The gospel according to Michelle Shocked

“My approach to music has always been about the live experience,” Michelle Shocked asserted in a recent interview. She’s on the road in support of her new release, the gospel-inspired Deep Natural (Mighty Sound, 2002). “I went to church for the singing,” she says, “but stayed for the message.” The gospel, any kind of gospel, […]

The frontiers of form

Ceramic work doesn’t have to be a bowl or a mug to serve a purpose. Consider the landscape-inspired wall treatments of ceramic artist Don Penny, a retired art teacher from Hahira, Ga., who smudges the boundary between the aesthetic and the functional. “Some of my work serves as markers or signs, though I’m not quite […]

Pioneering faith

“We believe ultimately everyone will be ‘saved’ — everyone will come to the same conclusion.” — Hare Krishna teacher Prithu Das Maybe it’s the energy vortex that’s rumored to hover above downtown Asheville’s Flat Iron Building. Maybe it’s the odd intersection of three mountain ranges. Whatever the reason, pilgrims of every stripe are cropping up […]

Grabbing a slice of post-Stevie Nicks pie

“Bohemian enraptured, tribal-styled, hippie-embellished,” reads the current issue of Elle magazine. And no, it’s not an article about Asheville. But it might as well be, because the season’s hottest trends reflect what this mountain town has known all along: Laid-back is where it’s at. “What about those hipster cowgirl skirts and Victorian tops that the […]

From Bojangles to the ball

Miss Piggy, not the average childhood hero, made an admirable attempt at a career as a starlet, actress and ballerina. Luckily, she had the Muppet gig to fall back on. But even though she never danced with Baryshnikov, she paved the way for future puppets to tie on toe shoes and take to the stage. […]

Urban legends

One recent, early-autumn day, I talked a friend into walking the Urban Trail with me. It was Saturday, sunny — a good day to be downtown people-watching while getting a little exercise in the bargain. Of course, I’d been aware of the Urban Trail for many years — its seemingly random, sweetly idiosyncratic sculptures and […]

Stage[d] right

(Lights up on audience. Doc Kelley sits in metal folding chair being used as director’s chair, shuffling papers. Reporter enters stage right, carrying picnic basket, blanket and black notebook.) Anyone who’s ever been to a play at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater knows the drill: just pack a picnic, grab a blanket and find a place […]

Out on a limb

Sam Edwards is many things: eternal child, up-and-coming pop-culture icon, architectural innovator, writer. That last item, though, is what he wants to be known for. Edwards is the author of From Outhouse to White House to Treehouse (Parris Press, 1999), a memoir that includes his misadventures working for Jimmy Carter’s re-election and John Glenn’s presidential […]

Jovial ghosts

A century ago, the Chautauqua — a sort of high-brow Lollapalooza — was a not-to-be-missed event. These open-air, education-and-entertainment extravaganzas once rolled from town to town throughout the country, setting up tents for as much as a week in any given city (though, even during their heyday, Asheville enjoyed only one such event — and […]

Picture this

Of all days to visit the Asheville Art Museum, I choose field-trip day. Winding my way through a wobbly line of third graders, I head into the museum’s inner depths in search of its current exhibit, Making Pictures: Contemporary American Photography. But by the time I reach the museum’s third floor, the kids’ real-life merriment […]

Between the pages

Who would Anne Frank be now, if she’d lived? In the opening lines of her essay “Who Owns Anne Frank?”, published in The New Yorker, distinguished fiction writer Cynthia Ozick toys with that tempting question. Had she lived, posits Ozick, Frank would have been a brilliant writer, a household name — perhaps one of the […]

On high

In the midst of Asheville’s ongoing cultural transformation, the city has gained its own opera company. This winter, The Asheville Lyric Opera staged La Boheme, its first production of the millennium, as a joint effort with the Asheville Symphony. La Boheme — the most celebrated opera ever performed — was a magnificent piece of the […]

In search of a fetish

I’m looking for a fetish, as any postmodern hipster should. Let me clarify: This is no run-of-the-mill panty fetish I’m talking about. That very concept rings cliche in this niche of oddity. In fact, a fetish of the overtly sexual nature is hardly of interest. I can’t check my e-mail without one of those sneaky […]