Culture + Style

A Live Music Lover’s Guide to Asheville

From downtown streets to local bars, you can find live music anywhere in Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo: Getty Images)

You don’t really have to go anywhere to hear live music in Asheville, North Carolina. Buskers congregate on downtown sidewalks to play “newgrass” aka Americana. If it’s a Friday night, follow the locals to Pritchard Park for the drum circle. There’s probably no better place to chill like an Ashevillian. But, in case you need a few more options, here are some other live music spots to hit.

Go for the Standards

The Orange Peel has been named one of the best music venues in the United States. There’s something going on at this 1,000-capacity club nearly every night of the week, from national acts such as St. Vincent to up-and-coming bands you can see for a reasonable price. Smaller and edgier, The Grey Eagle at the north end of the River Arts District attracts a steady line-up of singer-songwriters and regional favorites such as Southern Culture on the Skids.

Insider tip: Before heading to a show at the Grey Eagle, grab a pint at the Wedge brewery around the corner to get a feel for Asheville’s beer culture.

Go Wild in West Asheville

In the past few years, two new venues in West Asheville have expanded the horizons of the local music scene. Isis Music Hall and Restaurant, housed in a 1930s movie theater on Haywood Road, has become a go-to spot not only for its food, but also for its diverse line-up, which recently included the yogic chanting of Krishna Das and Swiss-born bluegrass stars the Kruger Brothers. Further down Haywood Road, the surprisingly big, open space of The Mothlight hosts a quirky mix of local bands and experimental performances such as puppetry slams.

Insider tip: Check local indie weekly Mountain Xpress for tips on upcoming live music shows.

Go Underground on Lexington

Lexington Avenue has been Asheville’s counterculture epicenter since the 1980s. While it’s now better known for restaurants and vintage boutiques, the clubs on the north end of the street keep things hopping late night. At gritty retro-lounge Tiger Mountain, you can see national acts such as Seattle surf-pop band La Luz and local garage rock. Dive bar The Lazy Diamond, just off Lexington, doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside there’s New Orleans ambiance and local bands playing everything from psychobilly to soul.

Insider tip: When the late-night munchies hit, head to Rosetta’s Kitchen on Lexington, open late with vegan comfort food.

Join a Jam Session

If you visit during the summer, head to Roger McGuire Green for the Shindig on the Green, one of the most enduring events for live music in Asheville, N.C. Bluegrass musicians play onstage each Saturday night, but impromptu jams also break out in different parts of the green. Bring your instrument and join in. Throughout the year, Jack of the Wood pub hosts Celtic Jam sessions on Sunday afternoons; anyone who can play is invited to take part. 

Insider tip: During the summer, head to Highland Brewing Company‘s Tasting Room for outdoor music. Food trucks are on hand or you can bring your own picnic.