Asheville Burlesque Festival Will Have Knoxville Flavor

The biggest award at the 7th Annual Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival in Asheville, N.C., will get a double dose of Knoxville this year. Organizers of the festival, scheduled for May 24-26, have announced that Krista Payne, aka Kisa Von Teasa of local burlesque troupe Salome Cabaret, has been named this year's recipient of the Phil Slomski Memorial Artist Recognition Award, named in honor of the late Phil Pollard.

Pollard, the inimitable and popular leader of the jazz/art-rock/etc. group the Band of Humans, was active (as Phil Slomski) at the festival before he died in 2011. The name of the award was changed in his memory after his death.

The award recognizes "valiant work in keeping the Vaudeville Arts alive and vibrant," according to the ABSFest website. Organizers note Payne's efforts "in sharing the humor, the sass, and the power of Burlesque as a transformative, empowered healing art for women." She'll officially receive the award on May 25.

"I met Phil the year that the Slomski Brothers first performed at ABSFest and fell in love with them both," Payne says in a press release. "They sang to me of chocolate cake... and I was hooked. Phil's comedic timing and way with words on stage was a beautiful thing. A giving and generous soul, his dedication to his art and his friends inspired me to be more, work more, do more. It seemed to me that Phil worked as hard as he did so that others would also have that chance to shine, and not cower in the dark, being told ‘No.' He was always ready with a ‘Yes!' It inspired me, as I have always believed that my purpose in life was to help others work toward their potential."