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 http://www.contagiousrocks.com

 

And…here we are 🙂

 

contagious

 

Posted by:  Lorna Hollifield

 

 

 




Yum

vincenzos asheville nc

When I start to write I want to feel a “yumminess” start to awaken me, trying to coax a story out.  I do not sit down with a pen and look at the wall waiting for inspiration.  Instead, I breathe in my surroundings, and exhale the thing that tickles me most. When writing about my amazing city, I do it much the same way.  If something makes an impression on me, pretty soon, it’s ink spilled all over paper.

This week I could not stop thinking about Vincenzo’s Ristorente and Bistro in downtown Asheville.  The first time I ate there was ten years ago when I was only 17.  A prom date I soon regretted had taken me there, and at 17 I had no idea the taste of Northern Italy I was about to experience (nor the dose of culture).  However, I do remember when I visited the real Italy only a few months later that something in Florence took me back to that pre-prom meal, which was the only good thing my date did that May evening. 

I didn’t return for several years until one of girlfriends planned a special bachelorette evening for me the weekend before my wedding.  I wish I could remember the name of the server who flattered me when he said every man on Earth would be crying on my wedding day.  This is the kind of service women should receive everywhere in town, but I digress.  On top of the service, I noticed things I had failed to as a prom-bound teenager, and it was more than just the wine list (which of course is phenomenal).  It was the old world charm Asheville is so famous for touting on our rather young side of the pond. Certain parts of this city simply make the best eras stand still, and somehow Vincenzo’s captures more than one of them.  First of all, there was the art-deco building that the little trattoria sits in…it was one of the casualties of poverty that left us one of our many pieces of architectural art in town.  Moreover, there was a sound pulling me even closer to the jazz age…oh, that may have been the jazz music permeating out of the building.  My guess is it was, and it was a smooth, smoky, almost tangible brand of jazz.  It was the kind that ushers you right into its arms, clothing you in the cloth of a decade dedicated to music at it’s finest, where instruments and voices where explored and navigated through, only opening doors for what would later become a revolution…yeah I wore it that night, and whatever it was invaded me, and I dug it.  Still, it took me a few years to make it back again.  It was like the restaurant and I had become long lost lovers, passing in the night only ever so often…but tender are those nights we pass.

My latest venture there was just over a month ago for an old friend’s engagement party.  I couldn’t wait.  For one, I was still haunted by the ambiance, and two I wanted a reason to wear my new cocktail dress.  Really, I wanted to feel fabulous and fussed over.  We all did.

This time there was a different feel to restaurant.  It was raining outside, and we’d had some unseasonably cool weather for the last few days of August.  However, it was summer and still humid.  There was a steam floating about the streets, and an eeriness in the air.  It was a delicious eeriness however, a cozy one that made me curious.

We sat down at the picturesque table, and I noticed that vibrant drapes that didn’t take me just decades back, but centuries. The décor really looks like the Baroque Era in Europe got in a fight with 1920s America, but it works together harmoniously.  I found myself noting ideas for my own writing room.  It was yummy.

Still, I felt spooky tonight…maybe because it was later than usual, or maybe because of the cool rain.  I didn’t know. 

I asked the waiter, “tell me, is there a history to this building?”

“Ohhh yes,”  replied the waiter, “it’s said to be haunted.  During the Spanish Flu epidemic (in which Asheville lost 25% of the adult population) it was a furniture store that had its basement made into the mortuary when the hospital ran out of room.”

“Yum,”  I responded.

I don’t personally believe in ghosts, but now I had a story.  Suddenly the spirits in the basement gave this place a heartbeat.  The final puzzle piece had come for me:  the history.  That’s the bone marrow of the things I love.  I recommend Vincenzo’s to anyone.  It is a great place to eat, drink, socialize, hear music, wear a cocktail dress for sport, and soak in the deliciousness of Asheville at its finest.  It’s history, mystery, romance, and wine.  It’s the perfect date spot, or place to sit mysteriously in fedora by yourself.  Just eat there.  Do it as a group, a couple, or individual, but however you do it, give yourself to it completely and become yummy alongside of it.

Photo above: My girlfriends and I standing in front of the mood-lit table and old-fashioned windows just before I ordered the 007-Bombay with a twist.  Shaken, not stirred of course.

 

Asheville: Sake City USA?!

asheville sake city usa

Beer City USA, to Bee City USA, to Sake City USA! I like how it sounds. Asheville is now setting the stage to make that happen. Great food demands a great drink! Sake is something that we usually only enjoy when we are eating Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese food; but all of that is about to change. Several locations are now open in the Asheville area where Sake is one of the key offerings. Blue Kudzu is leading the way with the fourth micro-sake brewery in the USA. This is BIG!

Since Sake has landed in Asheville North Carolina, businesses are taking advantage of this great opportunity. We stopped by the grand opening party at Blue Kudzu Sake in the River Arts District and enjoyed a night of friends, food, beer, and Sake of course. Asian influence as a whole is spreading in the Asheville and Western North Carolina community as Oriental families are realizing the quality of life we offer and the peaceful diversity this city brings to the table.

Other places in the area that are part of the Asheville Sake Revolution are Ben’s Tune Up in downtown Asheville, and Native Kitchen & Social Pub in Swannanoa, just minutes east of Asheville. And this is just the beginning. I already envision many Asheville area restaurants incorporating select Sake options in their menu; especially once Blue Kudzu starts brewing! Stop by these locations and try some. You will love it. Kanpai!