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Asheville's music scene is a vital piece of the city's culture. The rhythm of the city began centuries ago with the arrival of Scotch-Irish settlers who filled the hills with the sounds of their reels, ballads and folk songs.
A progressive and collaborative arts community, Asheville's modern music scene melds old and new with surprising ease. Music permeates the city from the street musicians who serenade you downtown, to multi-generation bluegrass jam sessions, to a rock club (Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club) named one of the best in the country by Rolling Stone.
Today, Asheville's music scene is all encompassing. Traditional mountain music still rings out from national artists such as David Holt and Laura Boosinger who live in the area. Classical music from the Asheville Symphony Orchestra fills the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium throughout the year.
The instruments needed for distinct mountain sound have old world origins. The banjo hails from Africa and the fiddle has European roots. However, the only native instrument to the mountain region, is the Appalachian dulcimer. This instrument is considered to be one of the easiest to learn due to its small string count and simplified fret system. Want to find one for yourself? Visit the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville where the Woodrow stringed instruments are sold. If you travel to Black Mountain visit Song of the Wood to see a wide collection of mountain dulcimers for sale.
Mountain music traditions are alive and well in the Blue Ridge and a new travel guidebook, Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, offers an epic tour to the public settings where folk music and dance still thrive. Mountain musicians are as laid-back and welcoming as they come, so when heading out to find some Asheville music, bring your dancing shoes and banjo and play on in…
Listen while you explore. Many of the region's historic musicians are featured on a 20-track companion CD for the newly released Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina. Imagine driving along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway with sweeping mountain views—nothing could be more fitting than a soundtrack of authentic Asheville music with that distinct Appalachian flavor.
Songs from this “guidebook for the ears” include “Swannanoa Tunnel,” “Frankie Silver's Confession,” and “Tom Dooley” and are based on actual events that took place in the region. The rich storybook of folk songs features raw, field recordings made in musicians' homes as well as professionally recorded tracks.
The sounds of the modern era also thrive in Asheville. Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer and pioneer of electronic music, spent his final years in Asheville and set up a company here that continues his musical vision.
Alternative rockers The Smashing Pumpkins made Asheville their temporary home with a nine-show residency in 2007 at the Orange Peel. And well-known artists such as Gladys Knight, Warren Haynes and David Wilcox have made Asheville their newfound home and drawn inspiration from the area.