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Asheville's Downtown After 5 opens new season of music

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5/17/2012 - Asheville's Downtown After 5 opens new season of music
by Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVLLE -- Downtown After 5, the free street concert series, powers up again Friday night on Lexington Avenue, and that means, bites, beers and big crowds on one of the city's funkiest streets.

It's also now one of the best-known avenues: Lexington was just named one of the state's four Great Main Streets by the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association.

That honor will be acknowledged Friday between the musical performances.

About 5,000 fans are expected for Friday's all-local opener. The lineup has been tweaked since the series was first announced, said Meghan Rogers, membership and marketing director the Asheville Downtown Association, which produces the series.

Velvet Truckstop will still headline the show with a set of bluesy rock, but band Analog Moon has taken over the opening slot, replacing Kellin Watson because a scheduling conflict.

Whatever the lineup, Downtown After 5 means ringing cash registers at nearby businesses like the Lexington Avenue Brewery, which is expecting a busy night, said co-owner Mike Healy.

"We definitely pull in some good crowds, and it's a lot of fun," Healy said. "It's a big hit for all the businesses on Lexington Avenue. Before the show, after the show -- people drop in to get something to eat."

Food, drink, parking

Beverages are also available on-site, of course. Beer from four local breweries will be sold -- Highland, Pisgah, Asheville Brewing and French Broad -- at $4 a cup, plus the one-time cost of a $2 wristband.

Anyone drinking will first need to show a current photo ID to buy a wristband. Proceeds from wristband sales this month will go to Asheville Greenworks and the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation, Rogers said.

Different nonprofits benefit each month.

Food vendors range from a kettle corn maker to the Lobster Trap to a taco stand, pizza and Ultimate Ice Cream.

Cash is needed to buy both food and drink, so stop by an ATM first: The nearest one if probably in front of the U.S. Cellular Center on Haywood Street. Other ATMS are at Wells Fargo in Pritchard Park and Coxe Avenue; Asheville Savings Bank, 11 Church St.; Bank of America at 126 College St. and 86 Patton Ave.; BB&T at 1 W. Pack Square. and RBC Bank at 8 O. Henry Ave.

The stage is on Lexington Avenue near the Interstate 240 overpass, so that street will be blocked to traffic starting Friday morning at the Hiawassee Street intersection.

Parking is available nearby in the Civic Center and Rankin Avenue decks, both easy walks. Feel free to park on the street if you find a space, but feed meters before 6 p.m.

Don't leave your car in any unattended private lot, even after business hours.

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