The Black Mountain Center for the Arts (BMCA) has been a mainstay in the heart of Black Mountain for the past 18 years. While the organization, housed in the old City Hall, is committed to evolving its vibrant programming, it is also steeped in tradition. Its commitment to nurturing artists means audiences and participants have had the opportunity to watch artists grow.
A great example of tradition is the yearly Valentine’s Zoe & Cloyd concert to be held this year on Saturday, February 16, at 7:30 pm. Nearly every year since BMCA has been open, husband and wife duo Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller have held a concert in February. Their show is as diverse as their upbringing. Coming from a lineage of klezmer and jazz musicians, Natalya trained classically in her home state of Massachusetts before moving south in 2004. John, a twelfth-generation North Carolinian and grandson of pioneering bluegrass fiddler Jim Shumate, is a first place winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest as well as an Artist Fellowship recipient for songwriting from the North Carolina Arts Council.
Joining Zoe & Cloyd this year for their show at BMCA will be Kevin Kehrberg on bass and Bennett Sullivan on banjo. Kehrberg is a master of the upright bass having performed jazz, bluegrass and old-time music all over the world. He is a much sought-after session player and the chair of the music department at Warren Wilson College. Sullivan is also a highly regarded performer and educator, renowned for his skills on banjo and guitar and as the originator of the online learning platform TuneFox. A veteran of countless stages, Sullivan has performed with Ben Sollee, Maria Muldaur and duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge, and toured with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell in their Broadway musical production Bright Star.
“This is one of my favorite annual concerts,” says Gale Jackson, BMCA’s executive director. “I don’t think we have missed a year except in 2014 just prior to Natalya and John’s baby being born. The growth of this young couple into such seasoned musicians, with a loyal and evergrowing following, means so much to us, to me. I couldn’t be more proud and pleased to know them and their music.”
A nonprofit organization, BMCA has a wide-ranging mission to “bring arts to the people and people to the arts.” In addition to concerts, BMCA provides up to 30 classes a week in everything from drawing and painting to children’s dance. A clay studio works at capacity behind the Arts Center building in the converted town garage. The Front Porch Theatre is in its sixth season and the Upper Gallery has ten displays throughout the year. Each year a variety of fundraising events help keep the doors open and the people flowing in.
Putting the fun in fundraising is the annual Auction for the Arts. This year’s Auction for the Arts will be Saturday, March 2, at 6 p.m. This will be the 14th year this lively event has been held.
“We like to stress that it is an auction for the arts, not an arts auction,” says Jackson. “The variety of things to bid on is so diverse, from gift certificates and services to jewelry and furniture.” More than 30 choice items are up for live auction and many more packages and items are up for grabs in the silent auction. The ticket price includes a buffet dinner, beer and wine. Setting this auction apart from other more sedate fundraisers is the entertainment value of the live auction. “We never know what’s going to happen, but the bidding gets heated and the antics onstage get everyone laughing,” Jackson says. “It’s a blast!”
Tickets for the Zoe & Cloyd concert are $20. Tickets for Auction for the Arts are $35. All tickets can be purchased at BlackMountainArts.org or by calling 828.669.0930. The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 West State Street in Black Mountain.