Top three things Asheville’s known for: hiking, beer, and music. I could be forgetting something, but I think I’ve hit all the main points there. And by golly I’ve covered hiking. Extensively. Beer I may come back to. But this week, I guess you could say I was just feeling the groove. Feeling musically oriented, if you will.
From record shops to bespoke instrumental handicrafts, Asheville hosts a wide spread of retail attractions for both players and listeners alike. Despite the divergent specialties of these stores, I believe they invite shoppers of one essential kind: the kind with music in their souls. For that reason, I’m taking on all these shops at once, as the best music stores in Asheville.
For those who know my hometown, it should come as no surprise that one of the best record shops in Asheville in the funkalicious west side of town. Harvest Records buys, sells and trades not only vinyl, but also stereo equipment, CDs, books, and even the most rare of endangers species: cassettes.
Speaking of rarities, Harvest’s expert record-heads are happy to track down specific records if you can’t find them in stock. It's that kind of personal care that really takes a music shop to the top.
Extend Your Outing: Just down the street you’ll find OWL Bakery, one of my favorite places to go for some coffee and prime patisserie.
If you’re looking to make some music yourself, Musician’s Workshop is the place for you. Guitars, amps, and drum sets comprise the majority of their stock, interspersed with the occasional ukulele and violin.
Although they may not be the largest music store in Asheville, I actually see that as an advantage. It's easy to get the attention of one of their knowledgeable staff-members, making for an enlightening music-store experience for both newcomers and old-hats. For the icing on the cake, visit their website to connect with a slew of private instructors, teaching Bluegrass and beyond.
Extend Your Outing: Continue north up Merrimon Avenue for dinner and a show at Asheville Pizza & Brewing, or take a detour to the UNCA campus to stroll through their botanical gardens.
I’ve always wondered where the folks at Pritchard Park’s Friday night drum circles have been getting their instruments. After some research, I’ve concluded that the two most likely sources are: a) they made them themselves or b) Skinny Beats Sound Shop.
This most eclectic music store in Asheville sells much more than mere drums though. Hand pans, Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, ngonis, Native American flutes; the list goes on. It’s a veritable cornucopia of world instruments. And they do repairs. So the next time you get a little over-enthusiastic with your imported djembe, you know who to call.
Extend Your Outing: By virtue of Skinny Beat’s downtown location, there’s no shortage of things to do. Venture south for Double D’s coffee and the South Slope brewing district. Venture north for the Asheville Art Museum and plentiful fine dining.
Staying in downtown, the Grove Arcade’s Woodrow Instrument Company is probably the most unique music store in Asheville. The reason? They sell woodrows. What on earth is a woodrow, you ask? Nothing less than an upright variant of the traditional mountain dulcimer. Handcrafted, no less. You just can’t find this kind of thing anywhere else. And you can’t make it up either.
Per the Company’s statement on the matter, woodrows are some of the easiest instruments to pick up and play. Given my personal knowledge of musical performance, I’d have to agree. If you’re the least bit interested in local craftsmanship and/or the music of the mountains, you’d do well to visit the Woodrow Instrument Company..
Extend Your Outing: Peruse the literature at the Battery Park Book Exchange, grab some shiny rocks at Enter the Earth, or enjoy Sunday brunch at Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar, all found within the vaulted halls of the Grove Arcade.
One of the newest music stores in Asheville, Citizen Vinyl has taken up residence in downtown’s historic Citizen Times building. They offer what I’d call an all-inclusive-music-store-experience. Free factory tours of their working record press run at 9:30am on Wednesdays and Sundays and 3pm on Fridays. Artists of every caliber collaborate with Citizen Vinyl to put out short-run records on these very same devices.
Speaking of which, you can buy used and new records —as well as the works of WNC visual artists—at the Coda Analogue Shop which shares a space with Citizen Vinyl. Their third roommate is Session Café & Bar, selling chic hot drinks, fancy sandwiches, and a cultured selection of cocktails.
Visit on a Wednesday night at 6pm for their Open Folk night, featuring local performers. Entrance gratis.
Extend Your Outing: The Grove Arcade lies just across the street.
415 Haywood Rd Ste B, Asheville, NC 28806
319 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Skinny Beats Sound Shop
4 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801
The Woodrow Instrument Company
1 Page Ave #126, Asheville, NC 28801
14 O'Henry Ave, Asheville, NC 28801