Ingredient “X”: 3,000 Souls

The sound is different…that’s what I noticed first. I could hear certain familiar influences, and probably picked up on those immediately because I’m Southern. “Steady as a train, sharp as a razor.” That’s what they said about Johnny Cash, and it was all I could think about. The heartbeat in the drum, the rhythmic striking of the guitar cords, a beat almost clock-like…but then something else. Maybe the ghost of Johnny Cash had come back to jam with Metallica? That wasn’t exactly it either…

Let me make one thing clear. It was good. I felt like I was eating a foreign dish, trying to pick out the ingredients one by one, before realizing it couldn’t be done. It couldn’t be done because whatever they were individually had metamorphisized into something else when they met, and that’s what I was eating up. Jessica Donahue, CEO and Producer of cutting edge record label, Release the Rain Records, felt much the same way the first time she heard 3,000 Souls play.

“My partner and I just looked at eachother and nodded. We said, ‘yeah’, this is it,” she shakes her head and raises her eyebrows clearly still in awe.

I couldn’t wait to find the recipe. I’m a writer…I break things down, look at the parts, and put them back together to figure out what makes the things that make people just feel alive. 3,000 Souls was not just the typical Christian rock band. I could hear edge and pain in the same breath as joy and redemption. Sometimes it’s the first mentioned that draws the connection; a part so often omitted.

The only ingredient I had was guitarist, David Lovingood. I met him sometime in 1986 at approximately 1 hour old. My first memories of him are family Sunday dinners when I knew he’d arrived when the the nose of his guitar case ushered him through the tiny storm door. I know it had to have been winter some of those times, but I remember the smell of summer and Mamaw’s unairconditioned house sweating the music out of it’s 70 year old bricks. I remember my father and Uncle David (as you may have deduced) playing Free Bird every week, and Uncle David making his fingers fly and slide to finish that famous lick, at which some point Dad would get tripped up. I remember hair bands being on television, late seventies rock seeping out of the instruments, and occasionally, just occasionally my grandfather who played the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, joining in before finding some reason to call the whole thing off. I had the Southern rock ingredient, but I wanted the others.

LLoyd Debarr. When I first met Lloyd I could smell rock n’ roll on him and had to fight the urge to check him for battle scars. This man had been places, and I knew it. I soon learned he’d come to North Carolina from the Seattle music scene, and had played with members from bands like Heart and Bad Company. He had stories…good, bad, and ugly. However, he’s a happy ending guy, and that was clear too. He’s the reason the music burns when breathed it in, but exhales smooth as honey. That’s who he is. He is unafraid of who he is, which is a place we can get to in life if we try…it happens. The better part though is he’s unafraid of who he was, which few people figure out how to do. He isn’t perfect, has probably been in every stereotypical rock-scene situation imaginable, but is jaded by nothing. His scars are healed, and that healing permeates the air in the best way. It doesn’t perfume the place up…it’s more like liking the smell of gasoline. It’s still raw as can be, just raw redemption. There’s an x-factor to it all, and Debarr says it’s simple, “big Jesus.”

The other half of the band is just as important as the first. Drummer, Collin Burgess is the youngest of the group. He has the face of a teenage hearthrob in spite of himself, but wears an authentic edginess to his hairstyle, and an unidentified expression on his face that lets me know somehow there’s an art about him…Then I no longer knew what to think after I watched him beat the drums to a bloody pulp on an unplanned musical ride he and the bass player, Brice Rowland went on with Lloyd. He treated the drums like he’d invented them, and it was impossible not to recognize a divine gift. Teenagers don’t play like that. He’s the only band member I didn’t get a chance to chat with, but I did see him responding to others with a quiet confidence, a politeness of sorts…I’d bet he chose the drums for a reason…they shout.

Brice Rowland plays bass, which I find interesting…The bass sets the tone, tempers harmonies, and drives the beat. It can be the constant of a song. When I met Rowland he seemed like the most unpretentious, easy-going guy I’d ever met. There was nothing strategized about him. None of his hairs seemed to have a home, and his outfit was earth tones of some sort. This is not to say he’s bland….just the opposite actually. He’s steady, natural, like the hum of a river. The river can rage or it can drift a little. It’s never completely stilled…and it’s a lifeline.

3,000 Souls is such a smogasborg of musical mastery. The band has it’s own alive, fresh yet gritty, human sound. It has all the emotions humans have mixed in, but with the redemption that can only be inhuman….something that sounds a little bit Seattle, a little bit Southern, a little bit like something brand new, and lot like an experience above all else…Something Inhuman none of these talented men brought, but was gifted to them. It isn’t the sound of a man, an era, a generation….it’s all of that and then some…the divine…that’s ingredient-x. That is 3,000 Souls.

3,000 Souls

3,000 Souls

“So then those who had received his word were baptized; and on that day there were added about 3,000 souls.” -Acts 2:41

The album comes out in September! For an autographed copy visit and order before release!

Meduri’s Top 10: The West Asheville Expert Spills the Beans!

west asheville real estate

The name Josh Meduri has become synonymous with West Asheville. Like the quirky little corner of West Asheville itself, Meduri is a man who appreciates the simple things in life. He’s a family man, a people person, and a small business owner. Also, though I’m not quite sure why it’s so important, I must add he sports a little bit of spunk in his hairstyle. It’s as though Elvis, Justin Timberlake, and Buddy Holly quarrled, and left the aftermath right on Meduri’s head… it’s his “it” quality that is only part of why he’s West Asheville’s favorite realtor. He’s often seen enjoying a cup of coffee at Waking Life on Haywood Rd. with his adorable red-headed infant, who’s quickly becoming the company mascot, bouncing on his knee. Now he’s going to let his secrets out (which I think have been hiding in his hair) and tell us the top ten reasons West Asheville is THE place to be.

10. The Food… First of all, about any restaurant in West Asheville is in walking distance from many of the residences, creating easily accessible food that isn’t just a quick service burger. Both Biscuithead and Sunny Point cafe have been seen in national magazines, and serve up the best breakfasts and brunches around. Josh also sings the praises of Nona Mia’s for a great lunch or dinner!

9. The Great Shops… Want a little something unique? Shop around West Asheville. There’s no fear of finding chain stores down the streets of this Indie brand powerhouse. Meduri’s fave? Tomkats! Go see for yourself!

8. The Beer… West Asheville is a great place to throw back a cold one! The U-Joint is right on the corner of Sand Hill and Haywood, just before Vermont Avenue. Could it get any better? They have one of the longest lists of Asheville’s famous craft beers in town!

7. The Coffee… Not in the mood for the hard stuff? Check out a great coffee venue! Waking Life is a great place for a quick cup in a tranquil setting. Try West End Bakery to satisfy your caffeine and sugar craving!

6. The Parks… There are 3 amazing family parks in the area, 6 if counting the elementary schools. West Asheville is a great place for the entire family to play whether its on the swings or the cornhole board! The Augusta L. Barnett playground just down from Waking Life is a great place to start!

5. The Sidewalks… Believe it or not, in this hilly, lush part of the country, sidewalked streets are rare. However, every inch of West Asheville is outlined by them. It is so walkable, making all of the great shops, restaurants, and gathering places easy to get to. Just take a little stroll… and bring Fido too! (Lots of pet-friendly spots)

4. The “Hip” Factor, it factor… I’ll just say it; West Asheville is cool. The shopping, restaurants, and scenic parks play huge roles, but also the friendliness to people and the environment. West Asheville is becoming more and more a sustainable community, with community gardens, and efforts around town to build green. The community cares about the health and well-being of those around them! They just happen have a little extra swag while doing it!

3. The Architecture… Asheville is famous for the arts & crafts style homes. West Asheville is the very root of the movement. The charming bungalows that decorate the tree-lined streets are some of the best preservations of this style in the Southeast. The houses often boast original hardwood floors and glass doorknobs, making the charms of yesteryear irresistible.

2. The Location… We hear it all the time in real estate: location, location, location!!! West Asheville simply has no contenders. It is a miniature downtown connected to the actual downtown. It has the accessibility of a city with the yards and warmth of a suburb. It is almost as centered in Buncombe County as downtown Asheville, with access to all the major highways and interstates. The school systems are top-notch as well! Geographically, there’s just nowhere better!

1. The People… Home is where the heart is. What makes a place home is the people there. West Asheville is like a family. People smile at other people here. They offer veggies from the garden, and help their kids set up lemonade stands. They pitch in for community events and have pride in the neighborhood. Above all, West Asheville residents are welcoming. They love people, fun, and friendship. They are the heartbeat in an area already offering so much! They are the life… and that part of West Asheville is the laughter of children playing and the squeaking of porch swings swaying. It’s alive.

Visit and schedule a chat with Josh Meduri. West Asheville’s favorite realtor would love to welcome you home!

Child’s Play

I was more nervous than I thought I’d be when Loura McRae, the owner of All God’s Children Child Enrichment Center, asked me to speak about my job to a group of children. First of all, there was the age range; 5-10 year olds. How was I supposed to get a 5 year old excited about writing when she can only spell a couple words? How was I supposed to convince a 10 year old at summer camp that writing is fun, and this isn’t like school?

I thought back to my beginnings…the age old question I’m always asked, “Lorna, when did you start writing?”

“Always,” I answer, “I wrote before I even knew how to hold a pen.”

I realized I wasn’t going to convince these kids of anything. My original plan was to go in and have them co-write a story with me. I’d start them off, and we’d all add events until we had a finished product. Then I stopped and thought…that is just a writing activity. Yes, I’d be asking them to use their imaginations, but on something I prompted. It was an assignment. That would never inspire them; it would have been a task with a beginning and end, and would never linger once I left the room. It would be about something I asked them to do instead of something they discovered on their own. I had a real shot to introduce these kids to expresssion, and had to be careful not to make a lesson of it.

I started by asking them their likes and dislikes…movies, books, video games, activities, and showed them how without writers who chase the things that run through their heads to write them down, we wouldn’t have any of it. I then asked them what they know about some place they’d never been…another city or country, and opened their eyes to how writing, voice, opinion, and personality connects us to the things we haven’t even experienced.

I let them know writing has no limits at all, and it isn’tabout a pen and paper or computer. It is about creating and experiencing, and making it so other people can too. It is communicating humanity. It’s art. Writers give legs to the lame, vision to the blind, and music to the deaf.

All I knew to do was share my passion with them, and that’s what I did. I started telling them about blogging about a hot air balloon ride on a magical morning, and how the words came when I simply imagined myself there again, letting the experience speak for me. They started telling me things they had seen and felt, and what they’d been reminded of in certain experiences. They were so excited, and they were writing to me already!

I then read them an unpublished manuscript of mine based on a fairy hunt I created to stop a friend’s daughter from crying after a bee sting. I explained how a fairy tale was born from just reflecting on something that really happened. I could see little light bulbs flashing on in their eyes…they were thinking up things like this of their own.

When I passed out journals I’d made for them, they couldn’t wait to fill them with the stories and ideas that were starting to generate. They loved that it was not to turn in and no one had to ever see it. The younger children were excited to learn they could even draw their stories, or simply tell them to anyone who’ll listen.

These kids were fired up when I left, and the warm reception I experienced at All God’s Children was definitely soup for my writer’s soul. It gave me a chance to remember the early days when I was writing just to get it out, because something was that exciting to me. That’s how it should always be. Writing isn’t sentences, grammar, or impressing people. It’s making connections with anything and everything outside the words that become the sweetest deliverence. Just connections…that’s it…child’s play.

The smiling faces at All God's Children with their journals!  They even let me photo-bomb :)

The smiling faces at All God’s Children with their journals! They even let me photo-bomb 🙂

Stay tuned for one of these children’s stories to be featured on this August!

Also contact Loura McRae at 828-515-0661 for more information on child care! She’s awesome!

A Mid-Spring Morning’s Dream

asheville hot air balloon basket I was nervous, and that couldn’t be denied. The thought of standing in a wicker basket while a man I’ve never met before shoots fire into a flammable object doesn’t tend to be on my repertoire of relaxation exercises. I’m also not terribly good at being out of control, which is pretty laughable at 4,000 feet above sea level. asheville hot air fire I was going to do it though, if for no other reason, than to check it off my bucket list. The small community of Candler, NC has always embraced the hot air balloons. If one landed in your yard, it was an honor. The colorful aircraft have been decorating the morning skies on weather-friendly days for twenty-some-odd years. As a child I would run outside to get a glimpse, and I knew I’d have to experience it one day, just to see what the ado was about. It went to the bucket list. That’s exactly what I thought it would be too, just a flight, like being in an outdoor plane…something to say I made it through and put a check beside. I went through the motions, signed the waivers, and talked to the pilots (who were more than experts, and extremely helpful by the way), before heading out to the launch site in a Candler resident’s front yard. At this point, I was anxious, and all business. hot air balloon avl As I climbed into the basket that sported smiley faces for footholds, I felt my heartbeat quicken. I told myself to breathe, this was just for the bucket list. It would be something I would make it through…and, maybe those first thirtish seconds were. Those were the seconds before I entered the dreamland. They were the seconds when the mind races the same way it does just before rapid eye movement sets in on a Tuesday midnight. All the things in the world there are to think about get thought about. All of the things to get nervous about, were gotten nervous about. I could see the ground getting further away, and could feel the intense heat from the primitive force that began removing the basket and its cargo from the Earth. I don’t remember noting the noise though…to me, all was silent as the balloon invaded the morning mist…when everything changed.   It wasn’t a breath-taking moment. Those can sometimes be described in a realistic way. I’ve seen “amazing” before. This was something different. To fully grasp it, it must be done, but I’ll do my very best. Think back…there’s that one fairytale unlike the others…that magical one that even in adulthood still makes us feel warm and fuzzy and think maybe mermaids do live in the ocean after all. For me, it’s Peter Pan. I’m convinced I may find Neverland yet, and almost did Saturday morning in that balloon. AskAsheville Hot Air Balloon First of all, the air was perfect. I could have been comfortable in a tank top or a sweater either one, and the blinding sunrise was somehow easily to fixate upon. It was such a curious setting, and nothing like flying in a plane. It was gentle, while daring; peaceful, while exhilarating. My senses seemed different, and I secretly wondered if this balloon was the new way to Narnia. The tops of the mountains I’d grown up in, with my summertime swimming holes visible from the air, somehow seemed more regal. They were reigning over this place, and presenting their freshly grown leaves with the cockiness of the poppies from Wizard of Oz. Maybe it was the time of day, the time of year, or the altitude, but the colors I saw aren’t available below 500 feet. hot air balloon mountains sky At one point I saw everyone looking to the left, and oohing and ahhing…one of the only things I remember actively hearing. It was a shadow of our vessel in a cloud, encircled by a rainbow halo, a phenomenon the pilot says happens almost every morning. With this on one side, and a half-misted Blue Ridge dawn on the other, I realized this wasn’t something to mark off on a bucket list, but to feel more alive about forever. Forget the fears. Though our pilot, Danny Smith, told me they had a perfect safety record pre-flight, I’d still been frightened until I became part of it all. Somehow I realized the magic in it, and realized the experience gives far more than it could take. I was in another place, floating up and down to the dew-dropped tree tops and back to the clouds. I wasn’t on a ride, but a journey…a journey that has to be felt, smelled, seen, heard, and tasted. hot air balloons asheville When I got home, I crawled back under the covers to nap after my daybreak voyage. I drifted off to sleep quickly, and don’t think I dreamed. The dream already occurred, and felt somehow far away from me when I awoke, as if the balloon existed in a realm almost like Earth, but not quite. The flight was truly that remarkable, and I longed for it. It was so supernatural that I wondered for a minute if it had happened at all. Then for some reason, a quote from a Shakespeare play I read more than a decade ago came to mind, “…you have but slumbered here/while these visions did appear.”

Visit, snuggle into your basket, and get ready to dream your little dream! Or give Phyllis a call at 828-667-9943! This is a must-have on your summer bucket list!

Something to “Ponder”: Make-up, Missions, and Re-Missions

When sitting down with Asheville-native, Lauren Ponder Boggs, it’s hard to believe she’s a person who’s ever faced adversity.  She is fresh, happy, and optimistic.  Some “quality” sort of dances on her like a light she carries around, but completely on accident.  She seems she is unscathed, untouched, and estranged to the things most people blame their scars on …however, this is hardly the case. Lauren was a competitor from day one.   Before she reached the more tumultuous times in her life, childhood prepared her to become a fighter.  She grew up competing in pageants, dance competitions, and cheerleading competitions before moving on to the ultimate competition that landed her a modeling contract with Hawaiian Tropic.  She spent hours in the gym perfecting her talents, determined to blow her adversaries out of the water. Blood, sweat, and tears were minimal effort. Though, often in the limelight, she still had to work with every fiber that created her to be the cream of the crop.  When she explained to me how she knew she wasn’t meant to be average, she blushed a little, as humans are often taught to do for having the heart of a contender.  Though her humility is a breath of fresh air, it becomes clear why her successes were meant to be.  They readied her for the battle of her life. At 24 years old, when most post-college adults are realizing the world awaits them, Lauren’s revelation came in the form of a rare pediatric bone cancer, living as an unwelcomed mass in her chest.  Doctors explained how they’d never seen a case like hers before, and she would be receiving the most aggressive treatment available. From a medical stand-point, her case had a grim outlook.  The prognosis was frightening. Lauren knew her friends and family were in a state of terror, though they tried to remain calm for her.

Fighting with a friend

Fighting with a friend

“I don’t know if I was naĂŻve, or in denial, but I never thought I wouldn’t beat [cancer].  I wasn’t worried,”  Lauren told me casually. I looked back at her, noticing her demeanor hadn’t changed an ounce when our conversation transitioned to her life-threatening illness.  She didn’t look away, didn’t cry, didn’t flinch.  She couldn’t wait to share her story.  She wanted her half-full glass to spill onto others.  And there is water pure and genuine in that cup.  Sitting there, I wondered if I, myself was capable of this level of hope and optimism. Like she knew she would, she beat the cancer, and it hasn’t dared to show it’s face in town again.  Troubles over, right? Without much calm before the next storm, Lauren, now a wife and mother of two is facing a financial crisis.  The bills are stacking up and there are innocent growing mouths to feed.  It’s a struggle to keep the power on, and to have enough gas in the car for a normal daily routine.  Something has to be done fast.  The economy is in the tank, no one is hiring, and the ones that are won’t make a dent in the situation.  Panic time was an hour ago; the storm is here. She has to jump into mud kicking for the second dare-to-be-great situation of her life. It’s been less than a year and a half.  Lauren is currently a Senior Sales Director, and next month will be crowned Executive Senior Sales Director…except the crown is a shiny new BMW.  Like a mother lioness, she looked out unto the savannah, her cubs behind her, and reclaimed her territory with a vengeance gifted to her by nature.  She doesn’t lick her wounds, she doesn’t show off her scars, and she doesn’t wear any medals of honor.  She shares her story. It is simply a story of a woman, a wife, a mother, and a business person who as she put in her own words, “comes from a place of yes.” Lauren would like to use this story to bless others, as she feels Mary Kay is her mission field.  A quarter of any sales she makes as a result of this story will be donated in the purchaser’s name to WNC Cancer Care. For more information on how to donate or to become a part of Mary Kay please contact Lauren Ponder Boggs at or 828-785-9241.  She can’t wait to share in your mission!

Lauren and her gorgeous family

Lauren and her gorgeous family


Mary Kay face!

Mary Kay face!