With the streets loaded with hot cars and galleries filled with cool art, visitors for September’s Downtown Live and First Friday ArtWalk in downtown Ashland embraced the first chill of autumn.
The evening began with a tribute to the nation’s military veterans as members of the Ashland Police Dept. Honor Guard held the American flag and other banners aloft before the main stage as anthems for each of the nation’s military branches played through the P.A. system. Following the tribute, members of the band Mountain Station tuned up for a set of country music and original songs. Launching into a performance which was rich with harmonies and the singing sound of acoustic instruments, band members Joseph Hatfield, Chip Newman, Austin Nemith and Heath Lafferty chuckled as their bassist told the audience they had recently been a bluegrass band, but switched to country music after losing both their banjo and mandolin player.
A block away, members of Ashland Youth Ballet entertained along 15th Street, using a multi-colored parachute as part of their own military tribute before moving to strict entertainment moves as the familiar strains of “The Limbo Song” echoed along the avenue while the young dancers arched their backs to go beneath.
Among the collected Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Chevelles and custom machines along Winchester Avenue, a two-wheeled vehicle may have received more attention than any other vehicle downtown.
“Did you see the motorcycle bike?” several asked as they walked away from a 1952 Whizzer-powered bicycle owned by Elwood Lewis, who often found himself surrounded by curious fans who had either never seen a Whizzer engine for a bicycle, or those who once owned or are now rebuilding one of the once-popular units which promised their owners up to 100 miles per gallon.
Also on the sidewalk, father and son musicians Brian and Tim Brown played guitar while percussionist Josh Daniels maintained a beat for songs including classic rock covers. Causing at least a few people on the street to grin at the inside joke, the younger Brown performed his rendition of Led Zep’s “Going to California,” as a nod to his recent return from the golden state.
Crowds often remarked about the quality of art on display in both The Upstairs Gallery, as well as The Throughbred Agency, where an exhibit focused on the often unseen images to be found in up-close macro photography.
Inside the Pendleton Arts Center, father and son team Scott Milam and Colin Milam used a vibraphone and a bass guitar to fill the artisan’s center with mellow sounds. The senior Milam grinned when asked about his instrument, noting he simply nods and agrees when people call the unusual instrument a xylophone.
Friday’s exhibit at the Pendleton Art Center in Ashland focused on the work of artists who have never visited the city. Pendleton artist Andrea Prince curated the exhibit, called “Structure,” which was a national invitational show featuring the works of seven of her art-world associates, each of whom is an award-winning artist.
“I chose them because their work demonstrates structure in a unique way,” Prince said.
Rock Springs Winery owner Sue Bond welcomed guests to their new studio space inside the arts center, offering tastes of their Carter-County born vintages and selling a few bottles during the curse of the evening.
“We will be ready for next First Friday,” Bond said with a smile as she poured a small sample of their cabernet sauvignon.
At The Lamp Post, the sounds of piano and banjo as played by guest musician Dale Maddy echoed along the street as a group of writers and poets gathered for a reading, as well as to appreciate the art and sculpture work of Linda Harbison of Flatwoods.
Lamp Post owner Shane Fields said the evening’s gathering was the fourth First Friday celebration at the cafe on the corner of 15th St. and Greenup Avenue.
“The payoff is that we love the arts and want to support the arts,” Fields said, adding the restaurant now displays and sells the works of local artists who display their pieces at the business.
“They make our place look beautiful and we enjoy what they bring,” he said.
Singer/songwriter Louie McNeal brought the downtown entertainment to a close Friday, accompanying himself with only an acoustic guitar for September’s Ashland Main Street Songwriters Showcase at Chimney Corner Cafe.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.