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Ailey II, DAD paintings, Bell Ringers, &new blues for Steeplechase

&bsp; As guests pour into town this weekend for the grand equestrian event of the year, the local artists and venues are rolling out the red carpet in greeting. Tryon Fine Arts Center is &dquo;putting on the Ritz&dquo; tonight with Ailey II. Now in its 50 Season, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York has become synonymous with innovation and excellence while travelling the world as ambassadors of American culture through modern dance. Ailey II is the cutting edge ensemble of the Ailey School, merging young dancers with emerging choreographers to provide the freshest and most energizing dance experience. The performance starts at 8 p.m. For more information, directions or tickets contact the Tryon Fine Arts Center at 34 Melrose Ave. in Tryon by calling 828-859-8322 or going to their website at www.tryonarts.org.

Friday night the Gallery at Bear Creek is dressing up with a vibrant reception for their new collection of oil paintings by former National Geographic photographer Don A. Drown (DAD). This Vietnam veteran has lived an adventurous life behind the lens of a camera working for Time Life Films, the Smithsonian and nearly every television network. A health crisis in 2002 slowed down DAD&squo;s travel lust, but his paintings reflect the wisdom and whimsy of his wandering spirit. The reception will begin at 4 p.m. and kick into high gear at 6:30 p.m. with live music on the porch from The Full Moon Dusters until 9:30 p.m. The young and fresh music of this roots rock group from Asheville is the perfect way to ease your self into a Carolina mountain weekend. Sidle up the Saluda grade to discover The Gallery at Bear Creek located at 5008 US Hwy 176 or contact them for directions at 828-749-4400 or www.galleryatbearcreek.us.

For those who want to escape the crowd out at FENCE, the Friends of the Library will be presenting a lovely musical concert at the Columbus Branch of Polk County Library. Saturday at 1 p.m. treat your self to the combined handbell groups of the surrounding counties performing an afternoon of sacred and secular music as the Blue Ridge Ringers. Local ringers Pamela Easler, Lou Murch, and Jane Stikeleather will join the group which plays five octaves of Malmark Handbells and Handchimes. For more information call Marian Bryan at 828-894-6339.

After the races Saturday night Polk County heats up with live music. The Purple Onion in Saluda will host the Nashville based &dquo;blues grass&dquo; guitarist Brian Ashley Jones. Meanwhile, Saluda Mountain Jamboree offers up a huge dance party with the Southern Pointe from 8-11 p.m. If you are looking for something with a bit more bite, check out the debut at Elmo&squo;s of the Dog Fight Blues Band at 8:30 p.m. Made up of hard working local musicians Red Dog on guitar, Tom Hearn on bass, Mikey Van Dusen on drums and vocals, with Chuck Gurney blowing blues on harmonica the group has been cooking up a special recipe of rocking blues that&squo;s sure to get the
crowd moving and grooving.

Perk up your Sunday afternoon with a bit of live jazz from about 2-4 p.m. as the Dixie Rhythm Aces make a sneak peek appearance at the Gallery Coffeehouse before their dinner concert Wednesday at Persimmons Bistro in Landrum.

Speaking of Wednesday, don&squo;t miss the delightful and entertaining Ann B. Ross as she reads from her new book Miss Julia Takes a Stand. Presented at the Tryon Fine Arts Center at 2 p.m. the proceeds from the program will benefit Thermal Belt Outreach. For more information contact Cynthia Terwilliger at cynthia@tboutreach.org or 828-894-2923.