The first Rhythm & Brews concert downtown drew hundreds of people to downtown Hendersonville Thursday night for two rocking bands and craft beer and local wine.
The appeal of good weather, music and refreshments drew a wide assortment of people. Local people ran into one another and said "Everyone is here." Younger people turned out — a goal of the city's Main Street promotion effort.
Lew Holloway, the city's Main Street coordinator, dashed from one task to the next as if his hair was on fire. You look busy, someone told him.
"I'm busy," he said. "But it's a good busy."
Praise for the event was widespread and complaints few — among them that the line for official beer bracelets and tickets was too long.
"It's a great turnout," Holloway said. "We're just very excited. We've already figured out a couple of things to do for round 2."
The problems could be chalked up to a success in some way. The organizers did not project just how popular a weeknight event with bands and beer would turn out to be. Local people said they thought the event was a game changer in terms of allowing publicly sanctioned booze, on city property. Police and organizers reported no problems with the event.
The inaugural Rhythm&Brews opened with singer Aaron Burdett followed by Caitlin Krisko and the Broadcast, the headline group.
"Other than adding another night (to draw people) the biggest thing is it's a venue that maybe the music is a little bit different," Hendersonville Councilman Jeff Collis, who has been involved in the planning from the beginning, said Thursday afternoon. "Maybe it will show that we're not as stuffy as some people think we are."
The downtown advisory committee that helped shape the Rhythm & Blues series had new blood and a different outlook, Collis said. It endorsed the idea of a music lineup that would do more than play covers of popular hits of the last 40 years.
"I'm hoping that this will bring out not necessarily a younger crowd but just a different demographic that doesn't always come to the events," he said.
An overflow crowd of volunteers turned out Monday night at SAB for training from a state law enforcement agent on serving of alcohol. Sponsorships were easy to get, he said. "It was amazing the sponsorship money that came in and all the people that wanted to be involved."
Sierra Nevada, he said, insisted on giving the small local craft brewery at least equal billing to its own national brand.
"Probably one of the biggest things was they wanted the small breweries to be the ones actually out there," he said. "That just says a lot to me about how they're involved in the community."
Volunteers from Four Seasons Rotary Club helped cordon off the Azalea parking lot on King Street between Third and Fourth avenues. The Friends of Ecusta Trail sold Papa John's Pizza with proceeds going to the rail-to-trail effort.
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