In reference to the poorly written “Culture Watch” piece by Steve Shanafelt in the Aug. 1 issue, I would argue that you could watch Asheville’s culture go right down the tubes if Mountain Xpress doesn’t wake up and realize who’s influencing the world around them.
Jenny Greer has been an inspiration to countless Ashevilleans, and Woody Wood is downright prolific. To imply that the only reason either of them has made it to the national spotlight is because CMT is an “increasingly talent-hungry cable network” is an insult to these fine musicians, who—in the face of sheer apathy—forged through near pay-to-play conditions in a scene that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these two individuals.
If the Xpress would like to remain a friend of the local musicians, the staff would be well advised to not insult our ambassadors of culture as the writers attempt to further their own agenda instead of advancing the very culture this organ piggybacks. Perhaps the “increasingly print-hungry” population of WNC would be better served by a Creative Loafing. I’m sure they would at least pay musicians when they ask them to perform for them (the Xpress booth at Bele Chere gave selected musicians a mere $5 to get their tip jar “started”). At the rate we’re headed, the only culture we’ll be able to watch will be out-of-town acts about which some other organ has been complimentary. I thought local matters, Xpress. Shame on you.
— Dallas Taylor
Booth coordinator Brad Balser responds: Was the Mountain Xpress Bele Chere booth music a win-win-win for the public, the musicians and the Xpress? Arguably, yes. Did one party “win” more? Hard to know and not our intention. I chose only local bands because the Xpress is about helping local people succeed; the musicians had little-to-no transportation costs, no production costs, permit fees or advertising costs. I chose start-up bands because they need the exposure the most, and the event was a great resumé builder. It was a busking gig, therefore the burden of earning their $ fell upon them; our contribution was to facilitate tipping.