the series of workshops offers EBCI citizens access to writing instruction from top Indigenous writers.

Clapsaddle says she is passionate about bringing more opportunities for writers to the Qualla Boundary, land purchased by the ECBI and kept in trust by the federal government. “For a tribe that has had a written language since it was formally adopted in 1825, this dearth of publications is startling,” she says in a press release. “The Qualla Boundary can often feel isolated. Many of our citizens do not see a path toward pursuing writing, regardless of whether or not they are interested in publishing. Workshop opportunities are typically over an hour’s drive away and often cost prohibitive. I strongly believe that the best way I can express my gratitude for being able to professionally pursue my love of writing is to help provide some of the same writing enrichment opportunities I have been given to this community which has given me so much support.”

This opportunity will be opened to the public if not filled. Each workshop has a capacity of 15 attendees and takes place over three days from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the museum, with lunch provided.

Here is a schedule of workshops and presenters:

  • May 26-28: Literary Fiction, Kelli Jo Ford (Cherokee Nation).
  • June 16-18: Fiction, Andrea L. Rogers (Cherokee Nation).
  • July 14-16: Poetry, Mary Leauna Christensen (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians).
  • Nov. 17-19: Journalism, Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee Nation).

For more information, visit


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About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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