Conscious party: Country music for a cause

UPBEAT HOEDOWN: Drummer and music educator Justin Watt is part of the backing band that will play at an upcoming fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Additional local artists, including the event’s music curator Peggy Ratusz, will sit in with the group for a few tunes each, covering country-western icons. "He'll be keeping the hoedown beats down for all of us," Ratusz says. Photo by Frank Zipperer

WHAT: A benefit concert and dance for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

WHERE: Blue Ghost Brewing Co., of Fletcher

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 11, from 3-7 p.m.

WHY: Haw Creek resident Annie Garic participated in her first cycling fundraiser for multiple sclerosis in 2009 and by the next year had launched her own benefit event. She’s since raised $9,932 to combat the disease.

“Every year, we have a theme,” she says of the annual gathering. “Last year it was the ’60s, and this year we have country-western. So, people come in costume and have a great time.”

Longtime local singer Peggy Ratusz, who’s well-versed in the art of twang, will perform at the party. “She always puts on a good show, and she’s done many, many charitable events, especially connected to MS,” Garic says. Ratusz also recruited the rest of the lineup, which includes local musicians like Sidney Barnes, Jesse Barry, Dave Desmelik, Michael Carver, Shalene Hill and many others. They’ll be backed by a country-western band as they take turns covering a host of legendary artists, from Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton to Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn.

Preceding the live music will be a brief swing dancing class led by Esella Thompson. That begins right when doors open, leaving the rest of the evening open for practicing new moves. Off the dance floor, guests can purchase food from Circle B Ranch BBQ or get a photo taken on decorative bales of hay. Raffle tickets will also be available for a dollar each, with prizes including an astrological reading, animal acupuncture session, massage therapy, greeting card pack and more.

Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for teens and $5 for children under the age of 12. All admission and raffle ticket sales plus a portion of food and beverage sales benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Visit for more information. 


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.