Redefining normal

Joann Kelley didn’t give birth to a baby. Instead, her partner conceived a child through alternative fertilization — but that doesn’t make Kelley a mother, either. “What makes me a mother,” Kelley says in Gigi Kaeser and Peggy Gillespie’s book Love Makes a Family (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), “is baking muffins at 11 p.m. […]

Bigger than the Gold Rush

“It’s not a street festival with art, but an art festival that happens beyond the streets,” muses Dana Davis, director of operations for the Asheville Area Arts Council. She’s trying to explain the raison d’etre of the Urban Trail Arts Festival, a newly expanded event that aims to honor both Asheville’s history and its love […]

Hurts so good

If you believe their bios, singer/songwriters Evan Dando and Vic Chesnutt were born in different years to different mothers on opposite ends of the East Coast. One tasted stardom in his 20s, in the 1990s, fronting a successful post-punk alt-pop group, only to crash and burn — or burn out — by the end of […]

Crossing party lines

There are nearly as many listings for Martinez in the Asheville phonebook as there are for my own gringo surname, Marshall. Western North Carolina has experienced a nearly 400-percent increase in its Latino population since the 2000 census, confirms YMI Cultural Center Executive Director Rita Martin. And yet our local Fiesta Latina reports only marginal […]

They’ll be there

A dozen years ago, I was hanging out in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at a Ben and Jerry’s Fest — one of those hippie wet dreams with free ice cream and a day’s worth of live music. At one point, the smoke cleared enough to reveal a rowdy group of New Orleans horn players […]

Tastes great, less filling

Playwright, actor and Eastern North Carolina native Andy Corren opens his latest work — a patchwork of short stories and character sketches — with an a-cappella version of the traditional tune “Dixie” merged with Loverboy’s manic ’80s hit “Turn Me Loose.” Sounds disconcerting — but the bizarre medley accurately forecasts the mood of Corren’s semi-autobiographical […]

High-tech in two languages

After leaving a message containing all my pertinent contact info, I get a call back from Mountain Area Information Network Director Wally Bowen. He has one question: “Why do you use AOL?” I fumble through my lame explanation — it came with my computer, and I’ve been too lazy to switch Internet service providers. But […]

The way of compassion

“We come closer to the truth when we connect with what’s alive in people than when we just listen to what they think.” — NVC pioneer Marshall Rosenberg “Our survival as a species depends on our ability to recognize that our well-being and the well-being of others are, in fact, one and the same,” Marshall […]

Party politics

Some trends take awhile to catch on. “Goombay is spreading now, because diversity is cool and people are into culture,” comments YMI Cultural Center Executive Director Rita Martin. Citing fledgling versions of Asheville’s annual African/Caribbean-flavored festival in other areas — “There are smaller Goombays in Tennessee, festivals that are maybe just a block, like when […]

Not another Saturday night

“Two geniuses walk into a bar,” quips director Andrew Gall. It sounds like a joke, but it happens to be the premise of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the play Gall is currently directing for Highland Repertory Theatre. “We wanted to do something funny, yet something in our niche,” Gall explains. “Something contemporary, a little […]

Restless lullabies

“We’re not stuffy classical,” insists flutist Kate Steinbeck. And her point is well taken: Classical music, for all its sexy prodigies like Lara St. John, still invokes images of grimacing, black-clad men and women prodding somber tones from such inexplicable instruments as the oboe or bassoon. Steinbeck and her group, the Keowee Chamber Music Festival, […]

Journey of a lifetime

“We don’t need any more war.” — retired X-ray technician, social worker and missionary June Lamb “It’s a small world after all,” observes globetrotter June Lamb, adding, “Good people find each other.” Those words could be the septuagenarian’s motto. As a radiological researcher, social worker and missionary, she’s traveled through most of Asia and Europe […]

Good hair & great gossip

“Don’t even come in here!” the sleekly coiffed receptionist at Eclipse Salon & Boutique declared, recoiling in mock disdain when I told her what I was after. (Here’s a hint: It wasn’t an inch off the ends.) I wanted to talk about Steel Magnolias, the 1980s beauty-parlor play now coming to the Southern Appalachian Repertory […]

Esprit de Terpsicorp­s

Wearing only black-spandex shorts, Jon Upleger hoists Jennifer Cavanaugh aloft, where his fellow dancer spends a significant part of their performance. Cavanaugh, clad in a flesh-colored unitard decorated with leafy-green designs, writhes in a series of acrobatic twists to ambient, leafy-green music. The pas de deux climaxes with her elfin, flab-less body balanced on Upleger’s […]

The art of murder

“I’ve stayed away from the real story, because I didn’t want it to taint my view of the play,” admits Charles Mills, director of Haywood Arts Repertory Theatre’s production of Rope. A director who doesn’t want to know too much about the events that inspired his current project? Sounds strange. Then again, Rope is full […]


If director Charles Mills was worried that Rope wouldn’t pull in the usual HART patrons, his concern was unfounded. The Waynesville theater was pretty well-attended on opening night — by a mostly-senior crowd, too, which was obviously not put off that the curtains wouldn’t be rising on a musical comedy. The play opens on the […]

Not your grandma’s community center

“Every other place has the agenda to make money, but our agenda is community.” — Stephanie Finneran, ACRC “People walk in and think this is an art gallery,” says Matt Bell, who’s staffing the reading room at the Asheville Community Resource Center. Even as he speaks, two women venture curiously into the cavernous space, which […]

Celebratin­g silence

All of the retreats share one key commonality: silence. Silence is a universal language — the language of the spirit. And for 25 years, the Southern Dharma Retreat Center in Hot Springs has been offering people a place to converse with their own souls in that primal tongue. From the beginning, those visitors have spanned […]

Vinyl values in a digital world

“I was a psychedelic kid,” Daniel Lanois revealed in a recent phone interview. “I grew up listening to night radio.” As a grownup, Lanois is probably best known as the atmosphere architect of such Grammy-winning albums as U2’s Achtung Baby (Island, 1991), Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind (Columbia/Sony, 1997) and Emmylou Harris’ genre-shifting Wrecking […]

Human nature

John McKah’s “Full Moon” is all chilly solitude; the painting’s titular orb is pale and unassuming amid bare tree branches. But Jay Pfeil’s Oriental-influenced “Morning Magnolias” shows inky trees laden with delicate blossoms. This collection of outdoor scenes is as much a study of mood as it is of nature. “These artists are absolutely all […]