If the strains of carols wheezing from mall speakers have gone from tinkling to groaning, filling your ears with an Edgar Allan Poe brand of madness, you might beat a frosty path to Westgate Shopping Center this Friday for the “Christmas Community Convergence.”
The one-off event — with a recipe as complex as a fruitcake’s — promises to loosen, at least temporarily, the grip of seasonal affective disorder on show-goers. It will feature music served up by Asheville’s progressive funk unit Peace Jones, dark rockers Hank Jones’ Ghost, Chet Atkins-channeling guitarist Patrick Fitzsimons, as well as singer-songwriter Sage Sanson, the seasonally-named Christ Cates, poet Brian Sneeden and Indie newspaper founder Pasckie Pascua, who will also serve as the event’s master of ceremonies. Did someone say “eclectic”?
“My concept here is to let the community produce the show,” explains Pascua. “The sponsors have donated all the raffle and auction items. The bands are donating their time and playing for free. Some people have told me that we should charge a cover charge, but instead we’re asking for a $5 donation. And with that, people can eat — we’ll have a buffet — and have fun.”
Along with a dizzying list of local businesses and organizations, the fest is jointly sponsored by the aforementioned Indie and The Traveling Bonfires, the self-titled “Rock Journeys and Sublime Madnesses” nonprofit arts-and-culture organization founded by Pascua and based right here in our quaint mountain burg.
Conceived as a moveable musical feast dedicated to boosting the visibility of local talent and improving human understanding, The Traveling Bonfires is a concept Pascua first tried back in the 1980s in his homeland of the Philippines.
“Wherever I go, I adapt the Bonfires,” Pascua told Xpress reporter Alli Marshall in a 2005 interview. Bonfires, he added, is “a gathering of people. My peace is just that: If you have music, you don’t argue.”
When he moved to Asheville five years ago, Pascua became a firm supporter of the homegrown music scene, organizing the long-running Bonfires for Peace concert series that started at downtown Asheville’s Pritchard Park in 2004. That year, the organization brought 16 concerts to the park, featuring nearly 100 performers from places as far away as Texas and New York.
Pascua says the concert series has slowed somewhat recently due to the cost of events permits required by the city. This week, however, Bonfires will take the party inside (probably a good thing, given the season). Proceeds from the holiday event, which is produced by Marta Osborne, will benefit Third World Asheville, a women’s initiative that Pascua says “is linking up with third-world organizations, mainly in Asia.”
The Bonfires’ Pritchard Park series was in fact the musical broth that event headliner Peace Jones emerged from a few years ago. Fronted by Ghostbaby Records producer Paul DeCirce, the band is notable for its sly keyboard work, playful spoken words and a regular injection of flute, courtesy of DeCirce.
Hank Jones’ Ghost features “Wild” Bill Ramsey on guitar, bass and vocals by Mark Anderson and Chris Malz on drums. Guitarist Patrick Fitzsimons is known for his recent work with local bluesy singer-songwriter Eliza Lynn, but is a champion performer in his own right.
Best of all, the suggested $5 donation is easy on the purse in this, the tightest of seasons. Your dad might not get that bottle of Stetson cologne after all, but his brief disappointment will be more than worth it in the service of a good time, and a good cause.
The Christmas Community Convergence begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Center of Unlimited Possibilities in the Westgate Shopping Center. $5 suggested donation. Info: Call Marta Osborne at 505-0476, or e-mail Pascua at firstname.lastname@example.org.