LEAF Downtown to Include Jonas, River, Hip Hop - TribPapers

LEAF Downtown to Include Jonas, River, Hip Hop

The Billy Jonas Band is (L-R): Juan Holladay, Ashley Jo Farmer, Sherman Hoover and Billy Jonas.

Asheville – LEAF Downtown is live in Asheville again with patrons urged to wear masks and to dance the nights away.

The two-day free festival of music and other creative performing arts is Aug. 27-28. It is based in Pack Square Park. This is the sixth annual LEAF Downtown. It was shelved last summer due to the pandemic but brought back this summer. The festival since 2014 has drawn an estimated total of 100,000 people of various generations. In all nearly 1,000 performers from 19 countries performed, organizers noted. 

There is a combination of local talent and regional and national acts. “Concrete Love” is the theme.

Ryan “R and B” (rhythm and blues) Barber plays funky R&B on the main stage on Friday, Aug. 27 from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. His music was made into Music Video Asheville award-winning videos by Kira Bursky.

Noted percussionist River Guerguerian leads the “Planet Free Radio” world music collective at 6:15-7:30 p.m. He is another Asheville-based act.

The opening ceremony starts at 2:45 p.m. Funky jazz lasts until 4 p.m. by Elder Rod Harris and Funkin’ Around with Garfield. Then Barber takes the main stage.

The headliner that Friday is Newcleus — billed as “legendary masters of electro-funk and hip-hop from Brooklyn.”

The headliner Saturday night is Grandmaster Caz. Caz plays hip-hop at 8:20-9:55 p.m. He is from the Cold Crush Brothers.

Recycling Billy

Billy Jonas is a multi-instrumentalist and singer best known to many as that zany percussionist who bangs on many recyclable materials to produce a variety of sounds. His rhythm and blues and roots band features guitarist-singer Sherman Hoover back full-time. Hoover led The Lost Chord Moody Blues tribute band. Juan Holladay plays marimba. He and Ashley Jo Farmer also adds vocals.

Asheville’s Jonas used to close the main LEAF festivals on Sundays. He got to play in the White House in 2010. His act is praised as very family-friendly. He starts LEAF Downtown’s main stage acts on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Jonas puts on a workshop on that Saturday as part of roaming street performers and instructors. Others include Street Creatures Puppet Collective, jugglers, DOA Champion Breakdancers, and Asheville Hoops Troupe.

D.J. Bowie plays electronic “house” music at 1-2:15 p.m. — after Jonas — on the main stage.

A parade led by a brass band is 5:30-6 p.m. on Aug. 28 and starts by the main stage.

That is followed by dancing to Zabumba — Brazilian drumming — at 6-6:40 p.m. The drum is struck by a twig-like stick for piercing sounds.

Next is “Secret Agency” at 7:15-8:20 p.m. with Agent 23 Skidoo. The LEAF regular is a local Grammy winner for children’s hip-hop music.

Interactive stations at the two-day festival include Easel Rider for children to try their hand at art. Local artists guide them. Local artists and vendors will be clustered in Pack Square Park. Sly Grog Lounge hosts after parties both nights.

The next regular LEAF Festival is Oct. 14-17 at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain. The main act is Ethno USA with its first performance in this country. The troupe has 30 musicians in their twenties from several countries.

For LEAF Downtown performance schedules, $75 VIP tickets or other info go to

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