The sun shines upon our windshield as we drive down the Blue Ridge, blaring 106.9 as we drive ’round bikers and sight seers toward the top of Grandfather Mountain.

Finally, we get there and we pull over and park. We pull the picnic stuff out of the back, the basket and the food and the sparkling water and the blankets. We take the short hike up through the trees, waving to other hikers, families and couples and elderly people with dogs.

We reach the top. We go out to the edge and look out. People are taking selfies. We stretch out our blanket and set up shop. We talk about the day, of work and worries, of small celebrations. We eat every last morsel and drink every drop, then we pack up and go home.

The view is just as lovely going down. It’s not about the journey or even the destination, but the time together. You gotta redeem the time while you can, cuz it’s fleeting. That’s for sure.

In the meantime, we’re happy just being us.

Review: Harvey Diamond Jazz Series (AMS Loft)


On Friday Nov. 13th, some may have spent their time avoiding creepy hallways and black cats. I, on the other hand, made a b-line straight towards some of the coolest cats I know.

At 8 PM in the Asheville Music School, located in the heart of Downtown Asheville (NC), the last installment of an ongoing jazz series took place.

Performers, Harvey Diamond (piano), Zack Page (bass), and Sonny Thornton (drums), teamed up with Sharon LaMotte (vocals) for a rousing two-hour session.

Harvey started off the night with an instrumental set including “It Had to Be You” and West Side Story’s, “Somewhere,” which he delivered with masterful ease. I first met Harvey through one of his students, who traveled here all the way from Boston to study under him. Let me tell you, his expertise are well worth the trip.

After the instrumental section finished up, the performers headed into the vocal section, lead by Ms. LaMotte, who has a wonderful Diana Krall/Patti Andress vibe to her voice. The music and the vocals balanced well, and she effortlessly floated atop Zack’s sweet and solid bass line. Many of the songs were new to me, but they met me with the warm and tender hug of an old friend. I was grateful for Sharon’s cool and confident presentation of them.

Rounding off this wonderful cast of characters was Sonny Thornton, the most spirited of the group. Time after time, they would give Mr. Thornton ample opportunity to solo. Whether that be with sticks, brushes, or his own bare hands, Sonny took to those solos like a boat takes to water. He definitely rocked out. Max Roach & Buddy Rich would be proud.

Overall, this was definitely a pleasant experience and, at $10 a ticket, definitely a steal. Looking forward to the next series AMS decides to put out.


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Adventures in Music

In today’s episode of “Why Aren’t I Dead Yet?”:

Aaron leaves Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria after a rocking worship session for Asheville Beer and Hymns. He steps out with cajón and guitar in hand. A man with a guitar and a scraggly beard walks up to him and starts jamming out, while maintaining full eye contact the whole way. The guy busts out some wild jazz licks with a voice raspy as all can be. Aaron is impressed. When he finishes, he says, “follow me.” Intrigued, I do just that.

We then proceed to take a walking tour of Asheville, playing music for random folk as we go. We even play INSIDE a gas station, at the attendant’s bequest. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Aerosmith: we are really cooking. Finally, Aaron is beat, goes home, and sleeps soundly that night.

I don’t know why these things happen to me, but I’m so grateful. Kids, don’t try this at home. But, that said, life is beautiful.

Super Selfie Series: Aaron D. Ybarra

A. Portrait

Today, we continue the Gimp Super-Selfie Series with a little self-portait. (See also: Katie Ybarra & Alyse Pierce)

This is me. Aaron D. Ybarra. Enjoy!

Once again, I encourage you to pick up your phone, download the freeware program, and create your own Super Selfie. It’s a ton of fun. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Note: If you dig the look and are in the Asheville NC area, hit me up on the site. I’d love to meet you and work on a project together.

Blessings to you in Christ,


The Wood Brothers’ “Spirit” (Cover)

Hello friends,

Today’s adventure in Musicland takes us to a band practice for The Well, a contemporary worship service taking place at 10:50 am every Sunday morning at Weaverville United Methodist Church (NC). The percussionist featured in the above vid, is a big fan of the band, The Wood Brothers. She got the great idea, after practice, of running through some of their songs. I personally was particularly drawn to “Spirit.” So, after jamming out to it for a bit and giving it our own unique spin (in the key of Db), we thought it would be super-awesome to share our shenanigans with y’all. So, here you go: our cover of The Wood Brothers’ “Spirit.” Enjoy!

Note: you can catch the original version here.

Blessings to you in Christ,