Around town: Juneteenth Gala returns

BACK AT IT: Oralene Simmons, the president and founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, says she is “looking forward to socializing with the community” at the latest Juneteenth Gala. Photo by Cindy Kunst

The Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, along with the City of Asheville, will host the annual Juneteenth Gala at the Stephens-Lee Community Center on Thursday, June 20, 7-9:30 p.m.

The free public event celebrates the liberation of enslaved people with dancing and live music by Darrell Griffin. Celebrity chef Clarence Robinson’s catering company, Cooking with Comedy, will provide Southern soul food. The gala is black-tie optional, though attendees are invited to dress for the African attire fashion show at the event.

“Our association has been celebrating Juneteenth for many years,” says Oralene Simmons, the association’s president and founder. “Last year was our first year with the City of Asheville co-sponsoring our gala, and we’re looking forward to socializing with the community for a cause and celebrating this holiday.”

The Juneteenth Gala is part of a weeklong Juneteenth celebration, which includes daily Lunch and Learn speaking events with catered lunch. The final Lunch and Learn session will take place at the Tempie Avery Montford Community Center on Friday, June 21, noon-1:30 p.m. Clinical ethicist Sharon K. West will lead a panel to discuss “Early African American Health Care and Today’s African American Inequities,” focusing on medical access for Black citizens in Asheville.

The week of Juneteenth events culminates with the Downtown After 5 Juneteenth celebration on Lexington Avenue on Friday, June 21.

The Stephens-Lee Community Center is at 30 George Washington Carver Ave. For more information, visit

Book exchange and DIY workshop

Board & Brush Creative Studio will host a book exchange and a Time Crunch Mini Workshop on Sunday, June 23, 2-4 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m. Board & Brush DIY workshops offer the materials and direction to create handpainted wooden signs for home decor.

Participants in the book exchange are invited to bring a gently used novel, wrapped, with some details on the outside such as genre, a star rating and a short blurb about the book. “Some of our sister studios in the U.S. came up with the idea,” says Lynette Stewart, co-owner of Board & Brush Asheville. “We think it’s a great way to change up a typical book club night or a way to swap out your read books.” Stewart hopes to plan more book exchanges every quarter.

Following the book exchange, Board & Brush will lead a sign-making workshop. Snacks, soda and water will be available, and all events are BYOB. Tickets cost $40, and pre-registration is required.

Board & Brush Creative Studio Asheville is at 1011 Tunnel Road, Suite 120. For more information, visit

The Moth story slam

The Moth will hold its next true storytelling competition at The Grey Eagle on Thursday, June 20, 7:30 p.m.

The theme of this story slam is “guts.” Performers will be asked to prepare a five-minute story about moments of courage. “Scaling mountains or admitting to mistakes. Being the first in line to try a never-before-tested remedy or the last diver at the safety stop in shark-infested waters,” reads the prompt on The Moth’s website. “Tell us about your nervy-est (or most nervous) experiences.”

Stories at The Moth events are not screened or censored and may range from inspiring to heartbreaking. Profanity and material about death, grief and violence are permitted.

Seating for the show is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The Grey Eagle is at 185 Clingman Ave. For more information, visit

Asheville band performs on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Local band Ashes & Arrows performed an original song on the show “America’s Got Talent” on NBC.

The group, made up of Ciaran McMeeken, Jonathan Calhoun and Benjamin Voigt, formed in 2021 after meeting at a Nashville open mic night. “[Ciaran] was playing a song onstage, and I used to cover the same song that he was playing,” said Calhoun on the show. “And then I was like, ‘Dude, you did a really good job on that song. I used to cover that song too.’ He was like, ‘Well, I wrote that song.’”

For its televised performance, Ashes & Arrows performed a country rock ballad titled “Born to Love.” The performance impressed three of four judges, including Simon Cowell, who complimented the band’s harmonies. Howie Mandel, the only judge who voted “no” on the performance, said of the group, “If I was in a bar and you guys were playing, I would have the best night ever.”

Ashes & Arrows released its debut EP, Forward, in fall 2022. The band has a full album forthcoming.

For more information, visit

Comedy contest finale

Slice of Life Comedy will present the Asheville Standup Comedy Pageant at plēb urban winery on Friday, June 21, 7-9 p.m., to choose the Standup Champion of Asheville Comedy for 2024.

This is the final performance in a multiweek Asheville comedy showcase hosted by local comedian Hilliary Begley. The finale will feature slides and interactive games for the audience. A portion of the proceeds will go toward local community radio station 103.3 Asheville FM’s yearly capital campaign.

Jake Frankel, Ali McGhee and Michele Scheve from the Asheville FM talk show “Slumber Party AVL” will moderate the event. “Asheville FM is planning big things in the next year to further benefit our Asheville community in greater ways,” says Scheve, who is also a founder of Slice of Life. “It’s been a dream of mine over the years to pair my two passions together. I’m thrilled to have my co-hosts Jake Frankel and Ali McGhee moderate this event with me.”

Performers must answer personal and trivia questions, play silly games and attempt to woo the audience. Pageant contestants will be the winners of three previous comedy contests held at The Orange Peel’s Pulp. Following the performances, the audience will vote by ballot, and the winning comic will perform an encore set.

Food will be available on-site, provided by food truck Mean Pies Pizza. The event is for ages 18 and older. Tickets cost $18.

plēb urban winery is at 289 Lyman St. For more information, visit

Mind reader returns to Story Parlor

Story Parlor will host Jonathan Pritchard for the Asheville Mind Reading Show on Saturday, June 22, 7:30-10 p.m.

An Asheville native, mentalist, business consultant and author, Pritchard uses a mixture of comedy, storytelling and showmanship to create his effect. In his 70-minute performance, he will seem to read minds, predict the future and perform hypnosis. Often described as a kind of magic trick, mentalism involves memory, mathematics and applied psychology.

A percentage of the proceeds go to the Rathbun House, a nonprofit that provides accommodations for family members of patients at Mission Hospital. Doors for the seated performance open at 7 p.m. No children younger than 18 are permitted.

Story Parlor is at 227 Haywood Road. For more information, visit

Chamber music performance for solstice

The Blue Ridge Orchestra will celebrate the longest day of the year with Solstice Soirée at Souther Williams Vineyard on Saturday, June 22, 6 p.m.

Milton Crotts is the music director for the alfresco chamber concert. The Blue Ridge Orchestra Chamber Ensemble will incorporate popular music from local artists into its eclectic program, which represents Mozart, Vivaldi and Albinoni. Fancy Marie and Craig Kellberg will contribute the honky tonk, Southern gothic sound of Fancy and the Gentlemen. The Walker Family Band will share traditional old-time Celtic sounds. Trombonists Rienette Davis and Emily Songster will perform unexpected arrangements of a classical work by Vivaldi as well as the popular work “Over the Rainbow.”

The evening of music, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be held rain or shine, with a choice of table seating or lawn seating. Table seating includes wine and food and must be purchased in advance. Concertgoers must be at least 21 to enter the vineyard.

Souther Williams Vineyard is at 655 Hoopers Creek Road, Fletcher. For more information, visit

Man Ray film screening and performance

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will screen several short films by Man Ray on Thursday, June 20, 7 p.m.

Man Ray was a visual artist whose work is often associated with surrealist and Dadaist traditions. Black Mountain College will be screening newly restored versions of Ray’s experimental collection Return to Reason, filmed between 1923 and 1929. The collection combines experimental techniques, surrealism, abstraction, geometric patterns and eroticism. Ray’s footage explores the possibilities of montage; he also applied salt, pins and thumbtacks to the film itself to generate surprising effects. The film will be accompanied by a new cosmic drone-rock soundtrack by Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan under the name Sqürl. The evening will begin with a solo performance by Asheville-based instrumentalist Chad Beattie.

The restoration process was led by WOMANRAY and Cinenovo, which sourced the original prints in partnership with Cinémathèque française, the Centre Pompidou, the Library of Congress, the CNC and the Cineteca di Bologna.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is at 120 College St., Black Mountain. For more information, visit

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 20, 2024; Jonathan Pritchard was previously misidentified. 


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