Around town: Inaugural Black Mountain Blues festival takes center stage

LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN: For three days, music fans can expect a wide range of sounds and styles at the inaugural Black Mountain Blues festival. Among the performers are, clockwise from top left, Corey Harris, Sugaray Rayford, Pat "Mother Blues" Cohen and Melody Angel. Photos courtesy of Black Mountain Blues

The inaugural Black Mountain Blues music festival will debut the weekend of Friday, July 12-Sunday, July 14, at several Black Mountain venues.

Downtown Black Mountain will host the festival in collaboration with LEAF Global Arts and White Horse Black Mountain. Headlining artists include Sugaray Rayford, Corey Harris, Bob Margolin, Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen and many more. Black Mountain Blues will present Piper & the Hard Times, the International Blues Challenge Best Band winner for 2024.

“Blues is the heartbeat of modern music, and this festival is our tribute to true blues,” says Zach Hinkle, director of operations at White Horse Black Mountain.

Stages will be set up at The Railyard, The Bush Farmhouse, Foothills Grange, White Horse Black Mountain, the Monte Vista Hotel, Black Mountain Center for the Arts, Goldfinch and the Town Pump Tavern. A curated Food, Arts & Wellness Market downtown will also be part of the experience.

The festival will kick off with a pre-party at White Horse Black Mountain, where festivalgoers can pick up their wristbands and listen to Tressa’s All Star Blues Band. Then at 2 p.m., the venue will host a VIP event featuring fusion blues musician Corey Harris, followed by Aaron “Woody” Wood at the Town Pump and an electro blues dance party at the White Horse with DJ5.

Saturday’s events will start at The Bush Farmhouse with rising 16-year-old star Kiersi Joli and will end with a late-night jam at White Horse Black Mountain. Sunday’s lineup will begin with gospel-influenced Reggie Headen, followed by Datrian Johnson & The Family Tree. The festival will culminate that evening with an after-party blues jam at Pisgah Brewing Co., hosted by Spiro Nicolopoulos.

“We’re thrilled to bring a powerhouse lineup of both iconic stars and emerging artists to eight venues right here in Black Mountain,” Hinkle says. “The event will showcase the breadth and depth of blues music, and we hope it will be the beginning of a resurgence of blues in the region.”

Weekend passes are $80. VIP pass options are $180 and include VIP Lounge access, artist meet-and-greets, and more. Children younger than 10 may attend for free, and discounted tickets are available for ages 10-17. The White Horse is at 105 Montreat Road, Black Mountain. The full lineup and more information can be found at

Musical sanctuary

The third Sanctuary Series musical performance will take place at Central United Methodist Church of Asheville on Friday, July 12, 7 p.m.

The quarterly series, which debuted in 2023, consists of musical performances curated by local songwriter Jane Kramer as a way to create community beyond the church’s congregation and to celebrate live music for a good cause. The July concert will feature Chattanooga, Tenn.-based multi-instrumentalist, storyteller and host of the syndicated podcast “American Songcatcher” Nicholas Edward Williams, with an opening set from Asheville singer-songwriter Hannah Kaminer.

Ticket sales from this performance will support the Transylvania County chapter of Junior Appalachian Musicians, a nonprofit that supports communities in teaching children to play and dance to old-time and bluegrass music.

“While I chose the nonprofit beneficiary for our very first concert in the series that I also performed in, I find it powerful to allow the featured artist to choose an organization whose work is meaningful to them,” says Kramer. “Nicholas Edward Williams chose JAM due to his connection to teaching and preserving the traditional music of our region as a music historian, storyteller and ‘song catcher,’ and he has done some lovely collaborating over the years with Owen Grooms, the Transylvania County chapter organizer for JAM. Owen and some JAM students will perform in the show as well.”

Tickets to the performance are $25.

Central United Methodist Church of Asheville is at 27 Church St. For more information, visit

Student art goes from schoolhouse to State House

Two Buncombe County students have their artwork displayed in the N.C. State House, according to a press release.

The student artwork was selected by the N.C. State Educators Conference to be part of the General Assembly Youth Art Exhibit. The exhibit consists of two pieces of art from each region in the state, to be displayed in the state house for one year. All art was created by students in K-12 who have a teacher who is a member of the N.C. Art Education Association.

A piece called CityScape by Haw Creek Elementary fourth grader Vivian Hoffman was selected to be part of the exhibition, as was an untitled painting of a classic car by Lucy Ingram, an eighth grader at Valley Springs Middle School. Hoffman was invited to Raleigh alongside her family and her art teacher, Mary Hunnicutt, Haw Creek Principal Christen Davidson, and the members of the Buncombe County legislative delegation.

“It was an amazing and interesting experience to see the other students’ artwork and be honored like that,” says Hoffman in the release. “I really enjoyed meeting Sen. [Julie] Mayfield and Rep. [Eric] Ager.” Hoffman was also given a special tour of the Senate floor alongside Mayfield, learning about the history of women in state government, including Lillian Exum Clement, the first woman elected to the N.C. General Assembly in 1920.

Principal Davidson says she felt encouraged by the legislators’ respect for artistic education in North Carolina and hopes that the artwork will serve as a reminder over the next year.

The N.C. State House is at 16 W. Jones St., Raleigh. For more information about the collection, visit

New novel charts North Carolina

Green Forest, Red Earth, Blue Sea, a three-part novel set in North Carolina, will be released by Koehler Books on Friday, July 19.

The novel is composed of three novellas released together as a single book. Author Jim Gulledge describes the first novella in his series, A Poor Man’s Supper, originally released in 2017, as a “mountain ballad in prose.” Set in Saluda, it was included in the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection of Appalachian State University and the N.C. Collection of UNC Chapel Hill, two collections aimed at preserving North Carolina’s literary and cultural heritage.

“A year or so after the publication of the [first] novella, I was lying in bed one morning and realized there was a second part set in the Piedmont,” says Gulledge. “About 10 minutes later I realized to my dismay that there was a third part set on the coast. Dismay because writing is hard work and finding a publisher is a nightmare.”

The second portion, titled Peachland, takes place in Anson County of the Piedmont region and reimagines a happier conclusion to the true story of Gulledge’s great-uncle, who fought in World War I and survived, only to drown in a small pond on the family property.

The third novella, set in coastal North Carolina, takes place in the 1970s and offers a conclusion that takes readers through each region of the state. “What I’m doing is trying to go from the mountains to the sea,” Gulledge says in a press release. “That’s a big thing for North Carolinians. We see our state as three zones: mountains, piedmont and coastal plain. My hope is that the final novel will drive that idea home in a memorable fashion.”

Gulledge is a member of the N.C. Writers’ Network. He retired from a 36-year career as Pfeiffer University’s Ddrector of academic support services and assistant professor of development studies.

For more information, visit

Celebrating 77 years of craft

The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands will be held at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville from Thursday, July 18-Sunday, July 21, and Thursday, Oct. 17-Sunday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Since 1948, the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands has brought hundreds of artists, makers and craftspeople together to show off the traditional processes of their work. The event will feature both Appalachian traditions and contemporary work in pottery, sculpture, furniture, tapestry, apparel, mixed media, jewelry and more. Visitors will experience the evolution of American craft traditions such as hammering iron into fireplace tools and harvesting splints of white oak to weave a basket. Interactive demonstrations are aimed at education and keeping crafts alive and relevant during modern times.

The theme of the fair is “the process of craft, often lost in a highly mechanized and digital world,” according to the press release. The Southern Highland Craft Guild will raffle off a piece from one of the exhibitors with all proceeds going toward its educational mission. Throughout the weekends, regional musicians will perform on the downstairs stage.

The Southern Highlands Craft Guild is a nonprofit whose membership is jury-selected in a rigorous process to maintain quality standards of craft throughout the Appalachian region. Membership to the SHCG is open to craftspeople, makers and artists living in the mountain counties of nine states from Maryland to Alabama. This year, for the first time, applicants can purchase a booth to sell and have their work juried at the fair.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information, visit


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Around town: Inaugural Black Mountain Blues festival takes center stage

  1. Jennifer Skiles

    Can you still go to the railyard and get a drink without paying $80?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.