The big free show this week is, of course, Bele Chere. So pick up your Xpress pocket guide or check out mountainx.com for extensive coverage. But, if you’re not heading to downtown Asheville’s biggest festival of the year, here’s what else is going on:
Thursday, July 22
• Author/speaker Elliott Eli Jackson makes an appearance at Malaprop’s (55 Haywood St., Asheville, 254-6734) to sign copies of his latest book From God to You: Absolute Truth. 3 p.m., free.
• The Park Rhythms free concert series continues at Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain with folk/acoustic trio AppalachiaSong performing. Food will be available from Rolling Stone Pizza Company. 7-9 p.m., info at 669-2052.
• According to press, “Nashville singer/songwriter Jerry Castle still believes that songwriting should be magical, not contrived. Don’t Even Ask, his sophomore release is a perfect manifestation of that theory. A whole lot of rock ‘n’ roll wrapped in a whole lot of country, Don’t Even Ask is born of a man in a whirlwind of huge life changes: a new father, a corporate career, freshly divorced, Jerry found himself reaching out for something solid to hold on to as he returned to his life-long passion of song-writing. The songs that began to pour out of him were layered with the same texture, grit and honest emotion as his life.” Castle holds a CD release party at the LAB (39 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, 252-0212). 9:30 p.m., $5.
Friday, July 23
• Local Southern rockers Velvet Truckstop recently dominated Downtown After Five; they perform at an after 5 of a different type this week: The Highland Brewing Company’s (12 Old Charlotte Hwy., Asheville, 299-3370) weekly open house. 5 p.m., free. The evening’s food vendor is Village Wayside.
• George Terry’s The Zealots are not your garden-variety religious fanatics. Actually, they’re alt-rockers. And they’ll open for Wayne Robbins & the Hellsayers at the LAB (39 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, 252-0212). Says Terry, “Both bands have new CDs with great original songs! It’ll be a great way to start the Bele Chere weekend in downtown Asheville.” 9:30 p.m., $5.
• L Shape Lot, from Wilmington, was described in this way: ““Their music is a laid-back mix of Americana, a loose blend of folk and bluegrass with rich harmonies. They’ve got a solid body of originals that moves from country sing-alongs and barroom stompers to narrative stories with great hooks. And best of all, they groove together like a band that’s been playing together for years.” They’ll be at the Town Pump (135 Cherry St., Black Mountain, 669-4808) around 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 24
• Not quite sure what hay sugar means — hay seems more allergy-making than sweet, in my opinion, but local country/swing group Hay Sugar is nothing to sneeze at. They play their self-described “rockin’ country bluegrass” at Westville Pub (777 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 225-9782). 10 p.m., $5.
• Drunken Prayer is the latest project of folk-noir, Asheville-to-Portland transplant Morgan Geer. Geer used to front 90s rock band The Merle. Since Geer is back in town on a month-long residency of reunions and new music, The Merle rides again, at Broadway’s (120 North Lexington Ave., Asheville, 285-0400) with local rockers You Dirty Rats. 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 25
• The David Dhoop Band has been steadily building a following with smart rock and stella musicians. Says the front man, “We are playing on the Sunday of Bele Chere at Hannah Flanagan’s (27 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, 252-1922) outdoor courtyard from 6-9 p.m. for free.” Can’t beat that!