Around town: Local musicians cast in ‘Yacht Stops’ reality series

SALT LIFE: Asheville-based musicians Brennan Dugan, left, April Bennett, second from left, and Jaze Uries, far right, are part of the new reality series “Yacht Stops.” The show premiered May 24 on Amazon Prime Video and new episodes will air each week through July. Photo courtesy of “Yacht Stops”

Asheville-based artists April Bennett (rhythm guitar), Jaze Uries (drums) and Brennan Dugan (bass) may be seen on the new reality series “Yacht Stops.” The show, described as “if ‘Below Deck’ was recast with the finalists of ‘The Voice,’” premiered May 24 on Amazon Prime Video, and new episodes will air each week through July.

The local musicians are joined by Charleston, S.C.-based guitarist Kelly Morris, who busked in Asheville throughout 2020, and Austin, Texas-based vocalist Angelyn Iturbide. Bennett, who learned about the opportunity from fellow local artist Josh Blake, says that Iturbide’s original songs compose the bulk of the band’s set, which they’ll perform at docks from Mount Pleasant, S.C., to the Florida Keys, on the deck of the boat they’re also living on. While at sea between gigs, the bandmates serve as the boat’s crew and have to fish to eat.

“All of these boating experiences are new and exciting to me,” Bennett says. “When I’m in the ocean, I generally don’t go much further than where my feet can touch the bottom. We’ve been in some very deep water on this voyage. This has definitely been a humbling trip.”

Bennett adds that she’s been “drawing from the successes and failings of past tours” and applying them to her “Yacht Stops” experiences. “I’m also trusting myself more on a personal, interpersonal and a musical level,” she says. “That is what growth is to me.” Learn more at

Dig it

After a 17-year hiatus, the Historic Montford Garden Tour returns Saturday, June 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The event includes self-guided walks through 12 distinct neighborhood gardens and live performances by local bluegrass, folk, jazz and classical musicians.

Tickets are $25, and funds raised seek to compensate for the canceled 2020 Holiday Tour of Homes, the Montford community’s major source of annual revenue to fund vital neighborhood initiatives. In the event of rain, the tour will be postponed to Sunday, June 6. Mask-wearing and social distancing are required. For more information and to reserve your ticket, visit

New tricks

Swannanoa-based country music legend Billy Edd Wheeler can now add “published novelist” to his resumé. Set in the 1880s and inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous, Wheeler’s The Boston Cowgirl centers on a bratty 16-year-old Massachusetts girl who, after falling from a cross-country train out West, must adapt to the tough life of cattle driving.

A native of West Virginia, Wheeler wrote such songs as “Jackson” (made popular by Johnny Cash and June Carter) and “Coward of the County” (covered by Kenny Rogers), and holds degrees from Berea College and Warren Wilson College. Find out more at

Spielberg Jr.

Asheville School of Film presents its first student film screening in over 18 months when it reconvenes at Asheville Pizza & Brewing, 675 Merrimon Ave., on Thursday, May 27, 4-6 p.m. The eight short films were created in ASoF classes from summer 2018-spring 2021. The screening is free to attend, but socially distanced seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. For more details, go to

Black Appalachian music

Great Smoky Mountains Association’s podcast “Smoky Mountain Air” has launched a new miniseries called “Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music.” Hosted by William Turner and Ted Olson, the six-episode series will be released throughout 2021 and, according to a press release, explore “the complex history of Black music in East Tennessee, Black sacred music, Black women musicians and the diverse landscape of music communities in Southern Appalachia.”

“We look forward to conversations with some of the leading luminaries of Appalachian studies and Appalachian music,” Olson says. “These people will be from many walks of life [and] many different backgrounds, but what we all share in common is a love for Appalachia and belief that African American musicians and African American culture need to be part of the conversation.”

To listen to the first episode, visit

Liquid delights

American Folk Art & Framing opens its “WATER: Beautiful Powerful Shimmering” show online Tuesday, June 1, and in its gallery on Thursday, June 3. Works explore various ways that water can be depicted in art via pieces by Kent Ambler, Joe Engel, Michael Banks, Doug Frati, Ellie Ali, Shawn Ireland, Lonnie & Twyla Money, Cornbread, Liz Sullivan and Jim Gary Phillips. The show will be on display daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., through Thursday, June 24. Mask-wearing and social distancing are required. For more information, visit


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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