La Zoom Bus Tour: Forty Feet of Rolling Artistes

Asheville’s Best Bus Tour

‘Get on the Bus’

Jim Lazoun as an Asheville healer. Photo by Leah Franks

Feeding the mythology, legends, and true stories about Asheville, LaZoom Bus Tour owners Jim and Jenn Lazoun keep the artistic tradition alive. Their performance tour includes some faery tricks that will leave the visitor or local Ashevillan on board in stitches.

LaZoom has a hand crafted interior with echoes of roaring twenties fabric and décor. The emphasis on this one of a kind bus tour is the art deco architecture of Asheville’s early 20th Century boom, the history of artists who have lived and worked in Asheville, and the zany antics of Asheville’s residents. There’s a staging area in the front of the bus, as well as drums and an ‘electronic suitcase.’ A stage curtain can be drawn to heighten crowd anticipation of performances.

The tour is a fun filled day of surprises. Jen Lazoun, aka ‘Babs’ is the tour director with an attitude and a quick and sometimes sarcastic sense of humor. Her comedic approach to the local stories and places is original and often — unpredictable. Babs weaves her funny stories with real facts from different periods in Asheville’s illustrious history. She takes especial pleasure in poking fun at Edwin Grove, the millionaire who built Grove Park Inn and the Grove Arcade, and made his money on Chill Tonic.

(upper right) Babs drinks the magical chill tonic.

(center) Jim as a bear on his way to work. Photos by Leah Franks

Jim, on the other hand, is busy running around town, changing costumes like a madman. He pops up on street corners downtown, near homes in Montford, on the way downtown from UNCA, at the Grove Arcade, and even in the River Arts District. In each case, he’s in a different costume, playing a cameo part with a healthy dose of lunacy. These bit parts are designed to highlight some of the major things Asheville is known for, such as healers, bears, corrupt politicians, and the everyday street weirdo looking for an ear to bend.

In essence the two monkey heads that adorn the threshold of the window of the LaZoom Bus say it all: these two are monkeying around, and their humor is contagious.