This weekend on a shoestring

Thursday, July 18

• “The practice of chanting a mantra is considered one of the easiest forms of meditation. Sanskrit mantras are sacred formulas that can be used for very specific purposes: spiritual development, the healing of diseases and for the attainment of worldly desires,” according to a page from the Asheville Yoga Center. Learn more during a free mantra meditation class with Timothy Burgin featuring “the techniques of japa (mantra repetition), how to use a mala (yogic rosary) and the benefits of several common mantras.” 211 S. Liberty St. 6 p.m.

• ”Toy Soldiers – a lively and hard-working band formed in 2007 by frontman Ron Gallo — started out as a duo, fluctuated between a cast of upwards of 12 players, then eventually settled into a solid five-piece …” begins the band’s bio. “The group … spent most of 2012 playing hundreds of shows up and down the East Coast and in its hometown of Philadelphia, tearing through dive bars, festival stages and even theaters with its soulful brand of rock ‘n’ roll music. … 2013 will see the beginning of a new chapter, with the fall release of its second full length, The Maybe Boys. The album was recorded with producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) and bridges the gap between all of the band’s previous efforts, combining its earnest and eclectic songwriting style with the explosive energy of the live show. Named one of the “Top Bands to Watch in 2013” by USA Today, Toy Soldiers has no intention of slowing its roll as the group moves ahead into the year, continuing to spread the music and inevitable good times.” Toy Soldiers plays Emerald Lounge with Sean Rowe and Andrew Combs. 112 N. Lexington Ave. 9 p.m. $7. 

• From the band’s website, “Octopus Jones is … currently based out of Raleigh, N.C. Together, the members make music they like to call ‘spank-wave boogie.’ The band’s sound has been described as surf rock, psychedelic, new wave, post punk, art rock and avant-indie. In April 2011, Octopus Jones released its first EP titled Treat Yourself. It has toured extensively throughout America. Details of its upcoming debut LP are to be announced shortly. In the meantime, Treat Yourself.” The band heads west for a show at The LAB, 39 N. Lexington Ave. Doc Aquatic and Total War open. 9:30 p.m. $5.


Friday, July 19

• “Come chill with the most sizzling BBQ competition teams in the Southeast and the hottest bluegrass in the nation,” invites a website for the second annual Spruce Pine BBQ Championship and Bluegrass Festival in downtown Spruce Pine. “The event features a sanctioned professional BBQ competition, live bluegrass, award-winning, mouth watering BBQ from multiple vendors, a jamming stage, a cornhole tournament, championship clogging teams, artists and crafts vendors, BBQ equipment and supplies, local food, the Spruce Pine Skedaddle 5K and Fun Run, a kids play area and much, much more!” Fri., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.. $5/children 12 and under free.

• Black Mountain Center the ArtsBrown Bag Jazz and Poetry series continues with a performance by pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens and poet Tina Barr. 225 W. State St., Black Mountain. Noon. Free; donations welcome.

• “Although best remembered for its dramatic scenes, Shakespeare’s weighty tale of love, friendship, the nature of mercy and the nature of racism is actually a comedy,” explains The Montford Park Players’ website of The Merchant of Venice. “It also features some of Shakespeare’s best-known idioms, some of his most beautiful monologues and one of his strongest female characters, Portia. Is Shylock a villain or is his vengeance just? What exactly is the quality of mercy? And is all that glisters really gold? Come find out in our presentation of one of Shakespeare’s most important and controversial plays.” Performed at Hazel Robinson Ampitheatre, 100 Gay St. 7:30 p.m. Free; donations appreciated.

Saturday, July 20

• This year’s Tour de France wraps up on Sunday, and while that one’s a bit too far to catch the action in person, WNC will play host to a USA Cycling-sanctioned race of its own, the French Broad Cycling Classic. Catch the action as the race winds in and around Asheville, Fri.-Sun. Free to observe. See website for course map.
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• ”Full Moon Farm is an organization dedicated to the well being of the wolfdog (wolf hybrid),” reads the organization’s website. “Situated on 17 beautiful mountain acres in Black Mountain, N.C., we operate as a federally recognized not-for-profit organization for abused and refused wolfdogs who find themselves in need of love, shelter and care through no fault of their own.” This weekend, Full Moon opens its doors to the pubic with its monthly “Howl-In” open house. 3 p.m. Free. Dinner available for $5. See website for directions.

• From a Clubland feature in this week’s Xpress, “The Critters have taken some time away from performing since their last show in May, but the band just finished recording eight songs for an upcoming album — tentatively scheduled for release at the end of the year. Now, thankfully, Asheville’s favorite/weirdest/wildest purveyors of psych-pop madness ‘are breaking [their] summer hiatus’ for a show at The Grey Eagle on Saturday, which, the band tells Xpress, will be its last for several months.” Estrangers and Common Visions also perform. 9 p.m. $7.


• Local Led Zeppelin tribute Custard Pie is calling it quits after years of bringing timeless classics to life, but local fans will have a final chance to catch the band when Custard Pie celebrates its swan song at Highland Brewing Company. 12 Old Charlotte Highway. 9 p.m. $10 in advance.



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