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Old 06-08-2005, 10:16 AM
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Lightbulb FYI: Summer Festivals in Asheville


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 8, 2005) — Longtime master fiddler of the Stoney Creek Boys Arvil Freeman first put his bow to the fiddle more than 50 years ago in the mountains of North Carolina.

Freeman, currently a member of the house band for what is considered the “granddaddy” of folk music festivals in the country, the Mountain Dance & Folk Festival (MDFF), continues to share the tradition of rich Southern Appalachian music by teaching youngsters to play the fiddle.

“Old-time music is pure and simple, but you gotta show ‘em how to play,” he says. “If you don’t, when you’re dead, it’s gone.”

While continuously performing at venues in and around Asheville, he passes along his legacy to a new generation of talented artists influencing Asheville’s reputation as a hotbed of musical talent.

“Clearly, Asheville has always been a focal point for old-time mountain music, and later bluegrass,” says Lesley Groetsch of Asheville’s newest nightlife venue, The Orange Peel, which has provided the stage for established musicians like Bob Dylan, Ziggy Marley and local favorites such as Sons of Ralph and the Steep Canyon Rangers to play in an intimate club atmosphere.

As a result, throughout the summer months, the traditional pluck of fiddles and mandolins preserved by founding father of MDFF Bascom Lamar Lunsford, complement the origins of old-time music and Appalachian dance, while modern guitar riffs and bass lines reverberate throughout town in the forms of southern rock, folk, punk, Newgrass, Afropop, jazz, blues, even swing.

“Musicians from across the country are moving here, along with artists, poets and others who feel the creative pull coming from the mountains,” says local artist and musician Wil Cumberland. “Outside sources are now starting to savor the taste of Asheville's eclectic musical potluck.”

Some hotspots to sample some of the region’s best home-grown talents include:

Shindig on the Green: Beginning at sundown on select Saturdays, July – September, the sounds of bluegrass fill the air as informal gatherings of traditional mountain music performers and newcomers converge at City/ County Plaza. Additional information: (828) 258-6101, ext. 1789.

Bele Chere: Billed as the Southeast’s largest free outdoor street festival, more than 100 musical acts take the stage throughout downtown Asheville July 29-31, including mandolin picker Sam Bush, the Derek Trucks Band, blues guitarist Col. Bruce Hampton and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Dozens of additional acts range from the funk rhythms of Bonerama to the soulful sounds of Susan Tedeschi. Additional information: (828) 259-5800.

77th Annual Mountain Dance & Folk Festival: The stage at the Diana Wortham Theatre transforms into a big front porch gathering as generations of musicians play authentic mountain music, Aug. 4-6. The Stoney Creek Boys serve as house band, but the real show is the small informal clusters of banjo players, fiddlers, guitar pickers and dulcimer strummers who jam nearby, waiting to be called up to the main stage to share their love and talent for traditional Appalachian folk music. Tickets may be purchased by calling (828) 257-4530.

Ether Music Festival: August 4 though 7, Theremin enthusiasts from around the world are invited The Orange Peel for three days of interactive workshops, speakers and stellar performances by Pamelia Kurstin, Lydia Kavina, Barbara Buchholz, Armen Ra and Barbez. Workshop topics will include theremin technique, how to build and customize a theremin, historical perspectives from Bob Moog, and more. Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the Moog Music factory where the theremin and other legendary Moog products are made, such as the Minimoog Voyager.

Downtown After Five: From 5 to 9 p.m., the third Friday of each month from June through September features live music in Pack Square. The July 15th event offers a dose of hard-rocking Southern-roots music with Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, while the August 19th performance will begin with local favorite Kellin Watson, who brings a healthy dose of jazzy folk-rock to the line-up. Additional Information: (828) 251-9973.

For a more intimate piece of the action, other interactive ways of playing along include embarking on a series of week-long workshops in four distinct musical traditions at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College. July 4-10, Dulcimer and Swing Week are held simultaneously, followed by Celtic Week, July 11-17. Old-time Music and Dance Week targets the roots of America's indigenous music July 18-24, while Contemporary Folk Week, July 25-31, draws acoustic performers from many parts of the nation. Outstanding musicians from around the country teach the courses. Additional information: (828) 298-3434.

With Asheville now attracting high profile musicians, the rich, traditional musical legacy, which began with sweet sounds of the dulcimer and the five-string banjo are being fused with modern sounds at places like Emerald Lounge, Jack of the Wood, Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall, Barley’s, Tressa’s or Stella Blue, among many others.

Details on Asheville’s music scene and summertime festivals, as well as information on accommodations and other items of interest to visitors, may be obtained by calling (800) 280-0005, or visiting Asheville’s official tourism Web site at
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