Culture watch

Big News In Ukulele Land

Local hokum/novelty act Mad Tea Party recently announced that bassist Lora Pendleton will be leaving the band. Pendleton joined the ukulele-powered group following the release of MTP’s second album, 73% Post-Consumer Novelty, and recorded two albums with them, 2005’s Flying Saucers and the soon-to-be-released Big Top, Soda Pop. According to a statement released by the band, Pendleton had grown weary of the group’s increasingly hectic touring schedule (her departure is reportedly a friendly one). Pendleton will continue performing with MTP through the release of Big Top, Soda Pop in late September. Replacing Pendleton is local singer/songwriter (and former Malcolm Holcombe collaborator) Valorie Miller. Interestingly, Miller was the group’s first bassist, performing with founders Ami Worthen and Jason Krekel in the years prior to their 2002 debut release Be In Life. In recent years the band has had increasing success at the national level, rocking both hipster-filled night clubs and family-friendly festivals. MTP also recently announced the addition of manager Dolph Ramseur, the marketing mastermind behind the Avett Brothers. Learn more at

Casting For Credibility

After a successful book release, a UK tour and endless DIY promotion, it appears that Asheville-based witches Lady Passion (Dixie Deerman) and •Diuvei (former Xpress reporter Steve Rasmussen) are finally becoming internationally noted authorities. The pair were recently interviewed for the upcoming book Crystals in the Bible Belt, a study of alternative spirituality in the American South by researcher Helen A. Berger and Prof. Linda Woodhead. The couple have been highly vocal about international issues relating to their beliefs, leading to a plethora of local media coverage about topics ranging from religious freedom to marijuana-legalization advocacy. This visibility hasn’t exactly hurt sales of their Goodly Spellbook, released last year by Sterling Publishing (a division of Barnes & Noble).

Rutherford Co. & The ATL

As if you hadn’t heard enough about her already, Asheville-based filmmaker, writer and photographer Lis Anna recently announced the inclusion of her short film Rutherford County in the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, which takes place in late August. The film — a fish-out-of-water tale about three drug runners on their way from Miami to New York who find themselves stuck in rural WNC — was awarded a Second Place Award for Best Dramatic Short at the Tupelo Film Festival earlier this year. Anna is currently in post-production on her most recent short film, The Interview. Her company, Out Of The Way Productions, just announced plans to release an animated film later this year. For more information, visit


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