These mountains inspire creativity. Asheville is an obvious magnet for outdoor enthusiasts (with good reason), but it is also the regularly selected "studio" for painters, potters, crafters, chefs, brewers, musicians and more. Asheville's thriving art culture is clearly evidenced by places such as the River Arts District, a section of Asheville that boasts 200 artists in 22 industrial buildings. It should be no surprise that this beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain paradise which is home to artists of all types, is also brimming with the music of a variety of genres.
Asheville’s rich music history began with Scotch-Irish settlers and evolved into “mountain music,” and was additionally formed by musicians like Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Bluegrass, clogging, and old-time mountain music have been reverberating around these mountains for decades. Much of this music can be witnessed during Asheville’s 50+ year-running annual gathering which is known as the Shindig on the Green, in which residents and visitors, alike gather on the Pack Square green space and watch toe-tapping folk and bluegrass music.
Many musical legends have deep roots in our region, including Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Warren Haynes, The Steep Canyon Rangers, David Holt, Doc Watson. The Father of Electronic Music and creator of the Minimoog Analog Synthesizer, Bob Moog, established his Moog Music Factory in Asheville and has lived in the area for 30 years.
Bluegrass and folk music tend to run in the veins of the region but it certainly isn’t limited to those genres.
In terms of venues, The Orange Peel tends to hold the reputation as one of the most popular live music venues in the country, having hosted greats like Modest Mouse, Tegan and Sara, Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, The Black Keys, Hootie & the Blowfish, Jason Mraz, and many more music legends. Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the top five music venues in America in 2008. There are even more incredible and intimate music venues such as The Grey Eagle and The Mothlight and Ambrose West. Mainstream, high capacity events, and concerts in the area tend to congregate at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at the US Cellular Center.
Beyond paid musical performances, there are also free traditions like Isis Restaurant & Music Hall’s Tuesday Bluegrass Sessions and the Asheville Friday Night Drum Circle which has been Asheville’s favorite drumming dance party for over 20 years, taking place in Pritchard Park. For more information on live music in Asheville, we recommend checking out ExploreAsheville.com's music calendar.