In a time when the heart of downtown Asheville is changing more than ever, one can still hear a strong beat of local culture in West Asheville.
Last Saturday, the annual All Go West music festival produced by Hi-Wire Brewing was back after taking a break last year. All Go West (AGW) proved itself a reflection not only of the city’s thriving culture, but of the residents who really make Asheville what it is.
Not your typical summer fest that takes place in grassy fields miles outside of a city, AGW took place across four different stages scattered throughout West Asheville.
The Hi-Wire Brewing Main Stage was in the parking lot of the Isis Restaurant and Music Hall. Other venues included The Brew Pump, which hosted the “Asheville Grit Stage” between shut down gas pumps, and stages at The Mothlight and Isis Music Hall.
The daylong festival boasted a total of 34 music acts, both local and national. While Asheville may be known to tourists for its bluegrass scene, AGW showed off a different kind of diversity.
“All Go West reaches into the fringes of what’s popular right now,” said Tiziana Severse, a West Asheville resident. “ I have nothing against straight up bluegrass or classic rock bands, but All Go West tries to break out of those particular genres and ask what else is going on.”
As attendances walked around the festival, that sentiment was clear.
From the African drums and marimba of the band Aza, to the sound of horns from the energetic New Orleans based New Breed Brass Band, to the acoustic and powerful gritty vocals of Pierce Edens, to the melodic, psychedelic harmonies of Onawa, to headliner New York rapper Kool Keith, AGW was not shy in it’s variety of offerings.
Biko Casini of the local band Aza reflects about how for West Asheville, AGW is more than just a music festival.
“West Asheville is really an up and coming community and so to acknowledge that through coming together around a festival is a really good thing to do,” Casini said. “(West Asheville) has a flavor like a neighborhood. While Asheville has really become a hotel, tourist and commercial zone, West Asheville is still a cultural zone — It’s still a place where the culture of Asheville gathers.”
In spite of the summer’s humid heat, Saturday’s turnout to AGW did not disappoint with that neighborhood feeling showing through.
Families ruled the scene, with many children present and enjoying the festivities with their parents. Many folks sprawled out on blankets in the shade with their friends while others braved the sun holding cold beers.
The indoor stages provided a place to cool off to some air conditioning and possibly some high-powered soul music while bumping shoulders with your neighbor. The energy all around was mellow, happy, and maybe most importantly, local.
Overall, All Go West was a refreshing burst of cultural color that felt catered to the people of Asheville. While the downtown scene continues to evolve, the West Asheville scene is clearly evolving right along with it, as a place where unique festivals like All Go West keep the heart and soul of our city thriving.
Part of all All Go West proceeds go to Asheville Music Professionals. AMP: Providing education, advocacy, connection and collaboration for the people who work and thrive in music in Buncombe County.