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“You’re a Nazi,” the 20-something female screamed into the face of an elderly veteran.

The veteran shrugged off the comment as he barreled through the onslaught of protesters, only to find a safe haven amid the security guards and likeminded folks headed for the entrance of the Donald J. Trump presidential rally held this past Monday at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.

Geography and population conspire to make much of Western North Carolina a terrible place for an airport; west of Asheville, commercial airstrips are practically nonexistent.

After talking with staff, volunteers and last year’s groups, Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab decided that this year, she wanted to give performers more of a chance to experience contemporary American culture.

NorthCarolinaLargeDuke Energy Progress’s plan to replace its coal-fired power plant in Asheville with natural gas has garnered partial approval from the N.C. Utilities Commission.

art frTwenty-seven years is a long time for anything.

“It amazing to me that it’s still going on,” Warren Haynes said. “It’s getting bigger and better every year, and I don’t think we would have predicted that when we started it years ago.”

SEE ALSO: Haywood Habitat looks to 2016

art frIn the last two weeks, Joe Rowland has soaked in the California sunshine, rafted the Grand Canyon, wandered the Rocky Mountains, gone skydiving and tamed the endless cornfields of the Midwest, all the while cruising the country in a rock star tour bus. 

He’s also been drinking a lot of beer along the way — a lot of beer. 

fr publicartA life-sized bronze sculpture of three children catching tadpoles will soon have a new pad in the Frog Level district of downtown Waynesville.

art warrenhaynesBy Joe Hooten • Correspondent

Asheville will once again be the home of the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam at the Asheville US Cellular Center Dec. 13-14, where hometown hero and all-around guitar god Haynes will present yet another impressive lineup of talent.

The warm weather and sunshine brings a flurry of people to Waynesville’s downtown to enjoy the local fare — but it can also mean the beginning of busking season.

While Asheville is an epicenter for busking — slang for performing on the sidewalk in hopes of earning a few bucks from passersby — the phenomenon is fairly rare in downtown Waynesville. But every so often, someone will plop themselves down on a bench or take up a position along Main Street’s sidewalk and start crooning. For the most part, they are simply playing for fun.

“If they are just playing to play and it’s not causing a disturbance for somebody else, then we see no need (to address it),” said Waynesville Police Lt. Brian Beck.

But, if they decided to set out an instrument case, hat, jar or receptacle — or otherwise hint even slightly that donations are welcome — performers must have consent from the town.

In Waynesville, busking comes under the category of begging, which is banned per town ordinance. Performers used to have to receive express permission from the mayor himself to perform, but now what is needed is a permit. Buskers must fill out information with the planning and zoning office, which takes only a few minutes. Then, they would receive a permit from the town tax office at a cost of $25.

No permits have been issued for quite a while, however.

“I have not issued a permit for somebody playing an instrument since gosh, I don’t know when,” said James Robertson, the town tax collector.

That could be the reason why there have not been many, if any, problems during the past few years. However, in years prior, there were some issues — particularly with intoxicated individuals performing.

Enforcement is more report-based than anything else. The police will not stop just because they see someone performing. However, if the performer is noticeably causing problems or someone calls to complain, the police will respond.

“If a disturbance is taking place, we have to address it,” Beck said.

Like Waynesville, Sylva is not exactly hopping with buskers either, although the occassional college students from WCU have been known to play their guitar on benches.

“We don’t really have a glut of street performers here,” said Chris Cooper, a member of the Jackson County instrumental fusion band Noonday Sun. “It could just be early in the season.”

At most, Cooper said, he has only ever seen a couple of street performers, including a ukulele player and a saxophonist.

Sylva has stricter guidelines for performing on the town’s main roads. They must appear before the town board to request permission to play for donations.

However, buskers can play at festivals and the farmers market without any sort of permit or pre-approval.

Most businesses would not mind a little entertainment outside their doorstep.

“It is pretty OK with most of the shops around here,” Cooper said.

But town codes that prevent buskers from putting out a collection hat in Waynesville and Sylva could be part of the reason performers don’t take to the street in greater numbers.

Asheville has become a haven for buskers partially because it has no permitting process. Indeed, the vibrant and diverse busking scene is part of the city’s character.

Only performers who incorporate fire into their act are required to obtain a permit for safety reasons. That allows the fire department to keep tabs on them.

When walking downtown, it is difficult to turn a corner and not see at least one person busking. However, merchants irritated by buskers can legally ask them to move along.

“A business owner does have the right to ask them to leave if they are impeding business,” said Diane Ruggiero, superintendent of Cultural Arts in Asheville.

In general, though, business owners enjoy and welcome busking outside their doorstep.

“I think that that is one of the reasons that it works here. The business owners are receptive to it,” Ruggiero said. “A lot of them have good relationships with performers.”

And, although a few problems arise here and there, the system mostly works harmoniously.

Performers cannot stay in one place all day, pass a hat or sell merchandise. But, they can set out a hat or can or guitar case — a silent signal for donations. One thing that Ruggiero has tried to teach passersby is to ignore bad buskers.

Some people will give an ill-sounding musician or otherwise deficient performer money with the caveat that he or she stop or use the funds to take lessons. This doesn’t work, Ruggiero said. It only encourages them to continue.

“All you’ve done is given that bad musician a dollar,” Ruggiero said.

A new FM radio station in Western North Carolina means more than 108,000 people living in the region might not be able to pick up their local National Public Radio station anymore.

That’s because the frequency involved, 95.3 FM, currently serves as a translator for WCQS, serving residents in much of Haywood and Jackson counties. It’s been in service for two decades.

Though there remain a number of other frequencies public-radio fans can tune into west of Buncombe County if they want to listen to WCQS, it will be hit and miss in many mountain valleys — the station comes in on four different frequencies depending on your area — once a new radio station takes over the frequency.

“It is, unfortunately, a challenging situation for us,” said Jody Evans, who has been the executive director of WCQS for about a year. “I think this is a loss for the community, but we are going to do what we can, within the guidelines of the FCC, to get public radio to the people of Western North Carolina.”

Evans was careful to emphasize that The Canary Coalition, who won tentative rights to the frequency, is not at fault; and nor is Western Carolina University, she said, which is fighting the environmental group for rights to 95.3. Rather, WCQS simply isn’t considered “local” under FCC regulations, though the radio station does serve the entire region.

“We can stay on the air until someone builds a station,” Evans said.

In its application with the FCC for rights to the frequency, WCU made the argument that the federal agency should give it 95.3, in part, because the university had plans to help out public radio. Evans deferred any comment on those possible plans to the university.

Granted, public radio will no longer be picked up via 95.3 once another entity takes over the frequency, whether it is WCU or The Canary Coalition, WCU noted in its FCC filings. But “much of this proposed loss area would be avoided, however, by transfer of WCU’s current facilities (WWCU and WWCU-FM1 to WNC Public Radio) … If an applicant other than WCU were to be awarded the Dillsboro allotment, it is virtually guaranteed that the public will lose this source (i.e., the programming of FM Translator W237AR) of noncommercial service upon which it has relied for nearly 20 years.”

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