Around town: New books, Shakespeare, fundraisers and more

ANIMALS AND NUMBERS: Transylvania County youth services librarian Laura Gardner recently celebrated the release of her debut children's book, Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3. Photo courtesy of Gardner

For nearly 10 years, Laura Gardner, a youth services librarian, has been sharing her love for storytelling with the children of Transylvania County. In time, this passion for literature led Gardner to try her hand at writing a kids book. This March, Page Street Kids Publishing released her debut work, Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3.

The rhyming text introduces kids to 10 different animals native to the Appalachian Mountains with illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. Gardner has also recorded a song and video based on the book, working with several local musicians, including Nikki Talley, Ty Gilpin and Gardner’s husband, Tim.

“I hope parents and kids will take away a love and appreciation for the Appalachian Mountains and the opportunity to explore the power and beauty of language,” says Gardner. “Music only enhances a child’s assimilation of language, and this book is essentially a love song to my home.”

On Wednesday, April 14, at 10 a.m., Gardner will read her book and share her song during Miss Malaprop’s virtual storytime, hosted by Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café. To learn more, visit

Popcorn Sutton

Speaking of books, North Carolina photographer, filmmaker and author Neal Hutcheson recently celebrated the release of his latest book, The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton. A biography, the work includes photographs and interviews with the late Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, the infamous moonshiner from Haywood County. WNC author David Joy and Penn State anthropologist Kirk French contribute to the book as well. To purchase a copy, visit

‘Comedy of Errors’

Shakespeare goes virtual Thursday-Sunday, April 15-18, when the Blue Ridge Community College theatre department presents Comedy of Errors. The one-act production will feature interactive elements, including a game of bingo, says Jennifer Treadway, the show’s director.

“In these Zoom times of theater, I think the most difficult challenge is how to engage the audience, particularly when the language can be tough to understand,” Treadway says.  “Because of this, I thought it particularly important to focus on the slapstick elements that are inherent in all Shakespeare comedies.”

All three performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. For more information or to reserve your free ticket, contact the theater department at

Call for artists

On April 23, The Center for Art & Entertainment, 125 S. Main St. in downtown Hendersonville, will reopen. The center is currently seeking artists to create original works on the surfaces of 62 wood tables placed throughout the space to allow safe social distancing. Artists will work with table sponsors to create a design that will feature the sponsor’s name or company logo. According to a press release, sponsors may provide artists with concepts, but “the artist is creating an art piece, not a billboard.” Each design will include the artist’s signature; artists will also receive a voucher for two complimentary tickets to a show of their choice. To apply, call 828-698-8547 or email

Asheville Area Piano Forum

On Sunday, April 11, the Asheville Area Piano Forum will premiere its 15th annual Spring Benefit Concert on YouTube. The virtual, prerecorded performance will feature AAPF pianists William Bares, Kimberly Cann, Elizabeth Child, Luke Shaver and Wayne Smith. Tickets are $20. All proceeds go to scholarships for local children to receive piano lessons. The concert link will remain active until Sunday, April 25. To purchase tickets, 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.

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.

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.

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.