Buzzworm news briefs

Helping those who help the mentally ill

While people who suffer from severe mental illness can often obtain treatment through public or private programs, their families may have little or no help in facing the ripple effects of disease. To help fill that gap, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill offers a free, 12-part course for family members. NAMI Western Carolina, an affiliate of the national organization, will offer the course on consecutive Thursdays beginning Aug. 4.

Developed by a clinical psychologist with an ill family member, NAMI Family-to-Family has been presented to more than 80,000 people in 44 states. Course topics include: family responses; coping skills; problem solving; communication skills; brain biology; medications and their side effects; schizophrenia; major depression; bipolar subtypes; panic disorder; obsessive compulsive disorder; co-occurring brain and addictive disorders; rehabilitation; advocacy; and fighting stigma.

Class size is limited, and early preregistration is required.

For more information, phone 275-1267 or 645-0218.

— Cecil Bothwell

Race to the top

Local cyclists are gearing down for this summer’s biggest race weekend — the Hometrust Bank French Broad Cycling Classic. The three-day race will be hosted by the Asheville Bicycle Racing Club. The four events which comprise the Classic –The Cane Creek Time Trial, two Hearn’s Road Races and Liberty Bicycle’s Criterium — will be staged July 22-24.

Friday’s Time Trial route is in Marshall, a 20K out-and-back run along what locals call “our only flat road.” Would-be participants in this event take note: you have only until late tonight, July 20, to register online. More than 250 racers are expected to participate and start times will be posted on the event Web site on Thursday, July 21. Cane Creek Cycling Components is this year’s time -trial sponsor and trials will be conducted from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s road events will cover an 18-mile loop on a new road-race course in the Fruitland/Edneyville area of Henderson County. The start/finish is located at the Justice Academy on Highway 64 in Edneyville. The afternoon race will add a 2.5-mile uphill leg so the Pro 1/2, Category 3, Women 1-3 and Masters 35+ Categories 1, 2, 3 will finish atop Gilliam Mountain. Registration, at the Justice Academy, opens at 7 a.m. and closes 30 minutes prior to race time.

On Sunday, the series will run on a new criterium course adjacent to Biltmore Park. Liberty Bicycles is presenting this year’s “crit,” a race in which cyclists cover as much distance as possible in a set amount of time. Registration, at the Biltmore Park Corporate Technology Park, opens at 7 a.m. and closes 30 minutes prior to race. Races are run by category and heats are scheduled throughout the day, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

For online registration and more information, visit

— Cecil Bothwell

Wouldn’t you like to know?

A small package brimming with fascinating tidbits, The Old North State Fact Book offers a miniature Carolina world to trivia lovers, newcomers to the state and natives alike.

The just-released 90-page book, published by the N.C. Office of Archives and History, explains, for example, that the state we live in was once part of what Britain’s King Charles I dubbed “Carolana” in 1629 (it ran from our Albemarle Sound south to the St. Johns River in what’s now Florida). Present-day North Carolina wasn’t carved out of that larger province until 1710 — which led to the state’s nickname, the Old North State (also the title, by the way, of the official state song).

The book also reminds us that April 12, 1776 (which appears on the state flag) is the date of the Halifax Resolves, when the Old North State officially declared its independence from the British government and authorized its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to vote for independence — which they did on July 4.

Then there’s the synopsis of the state’s early history, from province to chartered territory with eight “lords proprietors” (1663) to royal colony (1729) to self-declared independent state (1776). Turning its attention to historic structures, the Fact Book gives the lowdown on the state’s assorted capitals, capitols, state houses and executive mansion (the latter tale should be particularly amusing to observers of the legislative process). There’s even a list of official designations: the state bird (cardinal), mammal (grey squirrel), shell (Scotch bonnet), rock (granite, the “noble rock”), etc. Surry County, it turns out, has the largest open-faced granite quarry in the world (visible even to globe-circling astronauts), producing more than 2 million feet of Mount Airy White each year.

Locals may be especially proud to learn that the state dog (the Plott hound) is the only known canine breed to originate here — and it came from Western North Carolina. And general readers may be a bit awed to learn that North Carolina has produced some of the largest emeralds (the state’s official precious stone) in the world. For years, the record holder was a 1,438 carat stone; that was outdone in 1985 by the discovery of a 1,686 carat rough emerald (which, in turn, was topped by a 1,861.9 carat specimen in 2003).

One way or another, this little gem is clamoring to find a spot on your bookshelf.

The book can be ordered by phone (919-733-7442), online ( or by writing to: Office of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-4622. For a free catalog of historical publications, call (919) 733-7442 or send an e-mail request (

— Nelda Holder

Playing musical owners

“I reached the point where it was time to go all in or get out,” says Jeff Whitworth, one of the new proprietors of the Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall. With five years of working at the Asheville listening room under his belt, Whitworth decided a little self-promotion was in order, and so, along with business partner Brian Landrum, promoted himself to club owner.

After 10 years of running the club, former owner Tyler Richardson is moving on to the greener pastures of Missouri, where his wife will attend grad school. Richardson’s business partner, Martin Kasum, is also leaving the bar scene for higher education. And, after relocating the Grey Eagle from its original location in Black Mountain (the Watershed now stands in its place), neither Richardson nor Kasum wanted to uproot the club again, so they started looking for a local music lover to take over operations.

Enter Whitworth and Landrum. Both are well entrenched in the Asheville music scene (Landrum created Six Foot Seven Studios and formed the Neil Young-flavored Americana group Black Eyed Dog). In fact, the two musicians met when they both joined Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers.

“We started getting our ducks in a row last November,” Whitworth explains. He and Landrum both enrolled in a business course through the Mountain Microenterprise Fund to make sure they had the basics down. Next week, it’s official: The Grey Eagle reopens its doors (not that those doors were ever really closed, as evidenced by the club’s continually packed events calendar) under new ownership and with a couple updates and surprises.

What’s new? A decidedly indie-rock sound. “We feel that niche hasn’t been met in Asheville,” Whitworth says. “And Brian and I both like that kind of music, so we want to book what we listen to.” Look forward to offbeat acts like the rockabilly Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash and Irish-Jewish folk-punkers Josh Lederman y Los Diablos — not to mention recent performer Mark Kozelkel of the Red House Painters.

“But we’ll definitely still cater to the singer-songwriter crowd,” Whitworth promises. As if to prove the point, the Grey Eagle’s grand reopening is headlined by Shawn Mullins.

The Atlanta-based songwriter used to frequent the Grey Eagle back in its Black Mountain days – back before Mullins was nominated for a Grammy and started playing arenas. “He used to stay with Tyler,” Whitworth recalls. “The Grey Eagle contributed to [Mullins’] success.” Now the musician is going back to his roots, playing smaller venues, so when his agent called the Eagle looking for a July date, he seemed like the right person to play the reopening.

And here’s the surprise: That show, which also features R.B. Morris and Tyler Ramsey, is free.

“We’re trying to draw the people who’ve heard of the Grey Eagle but haven’t been here yet,” Whitworth says. He also urges that folks pick up their tickets in advance (at the club or at Harvest Records, In Your Ear Music, Orbit DVD or Sounds Familiar); some things have changed, but there’s still only room for 610 music fans.

The Grey Eagle is located at 185 Clingman Ave. The Tuesday, July 26 Grand Reopening show starts at 7 p.m. For more information, call 232-5800.

— Alli Marshall


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