News Column

Dueling sabers, dual exhausts, music and art part of downtown First Friday

June 8, 2013


June 08--ASHLAND -- Cloudy skies gave way to sunshine over Ashland just in time for the June First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live.

"You won't see one of these in a car show," said Alan Ballard of Westwood as he proudly displayed the nearly perfect 1989 Chevrolet Chevette he had just bought. The pioneering-class economy car has a little more than 34,000 original miles, he said, adding "I used to wax this car. I always liked it and when I heard it was for sale I bought it."

Among those strolling from vehicle to vehicle was Nashville songwriter Dean Dillon, who was in town visiting friends. The otherwise incognito celebrity even paused while admiring a Corvette to speak with an enthusiastic fan who may have misinterpreted the meaning behind the lyrics to one of his more famous songs.

Pretty girls seemed to be everywhere as the festivities began, with a group of young models displaying fashions from inside the windows at Sincerely Yours Consignment next to the Pendleton Arts Center, where the musical duo of Alice Cornwell and Megan Hall used their voices and an acoustic guitar to entertain the mobile audience. Sincerely Yours owner Lavenna Stambaugh smiled as her bassist husband, Billy, teamed up with guitarist Bill Tussey to play traditional tunes as "The Bills" while models Courtlyn Lewis, Autumn Hoffman, Abbey Stambaugh, Hannah Tussey, Claire Wilson, Audrey Deal and Paige Fraley took turns in the window.

Stambaugh said her shop has definitely been rewarded by participating in the monthly First Friday festivities. ""It is very good. It not only brings in business, but it's good advertising," she said, adding the street celebration always brings her customers who would have otherwise not visited her shop.

Inside the Pendleton Art Center, musician Scott Miller prepared a small army of young musicians from the Appalachian School of Music who have graduated to the intermediate and advanced levels. Miller said the group, made up of Saralyn Miller, Katie Miller, Levi Miller, Elijah Miller, Noah Miller, Charlie Cook, Tanner Henderson, Bailey Henderson, Sue Yancy and Kelly Fields planned to use an array of instruments, from fiddle and guitar to mandolin and upright bass, for a selection of traditional tunes that evening.

Near the back of the multi-artist center, Mr. Jeremy Grizzle welcomed guests and students alike to his new studio space, Madmen Inc., where he plans to create and display his own art as well as the art of other area artists. "I'm going to be giving art lessons out of here too," he added.

On the sidewalk at the entrance of The Upstairs Gallery, musicians Brian Brown and Josh Daniels traded an Ovation acoustic guitar to entertain the passing crowds with songs including an upbeat rendition of "Folsom Prison Blues." About a block away, Alec Stone of Ashland stood by a table holding high-tech yo-yos, and demonstrated his favorite trick, "Jamaican Flag," which emulates the banner of the island nation in the West Indies.

Among the most popular parts of the monthly street scene, roughly 30 members of the Ashland Lightsaber League squared off for duels and displays of their fighting techniques along 15th Street beside Fat Patty's. Organizer Travis Parker said the group, which normally meets and conducts combat in Central Park on Friday evenings, normally limits weaponry to the type of lightsabers seen in the Star Wars movies, although some of their members have taken the art of making weapons to new heights.

"Some nights we let people use more exotic weapons," said Parker, adding one of their members created a lightsaber-scythe, which was a bit too effective. "We had to ban that because it was way too good!"

Entertainment from the main stage was provided by the duo of Sister Reddenhair, with vocalist Angy Hall and Ashland Main Street executive director Danny Craig. With a boost from backing tracks recorded by Craig, the two-musician team delivered a set of classic songs, including selections from Neil Young, Yes, The Doobie Brothers, The Beatles, Hall & Oates and Pink Floyd.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at


(606) 326-2651.


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