- A fiddler and a guitarist parry with each other at Shindig on the Green.
By Sandy McLeod
For centuries, music has been interwoven into the Appalachian Mountain lifestyle. Living in remote areas, families and neighbors played music and sang together for entertainment. Children were taught to play instruments at an early age and sing songs passed down from European ancestors. Mountain music is folk music and its cousin is bluegrass. Banjos, fiddles, mandolins and harmonicas are some of the instruments used to play mountain music. Though this type of music is prolific, there are many other types of music popular in the Asheville
area as well. Other popular musical genres include: singer/songwriter, dance music, seventies or eighties tunes, hip-hop, electronic music and more.
[caption id="attachment_214" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Nikki Talley is a local musician who is a favorite downtown."]
Because of its heritage, Asheville
is known among musicians and music appreciators as a musical town. Residents and visitors support local musicians through venues such as The Grey Eagle and the White Horse Black Mountain. This article takes a wider look at music in Asheville. It will offer readers a glimpse of places like the Orange Peel and Civic Center, where nationally known musicians perform. Three summer music festivals will be spotlighted: Shindig on the Green, Downtown After Five and the Biltmore Concert Series.
Ticketed Venues for Music in Asheville, NC
The Orange Peel
In the 1950s and 60s, The Orange Peel was known as a hot R & B and soul club and in the 1970s it was a famous funk and soul club. The Orange Peel reopened in 2002, after sitting vacant for more than 20 years. Six years later, it was named one of the best 5 rock clubs in the Nation by Rolling Stone Magazine
. The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Ice Cube have all performed on The Orange Peel stage. Located right on the corner of Hilliard and Biltmore Avenues, visitors can spot The Orange Peel because of its luminous glow at night.
The Civic Center underwent renovations in 2011 and 2012. Today it is a performance and meeting facility with contemporary updates and more space to accommodate larger crowds and nationally known musicians. The Civic Center has hosted performances by Merle Haggard, Bonnie Raitt, and Riverdance. The Civic Center is home to the Asheville Symphony and the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands. The Civic Center is located in downtown Asheville, at 87 Haywood Street.
Biltmore Concert Series
The Biltmore Concert Series is held on the South Terrace of Biltmore House and begins on August 9th
, with a performance by the Steve Miller Band. Other Seventies favorites, such as Peter Frampton, KC & the Sunshine Band, the Village People and Foreigner will also perform in August and September. Contemporary music lovers will want to catch Alison Krauss and Union Station and Chris Tomlin - slated to perform at the Biltmore Concert Series late this summer.
Free Music in Asheville
Shindig on the Green
The Folk Heritage Committee promotes and preserves the Southern Appalachian musical tradition and has been sponsoring the Shindig on the Green since 1967. This free festival was designed to bring mountain music into the city of Asheville on summer evenings, for all to enjoy. The Shindig has always been held at City County Plaza in Downtown Asheville. Since 2010, Shindig on the Green has a new stage: Pack Square Park’s Roger McGuire Green. Visitors can listen and dance to folk music and bluegrass, watch authentic clogging, and hear ballad singers and storytellers. The Shindig on the Green starts on Sat. June 30th
‘along about sundown’ and happens every Saturday night through September 1st
[caption id="attachment_225" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Downtown After 5 is a local favorite."]
Downtown After 5
Downtown After 5 is another free music festival in Asheville and a favorite event a
mong locals that occurs every summer. This event is now staged at the bottom of Lexington Avenue, near the Interstate 240 overpass.
Catch free music the third Friday of every month from May through September (May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17 and September 21). Asheville’s local breweries sell beer on tap, there’s dancing in the streets, and plenty of food is available from local area restaurants and street vendors.
The Drum Circle
[caption id="attachment_224" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Attending the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park is a favorite thing to do when visiting Asheville."]
Every Friday night from spring through fall around 6:00 p.m., locals gather at Pritchard Park for the Drum Circle. Anyone can participate in the spontaneous drumming. Bring a percussion instrument, or just borrow one. Join in the dancing. Or, simply watch the crowd – a spectacle that is reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s.
Major Street Festivals
Asheville hosts some major arts and music festivals each year that always include a mix of local and regional musicians. Learn more by visiting websites for Bele Chere
) and the Lexington Avenue Arts Festival
(LAAF, September 1-2nd
People visit Downtown Asheville
and other parts of the city to spend time in bars and pubs that support local and regional music. Many establishments provide excellent performance spaces and audiences for musicians in Asheville. Any visitor to Pack Square can see musicians playing and busking in front of restaurants with outdoor café seating. To visit Asheville means partaking in music in the streets and part of celebrating the Appalachian lifestyle.
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