Sure, Bele Chere is about to turn a venerable 26 — but if you think that means this year’s festival is going to be the same old same old, you better reboot that ol’ gray matter. Here’s the shortlist of some of the new takes on old favorites — and outright firsts — you’ll find at downtown Asheville’s three-day bacchanalia (July 23-25).
First off, there are nine (that’s right, nine) headlining acts instead of the usual five — meaning it’ll be nigh onto impossible not to find at least one band you’ll want to groove to. The acts include high-buzz jam bands Mofro, Stockholm Syndrome (featuring a member of the uber-popular Widespread Panic) and the Larry Keel Experience; pop/country hottie Sara Evans; rough-hewn country legend John Anderson; alt-country hipster Robert Earl Keen; comeback kings Big Head Todd & The Monsters and De La Soul; and gospel pinup Calvin Richardson.
This year’s Bele Chere T-shirts are definitely more attractive, especially for women — edging away from the shapeless beefy T in favor of the oh-so-current “baby doll” cap-sleeve style with a retro logo in the center. It’s available in nice, muted colors — sage, ivory, rose — rather than the usual garish, ugly primaries. There’s also a choice of fitted tank top or ringer T (a very smart-looking T-shirt with contrasting neck and cuff trim). But don’t worry, guys, you also get to choose: regular, ringer T or a Bill Blass button-down.
Then there’s “How I became a Citizen of Zinfomania — The Land of No Wimpy Wines,” a sort of nonsnooty, fantasy-styled winetasting presented by Ravenswood Wine. You, the visitor, will be invited to enter the gates to Zinfomania, where a guard will check your ID (to ensure that all citizens are at least 21 years of age, and that the spies from the enemy country of Chardinia are not attempting to smuggle in any of their wimpy wines). After that, you’ll be free to visit a number of different regions on your way to becoming a citizen. The final stop, in the capital city of Ravenswood, is where you take the “no wimpy wine” pledge and get sworn in as a certified Zinfomaniac.
Couples will get a chance to audition on-stage to be the next star couple in 3 Day Weekend, an original hit series produced by Turner South. No, this isn’t your usual bare-all/no-holds-barred reality show, but a more civilized version that follows a single couple as they explore a notable Southern town over the course of a midsummer weekend. During the audition, couples will be asked questions and filmed while an audience of curious voyeurs looks on — sort of a reality show in the flesh.
Helicopter rides — already popular at many state fairs — are making their debut at this year’s Bele Chere. Festivalgoers can hop on a chopper and take a short flight high above the fray, enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the largest outdoor party in the South.
If you’re not a kid or parent, you may not have heard of Bob the Builder, but apparently this Claymation television character is big (and I mean big) with the younger set. He’ll be flying into town for three special appearances on Bele Chere Saturday.
You thought you’d seen everything, but I bet you haven’t seen The Skyriders (an acrobatic trampoline troupe). These athletic performers execute sky-high somersaults on snow skis, wakeboards and even using Hula-Hoops.
And finally, local massage therapist Doug E. Rasmussen — taking aim at the world record — will attempt to give continuous chair massages throughout Bele Chere, hoping to rack up more than 52 hours of rubbing. Rasmussen will also be raising money for the Carolina Emergency Response Massage Team (CERMT), which aided recovery workers in New York City in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
For more information, call 259-5774 or visit www.belechere.com.
— Lisa Watters
Co-op curries flavor
If you’re in the mood for some authentic Indian curry — and want to help out Haywood Road Market, to boot — check out the Indian dinner and silent auction benefitting this community-owned grocery on Saturday, July 17, at West Asheville’s West End Bakery (757 Haywood Road).
The silent auction (6 p.m.) will include gift certificates from West Asheville businesses, massages, classes, art and pottery.
At the dinner (6:30 p.m.) folks can choose from seven authentic (and organic) vegetarian curries, each prepared by a different cook. These will be accompanied by red lentil dahl, cucumber raita and raisin chutney, plus a dessert to be named later.
The family-friendly event will also feature belly dancing, music and other fun activities. There’ll even be a beer-and-wine tasting to commemorate the recent addition of those items to the co-op’s offerings.
The cost of dinner is $10/adults, $5/children
For more information, call David Ramsey at 350-8749.
— Lisa Watters
Help for families of the mentally ill
NAMI Family-to-Family Education — a free, 12-session class for relatives and friends of people diagnosed with a severe mental illness — will be offered in Asheville from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on successive Thursdays, beginning Aug. 5.
Sponsored by NAMI Western Carolina, an affiliate of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the course provides up-to-date information about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, clinical depression, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Trained family members teach the course, which balances education and skills training with techniques for self-care, emotional support and empowerment. The curriculum, developed by a clinical psychologist with an ill family member, has been presented to more than 80,000 individuals in 44 states.
NAMI Family-to-Family Education’s extensive curriculum also covers:
• Coping skills, and handling crisis and relapses;
• Listening and communication techniques;
• Problem-solving, setting limits and rehabilitation;
• Understanding the experience of living with a mental illness;
• Medications and their side effects;
• Connecting to and receiving community services; and
• Advocacy, and fighting discrimination.
The registration deadline is July 20; class size is limited. For information, call 645-0218 or 275-1267.
— Tracy Rose
Community Day at Reid
Asheville Parks and Recreation and the W.C. Reid Center for Creative Arts will host Community Day 2004 on Saturday, July 17, 2-9 p.m. at the Reid Center (133 Livingston St.). The event will feature local youth choirs, hip-hop music and dance performances, African drumming, art exhibits, a magic show with the Great Houdini, a fish fry by the Elks Club, and health screening and information booths. The Progressive Project, a local nonprofit citizen-activist organization, will sponsor a voter-registration table.
A tree-dedication ceremony will honor the Major family, neighborhood residents who died in 2002. And the Junior League of Asheville will be on hand to make a special announcement and present a new grant to the Asheville Parks and Greenways Foundation, to help fund new programs and renovations at the center.
Throughout the day, Reid Center staff and volunteers will be available to provide information on the 2004-05 program lineup, which includes performing- and visual-art classes and productions. For more information, contact the Reid Center at 350-2048, or visit www.ashevilleparks.org.
— Cecil Bothwell
Discovering the great outdoors
Sometimes, the best lessons in life are learned outside of a classroom. The folks at the North Carolina Outward Bound School have long known that our region’s wilderness can serve as a campus that inspires individuals to discover and develop their true potential.
With that in mind, the Asheville Affiliates (a group of local professionals) will partner with the N.C. Outward Bound School to hold a fundraiser for the school’s Asheville scholarship fund. The fundraiser is aimed at providing an opportunity for young people in Asheville (who otherwise could not afford the tuition) a chance to experience the challenges and rewards of an Outward Bound adventure.
The Rock-n-Adventure event will take place on Thursday, July 15 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Grape Escape, in Pack Square’s Biltmore Building. In addition to good food and drink, highlights will include live music from The Goodies! — providing the rock part of the adventure— along with a raffle and silent auction for other kinds of goodies, such as a sea kayak, an Outward Bound course, rafting trips, massages and outdoor gear.
The event is open to everyone; admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more info or to make a reservation, call the N.C. Outward Bound School at 299-3366, ext. 122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Brian Sarzynski
Secrets of the open source
“Open source” software is beloved of computer geeks, since it’s an important alternative to proprietary operating systems and applications. Essentially, it exists because it can, taking its cues from the Linux operating system. Art for art’s sake, so to speak. And it’s free. Free is a key word here.
Red Hat, a hot technology company based in the Research Triangle, is the largest company providing support for open source software, and Red Hat Linux is the most widely used version of the open-source code. The company’s broad range of services include consulting for full-service Unix-to-Linux migration and custom software development, 24/7 enterprise support, and a global training program that operates in more than 90 locations worldwide and features RHCE, the global standard Linux certification.
For the rest of us, that simply means they are super geeks. (The geeks have a certain Hollywood cachet, though: The computers behind the animated hit movie Shrek were, in fact, Red Hat Linux servers, according to Red Hat’s Web site.)
Three top execs from Red Hat will be in Asheville on July 19 to offer a half-day seminar on open source entrepreneurship, sponsored by AdvantageWest, the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurship Council and KemperStrategy. The event, to be held at the Broadway Arts Building, will run from noon to 4 p.m. (lunch comes with the $20 admission charge).
— Cecil Bothwell