Every autumn, Western North Carolina locals do their civic duty and cast their votes for favorite businesses, services, foods, entertainers and more in 100-plus categories.
“It really tells us we have great support from our fans. It shows they think it’s important,” says Stephanie Morgan, vocalist for local pop outfit stephaniesid (voted best rock and indie/noise band for 2008). Such results, tabulated in Xpress’ annual Best of WNC issue, afford winners 12 months of bragging rights. But beyond coveted “best” status (or a plaque or banner) what else does such a prestigious appointment bring? Starting this year, “Best of WNC” comes with a little more than warm fuzzies. Namely, the Mountain Xpress Best of WNC Showcase, to be held at The Orange Peel this weekend.
“Anytime artists get together or communities get together, somebody gets inspired. It keeps the environment rich and the competition up a little bit,” Morgan notes. “It keeps you from resting on whatever you’ve accomplished.” Yet she’s quick to discount too much competitive spirit. “Cooperation is the way to go,” she says. “If you’re playing true music—the full expression of the band—there should be no competition. There is enough room in a music-lover’s heart for more than one band.”
The vocalist (who also masterminded POPAsheville, an annual indie-pop music and networking festival) spends enough time touring with her band to appreciate a local-only love fest.
“Homecoming is always really sweet,” she insists, as is “seeing familiar faces in the crowd.”
But even music fans—and, for that matter, food, theater and arts aficionados—who don’t log major road miles can still enjoy a down-home celebration. To that end, this open-to-the-community party will features talent culled from readers’ top picks.
The Trainwreks, (best country/alt-country band) and DJ Bowie (best DJ/turntablist) will take the stage. Food will be provided by Apollo Flame Bistro (best Greek), Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. (best pizza and kid-friendly), Doc Chey’s Noodle House (best take-out), Greenlife Grocery (best grocery), Jersey Mike’s Subs (best subshop and sandwiches), The Lobster Trap (best seafood), Mela Indian Restaurant (favorite restaurant and best Indian), Mamacita’s (best cheap lunch), Rosetta’s Kitchen (best late-night munchies), Tomato Cocina Latina (best Latin American), 12 Bones Smokehouse (best barbecue) and Wasabi (best sushi). Actor Tom Chalmers will perform an excerpt from David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries (best locally produced play), and r. brooke priddy (best local fashion designer) will produce a fashion show.
“Asheville is unique in that originality is a priority,” says Morgan. Proof is in this party. When it comes to music, the stephaniesid singer notes, “Even folks in cover bands are doing creative things with the covers they’re playing. Tourists come here to see something outside what they’d see [anywhere else].” And the same can be said for pretty much every form of local amusement.
For the Orange Peel show, stephaniesid has something special in the works. The band just completed recording an album at Collapseable Studios (the as-yet-unnamed disc is slated for release next spring), and, on the heels of its recent No Fan Left Behind Thank You Show, Morgan promises “something different to keep things interesting.”
Need further motivation? The first 200 people at the Best of WNC Showcase will receive a complimentary copy of the local music compilation CD Xpress released this year. And—even more than festivities and congratulations—the event benefits MANNA FoodBank (voted, it’s worth mentioning, best local do-gooder group).
who: Mountain Xpress Best of WNC Showcase
what: Winners of Xpress’ annual Best of WNC readers poll put on a community party and benefit for MANNA FoodBank
where: The Orange Peel
when: Sunday, Dec. 7. 6 p.m. ($13/advance, $15/doors. www.mountainx.com, www.theorangepeel.net or 225-5851).