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We love everything about Asheville, NC. Taking a trip to Asheville is like visiting an alternate universe for a weekend. The food is amazing, there is good music and good beer everywhere, the people are hilarious, we love everything about it. This past weekend was no exception. We rolled into town and were immediately greeted by 150 people running down the street in full drag. When we parked the van, one of the cross-joggers stopped and handed me an evergreen tree branch that he was carrying with him. “Smell the wild man.” Later that night I saw him jubilantly throw that branch at Grace Potter during her show. She looked confused.
Which leads me to my next point – Asheville is a little confusing. How did this quaint town of 80,000 people turn into such a stark contrast to everywhere else around it? Where did these people come from? Certainly they didn’t come from Knoxville, or Atlanta, or Charlotte, or Raleigh, or anywhere else within 500 square miles. It’s like one day a group of people from San Fransisco got on a bus, drove to Austin Texas, picked up another group of people and drove to Asheville. Then they all had a bunch of babies. And now their offspring inhabit this city.
However it came into being, Asheville is now home to one of the coolest city-run music festivals we’ve ever played, called Belle Chere. Every year, the entire city blocks off its streets, puts up 4 or 5 stages, and throws a party. And people in Asheville know how to throw a party. This year we had the privilege of opening for Grace Potter. There were probably 2,000 people who came to rock out with us in 103 degree weather. It was so hot the asphalt was pulsating. No one cared. I watched an incredibly hairy shirtless 50 year old man jump up and down in the front row for an hour and a half. By the end of the show he looked like a Sasquatch that had been sprayed down with a fire hose. I don’t think anyone minded, except for maybe the group of tween girls who were standing next to him. They didn’t appreciate anything that distracted them from staring at James.
After our set we were greeted by tons of fans at the merch table, every one of them genuinely excited just to be there having a great time. Then we sat back and watched Grace Potter and the Nocturnals put on an incredible performance. Watching them live is an experience I’d recommend for anybody. They bring so much talent and energy to the stage. And it doesn’t hurt that Grace and her bass player have a combined hotness rating that’s off the charts. Apparently though, not everyone knows how to handle this kind of hotness.
The only hiccup in the otherwise incredible night happened backstage after Grace and the Nocturnals’ set. This was the first time I had ever seen a real life stalker in action. The guy had been standing on the side of the stage right next to us for pretty much the whole show. We all thought he was part of the camera crew. Turns out he was just a really creepy guy with a telescopic lens and an unhealthy obsession for Grace Potter. He showed his cards when the band was standing behind the stage, getting ready to go back on for an encore. “Grace I love you! (picture snap) I love you so much, you have no freaking idea how much I love you! (heavy breathing, picture snap). He was immediately escorted off the premises. That probably happens a lot more than I’d care to think about. I’m sure Grace Potter doesn’t really like thinking about it either.
When the show was over, we hung out for a while, got back in our van with no air conditioning, and started our trip back to Knoxville with the windows down. It was 2:00 in the morning and the temperature was still 103 degrees. People still didn’t’ care. As we pulled out of town, our rear view mirror contained the silhouette of a few cross-joggers drinking beer in the street. See you next year guys. Thanks for the memories.