Beat from the street (Apr. 17, 2017)
Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether they are behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals and tourists alike enjoy delicious beer.
Derek S. Welch, musician, originally from Reno
|Derek Welch is prone to smashing guitars. Photo|
by Dusty Albinger.
“My profession, other than running around in the streets, is I play music but I constantly smash my guitar so I don’t have one at the moment. I smashed that in Richmond. I went to school for journalism in San Jose and I’ll write. Once in a while, something gets submitted and I’ll get a little bit of money. But, other than that, hustling.”
Yeah, yeah. So, what makes you smash your guitar?
“There’s multiple different things. Usually, it’s just me being excited. The last one, I can’t get into detail. But yeah, these things happen.”
What would you say, if you had a life motto, what would it be?
“My life motto is just to see as much as I can before I die. I’ve tried to settle down multiple times and I will sometimes, mostly for a lady or something. But, when that fails, it’s back to the road again and I just love it. I love not knowing what’s going to happen from day-to-day. It’s exciting. It’s not monotonous.”
Living on the unknown, on the edge of the unknown.
“It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful way to live and it keeps you in the moment, you know? I don’t focus so much on my past or on my future. Because when I get too involved thinking about that, it drives me crazy. I want to kill myself. So, as long as I’m living in the moment, I’m good and I’m happy and I’m smiling.”
What’s the most interesting place you’ve been?
“Lots of places in the U.S. I loved Italy. That was great and Mexico’s pretty bizarre. So, I would say I love Missoula, Montana. I love New Orleans, but I can only be there for so long before I go crazy. I love Denton, Texas and then I’m from the West Coast. So, I love all of the West Coast, pretty much.”
Yeah. What brought you to Asheville?
“Actually, it was a gal that I used to travel with years ago. She settled down out here and I was living in California briefly, and so she wanted to come grab me and she drove all the way across the country to get me in Roseville, California and then she took me to Asheville to this house that doesn’t exist anymore. But, it used to be like a mecca for people that traveled through here and so that’s how I originally came here and there’s a bunch of train hoppers and other street kids and musicians that came through here. You meet a lot of great people and ever since then, I’ve been drawn back, at least once or twice a year. Whenever I need a haven, I come back.”
Yeah, it’s kind of like your solace. What’s your craziest road story?
“Oh lord, man, I hate that question.I’m sorry. It’s because it’s crazy from day-to-day and to pick one out is impossible because every day is so weird. You know, you have your boring days. You have your hard days where you wake up punching yourself in the head and screaming at things, you know, screaming at the heavens and then all of a sudden, you meet a bunch of wonderful people and a bunch of weird shit happens that you have no idea what’s next. So, it’s hard to narrow it down to one. I’m sorry. It’s too weird. It’s too weird on the streets to pick one.”
So, in terms of what inspires you, in terms of writing and creativity?
“Well, that’s one reason why I keep traveling is because of all the strangeness that goes on, the people you meet, you know? One night you’ll be at a noise show hopping on your buddy’s back while he’s riding a tiny bike around and your friend’s on some giant swing and there’s crazy music going on. The next day, you’re starving to death in the middle of Wyoming and there’s nothing a hundred miles that way or a hundred miles that way. So, it’s great material to be able to write about because it’s just different and it’s true.”
Yeah, you experienced it. You lived it.
“Yeah, yeah. So, I’m not just making stuff up. I mean, yeah, a lot of it’s fiction that I write, but it comes from real experiences, stuff that you can’t make up.”
So if you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you choose and why?
So if you were to describe one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville, what would you say?
“I dislike the cops and I love the people. I love the music and the art and just the variety of individuals that have somehow come together in the middle of North Carolina. It’s just this really strange place. It’s just a mecca for beauty. It’s awesome.”
Brett Morgan, student, originally from Weaverville
|Brett Morgan, right, and Ashley Dillingham share|
a mutual admiration for Club Kids culture.
Photo by Dusty Albinger.
What inspired these looks?
“We always get told that Asheville’s a freaky town. But, everytime we’re around, we never see freaks. So, we just want to remind people that there are freaks in this town and that’s what makes this town beautiful.”
How would you describe your style?
“We’re very much inspired by the 90’s club kids and the modern-day club kids too.”
So, if you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you choose and why?
“I would personally choose freaky, fun and outgoing because you have to be outgoing to go out like this.”
Yeah, for sure. What is the Barbie motif?
“It was just a theme we had. We just worked from what we can find. I made most of this outfit. It’s mostly D.I.Y. You’ve gotta work with what you have.”
Yeah, put the parts together. So, if you were to describe one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville, what would it be?
“I would say that I really love all the festivals that go on in Asheville. It seems like there’s a lot of them, especially now that it’s starting to get warmer. But the stuff I don’t like is people always say that Asheville’s like a crazy, freaky town. But if you come here, it’s really not.”
Yeah, yeah. You need to bring that back for sure. Who’s your favorite club kid?
“My favorite would be Walt Paper from the 90’s. My modern-day favorite club kid would be Aquaria. She’s a drag queen.”
Ashley Dillingham, student, originally from Weaverville
“I like a lot of 80’s fashion and the club kids scene as well and I like pretty much everything avant-garde and artistic that really brings out people’s uniqueness.”
If you were to describe yourself in three words, which three words would you choose?
“Electric, charismatic and unique because really I think standing out in this world is the best thing you can do, especially in Asheville. Since, like Brett was saying, most people say Asheville’s really unique and creative. But, you really don’t see that on the streets as much.”
Yeah, you used to walk around and see tribes of Wiccans everywhere and that was distinctly Asheville in the 90’s. So, if you have a life motto that you live by on a day-to-day basis, what would you say it would be?
“Don’t dream it, be it, probably because I think a lot of what you create can really put an impact on everything around you.”
James Hughes made the video for this column, which was originally published in The Blue Banner.