Christy Lynn Barrett and Ryan Schilling have been performing music together for seven years, and their sound has grown and evolved through several incarnations. The most recent is the Christy Lynn Band: “Influenced by the stories of folk music, the deep sorrow of the blues and the free feeling of country and Americana,” according to the group’s bio. The duo — based in Asheville since 2016, after relocating from San Diego — recently played the inaugural installment of the Asheville Opry at the Masonic Temple. On Sunday, Sept. 2, the Christy Lynn Band will take the stage as one of the many musical acts performing at the Living Asheville Arts Festival on Lexington Avenue.
As the festival approached, Barrett and Schilling added a third member to the band — fiddle player Kenan Hopkins — and at press time were in the process of recruiting a rhythm section. The lack of a full-time percussionist sometimes leaves guitarist Schilling stuck performing double-duty on the drums. “We used to sort-of split the drum kit,” says Barrett. “Ryan would play half, and I’d play the snare standing up.”
They don’t attempt that anymore. These days Barrett focuses on vocals, and if the duo can’t find a drummer for a few sets, Schilling makes a pretty good one-man-band. “Some gigs he’ll have a foot drum and foot tambourine and snare, and then guitar and harmonica, all going at once,” says Barrett, laughing. “He’ll probably be playing the foot-drum at LAAF.”
Barrett says LAAF will be Christy Lynn Band’s biggest Asheville show to date. And that act will likely not be the only one to improvise. Though LAAF in its current iteration has only been happening for a couple of years, its predecessor — the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival — also provided a platform for local artists pushing boundaries of sound and form, trying new configurations or experimenting with sonic mashups and surprising collaborations.
Like LAAFF, the similarly named LAAF spans several blocks of Lexington Avenue and highlights homegrown arts, entertainment, eats and drinks. A fashion show, hosted by Sky People Tattoo, will send creative apparel down the runway starting at 6 p.m. The festival will also feature interactive art areas, street performers, local food and beer vendors.
And, setting the tone — or the tune — for the day, 20 musical acts will perform on four stages.
The festival comes at a good time for Barrett and Schilling, who, with their new project, are working out their respective roles and writing all new songs. “We scrapped all our old material when we switched over to the Christy Lynn Band,” says Barrett. She says the duo’s new sound can best be described as Americana/folk-country.
Barrett says that she, Shilling and Hopkins have compiled enough new material for a solid set at LAAF. “We try to do mostly originals, but we do have some folk songs in there,” she says.
And if fans like what they hear, “Our actual, real album is coming out in the spring of next year,” Barrett says, “but we will have the demo for sale at LAAF.”
WHAT: Living Asheville Arts Festival, facebook.com/lexfest
WHERE: Lexington Avenue
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 2., noon-9:30 p.m. Free