Busking on a bench

© John Gellman

Musician Ryan Torregrossa, who was passing through Asheville for the first time, stopped to busk for a while on a Pack Square bench last night. He sat down and started playing on an empty bench that didn’t remain empty for very long. Ryan quickly gained two companions, one of whom kept a beat with a bean bag, and the other who pitched in with improvisational vocals.

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Busker of the day – Vaden Landers

© John Gellman

Vaden Landers can usually be found busking in Asheville as a member of the Fly By Night Rounders with Abby the Spoon Lady and Chris Rodrigues. He is the lead vocalist for the group and is equally comfortable on guitar or banjo. A while back, Vaden and a group of buskers were eating and drinking alfresco outside one of the downtown restaurants and he noticed me walking by. He yelled in my direction, “Hey, you wanna join our gang?” I did, and we have been friends ever since.

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Buskers of the day – Kelley & Ashton

© John Gellman

Hailing from Washington and Montana, Kelley Harvey and Ashton Smith have been in and out of Asheville for the last few years playing lovely traditional acoustic music. I’ve known them for a while, and they finally came up to my studio for a portrait.

 

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Busker of the day – Nathan Vargo

© John Gellman

My portrait project documenting the street performers or Asheville is gaining steam. Today, Nathan Vargo came upstairs to my Flatiron Studio for a portrait. I’ve known Nathan for over a year since Abby the Spoon Lady introduced us. He plays in a couple different street bands and on his own.  If you are a busker in Asheville, and I haven’t shot your portrait yet, by all means, stop me on the street and talk with me about doing a quick photo session. I already have more than enough portraits for a gallery show, but not enough for a book. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I’ll be laying out a book.

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Am I dreaming, or was that a cello in the elevator?

© John Gellman

While there are many buskers in Asheville, not many of them are cellists. James Squires is the exception. James can be found most weekends playing his cello and flutes in front of the Flatiron sculpture on the corner near my studio. Today he came upstairs for a portrait.

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Shooting buskers in the Flatiron

Chris Ashburn has been a fixture on the streets of Asheville for the last couple years. I have been threatening to serve him some coffee in my studio for quite some time, and he finally came up a few days ago. Of course, I was out of coffee, so we got right to shooting. So I’m sitting in the Flatiron drinking coffee as I write this, but Chris is nowhere to be seen. Imperfect timing.

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And now for something completly different

© John Gellman

A step in the right direction.  Seen on the streets of Asheville.

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Midnight Snack breaks out of hibernation

© John Gellman

Midnight Snack has been one of Asheville’s best busking bands since the day they arrived in town over a year ago. The group of five Berklee grads left Boston and set up shop in Asheville, adding one local talent to perfect the mix. They have been largely absent from the streets for the entire winter. Though it seemed like they went into hibernation, actually they cocooned in a recording studio and a new album is about to emerge. The band was at the top of the bill, and at the top of their form last night at the Asheville Music Hall. They played as tight a set as I have ever heard from them, that featured a mix of old and new material. I can’t wait to hear the rest of their new songs. This band is ready to make its mark on a national stage.

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