All posts by Matt Mittan

Queen Bee and the Honeylovers release their ‘Asheville’ album

queen_bee_honeylovers_by_joe_bruno2-1100x750(Mountain XPress) Traditionally, concept albums have been almost exclusively within the rock idiom. But Asheville-based singer and songwriter Whitney Moore has breathed new life into the form by applying it to a very different musical style: jazz. Celebrating the release of the local history-themed Asheville, Moore’s band, Queen Bee and the Honeylovers, will play a show at Isis Music Hall on Saturday, April 27.

Moore formed Queen Bee and the Honeylovers with double bassist Trevor Stoia in late 2016. From the beginning, the band focused on early and swing jazz. “This was right after the [presidential] election,” Moore recalls. “And sweet, nostalgic music was very healing and therapeutic in an otherwise dark moment.”

But rather than exclusively playing classics from the pre- and postwar jazz eras, Moore decided to take Queen Bee and the Honeylovers in a different direction. “I love writing, so any project I had was going to have some original music,” she says. “And as we started to write music, I was looking around for inspiration.” She found it close to home.

Read the full feature by Bill Kopp HERE>

[UPDATE: The Saturday, April 27 show is now sold out, but the band has announced an encore performance on Friday, May 3, at 8:30 p.m., also at Isis Music Hall.]

Comedian Hari Kondabolu on race, politics and educated audiences

hari-kondabolu-new(Mountain XPress) On a previous trip to Asheville, comedian Hari Kondabolu says, “It was incredible … before the show wandering around thrift stores, drinking good coffee and seeing the mountains. [Then] doing the gig and feeling like people got it.” He continues, “It feels like a home game. I have a bunch of folks who I don’t have to explain as much to and who are excited that I’m there.”

Plus, during his interview with Xpress, it was snowing in Brooklyn, where Kondabolu is based. So even if the comedian’s upcoming Sunday, March 3, show at The Orange Peel doesn’t fall squarely within spring, it’s likely to be a welcome reprieve, weatherwise.

Read the full feature by Alli Marshall HERE>

The Art of Asheville – National Geographic’s take on our Town

Discover up-and-coming painters, potters, and designers in a city that’s brimming with talent.

348s(National Geographic) Over the past decade, this row of brick warehouses and old textile mills along the French Broad River has become a creative hive, twitching with artists and makers like Copus who value deliberate, personal craftsmanship. Exploring the open studios with John Almaguer’s guided art tour shows the amazing range of talent in this city, encompassing the wrought iron objects d’art of blacksmith Zachary Noble and the expressionist animal canvases in the biscuit factory-turned-fine art gallery of painter Daniel McClendon, or the upstairs workshop of Anna Toth, whose Bow and Arrow Apparel makes women’s jeans to measure.

“Big business has capitalized on women’s insecurities,” Toth explains matter-of-factly. “We’ve been reduced to an algorithm that doesn’t fit. As a pattern maker, I find it so satisfying to make a woman feel confident and happy in her own clothing.”

Reinventing the rules is an Asheville tradition — be it visual art, cool crafts, funky music, theater, or film, Asheville is an experimental epicenter — and always has been.

Read the entire feature by Andrew Evans HERE>

BeLoved Asheville’s new gallery offers visibility to underserved artists

proud-to-be-brown-art-studio(Mountain XPress)  Currently on display in the BeLoved Gallery, Unveiling is Rise Up Studio Collective’s first exhibition at the newly renovated gallery space, on view through Friday, March 15. Featured artists, along with Bermejo and Rivera, include Adrienne Sigmon, James Gambrell, Edwin Salas Acosta, Sunni Morgan, Courtney M., Jimi Mead, Jesse Smith and Tim Clark.

The new BeLoved Gallery adjoins the Rise Up Studio Collective’s art studio and the BeLoved community space. Artists work in close proximity, sharing techniques and materials and often repurposing and reclaiming materials in ingenious ways. “We’re proving that nothing is trash, that everything can be turned into a piece of art if you have the creativity to do it,” Bermejo says. Rise Up Studio Collective repurposes and salvages materials and equipment and uses donated art supplies.

The Rise Up Studio Collective was formed in the summer of 2013 in response to the city of Asheville’s policy of confiscating and destroying artwork offered for sale in public spaces by street artists, says self-described “undercover pastor” and BeLoved community collaborator the Rev. Amy Cantrell. Cantrell saw that these artists were being denied what was often their only means of financial support and their method of sself-expression.

Read the full report by Jeannie Regan HERE>