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Asheville Music Scene

From Bluegrass to Newgrass to Nograss

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.

These Hills are Alive with the Sound of Appalachian Music

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.

Roots & Trails: New Guidebook!

Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina

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…

Musical Road Tripping

A CD Guidebook for the Ears

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.

Top 8 Toe-Tappin' Adventures in Asheville

  1. Shindig Under the Stars - Bring your lawn chair (and an instrument, if you play one) for a free evening of traditional Southern Appalachian music, jam sessions and folk dancing at Shindig on the Green, Saturday nights under the stars from June through August in Pack Square Park. This is one of the most popular Asheville festivals of the year.
  2. Pick 'n Pie – Learn the secrets of mountain kitchens and mountain music in the same evening! Native Ground Music and Log Cabin Cooking partner to share their deep knowledge of Appalachian arts in beginners' classes in a charming farmhouse setting.
  3. Old Time Jam Session – Appalachian and Celtic music legacies are honored at the informal weekly jam sessions at Jack of the Wood. Rub elbows, and instruments, with Asheville bands and the locals while you enjoy a fresh, hand-crafted pint from Green Man and some time-traveling acoustic tunes.
  4. The Nation's Longest Running Folk Festival – Since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers and others have come to enjoy themselves "along about sundown" the first weekend in August at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.
  5. Bluegrass Buskers – Nowhere is the music culture and bluegrass influence more accessible than on the streets of Asheville. When the weather is nice, nearly every downtown corner offers a spontaneous stage. Head to Pack Square or the iconic Flat Iron statue along the Urban Trail for bands like 13 Strings and a Two Dollar Bill, Flat Creek Trio and The Leather Britches.
  6. Asheville Music Hall Haunts – From intimate listening rooms to large music halls ideal for dancing, Asheville area music venues run the gamut: Grey Eagle, White Horse Black Mountain, Isis Music Hall and The Orange Peel offer variety in their line-ups, but bluegrass and roots can always be found if you watch the schedules. Tip: Asheville's breweries are also musically inclined. Pisgah, Highland, Wedge and French Broad Brewing all offer live music with craft beer cool.
  7. Asheville Drum Circle
  8. Contra and Square Dance – Pack a skirt that twirls! European and American folk dance is seeing a revival, and nowhere is that more clear than in the mountains of Western NC. At Grey Eagle, Warren Wilson or White Horse Black Mountain, the locals will take you in their arms, quite literally, and show you the steps.
  9. Asheville Drum Circle – You might hear a fiddle or banjo thrown in the mix, but the instrument of choice for this 10+ year Asheville music tradition is the drum. Follow the pounding rhythm downtown to a dance party under the stars. You can't help but move your feet.

A Thriving Music Scene

Miike Snow and Petter Winnberg on stage at Moogfest 2012

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.


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Upcoming Events

Hot Point Duo (Gypsy Swing Guitar Duo)

Based out of Asheville, Hot Point Trio includes: Steve Karla on Guitar, Matt Williams on violin, and Trevor Stoia on Bass. The trio currently perform weekly at the Inn at Biltmore. Hot Point Guitar Duo includes Phil Alley with Steve Karla and plays weekly at Creperie Bouchon, Lex 18, and Ben's Tune up in Asheville. HotPoint also includes Lyndsay Pruett on violin (featured in the recordings).

Matisyahu

Matisyahu has come a long way since 2005 when he released his breakout album, Live at Stubb’s (which reached #1 on the Reggae Albums Chart and #30 on the Billboard 200). Since then he has pushed himself dynamically and creatively, breaking with expectation at every turn and remaking his musical image with nearly every album. And his latest—Akeda (Uh-­‐kay-­‐duh)—is no different in this regard. Akeda is depth and naturalness; it is by far Matisyahu’s most personal ...

The Roaring Lions (Non-Traditional Traditional Jazz)

The Roaring Lions is Asheville's most non-traditional traditional jazz trio. This trio of hip musicians performs piano, sousaphone and cornet, the only trio to ever have such a lineup. Made up of current and former members of the Firecracker Jazz Band, this trio takes American traditional jazz roots and explodes them with a scattering of popular post WW2 songs, gospel numbers and the occasional waltz. Their sound is familiar and fresh and experiment freely. Band members include Henry Westmorelan...

Carolina Ceili Celtic Show

  • September 18, 2014
  • Location: Crow & Quill
  • Address: 106 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, NC 28806

Intimate celtic show in the Crow & Quill's lovely Victorian space, at the bottom of N. Lexington Ave.

Live Music Thursday with Chris Rhodes

Come out to hear one of the Asheville area's most versatile artists. Chris blends blues, jazz, R&B and a funky pop-rock for a smooth sound and an unforgettable performance. Check out his website for more details.

Quiet Life

  • September 18, 2014
  • Address: 66 Asheland Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Venue:  The Millroom

Quiet Life started playing together in the Spring, on that first good day of the year, when the sun’s finally in its place and birds make sense and you are back on your porch, or your roof, or your lawn, and you’re not by yourself. With roots on the Jersey Shore, sparks flew when they met further north in New London, where New England meets the Sound. From there, they ran down a dream to the California coast, all the way to San Luis Obispo, and then fled the Promised Land for the nor...

Quiet Life

  • September 18, 2014
  • Address: 66 Asheland Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
  • Venue:  The Millroom

Quiet Life started playing together in the Spring, on that first good day of the year, when the sun’s finally in its place and birds make sense and you are back on your porch, or your roof, or your lawn, and you’re not by yourself. With roots on the Jersey Shore, sparks flew when they met further north in New London, where New England meets the Sound. From there, they ran down a dream to the California coast, all the way to San Luis Obispo, and then fled the Promised Land for the nor...

Delta Moon

Highland's Tasting Room is a unique blend of fresh beer in a family-friendly, top-quality music venue. Voted WNC's "Best Overall Brewery" in 2013 and 2014 by Mountain Xpress voters! Enjoy all of our beers, a tour and specialty offerings rarely found outside the brewery. Next in our line-up of musical talent: Delta Moon.

Downtown After 5 Presented by Harmony Motors: Asheville All-Stars

  • September 19, 2014
  • Location: North Lexington Avenue at I-240 Bridge
  • Address: Downtown Asheville, Asheville, NC 28801

Downtown After 5 takes place the 3rd Friday of the month from May through September, Downtown After 5 is located at N. Lexington Avenue and I-240 and is always free. Asheville All-Stars The All-Stars will include members from Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, The Asheville Horns, Molli Party, The Hermit Kings, Bayou Diesel, Mary Francis and The Dirty Classics, The Tuesday Night Funk Jam House Band, and many more. As a testament to the abundance of musical talent in Asheville, this year's Asheville A...

Xpresso! (Hot Latin Jazz)

Hot Latin Jazz

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