Around town: Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre concert series returns

BACK IN ACTION: Bands return to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre with safety measures in place. This particular photo was taken back in 2019. Photo courtesy of Plugged-In Productions

After a year’s hiatus due to COVID-19, the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre concert series is back. Local award-winning bluegrass band Balsam Range will kick off the 2021 relaunch on Sunday, April 25, at 5 p.m.

“It’s been a whirlwind getting things figured out and dialed in,” says Jackson Whitfield, managing partner at Plugged-In Productions, a local company producing the series in partnership with Montford Park Players.

Per state guidelines, capacity is limited, and masks are mandatory except when audience members are seated at their socially distanced pods.

The concert series, which began in 2018 with a focus on local bands, will now also feature national acts. Along with Balsam Range, upcoming shows include performances by Mipso, Charley Crockett and the Jerry Douglas Band.

“As the music industry begins to bounce back, we want to provide our extraordinary community with an extraordinary place to experience music and the arts,” says Whitfield.

Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre is located at 100 Gay St. Tickets for upcoming shows begin at $25. For the full list of performers and to purchase tickets, visit

Giant puppet show

Speaking of the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre — comics, musicians and giant puppets will take the stage this weekend for the Earth Day Weekend Outdoor Mythic Musical Giant Puppet Show, taking place Friday, April 23, and Saturday, April 24, 6-9 p.m. Intended for all ages, the multigenre performance explores issues of love and loss, corporate greed and uplifting songs of spring rebirth.

“I’d like people to leave the performance with a reverence for life, an appreciation of what the costs are for our modern-day existence and a sense of beauty, joy and awe,” says show producer, writer and director Mica Sunshine.

Tickets are $10. Masks are required. To learn more, visit

WNC History Café returns

The WNC History Café series returns to the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center on Monday, April 26. Entering its third year, the monthly lecture series offers a deep dive into local history. The 2021 inaugural event features Kayla Seay, assistant site director of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Seay will discuss the life, personality and accomplishments of Swannanoa Valley native Julia Wolfe, immortalized by her youngest son, Thomas Wolfe, in his 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel.

Seay says she hopes her talk offers a deeper appreciation for Julia Wolfe, who is depicted as a frugal and self-serving businesswoman in her son’s writing. “Her life was so dynamic, and many of her experiences and choices parallel the broader evolution of Asheville,” Seay says. She was also a woman who endured much “pain and sorrow,” Seay adds, surviving four of her eight children.

The lecture runs 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Tickets are $8 for museum members and $12 for nonmembers. A Zoom link will be provided upon registration. To sign up, visit

I Can’t Breathe

“The ability to write poetry really sustained me and gave me a purpose during this past year,” says local poet Nancy Dillingham, whose latest collection, I Can’t Breathe, came our earlier this year. The book’s 22 works chronicle recent events, including Gov. Roy Cooper’s earliest COVID-19 response, the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the everyday realities of living through a pandemic.

“I hope people will find solace in the poems, which convey the message that we as a country can survive and remember our strengths, and even hope,” says Dillingham. “The Vincent Van Gogh poem that ends the book contains Van Gogh’s credo: ‘Art is to console those who are broken by life.’” To purchase a copy, visit

Nature photo/video contest

Conserving Carolina, a local nonprofit that works to preserve water and land resources in WNC, is hosting a photo/video contest. The organization is seeking images and video footage of native plants, wildlife and habitat improvement projects. To enter, post your work on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #habitatathome2021. If you’re not on social media, you can submit via email to The final day to enter is Saturday, May 15. The winner will receive garden-themed prizes. To learn more, visit

Call for artists

The Weaverville Business Association and Art in Autumn Committee are accepting art exhibitor applications through Sunday, June 20, for the 14th annual Weaverville Art in Autumn Festival. Artists will be juried to receive awards up to $1,000. To apply, visit

Writing workshops

The Writers’ Workshop of Asheville is offering online classes throughout the spring. Topics include memoir (May 1), writing strategies (May 15), screenwriting (May 29) and fiction (June 12). Each Saturday course runs 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Classes are $80 for nonmembers and $75 for members. Financial assistance is available for low-income writers. To register, visit or email


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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