Asheville Symphony and local bands team up for an album

38-1100x734(Mountain XPress)  Singer-songwriter Matt Townsend usually performs with an acoustic guitar, either solo or with his band, The Wonder of the World. And he writes his songs for that configuration — drums and bass. But, he says, “a lot of times I’ll hear other parts.” A fully orchestrated tune is just a dream to many musicians, but that vision was realized for Townsend when the Asheville Symphony Orchestra tapped him for a collaborative album project. The eight-track record, The Asheville Symphony Sessions, will be released on Thursday, May 26, with a celebration at The Orange Peel.

Read the full story HERE>

Ramblin’ man: A conversation with Butch Trucks

art_fr(Smoky Mountain News)  For 45 years, The Allman Brothers Band took rock-n-roll and stretched it into the unlimited possibilities of blues and jazz. They were an empty canvas of melodic influences that encompassed broad, rich paint strokes of English hard rock pioneers Cream, jazz improvisation maestro John Coltrane, and Chicago blues master Muddy Waters.

At their core, the Macon, Georgia, based Allmans represented the “human condition,” the good the bad and the ugly of what America stood for — and also wanted to stray away from as the 1960s and 1970s ticked away — while the layers of an aggressively oppressive country peeled away like an endless onion of change and national dialogue. It was bridging the societal gap between the stifling, racist culture of Jim Crow laws within the southern states and the progressive mindset set forth by those who ventured beyond the Mason-Dixon Line for the better part of a century.

Read the full profile HERE>

Local comedian Grayson Morris reflects on opening for Louis C.K.

04131619371-1100x1467(Mountain XPress) By day, Grayson Morris is a preschool teacher, by night, a standup comedian. For the last five years she’s honed her craft. Most of her material comes from her everyday life: being single and poor and working with young children. This past Wednesday night, her hard work paid off. Morris found herself the opening act for Louis C.K.’s surprise benefit show at the Orange Peel.

The day before, Morris, along with a handful of other local comedians were told by the Orange Peel management that tickets would be going on sale for “someone famous.” Early Wednesday, they learned it was C.K. That afternoon, Morris discovered her name was in consideration as the opener. “I was very excited about the prospect, but I didn’t want to get too excited because I knew it could go either way.”

Read the full interview HERE>

Bald for Bucks: High School Teachers Shave Heads For Cancer Research

teachers-1(Good News Network) On February 26th, eleven teachers at Southern Lehigh High School in Pennsylvania agreed to go Bald for Bucks in support of their annual Pennies for Patients fundraiser.

The only female participating teacher, Spanish teacher Mrs. Joan Imms-Geiser, shaved her head for $4,000. After the haircut she was greeted by her husband, who presented her with flowers and took a seat in barber’s chair himself, saying, “I’m not letting you do this alone.”

Read the full story HERE>

UNC Asheville Hosts FIRST Robotics Competition March 19-20

First Robotics GLITCH 02
Team GLITCH members Josh Lyons, Chris Otten, Jonathan Kayne and Caleb Pohlman.

(Staff Reports) UNC Asheville will host the North Carolina District FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition on campus from March 19-20 in Kimmel Arena in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center. Twenty-five teams of high school students from North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire will assemble on campus to engage in a field competition with industrial-sized robots, which they have built and programmed themselves. The competition is free and open to the public.

Competition begins with the opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m., and continues until 7:30 p.m. onSaturday, March 19. The event resumes on Sunday, March 20 with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., more robotics competition, and an awards ceremony from 5-6:30 p.m.

Under strict rules, limited resources and an intense six-week time limit, student teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

First Robotics GLITCH“In the stands, in the pit, in and around the field, there’s not going to be a quiet space of the Sherrill Center,” said Joseph Caswell, a UNC Asheville mechatronics student and team mentor. “It’s going be full of noise, of robots smashing up against the wall and fans cheering and teams just giving their all.”

Winning teams earn the right to compete in the FIRST North Carolina State Championship, held at UNC Charlotte April 9-10.

For more information, contact Neil Rosenberg, lecturer in engineering at UNC Asheville, at828.250.3986 or

I must be out of touch…

2016 Election Commentary by Matt Mittan

3-16-16 114For the Primary election in North Carolina, as an unaffiliated voter, I print out the sample ballots of each Party and then check off all of the candidates that I like and that I think would be good public servants, from the Presidential race right here to the local level. Once I’ve done that, whichever sample ballot has the most check marks on it, I declare that Party as the Primary I will vote in. Then, when the results come in I compare them to all my sample ballot selections.

In my district, out of all the Parties, there were 77 candidates to choose from. In total, I checked off only nine names. Out of the nine I checked off, only 2 won. That’s the lowest ratio I’ve ever had but is pretty typical of how it’s been trending for me over the past 10-15 years. Now, this could leave some people feeling a bit isolated or disenfranchised but then I look at the performance, ethics and accountability of our political institutions over that same time-frame and I at least have the comfort of knowing… 1) I didn’t help put these people in office. 2) Maybe, just maybe, I actually know a better path and have a more reliable sense of character than do the majority of my voting neighbors.

The path that the Political Parties, and the people who fall under their spells, have led us down is a path to ruin. Voting for more pumped up versions of the same old formula will only make things worse. As for me, I’m down to just two people, out the entire electoral process – from Local to State to Federal – that I feel I can vote FOR. If this downward trend continues, I’ll be left with only two options. 1) Not vote at all, or; 2) Run for office myself. Neither of those options sound very good to me.

So how about we try something else? Why don’t we break the partisan hold over elections? Reject Party affiliation as part of registering to vote or participating in the electoral process. Lets have truly open voting in the primaries, where we all vote for the best of all the candidates – regardless of Party. No more voting for the best of half or against the worst of them all. Let’s get the money out of politics so that more people can consider public service as a viable option. And lets take away the incentive to make politics a career by removing all perks and retirement plans for elected offices.

I want my vote to mean something again. I want public service to be revered as a noble effort again. And above all, I want us to be unified around the idea that our Constitutional Republic, and its institutions, are above the fray, where we all have an equal seat at the table of respectful discourse. But then again, maybe these ideals and desires are as out of touch with today’s voting population as my selections on my ballot seem to be.

Matt Mittan is a long time broadcaster based out of Asheville, NC.

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