Asheville has many cultures and personalities. In other words, Biltmore Village folk do not act like River Arts District people. And folks from north Asheville do not act like folks from south Asheville. You can enter the suburb communities in any direction from downtown, and visit a different vibe and theme somewhat. On the eastside of west Asheville, another sub-community is getting established on their own. B&B Pharmacy welcomes as you enter. If you know the area, I-240 separates east west Asheville from west west Asheville. In addition to the walkability factor, this area has a lot to offer. I recently took a walk on this part of Haywood Rd with my daughter.
The West Asheville highway intersection.
The Mardis Building is home to King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffles, Second Gear, and Rhetorical Factory.
You can walk to several great shops in the area. The Rhetorical Factory features recycled clothing, and Second Gear sells outdoor gear for hiking, rafting, running, sports and more. Then you have Asheville BookWorks inside the Universal Motors Building, along with more shopping spots.
We stopped by Whist and found some great items including this “I Love Asheville” cup, and a book on human anatomy that is a must for mankind.
The Circle offers glass, fashion and art. Flora is flower design studio and florist.
From custom glass and repair shops, to custom screenprinting at Image 420, and you can even get a tattoo at Hot Stuff! Of course there is the vintage Gas-Up store on this corner. Lots of development planned for this end of the community, which then connects to Asheville’s Sweet Slope featuring Short Street Cakes, Hole Doughnuts and The Hop Ice Creamery; before heading down to Clingman Ave and the River Arts District.
The Admiral serves delicious cuisine spot that everyone loves. Walk is also a great place to grab lunch and dinner. Battle Cat Coffeehouse is a funky and hipstery coffee shop on Haywood Rd. Tip: park your Benz a few blocks away and walk here.
Harvest Records on the eastside of west Asheville is music heaven!
Haywood Road is also bikable. And Carrier Park is right down the street!
Art, graffiti and creativity line the streets. When coming over to west Asheville, talk a walk on the eastside!
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.
“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!
So many great events happen during the Spring and Summer in Asheville. Montford Music and Arts Festival is one of those times that feature music, art, food, drinks and a wonderful community gathering. We always start by walking down the street and getting an overview of what is going on, meet a few people and get in festival mode. The music on the stages featured many local artists in the Asheville and WNC area. Asheville on Bikes had a “Bike Corral” where you could park your bike, saving you from looking for a parking spot. Plus, we are all Strive Not To Drive minded lately, so it fit in perfectly. Here is a personal photo I took of two of my older sons walking my baby daughter down Montford Ave during the festival. And, we got to meet a real-life fairy! Well I guess Asheville is known for that already, but I am always happy to see one of these breeds.
I started hearing tales of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash of ’77 from my father when pampers were still my favorite pair of pants. I knew who Ronnie Van Zant was before Big Bird, and my Sunday dinners at Mamaw’s house were really jam sessions that became my lullabies. My father’s hair was longer than my mother’s at that time, and all the men in my family sported bloody finger tips that were slaves to those beckoning long-necked instruments. At 27 years old, in the age of whatever it is music has become that I haven’t a word that qualifies, I can bank on every family get-together bringing me back to a place when it was pure. It’s a place I can only visit through my father’s time machine in a land that existed around the time my mother discovered boys. I go back whenever my now greying father and Uncle pick up their guitars, close their eyes, and try to perfect still, that long ever-growing famously tricky six-string solo in Free Bird.
Artimus Pyle, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer, and only original band-member still touring traipsed into the Applebee’s in Candler, North Carolina, my hometown about two weeks ago.
“Lorna, you got to get down here, now,” My husband’s voice was urgent on the other end of the phone.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“No. Artimus Pyle is here. We’re hanging out, and he’s cool as hell,” my husband’s speech was hurried.
“I’ll be there in five,” I replied with my mind reeling all the things I knew about this legend. I knew he had a house in Asheville, but what was he doing at an Applebee’s in the down-home Candler suburb of the artsy town?
When I walked in, I saw him immediately and I had to catch my breath a little. I was genuinely star-struck. I swear I could smell a faint trail of smoke permeating from his long burly hair, that grew like ragged wires from under his distressed leather cowboy hat. I wondered what the eyes from behind his aviator glasses had seen in the world of rock n’ roll, fame, and heartache. I knew his eyes would certainly tell the stories of things I had never and would never see.
When my husband motioned to him, and it was our time to finally meet, I don’t remember exactly what I said. It was something to the effect of how I grew up on his music, and was proud to keep the band alive in my generation…you know, the things you say, but trying to stand out all at once. In retrospect, I may have sounded rushed, and looked like a pre-teen meeting Justin Bieber.
When I handed him the clean white half sheet of paper the waitress rustled up for me, I first noticed his time-worn hands. They shook a bit as he started to write, “Laugh, Lorna. Peace, love, and happiness (in symbols). Artimus Pyle, Drums, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame 2006.” I took the sheet from him, perusing it in awe. Then, I noticed the initials, RVZ.
“You, signed Ronnie’s initials, didn’t you?” I asked, moved that he’d not omitted the lead-singer and founding member’s name.
“You wouldn’t even know my name had it not been for that man,” he replied seriously, “and after the crash I started signing his initials.”
I thought to myself what a class-act this man truly was to carry-on the memory of his fallen band-member and how proud I was to meet him. It was then I relaxed a little bit and started just chatting with him. I found out how he co-wrote my favorite Skynyrd song, Tuesday’s Gone, and how he was always drawn to Asheville, NC. We chatted about his respect for the philanthropic Asheville-born musician, Warren Haynes, and how he’d played with him here and there. He spoke of his son, River, and how proud he was of him. I was careful not to bring up the plane crash, though I was so painfully curious about his take on it. All I knew was that Van Zant and the Gaines members perished, and Artimus survived. I wanted to know more, and maybe he sensed it, because he went into the story all on his own.”
“You know, after the crash, there was just smoke everywhere,” he began, “and I ran to the barn to get help.”
“I didn’t know you were able to that,” I replied in awe.
He went on to describe the only things he remembered, and the whirlwind it became. I could tell some of it was cloudy to him, yet still felt as real as it had over 35 years ago. My guess is it was cloudy then.
After telling me to remember that money ruins everything, I gave him a hug, noticing an unimagined raw musk about him, and he went on his way. I rushed home and googled him immediately, seeing what else I could learn. I discovered when he ran from the plane wreckage to the nearby barn, the farmer’s son actually shot Artimus in the shoulder with an air-rifle because he was startled by his appearance. I learned he never stopped revering Van Zant and the other members, and had made the legacy of the band his life. I discovered he’d had ups, and downs, but understood the things that matter in life…, respect and downright allegiance to his band, family, art, and fellow man. He is yet another jewel tucked in these blue ridge mountains; an ARTimus form in Asheville that we’re forever proud to claim.
Asheville is a great city to tour, especially if it is not raining! Of course, sometimes the rain is just wonderful, when we have that perfect Spring or Fall weather, just a few drops lightly misting and falling on us, birds chirping, music playing, and romance in the air. But that is rare. The usual result from rain is that we end up getting wet. We have all experienced it, and getting drenched is no fun at all.
We have put together a list of many places to go and things to do in the area if you ever find yourself in an Asheville downpour:
1. Biltmore Estate – a rainy day in Asheville is the perfect opportunity to spend a few hours on the Estate. You can tour the house, go to a wine tasting, and experience several other activities that are not outdoors. They are located in Historic Biltmore Village, which used to be part of the Estate.
2. Grove Arcade – located in the downtown area of Asheville, this place is the perfect spot to hide until the storm passes over. Shopping, restaurants, wine and more located inside of this historic building.
3. Fun Depot – got kids? Or maybe you just want to act like a kid again, escape the rain, and enjoy plenty of indoor activities that they have to offer. They are located up the road from Biltmore Village.
4. Grove Park Inn – this resort located on the north side of town features restaurants, shopping and are always decorated and themed for the holidays. They are located in north Asheville, minutes from downtown.
6. Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria – located in downtown Asheville, they have pool tables and dart boards on the top level; plus pizza and lots of beer, of course.
7. Double Decker Bus – and right across the street from Barley’s is this landmark bus, which has an upper level that is a great spot on rainy days. Bring a chess table, get some coffee and cake, and listen to the raindrops on the roof in downtown Asheville
8. Bus and Van Tours – there are several fantastic buses and vans in the area that can take you on everything from a history tour, to a brewery crawl, to a bachelor party!
9. Asheville Mall – of course the mall has lots of indoor shopping, fun, games and food for your enjoyment. They are located on Tunnel Road in east Asheville.
10. Asheville Pizza Brew & View – on the north side of town on Merrimon Avenue, this establishment is the perfect spot to spend a few hours, with lots of food, beer, movies and a game room.
11. Asheville Art Museum – this place is decked out with 20th and 21st Century American art, and is a one-of-a-kind museum that provides education and culture representative to a 24 county region. They are located in downtown Asheville.
12. Chuck-E-Cheese – this is a spot where the kids like to spend an hour or two playing video games, dancing with that giant mouse, and grabbing a quick bite to eat. Located in east Asheville, right off of Tunnel Road.
13. US Cellular Center – located in downtown Asheville, this venue holds many of the larger events in the community. Wonderful shows, concerts and performances every month.
14. The Orange Peel – the premier music venue in the area, located in downtown Asheville. There are always great shows happening here, and a great place to escape wet weather.
15. Riverview Station – located in the River Arts District, this building is full of artists and crafters who create beautiful handcrafted art, jewelry and more. Several of the shops are open on weekends too, and a great spot to spend a couple of hours indoors.
16. Arts & Entertainment Options – there are several Performing Arts venues in the Asheville and WNC area to enjoy plays and skits from wonderful performers.
17. Mountain Play Lodge – a great place to take the kids and spend a couple of hours. Located in the south Asheville area.
19. Thomas Wolfe Memorial – take a tour of this historic property, and learn about this home written about in the book Look Homeward, Angel.
20. Smith McDowell House Museum – this is Asheville’s 1st mansion, and the oldest surviving structure in the city limits, and listed on the National Registry.
21. Buy an umbrella and walk around Biltmore Village or Downtown Asheville. I know that the Mast General Store on Biltmore Ave has a nice supply of umbrellas waiting to be sold, and it is also a good spot to spend an hour browsing and shopping their big selection.
Do you have some more great ideas for touring Asheville in the rain? Comment and let us know below…