We live in the technological age where everything is cutting edge and fast paced.  Everything we do seems to be a part of some virtual quilt, with squares made of software, chips, and other small metal things I don’t understand.  Sometimes I long for a purity, a breath in of a simpler time.  I want to go to a place that still smells like the sweat on a farmers brow, or fresh dust from a hand saw.  I want to be part of nature…kind of.  Who am I kidding?  I’m a generation X-er.  Where can I get just a small taste?

My husband actually found that place for me in one his best romantic gestures yet…a horse and carriage ride through downtown Asheville.  I was in awe when I saw the quaint carriage pull up beside me, led by the beautiful horse, Gypsy Gold.  They’d just put the Christmas lights out downtown, and the air was just crisp enough to be comfortably cozy.  I could hear the faint heartbeat of the drum circle in the distance, but was more romanticized by the sax player on the corner cranking out his bluesy rendition of “Winter Wonderland.”

When the horseman helped me on board, my husband handed me a rose and wrapped me in a blanket.  I felt like Cinderella being swept away for a romantic evening, and could feel the other women on the street looking my way.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. 

As we took off, I took note of the antiquated clip-clop of Gypsy’s shoes against the pavement.  This only grew more charming when he pranced over the cobblestone on Wall Street.  I could smell his horsey musk, but not too much, and could hear the gentle creaking of the wooden carriage.  However, the mixed aromas of Asheville restaurants permeating into the evening air reminded me I was still in our artsy civilization.  I was viewing these 19th and early 20th century buildings from the transportation they were first seen from, getting a taste of what once was.  However, I noted the modern hustle and bustle they were now pregnant with…oh what a yummy juxtaposition our Asheville is.

The three quarters of an hour spent on the horse was perfect.  It was cozy, romantic, historical, and yet the perfect ambassador of modern-day Asheville.  It’s a must-see attraction for locals and tourists alike.  Sometimes experiencing old and new together is the best way to do it.  This tour is  a home-run, and reflective of the adorable horse’s name.  This tour is simply gold…nice, slow, easy, gold.

On the Carriage!

On the Carriage!



For more information on this tour 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