By Pete Zamplas- LEAF Schools & Streets and LEAF International youth are beneficiaries of Kick It Ticket VIP passes for the otherwise free LEAF Downtown Asheville on Aug. 2-3.
Musical headliners of the fifth annual festival in Asheville’s sprawling Pack Square Park on Friday, Aug. 2 are Delhi 2 Dublin (D2D) at 6:30-7:45 p.m. then hip hop stars Arrested Development 8:25-9:55 p.m. also on the main Pack Stage at the park’s north end.
Saturday music starts at noon. Headliners are NYC-based, electronic “turntablist” DJ Logic & Friends with “acid jazz” at 6:30, then at 8:25 p.m. Grammy-winning Stephen Marley. Marley plays reggae hits of his own and his legendary father Bob Marley.
D2D’s upbeat and funky world music includes Celtic, and Bhangra from urban India. The act from of Vancouver, BC, Canada plays in the ticketed ($18.22 advance/$23.37 that day) after-party Friday. DJ Logic ($18) plays the party Saturday — also starting about 10 p.m. in Asheville Music Hall, at 31 Patton Ave.
Local festival acts include the Free Planet Radio world fusion trio (Aug. 3, 12:15 p.m., Pack Stage); also Queen Bee & The Honeylovers with swing music 5-6:15 followed by DJ Marley Carroll with his flowing electronica at 7-8:15 p.m. on the Cafe Stage near Pack Square. Studio Zahiya’s belly dancing is Aug. 3, 2:30-3 at the U-LEAF Stage by Market Street.
Queen Bee (singer Whitney Moore) and her band won Music Video Asheville judges’ choice this spring for best song, for their “Beacham’s Curve.” Their old-styled, piano-based jazz ballad is about a sharp electric street car curve along Haywood Road in West Asheville. Carroll was judges’ pick for top overall video, a half-decade back.
Free Planet Radio is another treat. The all-star locally-based trio is multi-instrumentalist Chris Rosser (17-stringed Indian dotar, guitar, Turkish cumbus oud, piano, melodica); two-time Grammy winner Eliot Wadopian on bass, and versatile percussionist River Guerguerian (kanjira, doumbek, djembe et al). They improvise their complex original melodies and blend “Western classical music, with Middle Eastern, Indian and North African melodic and rhythmic structures.”
Free Planet Radio won a prestigious Chamber Music America grant in 2014, did a 20-city concert hall tour in China in ’16, and played the spring LEAF Festival.
In all, there are about 200 performers on three stages, roaming buskers and other performers, interactive art installations such as in Easel Rider Village (site of a circus arts workshop) by Market Street, and 70 artisan craft and food vendors.
Kicking off events of Aug. 3, the festival’s LEAF Art Dash 5K starts 9 a.m. near U-LEAF.
Artistic Director Ehren Cruz said that beyond music and art, “LEAF Downtown AVL will foster local job opportunities, including youth mentorships and leadership development, host panels and community forums” and workshops such as in in the Voices of Asheville tent and The Block Off Biltmore.
LEAF students’ “dedicated work culminates onstage” as it also does in the LEAF Festival twice a year, organizers said.
In LEAF Downtown, the U-LEAF Stage features several LEAF-affiliated youth groups performing Saturday. They are CWA Learning Center Brass & Burton St. Community Center Dance at noon, then LEAF International Ivory Coast led by Adama Dembele, then LEAF Arts & Parks Camp’s summer showcase at 1:15 for an hour. The Asheville Urban Youth Step Dance Competition is 5:30-6:45 p.m., at U-LEAF.
Asheville Musical School’s Fiddle Squad plays on U-LEAF Friday, Aug. 2 at 5:45-6:30 p.m. The 15-student ensemble led by a trio of teachers performed in AMC’s Beatles Sunday Funday, May 19 outdoors at Salvage Station in Asheville.
The Kick It Ticket provides complimentary food and six drinks with access to the festival’s private “Get Down Lounge” and cocktail hour in AC Hotel’s Capella on 9; also private festival viewing and restrooms, reserved parking, and meet and greets with artists. The ticket is $100 for one, two for $170, or four for $320.
Further, LEAF MemberShip dues fully go to LEAF youth programs, organizers said, for “life-changing power of cultural arts education” for Buncombe youth and those in ten countries including Tanzania and Costa Rica.
Perk Alert: A $50 charitable contribution qualifies a LEAF personal member for access to LEAF Festival weekend plus passes, early cabin reservations, invitations to special events year-round, and discounts by LEAF sponsors. A $100 donation for a family gets that, and a chance to register early for Elfhaven Childcare. There is a limited number of LEAF Festival tickets discounted 5 percent, per donation level.
Perks further range from $250 per “benefactor” with a VIP parking pass and $500 (“patron” for two VIP porch and backstage passes per festival, to a $5,000 “visionary”who gets four Total VIP Weekend Plus passes per festival. Business memberships are $500 to $5,000 per year.
LEAF Schools & Streets (LSS) often serves more than 300 children per week, and 70,000 since starting in 2004, organizers estimate.
Upcoming LSS-related events include summer weekly Cultural Arts in the (Pritchard) Park, on Wednesdays 6-7 p.m. Nex Millen, a LEAF Downtown performer, leads a hip hop jam July 31. Then on Aug. 7, Adama Dembele leads West African drumming. They are among resident 11 teaching artists this year, including juggler Ingrid Johnson and puppeteer Edwin Salas.
The LEAF “Easel Rider” mobile hands-on art lab (a former break truck, given by Harmony Motors) is regularly at the Pritchard series, also in collaboration with Asheville Parks and Rec and summer camps.
Non-profit LEAF Community Arts is “connecting cultures and enriching lives through the arts — locally & globally,” organizers note. LSS’ arts can “bridge cultures and create life-affirming, community building experiences” and training future “leaders and agents of positive change.”
Meantime, the fall LEAF Festival Oct. 17-20 at Camp Rockmount in Black Mountain released headliners: The Wood Brothers, Angelique Kidjo’s Remain in Light, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, and local Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.
For LEAF MemberSHIP, check: www.theleaf.org/membership. For a schedule of performers and Aug. 2-3 and other info, check: www.theleaf.org/downtown
VIP Tickets for LEAF Downtown Aug. 2-3 Benefits Youth Arts.