Looking for some longform (or longer-form) reads to cozy up with over the weekend? Here’s a round-up of our leading feature stories from the last seven days. Happy reading!
Buncombe County primary voter guide 2016
By Able Allen, Hayley Benton and Virginia Daffron
It doesn’t just seem earlier: The 2016 primary is upon us before the dogwoods have even had a chance to flower. Traditionally, North Carolina has held its primaries in May, six months before the November election. But this has meant the state has had little influence on selecting the eventual presidential nominees, who’ve usually been more or less decided by March.
This year, however, N.C. will get its share of national attention on March 15, alongside delegate heavy hitters like Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. We’re the only one of those states that will assign its delegates proportionally according to vote totals rather than giving them all to the winner. And while this makes a win here less valuable, it gives each individual vote more weight, so competition will be fierce.
Meanwhile, amid the din of presidential battles, there are also heated local races on the primary ballot. The 2016 Mountain Xpress Primary Voter Guide asks local candidates who they are, where they stand on issues and how they would govern. (continue reading)
Local performance artist Joel Herring debuts solo project Nervous Dupre
By Corbie Hill
Even as a child, Joel Herring had a hard time falling asleep, so while the other kindergartners napped, he would lie awake at the elementary school in Newport, on the Carolina coast, singing the mid-80s hit, “That’s What Friends Are For.” It led to his first performance: At kindergarten graduation, he and his teacher sang a duet. Just a few years later, he got out of class to see his little brother Sam Herring — who currently fronts prominent Baltimore-via-eastern North Carolina synth-pop trio Future Islands — play the Big Bad Wolf. From an early age, the brothers were drawn to the stage.
“We’ve always kind of fed off of one another,” Joel says. “There’s probably a slightly competitive edge somewhere under there, but for the most part we’ve enjoyed being each other’s collaborators and audience members.” These days, Joel lives in Asheville, where he has performed in projects like Electronic Rap Machine and Plucky Walker.
The Herring brothers share the stage again on Sunday, March 13, at The Mothlight. There, Joel’s latest solo identity, Nervous Dupre, opens for Future Islands side project, The Snails. Three days later, Nervous Dupre plays locally again, this time at The Odditorium. Joel has toured in the past with Future Islands, both as the opening act and merch guy, but he’s anchored in Asheville. He’s been here since 1998, and the town has fostered the evolution of his intersection of hip-hop, drama and performance art. (continue reading)
Concert review: Aboard the Love Train with Ceelo Green
By Able Allen
He’s a lean, mean, rapping machine. He’s Ceelo Green, baby.
Of course, most of that is not even close to an apt description. He’s a shortish, overweight, bald guy, who sweats so much onstage that the DJ in his backup band is seemingly assigned to mop his glistening brow on stage several times a show. He makes it rain by scraping his fingers over his scalp and then flicking huge droplets across the stage. He’s got a big heart and it’s hard to imagine anyone more human. The rapping thing is on point, though. He is still quick and clever and can flow freestyle magic with the best of them. And yeah, he can really sing with soul.
He’s so damn beautiful when he gets on stage and sings about love. Green took the stage in a full leather track suit, which probably didn’t help with the sweating under bright stage lights. But he looked the part, and he’s a true professional. He is a spectacular performer to the marrow in his bones. He puts all of himself into the act. As he says, “I think Ceelo Green [his nom de guerre] is a means by which Thomas Calloway [his given name] can live vicariously.” But he doesn’t dwell on what characteristics belong to what name as he adds, “You know, I’ve made quite a success out of being myself.” (continue reading)
The winter breaks: How do offseason restaurant closures affect employees?
By Dan Hesse
Winter weather can slow down the pace of life and the number of tourists and locals eating out. Many Asheville-area restaurants take advantage of the sluggish part of the year to take a step back from the hustle and bustle and get some much-needed downtime. Others schedule deep cleaning, repairs and renovations so the store can be in top form when the weather warms and tourism thrives.
The length of these breaks varies from business to business, as do the ways owners deal with their staff during the time off.
12 Bones Smokehouse implements an extended, planned closure every year. Co-owner Bryan King says both 12 Bones restaurants keep hectic hours, and stepping away is necessary. “Both restaurants get hit hard in the tourist months,” he explains, and the break “is really a nice thank-you to the staff.”
King and co-owner Angela Koh annually close their Riverside Drive and Sweeten Creek Road locations for three weeks following New Year’s Eve. King knows hourly workers can’t survive without a paycheck for that long so he gives all hourly staff a seniority-based stipend and kicks in some extra money. “Everyone gets a bonus in addition to the paid time off, and it depends on performance, attendance and other factors,” he says. Managerial staff continues to draw salary during the winter break. (continue reading)
Beer Scout: Blue Ghost Brewing opens in Fletcher
By Jesse Farthing
When it comes to new breweries in the Asheville area, delayed openings are almost an expectation. Permit holdups, equipment malfunctions and slow construction are all constant hiccups on the road to opening day and that first pour.
Just don’t tell that to Erik Weber and Zach Horn, co-owners of Fletcher’s Blue Ghost Brewing Co. Blue Ghost was ahead of its admittedly vague target launch date of “spring 2016” when it hosted a grand opening celebration March 4-6.
“We couldn’t be more excited to share with everyone what our families have put so much work into,” Weber says. “It feels surreal to finally be at this stage.”
Weber and Horn followed through on their plans to make Blue Ghost a family- and pet-friendly neighborhood hangout. The brewery also has games for children and eventually will have a house-brewed root beer on tap. (continue reading)
Wicked Weed Brewing expands its sour program with a fourth production facility
By Scott Douglas
Wicked Weed Brewing is growing yet again. Now in its fourth year and with two major expansions already under its belt, the brewery is planning to add a newly acquired 57,000-square-foot production facility in Arden, not far from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Mills River brewery.
The new facility will house a 30-barrel brewhouse custom-made for the production of Wicked Weed’s award-winning sour beers as well as office space and a training campus for distributors, retailers and staff to take part in product education. The 17-acre property will also provide room for future events and further growth.
The Arden operation, projected to come online July 1, will be Wicked Weed’s fourth production space, following the original Biltmore Avenue brewpub, the Coxe Avenue Funkatorium and the company’s new Enka-Candler facility, which opened last year to increase production of the brewery’s clean beers. It also creates a third area for cellaring the brewery’s barrel-aged beers, allowing Wicked Weed to relocate many of its sours from the overcrowded Funkatorium barrel house.
Plans for the Funk House, as it is currently being called, have been in development for roughly a year, with the intention of allowing Wicked Weed’s brewing staff the necessary space to perform to their full potential. (continue reading)
Sweet Inspiration helps WNC patients turn their health around
By Sue Wasserman
Steve Hall never imagined a trip to the grocery store with his doctor would change his life. In fact, the Yancey County resident never imagined having the opportunity to be at the grocery store with Celo Health Center’s medical director, Liz Peverall, learning to read and understand food labels to better manage his health.
The shopping trip was part of Sweet Inspiration — Learn How to Turn Your Health Around, a unique program created by Possibilities of Wellbeing co-founders Geraldine Plato and Margot Rossi in collaboration with Peverall. The concept for the 10-week program was to combine the best of Eastern and Western medicine practices. The combination offers a new perspective on issues such as prediabetes, diabetes and obesity, and helps motivate CHC patients to manage their health through proven and easy-to-incorporate diet and lifestyle changes.
“Symptoms of illnesses such as diabetes can present themselves in a variety of ways,” says Plato, a certified integrative nutrition coach. “There’s no one-size-fits-all diet or approach. Participants hoped we would simply tell them what to eat every day. Rather than focusing on one standard, we believe it’s important to look at the whole person and understand that their age, stress level, food choices, sleep patterns, and social interactions, to name a few, all influence healthy outcomes.”
Possibilities of Wellbeing’s mission is to champion individual and community well-being through health education, lifestyle strategies and integrative medicine. The Eastern and Western functional and lifestyle medicine approach set the fall program apart from others in the area. (continue reading)
Making a difference in a child’s life with Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC
By Carl Detroia
In five years, I hope to be sitting front and center at a high school graduation. I am 70, so for me, this is both a goal and a prayer. But it won’t be my grandchild who’s getting a diploma that day.
I’ve been a “Big” with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for six years. During that time, my relationship with my “Little” has been rewarding and, at times, challenging. For the most part, I look forward to my time with him and find the few hours a month we share to be fun. As he matures, however, his needs change, and we’ve had a few teachable moments over the years.
More often than not, though, I listen rather than lecture. We’ve laughed together and played various games: chess, war ball, basketball, Chutes and Ladders. And now he wants to jump on a trampoline — him, not me.
After the first few years, however, he began to trust me enough that we could occasionally have a serious discussion about his behavior and well-being. Why? Not because I’m special: I’m not. I understand that I’m only a small part of my Little’s life, though I do care about him. But when he needed an adult, I was there for him, and I still am: I’m his Big.
My Little just turned 13: He’s made the honor roll, plays the drums and sings, runs cross-country and has now joined the Reynolds Middle School wrestling team. I asked him to write something about what the program means to him, and he was happy to help. Here’s what he came up with: (continue reading)