The building that houses The Orange Peel in Asheville has long been associated with music. How that music has been presented over the years, however, has certainly evolved.
From 1950 to 1962 the building saw popular music shift from crooners to rock and roll as home of the Skateland Rollerdome. While kids skated to the music of the day, parents would often soak up the downtown atmosphere of department stores and restaurants. The building then housed a series of R&B and soul clubs, the best known of which was the original Orange Peel. This initial version offered live music and DJs spinning the hottest disco tunes.
The venerable building went through some tough times thereafter, often sitting vacant or being used as a warehouse. Since The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club reopened a decade ago—in October 2002—it has become one of Western North Carolina’s preeminent music venues and receives accolades from around the country.
In the past few years, The Orange Peel has seen its share of big-name talent grace its stage. For instance, there was The Killers and Jack White in 2012, Lauryn Hill in 2011, Modest Mouse in 2010, and back in 2009 The Beastie Boys played their last non-festival show as a complete band before taking time off from touring due to MCA’s illness. Local music fans are still amazed at The Smashing Pumpkins’ residency gigs at The Peel in 2007 in which the band played a nine-show run.
Its status as the largest capacity non-theater or arena music venue allows the Peel to draw a wide swath of national touring acts from numerous genres. The venue also opens its doors to lots of local music, too.
“Many bands will get their start and begin building their following in some of the smaller venues … and then they eventually move on up to the Peel,” says Liz Whalen Tallent, marketing and special events manager at The Orange Peel. Of course, that’s not always the case. As Liz admits, “There are many great bands that could sell out The Orange Peel but prefer to play some of the smaller rooms for the intimacy and familiarity, or just because they love the unique feel of that room.”
Liz says, therefore, that she thinks Asheville is a great town for music options. “Any night of the week there are 10 different bands playing here and there. The Orange Peel is proud to be a part of the whole scene, and of course we value all the other venues large and small for allowing our town to get such a diverse range of touring acts, plus foster a lot of great local music.”
Music, though, is just part of The Orange Peel’s mission. It also hosts an array of other events. “The Orange Peel was always intended to be a community gathering space— at concerts and also, as a meeting and event space for community organizations,” Liz says. “We offer significant discounts to nonprofits that have built events large enough to fill the space here. It’s obviously something that a lot of groups work up to due to the size, but we’ve enjoyed working with lots and lots of organizations over the years, from Make a Wish, to the YMCA, to Pisgah Legal Services, to Children First to Mountain Housing Opportunities, and many more.
Liz estimates that The Orange Peel hosts two to three community events per month, assisting the organizations to help them make the most of their marketing and media efforts. “It’s an important part of being a contributing member to Asheville, and we enjoy getting to participate in so many great causes,” Liz says.
The Orange Peel, widely recognized as a music venue, plans to keep the momentum rolling into the future. “I think we’ll have lots more great shows,” Liz says. “I hope there will be some more big surprises. Every year there is a show or two that’s a big coup—an artist that could play a much bigger venue but has decided to play at The Orange Peel because they like the room and most of all, they love Asheville. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead in that regard next year.”
The Orange Peel is located at 101 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. For more information, call 828. , email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit The Orange Peel.