The Grander Roar

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to 265 Charlotte Street this past Friday night. I knew a little bit about the building, a little bit about the event, and an even littler bit about the hosting organization. I blushingly admit I was skeptical about the “Diamond Ball.”  I was coming in as an outsider to a soirée thrown by a very reputable league, sponsored by a patriarchal business that has perhaps the strongest back bone in Asheville, even surviving the Great Depression.  The Junior League of Asheville was founded in 1925, and Wick and Greene Jewelers in 1926.  The two have been leaders in the community, often rubbing elbows, and taking charitable journeys together ever since.  I knew I was entering a world of great successes Friday night, but also a world of strong community presences that reach back decades.  Truth be told, I was nervous.  However, I’m always looking for a reason to discover…and to wear a pretty dress, of course, so I went.

The writer in me took in the atmosphere first: the smells, the sounds, the ambiance.  I got the warm fuzzies immediately.  My high heel shoes clicked delightfully against the hardwoods that I knew had experienced history itself traipsing all over them.  I could tell already that this was a building that knew things.  The Manor Inn served as an upscale resort in the early twentieth century during Asheville’s wellness heyday.  Naturally, dwarfed in size by the nearby Grove Park Inn, this building had much to prove…which it did.  Architects from across the country added bits of flavor to the structure that ultimately took on a tudoresque and colonial revivalist feel.  Surrounding cottages followed suit, and so did Asheville.  Buildings all over downtown would idolize such architectural tastes and make for a beautiful “lost generation” stomping ground. 

I felt like I opened the front door to this magical place Friday night and became whisked right into that roaring era that no one can seem to forget.  I was surrounded by newsboy hats, flapper’s dresses, sequined headbands, and vibrant bow ties.  I could hear big band music in the back, but with a fiddle player touting a specific style that reminded me I was in The South indeed. A genuinely-dressed flapper carried the sought after single-carat, 15,000 dollar diamond around for all to admire (donated to be raffled by Wick and Greene Jewelers).  It took about fourteen seconds for me to realize these women could throw a par-tay.

I’m a huge advocate of the idea of “work hard and play hard”.  I think people who give such large amounts of their lives and energies to charity and voluntarism should know how to have a ball, and do so with the community who supports them.  I just wasn’t sold yet.  I wanted to know how I would be received in this prestigious group, and I wanted to get to know these women on a more personal level.  I was by no means trying to hold them under a microscope, yet human nature left me slightly guilty of doing so.

I set out to meet Keri Wilson, the Asheville chapter’s president.  I thought I would have to ask around and seek her out.  I pictured her to be surrounded by important people, finding it difficult to get away.  However, I would soon find out that the bubbly brunette who ushered me in with a smile not even an Oscar winner could fake would turn out to be her.  I’d never gotten such a warm greeting.  She was eager to welcome me in personally, as well as the askasheville organization.  She directed me where to find food and beverages, without forgetting to give Wick and Greene jewelers a chorus of praise for all they’d done. She was the first representation of the Junior League I’d ever encountered and the impression was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to meet more of these women.

junior league asheville diamond ball

 A group of J.L. members with the diamond courtesy of Wick and Greene Jewelers (Keri Wilson, president on far left)

After mingling a bit I came across J.L. member, Melissa Kledis.  This charismatic woman had a huge energy about her that lured me in quickly.  After talking for a few minutes I learned that this Edward Jones advisor, school volunteer, wife, and mother of three was one of the co-chairs of the event.  I had trouble imagining how such an incredibly busy woman had so much stamina left in her, but I realized after talking with her it was because she believed in every single thing she did.  In that ten to fifteen minutes we talked, she spoke passionately about her job, her children, her wonderful husband, the terrific family she had married into (who introduced her to the league), and the tremendous opportunities to serve her community she would not have had without the Junior League.  This woman’s busy schedule truly was her reward, and I could see her wearing it as plainly as the feathers in her hair.  This woman felt empowered by her efforts, but was focused most on empowering others.

melissak  Melissa Kledis and her husband.

By the end of the night I sat thinking in a beautiful wing-backed chair by the door.  I could feel the air conditioning getting fresh with my leg from the antiquated vent beneath me.  I noted the air conditioner had a certain smell, like the one in the house I grew up in, which was coincidentally was built circa 1920.  I felt so at ease now, with the skepticism erased, and a sense of community embracing me.  I’d had a magical night escaping to my favorite era, but the bigger roar came from within the passions of the incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting.  The Junior League’s Mission Statement reads, ” “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”  I found it to be more than accurate.

I will gladly support The Junior League of Asheville in any way I can.  Their current missions have focused on helping those falling below the poverty line, which in today’s economy is far too many.  Most days it is people in need that these women care about becoming important to.  They have been working closely with the Homeward Bound project to put an end to homelessness in the Asheville area.  They have also been cooperating with the ABCCM and Children First organizations.  When the community supports the Junior League at fundraisers like the Diamond Ball they are really supporting the faces they see everyday, and making far-reaching contributions to those who need it most.  These are the fruits of the grander roar these women create every day.

For more information on the Junior League of Asheville, please visit











Confusion, Contagions, and Captivation

I was irritated Friday night.  I hadn’t been feeling the best, had just blown a detox I vowed to finish, and didn’t feel like going out.  However, I’d promised a good musician friend of mine I’d come see his band play at Wild Wing.  Really, I’d been wanting to go hear him again so I could sing his praises from the rooftops.  He’s quite talented, and Asheville will never stop seeing him celebrated in writing as far as I’m concerned.  However, this is not about him, but about the band that was setting up when I got there.

I’d called ahead to make sure I’d get a table nice and close to the stage.  I brought my husband and a couple friends along, ordered my rum and diet coke (as if the diet would somehow off-set the amount of damage I was about to do).  I started scanning the room for my friend, but didn’t see him.  Instead I spotted a guitar player I didn’t recognize suiting up on a stage I felt didn’t belong to him.  I had a bad feeling, and decided to inquire. 

I marched all 5 feet of myself up to the stage, knowing full well what an obnoxiously sassy mood I was in and asked, “Umm– where’s Justin Burrell?”

“Who?”  He countered in a tone so nice I was forced to reexamine mine.

“I’m a writer and I’m supposed to see my friend’s band tonight.”

“Oh, well, we’re the band Contagious.  I know Justin, and this is normally his spot, but the schedule got changed.  It’s my birthday.  I’m sorry.  Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

I smiled and exchanged some sort of pleasantries, secretly livid my plan was suddenly changed.  I’m a bit “type A” and I could feel the anger sharks swimming…I started praying it wouldn’t be a screamer band who thought they were legitimate rock ‘n roll.  I didn’t realize until later how judgmental I was quickly becoming.

I went back to my table, deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The lead singer walked out.  I liked the way he was dressed, noticing immediately his resemblance to Chris Daughtry.  However this guy was sporting a snap hat, and a little less stockiness than the Daughtry.  He looked the part, but I needed to check the pipes.

The man I had first accosted and learned is Chad Robinson started to run his hands across the strings while I’m secretly begging from the inside for him to make that guitar speak to me.  I noticed immediately how his face changed when he began to play, and he wasn’t gonna just smack at it.  This instrument was about to become his wife, and he knew how to play her.  I recognized the tune, and he was doing it justice.

Contagious began their rendition of The Black Crows, Hard to Handle.  The music was good, and it was time for the vocalist to make his mark.  He came in powerfully, and I noticed my head start to move a little bit.  I couldn’t wait for the chorus.  It would be the tell-all.  If he could bring the grit, maybe even growl a little bit in true Chris Robinson (not to be confused with Chad) fashion I’d be sold.  Then here it came…

“hey little thing let me light your candle, ’cause mama I’m sure hard to handle now, yes I am.”

I literally had to wipe the dirt off of me.  Marc Stump had made a believer out of me, and left me scoffing at myself for being so put off earlier.  Like he sang in the first line of the song, he’d proven to be “the man on the scene.”

Contagious went on to play covers from the last few decades, enticing everyone from baby boozers to baby boomers to hit the dance floor.  I may have even obliged myself at one point…

I learned a couple things this past Friday night.  First of all, I shouldn’t make snap judgments no matter how inconvenienced I feel, and second of all, it’s Wild Wing in Asheville.  They know what they’re doing.  There will always be a great band, playing great covers and originals alike, ready to get people off their seats.  That’s probably why when I look around I see different ages, different backgrounds, and different styles mingling together.  They are dancing on the same floor to the same beat, blonde hair or blue hair, and it’s what Asheville is all about.

I got my feel of rock n’ roll, dancing, and good time with good friends.  Thank you, Contagious.  It turns out, you made my night, and a whole lot of others too.  You represent our fine city the way it’s meant to be: a little old, a little new, and of course, with a little bit of dirt on it.

To learn more about contagious visit


And…here we are 🙂




Posted by:  Lorna Hollifield




Vibrant Asheville Business Socials Thrive

vibrant asheville business playing darts

When it comes to an independent business networking event in the WNC area, Vibrant Asheville Business has quickly taken the huge lead in the community. Alan Rosenthal decided he wanted more than what others offered, so he started building this network from scratch. You do not need to be a member or get “the mark of the beast'” to come and get festive. A simple RSVP will do. This is an open networking meeting focusing on inclusion, relationship building and support. If you have not met Alan, he is a private investigator and helps folks find out what they want to know about pretty much anyone or anything. His job is connecting people with accurate and documented information. He is also heavily involved locally with several great organizations including the Chabad House, the Asheville Jewish Business Association and many others. Alan is a Catalyst!

vibrant asheville business packs tavern

Alan noticed that with all of the online networking, people were missing that face to face, that personal contact that many yearned for. Now he brings a great group of friends and business associates together once a month to meet others and celebrate connections. So what is this meeting like? It is an open networking group that meets at Pack’s Tavern to talk, eat and/or drink. Some just come for the people, others for a beer or cocktails, and some come hungry. There may be a few minutes of announcements, but it is much more of a social club than a formal business meeting.

vibrant asheville business askasheville

At the Vibrant Asheville Business meeting last night, Alan had a few former employees of the Asheville Citizen Times come by to share who they are and what they do; giving others the opportunity to meet them and share potential opportunities with them. AskAsheville attended with several people from our team including Gary Jr who does graphic design and images, and Joe who is one of our social media managers. We talked to about 40 people, initiated some great relations, ate, drank and played darts too! Good times all around. Thank you Alan for putting this group together, and to the great staff at Pack’s for the service, smiles and venue.

You can find Vibrant Asheville Business on LinkedIn, Facebook and Meetup.


Join the Asheville Community Content Team

We are putting together a Community Content Team for the new AskAsheville website and blog that we are launching in a few weeks. A team of 10 is already in place, but we are looking for more people who would like to contribute and share information about a variety of topics. Sections of the new site include News, Women, Beer, Food, Wine, Hotels, Photos, Videos, Business, Events, Music, Entertainment, Neighboring Towns and much more. We are interested in getting a great diversity of contributors that will share Asheville from their “point of view” on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

You may be a Writer or Blogger in the WNC area that would like to post a weekly story to AskAsheville. Maybe you are a Photographer or Videographer in the community that wants to share a photo or some videos each week with a quick description on the blog. You may be a marketer and have a few clients or business connections that you would like to write about on a monthly basis. Or maybe you just like to go out and eat, drink, tour, dance, shop and have a good time; and you want to start documenting the experiences, making them count more, and building a portfolio of your work. You post it… and we distribute it online through our social media audiences which reach so many focused on the Asheville area.

Team meetings (online & offline) and full support will be offered including educational opportunities for you to teach your area of expertise, and learn from other teammates. We are implementing a mentorship and internship program as well, so if there is an area of media that you would like to learn more about or improve on; we can help you with training. We can also assist you with credit and a certificate for the work you complete. This could mean extra-credit for you in College and this will give you more credibility to potential employers and clients.

Building a community takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of you, some of me, some of all of us. Can you write 200 words per month or per week about something that pertains to Asheville NC? Can you provide one featured photo per week or month with 25 word description? Can you draw a weekly or monthly cartoon? Maybe you want to do an Asheville Short Story series? We’ve got your back! We will feature you on our new website, link to you, promote you and your content, and the whole team will support you. We invite you to apply to be on our Asheville Community Content Team.

Contact AskAsheville

1st Annual Yarn & Fiber Crawl in Asheville

Friends & Fiberworks, a local business located in the Biltmore Square Mall, is sponsoring the first annual Asheville Yarn & Fiber Crawl May 14th – 15th.

What is a Yarn/Fiber Crawl ?

A Yarn/Fiber crawl is a fun way to acquaint all fiber enthusiasts and artists with regional independent retailers and the companies that supply and distribute the yarns and accessories they carry.  This is done by creating a self guided itinerary for the exploration of participating stores.  The stores participate by creating  special promotions, excitement and interest in various fiber mediums.  Participating companies share in underwriting the event and contribute full sized samples of their marvelous products which are included in the raffle baskets that are on display at every store along the crawl.  There is one raffle basket for every store.  Everyone is eligible to enter the Raffle.  There is never a charge to go on a crawl, and you go on your own time frame and at your own speed.  Every participant  on a yarn crawl is entitled to one FREE RAFFLE ticket from each store they visit.

Destinations included on the Yarn & Fiber Crawl itinerary are:

  • Friends & Fiberworks – Biltmore Square Mall, Asheville
  • Asheville NC Homecrafts – Asheville
  • Earth Guild – Downtown Asheville
  • Purl’s Yarn Emporium – Downtown Asheville
  • Yarn Paradise – Biltmore Village – Asheville
  • The Goldeski Farm – Asheville
  • Yarn Nook – Candler
  • Black Mountain Yarn Shop – Black Mountain
  • Nice Threads Fiber/Gallery Studio – Back Mountain
  • Charlotte’s Fibers – Brevard
  • North Woods Fiber & Farm – Inman, SC
  • Orr Farm

Support your local Western North Carolina fiber crafts community and stores by participating in this fun event! More information, itineraries, and maps of participating locations are at

About Friends & Fiberworks

Friends & Fiberworks is a local Asheville business headquartered in the Biltmore Square Mall. They are a community yarn shoppe and learning center, and offer classes on everything from weaving, spinning, dying, knitting, crochet, and more. They have over 2,000 sq ft of yarn, fiber, and crafting supplies. If you enjoy fiber arts but don’t have time to take a class, come on down and sit in a comfortable chair and participate in one of the many ‘sit and knit’ nights they have throughout the month. If you are having a problem with a project, or just have a question to ask, one of the friendly staff will be sure to assist you. Looking for a yarn, set of needles, or something else that they don’t have? Ask, and they will gladly order it for you, and let you know when your order has arrived!

Grab your knitting needles, spinning wheel, weaving loom, or craft of your choice and head on down to check out Friends & Fiberworks at the Biltmore Square Mall!