Earth Day at play

Amid all the fanfare of Earth Day 2000, there’ll be earfare aplenty in our downtown square. The entertainment on Saturday, April 22 will be as Earth-themed as our seemingly inexhaustible sources of local talent can provide. Much fun ought to be had by all — as well as the opportunity to hear knowledgeable (and solution-oriented environmental speakers, who’ll hold forth on a large number of specific issues).

Asheville’s Earth Day 2000 Festival begins about noontime. A colorful parade will wind along the pedestrian walkway ‘twixt the Stephens-Lee Center and City/County Plaza, the main staging area. (Organizers point out that the parade starts at noon, an hour before the Food Lion/Asheville Parks and Recreation Easter Eggstravaganza in nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Park, so there’ll be plenty of time for kids to participate in the parade before visiting the Easter Bunny.) A short introductory address will be made by a local public figure, possibly one of our Council persons or Mayor Leni Sitnick. And then, well …

On this day, it’s hoped that revelry and responsibility will frolic arm in arm, as folks enjoy themselves while considering their nobler roles as stewards of this planet. Note that all entertainers are donating their time and talents for the cause — even the city of Asheville has waived most or all of the permits and fees that normally apply. (Sound equipment will be provided by the Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall.)

It’s a family-friendly event, as festival Music Director James Cassara is quick to point out. A separate kids’ tent will offer enviro-flavored activities for the pint-sized. (After all, if this is not a day for future planet stewards, what use is it?)

A few lines from the performers’ contract are sufficient to indicate that this is far from a humorless event: “A good time is guaranteed for all,” it reads … “If anyone refuses to enjoy themselves, word shall be leaked to the press that said musician was last seen pouring oil contaminants into the stream behind their home! … No biting off the heads of live bats will be permitted!”

Dance, theater by EarthStage Productions and poetry performances will offer additional delicacies. And Cassara adds mysteriously: “There’ll be a surprise finale. A really surprising surprise!”

Come. See.

Scheduled jammers include Mal Jones, a folksy musician’s musician who’ll step up to mic solo for this occasion (he’ll later be joined by the talented Laura Blackley Band).

After a speakers’ interlude, Jimmy Landry (the founder of both The Jimmy Landry Band and ISG Records, which nurtures local singer/songwriters) takes the stage.

Another self-named outfit — the Tyler Ramsey Trio — is next. This is billed as a jazz group — but if you hate labels, check it out for yourself.

Performance poet Glenis Redmond — a powerful, nationally known talent who calls Asheville home — should provide a memorable interlude. The author of the performance-poem Mama’s Magic (now on video) lives her art every day: “I am a poet,” she says. “I teach it. I breathe it. I love it.”

Well-liked solo musicians Leigh Hilger, Josh Lamkin, David LaMotte and Michael Farr are also scheduled to play. And the rumors are flyin’ that multimedia specialist — and self-touted “supreme generic” — Bob Seven might also show up, tooting his interdimensional healing horn (a.k.a the Bob-O-Phone and the sewer flute). Bob is a green man, no doubt about it, and his appearance (scheduled or otherwise) cannot be ruled out.

Storytelling troupe Thrice Told Tales is poised to round out the day, offering tales of wit and wisdom tailored to environmental themes.

At 6 p.m., Earth Day events will (officially) end. Those who’ve worked so hard to inform and to facilitate the renewal of our planet will pack up their agendas, and the entertainers will go home. The real work goes on, though — and this writer, at least, hopes that if we all sing loud enough and long enough, our voices will be heard.

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