Avalon Rock Fest Benefits Humane Society - TribPapers

Avalon Rock Fest Benefits Humane Society

Euphoria features, L-R: lead guitarist Kenny Stephenson, bassist Christian Justus, and singer Gene Miller. They are shown at their reunion concert at Bold Rock Hard Cider in Mills River in 2018. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Hendersonville – Local progressive rock band Skies of Avalon is putting on the Avalon Rock Fest on May 20, to benefit the Blue Ridge Humane Society (BRHS) of Henderson County.

The venue and main sponsor is Oklawaha Brewery at 147 First Ave. East. on the edge of Downtown Hendersonville. There is no admission charge. Donations will be accepted for BRHS. Dollar drawings will be held between band acts, with 20 percent of proceeds going to BRHS, festival organizer Christian Justus noted. He is a vocalist and bassist for Skies of Avalon and closing act Euphoria.

Justus said that he is an “avid animal advocate and lover.” He and his wife Marie own four dogs. They adopted one of their two cats from BRHS. BRHS is Oklawaha Brewery’s non-profit beneficiary for this month.

Justus’ two prior festivals were the Rock & Roll Truth Music Fest in 2019 and ‘21. Fest II drew more than 600 people, and raised $2,200 for BRHS. “I appreciate what the BRHS does to match the right dog or cat with the right home,” Justus said. “They also facilitate training for animal care and sponsor a great, affordable spay/neuter program… BRHS depends on the community for support…”

The festival’s musical lineup once again has area bands that play mostly original rock and rock, and with a reunion of Euphoria as the closing act. Euphoria plays 8 to 11 p.m. 

“Miles Away” is one of its sizzling hits. Hard-driving Euphoria formed 35 years ago, with then-East Henderson High School students. They played in 1988-99, toured throughout the Southeast, and did a few reunion shows since 2015.

Euphoria features the “mighty voice of Gene Miller,” who is flying from Oregon for the benefit show, Justus said. The talented lead guitarist is Kenny Stephenson, who fronts rock band Awaken the Dream.

He and Justus co-wrote “Real This Time” in the Nineties. Justus said the lyrics are about finally “accepting true love.” That up-tempo song is now a recent Skies of Avalon release on its initial CD entitled Per Tempus. Euphoria drummer Robert Hughes plays with Crimson Moon.

Asheville-based Appalachian Renegades kick off the festival from 4 to 5 p.m., playing a “blend of modern and classic rock, with big guitar riffs and bold saxophone.” Justus’ Skies of Avalon plays at 5:20-6:20 p.m.

Counter, from Morganton, plays at 6:40-7:40 p.m. Counter features vocalist Amy Olsen and guitarist Mike Fox. The band delivers “driving rhythms, lush vocal harmonies, and in-your-face guitars in a sonic mixture of rock, metal and pop/punk.”

Skies of Avalon

Skies of Avalon consists of bassist-vocalist Justus, keyboardist-vocalist Steven Posey, lead guitarist Johnny Thorn, and drummer Jacob Whiteside. 

Skies of Avalon released its first CD last December, of originals plus Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Crowd favorites include “Skies of Avalon,” patriotic “The Day,” and “10 Degree Difference” which Justus calls a “revenge anthem.”

Thorn edited the band’s video for its intricate “Tides,” another crowd pleaser. Justus said the theme is reflected in “All of your life, you’ve had to put up a fight” emotionally. The band plays “Tides,” its “The Way of Kings” trilogy and other songs live, before recording them.

The band will release a new single quarterly starting later this year. “The first single begins an epic, multi-part series concept about a deceptive organization known as The Order,” explained Justus, a budding fantasy adventure novelist. “The Order wishes to control every aspect of society, taking advantage of and manipulating a young, orphaned woman to do its bidding.”

Skies of Avalon returns to its unofficial home venue of Dry Falls Brewing Co. in Hendersonville, on June 17.