When first visioning this sustainable event that highlights music and arts, we knew that we wouldn’t get anywhere if we didn’t bring our local community into it. Luckily, Executive Director of the Xpand brand and Creative Director of Xpand Fest, Johanna Hagarty has been working in the music and arts scene in Asheville for 10 years and knew exactly who to call in to help curate the music and entertainment. Both the inaugural festival and this second annual performance lineup has all been programmed by a committee of local creative professionals.
This year’s members include Scotty Robertson (former radio personality and creative event professional), Debrissa McKinney (local musician and host of Brown Bag Songwriter Competition held at Asheville Music Hall), Christine Garvin (Founder of Christine Garvin Dance + Transform), Barbie Angell (local poet and creative personality), Edward Link (Production Manager for Stewart Sound), and Morgan Markowitz (Founder of Earth River Productions). They carefully poured over the 130+ submissions to coordinate a day that was unique, culturally inclusive and engaging. While we always have room for improvement to ensure we are connecting and including all cultures into our event, we hope that this year’s chocked full line-up makes you want to come out and enjoy the festivities for the day.
So, let’s take a stroll through the festival as if you were out in the South Slope June 9th to enjoy the music/performance art with 5,000+ of your closest friends….
If you make your way down the hill on Coxe Avenue, and enter our festival through ArtRow the first landmark you will come to at this entrance is Zapow Gallery, a local art venue that focuses exclusively on illustration, narrative and pop culture art and has recently added a lounge and tap room. In that space, as you take a reprieve from the sun and peruse some art you will be able to see local acoustic performances by artists including Hannah Kaminer, Doss Church, Gypsy Grass and The Paper Crowns as well as films from Cat Fly Film Festival.
Once you’ve had your fill of music and art in Zapow and you continue down Coxe Avenue, your adventure becomes a choose-your-own with 2 options. If you choose to scoop your Xpand Fest t-shirt, raffle ticket and your Mountain Song Guitars repair discount coupon (because let’s be honest it’s likely if you’re a music lover- you probably have at least one guitar that needs repairing) from our information booth and continue down Coxe Avenue you will encounter art, food and beverage vendors to delight all the senses and satiate your desires… But don’t get too distracted, because you will soon arrive at the Octopus’ Garden which is an indoor/outdoor interactive extravaganza. Here’s another chance to pop inside the Octopus Garden store for some unique local and regional performances by: For Her and the Snow, prettypretty, SIYAH and Louque, as well as music videos from 2018’s Music Video Asheville Awards. Past the Octopus Garden, you’ll see the Empyrean Arts aerial rig just to the right of our main stage. The Xpand stage features such amazing and diverse local talents as Window Cat, the Alex Krug Combo, Ashley Heath and Her Heathens, Plankeye Peggy, and David Earl and The Plowshares featuring an all-star lineup including Silas Durocher of The Get Right Band, the elegant steel guitar wizardry of Jackson Dulaney and the undeniable rhythm magic of Matt Lane and Chris Pyle. Also, to wet your visual appetite we are presenting a dance compilation featuring performances by Liquid Sirens, Bindass Bhangra, Zahiya Bellydance, and Trillium Dance Company.
IF YOU CHOOSE ADVENTURE OPTION TWO Instead of going down Coxe Avenue you could hang a left past the information and merchandise booth and almost directly land upon the Instant Karma Bus. Their bus is vibrantly painted and outfitted with a stage on top where you’ll get to enjoy intimate performances by some of Asheville’s finest songstresses including Brie Capone, Jane Kramer and contrasting hip-hop sounds from P.T.P and The Last WordBenders. If you stick around long enough to catch the final act on this stage, you’ll see rootsy Americana singer-songwriter Aradhana Silvermoon and cosmic poet MC Truth-I Manifest delivering supernova folk-hop transmission with their group, I,Star. Continuing on past the bus, you’ll begin to encounter our interactive booths which are a mix of healing arts, nonprofits, and other local businesses. Don’t worry, we will go more in-depth on those next week with our Interactive//Art Vendor Coordinator, Glaucia, but trust us, it’s gonna be cool.
If you’re disciplined enough to not get stuck indulging in chocolate at French Broad Chocolate Lounge booth, you will find yourself upon the CommUnity Stage that has amazing offerings including a Pet Fashion show and adoption, interactive panel discussions on sustainability (with focuses on renewable energy, the beer industry, cultural inclusion and living creatively). There will also be a captivating community/arts co-empowerment presentation in a Vaudeville Variety-Show style from Asheville Vaudeville. We personally think this is a not to be missed moment of Xpand Fest as these performances are inspired by the 17 Sustainable Goals that Xpand Fest has chosen as our core values.
Once you’ve ogled the adorable puppies (and perhaps chosen one to be your forever friend!) and gotten your fill of our engaging CommUnity Corner- you’ll likely be able to follow the sounds wafting from the loading dock across the street in what is now, Urban Orchard’s second location. This unique stage will kick off with Yellow Feather, a seven-piece Country/Americana band hailing from Old Fort, NC and will be followed by Matt Townsend and the Wild Lights, a showcase by Asheville Music School students and teachers, The Stump Mutts, The Ryan Barber Band, and will be closing with an intoxicating performance by Pink Mercury. Led by shapeshifting vocalist Stephanie Morgan (formerly of Asheville’s nationally-touring pop-noir powerhouse stephaniesid), Pink Mercury makes exploratory music within sparse structures, only some of which are predetermined, resulting in an art-pop centered–but ultimately genre-bending– conversation. True to their creative form of bending performance lines, the band will close the stage with a parade leading all artists and attendees alike back to the main stage to close down the evening with our headlining group, New Orleans’ unique collective, Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Having just released their brand new album “Song in the Key of Funk”, Big Sam and his band are sure to close out Xpand Fest #2 having all of Asheville dancing in the streets to their boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop. Big Sam’s Funky Nation will be rockin until 10 pm- when Xpand Fest officially comes to a close, but for anyone who has more energy left in them, there’s always the after party just up the street at Ben’s Tune-Up. If you’ve still got it in you to dance the night away, you will be lucky to experience exciting sounds from The Freeway Revival, JBOT (which is Josh Blake Founder of IAMAVL‘s Organ Trio) and Evil Note Lab.