The eighth-annual Red White and Bluegrass Festival unites ears at Catawba Meadows Park with the floating notes of 40 different bluegrass acts over five days (including the free "Fan Appreciation Day" acts on June 30). Bring a blue lawn chair and delight in the high, lonesome sound of such headliners as Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, JD Crowe & The New South, and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which will close out the festival just before the fireworks. Half of the bands in the 2011 lineup have never performed at the festival, while the other half have been playing a collaborative art piece together since the festival's inception eight years ago.
Grammy-nominated country-bluegrass performer Dierks Bentley takes the stage at this year's Appalachian Summer Festival, an annual outdoor concert and arts celebration held in Appalachian State University's football stadium. Bentley croons his way through songs from his latest album, Up on the Ridge, and plucks audience heartstrings while revisiting career-defining tracks such as “What Was I Thinkin’,” and “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do." Bring a blanket and watch firework displays with awed eyes, or thumb-wrestle aggressive praying mantises encroaching on your sandwich plate.
Since 1936, the historic Gem Theatre has moved movie lovers to laughter and tears with films in an elegant, comfortable single-screen vintage theater. Peruse current showtimes and choose a first-run film, which may include a romantic romp, a superhero adventure, an independent feature, or Casablanca II: Electric Boogaloo. Guests pick up their sodas and popcorn at the concessions stand in the carpeted lobby, whose ornate table lamps cast soft light on potted plants and flowers. In the red and gold 916-seat amphitheater, upholstered floor seats beckon audience members and balcony perches provide a sky-high view behind marbled wood rails. Before the film, guests watch wrought-iron vines curl around colorful birds in sculptures flanking the screen. Sumptuous gold curtains hide the big screen until showtime, allowing staff members to finish reenacting each film’s climactic scene in private.
At Aerial Space, workouts unfold in midair. Practitioners weave through suspended silks, flow through yoga poses supported by hammocks, or practice acrobatic moves on the static trapeze and lyra, a suspended hoop. Aerial Space's aerial circus-arts classes, offered privately and for groups of children and adults, instill equal parts grace, fitness, and newfound skill.
As the resident company at New York’s 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, Doug Varone and Dancers strive to tell emotionally resonant stories through original, technically complex modern dance pieces. During "Lux," the graceful, athletic bodies of the troupe's eight dancers, including Waynesville native and Carolina Day School graduate Erin Owen, overleap imaginary potholes and fire hydrants to the music of renowned Candyman II composer Philip Glass. Spectators slotted into the Diana Wortham Theatre's 500 comfortable seats can also squint at the footnotes of "Chapters From a Broken Novel," which intertwines several short-story vignettes, or wave farewell to "Boats Leaving." Those seeking extra background and insight into the routines can attend a 7 p.m. pre-show discussion free to ticket-holders and left-footed ballerinas.