The Broadcast has its most ‘intense’ gig of year at LEAF, teaches youth



Guitarist Aaron Austin and singer Caitlin Krisko have synergy in the studio and live shows of The Broadcast. They played at LEAF, and will do a local New Year’s Eve concert. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

By Pete Zamplas – Asheville-based rock band The Broadcast peaked in its “intensity” and improvisational flow and frolic while playing at LEAF this past weekend, lead singer Caitlin Krisko said.

She told The Tribune after the band’s third and final daily show of the festival, on Sunday, that it felt the best of the entire year anywhere on that first night.

Krisko, earthy vocalist who fronts the band along with sizzling electric guitarist Aaron Austin, was happy about the band’s second time playing at LEAF. She said it was also enriching to work with local youths in the week leading to LEAF, as part of Youths of LEAF Schools & Streets (LSS).

She said their enthusiasm crested when joining in singing, in “call and response” collaboration. She urged how personal expression can start in music, and help in various aspects of life.

LSS develops six assets: Creative activities, cultural “competence,” self-esteem, personal power, learning from adult role models, and community values. Organizers point to gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, creative thinking and verbal skills. They say arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. Studies show that students with a high engagement in the arts are more apt to stay in school.

LSS began in 2004 and keeps growing, reaching out to locals and beyond with residential teaching artists and volunteers.

People can end this year hearing The Broadcast play in the renovated historic former S&W Cafeteria, an art deco building off Patton Avenue and across from Pritchard Park in Downtown Asheville.

The band’s third CD is due out in May. Grammy winner Jim Scott, who has produced The Broadcast, calls its music full of “soul and vibrancy.”

That aptly describes their live shows. They go beyond energetic “Steamroller” and other recorded originals, to rock classic covers as bonuses. At LEAF, The Broadcast did riveting versions of The Allman Bros.’ “Whipping Post” and Joe Cocker’s soulful version of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

The Broadcast on Friday night wowed those packed inside Eden Hall of Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain. The band played there again Saturday morning, then outdoors on the lakeside main stage on early Sunday afternoon. The weather was mild and pleasant. The crowd vibe felt electric, and Krisko said the band feeds off of that for reaching even greater dimensions.

“We reached a place we hadn’t been before” such as in “intensity,” Krisko said.

LEAF as it usually does sold out to its capacity of 12,000, festival Communications Coordinator Megan Ashley Crow noted. There were many families there.

Teens could relate to own of their own — albeit a genius one — in estudious-looking Ian Ridenhour. The keyboardist-guitarist and his band played outside Saturday night. They were at the Sunshine Stage, in the tent area near the Jam Tavern tent where Brie Capone later sang.

Capone sang with Ridenhour for the end of his gig. They shared the Video Music Asheville top judges’ award this spring for best overall video among 27 finalists. Capone then was chosen as the Newsong LEAF Singer-Songwriter Champion. The Reynolds High School grad of a decade ago plays guitar solo, and has a sultry voice. She joked with the crowd between her songs of clever lyrics, as the night chilled.

She is used to chill, as she skinny-dipped in Skinny Dip Falls near Canton for the video of her soulful, piano-driven tune “Scars.” She often slowly submerged herself in the river. Freezing water numbing her om tje four-hour filming stretch, she noted. Andrew Anderson produced her video.

Ridenhour co-won with his video of his jazzy pop “Dancing Children.” The video was made by Kira Bursky, with smooth flow and snappy special effects. The chessboard background reflects Ridenhour’s intellect.

He won $50,000 on TV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in its Whiz Kids Week early last year. He graduated from high school at 14, in Bismarck, N.D. and lives in Black Mountain. Now 17, he studies at UNC-Asheville. He will audition on Dec. 2 for Cal-Berkeley’s music school.

A reflection of LEAF’s family-friendly atmosphere is how Ian’s father Jamieson Ridenhour is his lead guitarist. Ian’s mother Gwyn was also there. She was a librarian, Ian told the crowd, while his father is an English professor (and playwright). Thus he grew up “around words,” he noted in introducing his song “Confidential Transcendental.”

LEAF feels “super cool,” Ridenhour told The Tribune about his first time ever at the music-art-healing arts festival. He writes peppy alt/indie pop-rock. He was very expressive with motion and vocals, enthusiastic and personable with the crowd.

Nearly 7,200 youths have performed in LEAF festivals, organizers estimated. This time, their acts include on the main stage Saturday morning, joining LEAF International Guatemala Feat with special guest singer David Lamotte.

LSS is active year-round. For five summers, its Easel Rider Mobile Art Lab has served youths more than 11,300 times. LSS has sponsored over 500 artist programs, 310 programs in schools. LSS has more than 67,000 counts of students in residences, workshops or performances.

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