Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May Day Festival Coming to Biltmore Village

Historically May Day has marked the end of the winter season by celebrating the coming of Spring and Summer. It’s good-bye to cold, windy days and welcome to those wonderful warm, flowerful summer days. In the early 1900s, May Day was a community celebration of hope and joy, and, was popularly celebrated.

This year, Biltmore Village is re-establishing May Day as a special commemoration for everyone to enjoy.

The festivities will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday, May 2 with music and dancing around the May Pole in the Village Plaza. May Pole Dancers will circle the pole each holding colored ribbons attached to the pole and then retrace their steps to unravel the ribbons.

That will be followed at 12:00 by two bluegrass bands playing until 4:30 pm. First on the schedule is the Moore Brothers, featuring 11 year old Jacob and his 6 year old brother Isaac. Next will be the Southern Crescent Bluegrass band playing in their traditional bluegrass style. Bluegrass music has been specifically chosen because of its happy foot-stomping rhythms, and its origin in the hills of Appalachia.

During the afternoon, local a cappella singing groups will perform as they stroll through the Village. And back by popular demand, there’ll be carriage rides providing the feel of yesteryear.

Everyone who attends is urged to bring canned food items for a special May Day basket which will be donated to MANNA Food Bank.

Restoring the May Day celebration was inspired by a 1906 photo of a May Pole dance occurring at the Biltmore Village plaza and recounts of a 1905 New York Times article that brought to light a colorful May Day celebration in Historic Biltmore Village.

“The Village has a hundred plus year history of being one of Asheville’s focal points. Celebrating the transition from Winter to Spring and Summer seemed like a great way to continue that,” said Stan Collins, president of the Merchants Association.

Biltmore Village is conveniently located across the street from the Doubletree Biltmore and Sleep Inn Biltmore Hotels. If you're coming in from out of town you can find reservations here.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asheville ranked the #2 small city arts and crafts destination!

AmericanStyle Readers Name Asheville One of Nation’s Top Arts Destinations

Baltimore, Md. (April 17, 2009) — Exciting, reliable, budget-friendly locales captured readers’ hearts and votes as cities nationwide vied for top ranking in AmericanStyle magazine’s 12th annual Top 25 Arts Destinations poll.

For the second year, Asheville, N.C., with a storied crafts legacy dating to the turn of the century, held the No. 2 spot among small cities. Santa Fe, N.M., received top honors in the category, while Sedona, Ariz., placed third.

Once again, the winners’ list features a mix of traditional destinations and emerging arts scenes where galleries contribute to community revitalization.

“Remember the vital roles played by artists during the last recession,” said Wendy Rosen, publisher of AmericanStyle. “They moved in to dying Main Streets, shuttered factories and warehouse districts, and converted them into galleries and art scenes. Their murals, outdoor sculpture and other public art enchanted tourists and helped spark new investment. Artists led the way then, and they are leading the way now: Just look at what young artists have done to bring tourism to Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and how artists have made Asheville, N.C., a must-visit destination off the beaten path.”

“Tough economic times also make consumers conscious of where their products come from,” Ms. Rosen added. “Art lovers know they can make a positive impact by buying from local galleries and local artists, so their dollars recycle in the community and support homegrown talent. We all know that art and handcraft galleries are among the few remaining places where you can find authentic, made-in-America gifts and art products.”

With so large a selection of arts cities to choose from, readers will be itching to hit the road. Luxury travelers will not be able to resist destinations boasting premier museums, galleries and festivals, while “staycationers” will be pleased to find great art cities within driving distance.

AmericanStyle Top Arts Destinations in 2009

Small Cities (Populations of less than 100,000)

1. Santa Fe, N.M.
2. Asheville, N.C.
3. Sedona, Ariz.
4. Taos, N.M.
5. Saugatuck, Mich.
6. Key West, Fla.
7. Berkeley Springs, W.V.
8. Boulder, Colo.
9. Carmel, Calif.
10. Corning, N.Y.

Complete lists of all 25 winning cities in each category, plus tips for affordable travel and information about exciting arts destinations in the United States are featured on and in the June issue of AmericanStyle, now on newsstands and at major booksellers across the country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jazz Master Kenny Barron comes to Asheville


This Sunday, April 26, at 7:00 PM, you have an opportunity to watch the performance of one of the leading jazz musicians on the planet. Kenny Barron will be playing a solo piano concert at the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville.

Come see the artist that Stan Getz claimed was "the other half of my heart." Barron's career included a stint with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie in which Barron declared, "From Dizzy...I gained a real appreciation for be-bop and Latin Music." Honors, awards and winning international jazz polls are commonplace for Kenny. His latest honor was receiving the Bank of New York Mellon Jazz 2008 Living Legacy Award at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Presented by the NC Jazz Society, this show will definitely be a crowd pleaser. There is a pre-concert reception from 6:15-7:00 in which audience members are invited to sample the American Italian cuisine of Frankie Bones Restaurant. Asheville vocalist Sharon LaMotte and pianist Bill Gerhardt will be performing during this reception. While there is no charge for the pre-concert event, donations of case or food for Manna Food Bank will be appreciated. 100% of proceeds will go to Manna. Beverages will also be available at a cash bar operated by Frankie Bones.

Special hotel packages are available through Biltmore Farms Hotels.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

HATCHfest comes to Asheville for its East Coast Debut

Next week ushers in a new event for Asheville. It’s called HATCHfest and it will run from April 15 – 19th. This event originated in Bozeman, Montana and for the first time it has moved east to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.

So what is HATCHfest? It’s a festival that provides mentorship to young artists in the fields of film, music, photography, architecture, fashion, journalism, design & technology. It’s designed to connect the young innovators of tomorrow with the veterans of the arts communities.

With special events planned all over Asheville there are many opportunities to take part in this festival. HATCHfest Asheville's panels, workshops and educational presentations during the day are free and open to the public. Tickets to screenings, opening receptions and some other evening events and performances may have a minimal ticket cost.

The Mountain Express has a list of the mentors being featured at the festival. For more information please visit the HATCHfest website. If you’re traveling from out of town please be sure to stay at one of these fine hotels. Look for me at the festival. See you there!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Blue Ridge Roller Girls kick off their new season in Asheville

The Blue Ridge Rollergirls had their season opening roller derby match against the Savannah Derby Devils this past weekend. The event took place at the Asheville Civic Center with an always interesting mix of Ashevillians.  The all female team took to the flat track with one thing in mind, "to get down and derby". The team is comprised with many colorful characters, including Sugar Magmaulya, Jane Gretzky and Caslamity Jane. Team Blue Ridge outskated their rivals to win 180 - 87. 

Proceeds from the ticket sales went to support Loving Food Resources, an organization that provides basic needs to people living with HIV/AIDS through food. Performances at the event included the barber shop quartet, Shakedown; the lively band, Shake it like a Caveman; as well as music from GFE's Cricket.

The next bout is scheduled for Saturday May 30th, starting at 7PM at the Asheville Civic Center. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. If you're traveling to Asheville during that time you should check out the fun. Rooms are available at one of these great hotels.