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 http://wwww.releasetherainrecords.com and order before release!




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 ūüôā

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

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




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 na√Įve, 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 lrponder@yahoo.com 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!

Small Town, Big Voice: Ten Reasons to Adore Candler Town

Candler, North Carolina, or Candler Town as locals refer to it,¬†isn’t shown on most maps, remains an unincorporated town, and provides but a fraction of the population of the greater Asheville Metro area. One highway runs down the middle of the seemingly small patch of dirt once known as Harkins, and this is a place people often think is only on the way to another. However, there are many hidden jewels starting to unearth themselves. Candler is a small package full of delicious things everyone should know about, and here are the ten reasons why:

It’s a great place to PLAY! The Buncombe County Sports Complex is nestled right in the heart of Candler Town!¬† This gorgeous park, with Blue Ridge Mountain views, features a¬†host of soccer fields, a bocce ball court,¬†a sandy beach volleyball court, a playground, and a beautiful walking and biking trail.¬† It’s a great place to take advantage of pristine picnic sheds and spend a day in nature with the fam!¬† Also don’t forget to check out the awesome community garden and orchard on site!

It’s a place of budding¬† new businesses! Candler is home to many small businesses, and is a “mom and pop” capitol of sorts.¬† The latest to crop up? A two-mama shop, owned by Brooke Rickman and Charity Grindstaff,¬†called¬† Blue Ridge Chicks.¬† These lovely ladies with a stock full of “vintage treasures and creative beauties,” bring a whole new world of shabby chic apparel and d√©cor to the Asheville area via their amazing trunk shows.¬† The ladies tell AskAsheville, “we are two soulful southern chicks, born and raised smack dab in the middle of the blue ridge mountains of WNC.¬† We are artists, designers, dreamers and followers of Christ.”¬† Make sure to visit these innovative ladies at http://www.blueridgechicks.com to become part of their journey that brings folk-art-esque designs into the 21st century.

The Blue Ridge Chicks, Charity and Brooke!

The Blue Ridge Chicks, Charity and Brooke!

¬†It’s a place with roots!

Candler makes new businesses, but keeps the old!¬† Any Candler native loves the town favorite, Miami Restaurant.¬† The place, like the little town itself, may not look like a whole lot at first glance, but has tons to offer!¬† Though the restaurant has been around for decades on end, and¬†was once¬†a part of the now abandoned Miami hotel, Zack and Georgia Papazahariou have owned and operated it for thirty years.¬† Patrons of the restaurant are guaranteed to see Georgia herself mixing up her famous potato salad whenever they pop their heads around the corner of her friendly kitchen.¬† Donna Brooks, a¬† Candler grandmother¬†known to many simply as “Nanny,” says about Miami, “[It’s] local people, local gossip, wonderful Greek spaghetti. Never had a dull moment.”

The Miami Restaurant.  Sweet and simple.

The Miami Restaurant. Sweet and simple. Just try the  tea!

 The Farm!

The Farm, located just off Justice Ridge Road, only 10 minutes from Asheville is one of the most beautiful wedding venues in town.¬† Just behind a beautifully restored Victorian Farmhouse rests the “barn,”¬† where memories are made every weekend.¬† The feeling of going back to a simpler time, where entire communities gathered hovers over this place, but with an unparalleled level of elegance lingering close by.¬† For pictures and testimonials visit http://www.thefarmevents.com

 Biltmore Lake!

Biltmore Lake is one of the nicest and most family-friendly communities in Buncombe County.  It is an upper-scale community, but because of the arts & crafts inspired lake houses, the neighborhood maintains a certain quaintness.  The tree-lined streets, walking trails, 62 acre lake with beach areas, and recreation facilities are the cherry on top of the gorgeous houses that are perfect for porch-sitting!  Everyone who lives in the lakeside mini-community knows they are home at last.  Biltmore Lake is indeed a gem in Candler.  Visit http://www.biltmorelake.com for more info!

 Pisgah View Ranch!

This dude ranch, known as the best dude ranch this side of the Mississippi, is located serenely at the foot of Mount Pisgah.  Not only is it a great place to spend the day horseback riding up winding mountain trails, but to also spend the night.  The old farmhouse now serves as a bed and breakfast with cozy rooms and home-cooked meals.  Moreover, the tennis court, pool, and Pioneer Museum ensures something to do for all! http://www.pisgahviewranch.net

 Musicians Galore!

Everyone knows on any given night it’s possible to spot Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Artimus Pyle at the Smoky¬†Park Applebees’s.¬† However, the town holds even further-reaching musical roots. Candler folks are no strangers to a little pickin’ on the porch.¬† On many of¬†those porches where fingers are¬†bloodied from six-strings ¬†and singing voices are¬†perfectly raspy from moonshine, dreams are born.¬† Bands such as blue-grass crooners, Sons of Ralph, hail from the tiny town, along with local country singer, Jody Medford.¬† Medford has performed on stage with names such as Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and Wayne Newton.¬† He was recently added to CMT’s artists, with a video produced by Lonestar’s, Keech Rainwater.¬† The community¬†is anxiously awaiting the release of Medford’s new album, produced by the highly¬†revered¬†band, Alabama’s guitarist, Kimo Forrest, with whom he’ll be touring with this summer!¬† Medford says, “being an Enka- Candler native, I never dreamed these kind of doors would open musically for me; and I’m so proud to be from this area, and¬†wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Jody Medford in his element!

Jody Medford in his element!

Historic Enka

Enka doesn’t exist anymore, except within the arms of Candler.¬† No one even has a physical address of Enka, NC anymore, yet it is an enormous part of history in Candler.¬† Enka is an acronym for four Dutch words that the once thriving ENKA plant was named for.¬† Many citizens moved to this area just to work at “the plant.”¬† In 1929, Enka Village, an adorable collection of brick homes, still standing on the tree-decorated streets was built to provide a community for plant workers.¬†¬†The neighborhood¬†is still a playground for laughing children and¬†backyard barbecues.¬† It’s a great place to live, steeped in history, and has a great view of the old Enka Plant clock tower that has become an unofficial symbol of the community.¬† Jack Lovingood, who grew up in Enka Village says, “the clock tower has been an icon in the community my entire life, and seeing it standing there brings a certain level of comfort and nostalgia.”

Clock Tower at about a mile distance...it's everywhere!

Clock Tower at about a mile distance…it’s everywhere!

 Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest single-planned road in the country, winding through 469 miles¬†of national parks, scenic overlooks, and vacation opportunities; and guess what else?¬† Perfect access from Candler, NC.¬† Candler is the perfect little town to stop off in for a goodnight’s sleep¬†on a Blue Ridge road trip!

 Asheville Hot Air Balloons!

Candler is the home to the only business that has the ability to fly tourists and locals alike across this portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains.¬† By stopping off in Candler, a person may just experience the thrill of a lifetime soaring overtop the trees watching the birth of a Carolina dawn.¬† Stay tuned with askasheville.com as we take the journey as a team next Saturday, May 10th.¬† We can’t wait to share our experiences, pictures, and good times with everyone on Candler’s most exciting attraction!¬† Also visit http://www.ashevillehotairballoons.com

Just like Gin and Citrus

One of the things I love most about my city is that it has preserved an era…and completely by accident.¬† For such a modern, progressive, and hip city, Asheville still knows how to hold onto the good ol’ days.¬† Asheville is a wide-open time capsule full of hair feathers, drop-waisted dresses, Fitzgerald novels, and big band music.¬† It’s¬†present even when¬†no one’s dressed in theme and the blues horns hush for the night.¬† That “it” quality hangs around in the delightfully musty scents and subtly ornate ceilings of old 1920s buildings.¬† It’s Ashevillians’ everyday stomping grounds.

48 Biltmore Avenue is no exception.¬† In fact, the ceiling was the first thing I noticed upon walking into Chestnut, a restaurant and lounge here in Asheville.¬† There’s something so romantic about the raised cream-colored tiles, that I later learned to no surprise, are the 1924 originals.¬† I walked over to the bar and hopped up on the stool, going straight for the cocktail menu.¬† The “Saint Graham” suspiciously favors the “Gin Rickey,” Nick Gatsby’s famed favorite drink.¬† Gin and citrus.¬†Just the sound of it makes me take a deeper breath.

One thing about Chestnut I must point out is that it is not themed.¬† That’s perhaps why it’s great.¬† It¬†resurrects the lost generation organically.¬† No fear of finding cheesy posters of This Side of Paradise, or cocktails named something like, “Hemming My Way.”¬† It doesn’t exist, because there’s no need for a theme.¬† This place is real.¬† It’s relaxing; it’s smooth; it’s easy going;¬†it’s new south delicious; it’s all Asheville.

After I devoured my fried green tomatoes, that were somehow the marriage of Grandma’s from the garden and a taste that can only be described as sassy, I chatted with manager, Ken Rethmeier.¬† Much like the restaurant itself, Ken is laid back, inviting, and delighted to have us.¬† He proudly filled us in on the ceilings, and original chestnut fixtures, and I could tell the history of the venue had become part of him as well.¬† When great leadership, awesome service, history, and¬†yummy food meet, the synergy of it all just sizzles.¬† In this case it sizzles quietly, and refreshingly just like that first cocktail I laid eyes on.¬† Gin and citrus everywhere.

I was entranced by the atmosphere, clearly, so I decided to look behind the curtain.  I wanted to know what the quality was.  Where did this food come from?  When I found out it was all local, farm to table, and green, I was sold.  This truly is the Asheville poster restaurant.

I asked Rethmeier, “What’s one thing you want me to know that I don’t?¬† What do you want to tell me about this place?”

He replied with a¬†grin, “it’s warm and inviting.¬† You¬†can come taste local craft food and cocktails…and we’re the only place that still hand chops ice.”

Hand chopped ice.¬†¬†I do believe I’ve made my case.

 

cb

Ceiling

 

Bar

Bar

 

Cocktails

Cocktails