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Off The Beaten Path

History – His-story -Her-story; When you learn the history / his-story / her-story of a place, your sense of connection deepens considerably. History warms the heart.

A guide to Asheville and Western North Carolina’s unique world-class music and cultural history. Discover over a century of the region’s most remarkable musical and cultural treasures. Use our tour maps to find a world of cultural and musical influences from this  uniquely rich region of the USA. Places that reflect the best the Appalachian Blue Ridge has to offer our new residents and visitors.

The high French Broad Valley is where one of the world’s oldest rivers river in the world begins just northwest of the Eastern Continental Divide near the northwest border of South Carolina. They spill from a 50-foot waterfall called Courthouse Falls at the terminus of Courthouse Creek near Balsam Grove. Then, it flows north to merge with the  Clinch, then the Tennessee River around Knoxville.  From there, it flows over to the Mississippi, and like the river, the culture of WNC flows out to the world. The European settlers of the region lived a hardscrabble life, mostly self-sufficient in the hills and hollers. The most common of the settlers were from northern Europe, Ireland, Scotland, and England. Music was how they entertained and communicated. According to historian Cecil Sharp Smith, who wrote “I found myself for the first time in my life in a community in which singing was as common and almost as universal a practice as speaking.

——Cecil Sharp, 1916

When mass communication happened to the world in the early 1920s, radio programs were transmitted out of  WWNC, the highest radio station on the East Coast, broadcasting local music that was heard in near and far away places. With the addition of 100-foot towers above the Flatiron building, the signal could hit the ionosphere and was heard as far away as Australia. In the days before FM became widespread, WWNC AM was sometimes one of the most popular stations in the United States, with an Arbitron share of over 40 percent of the listening audience, sometimes as high as 50 percent. In the late 1920s, both Jimmie Rodgers and Doc Watson had live shows on the station, helping cement their vernacular music into the listener’s understanding and appreciation of the music of the region.  Folk, Bluegrass, Americana, and Country music are deeply influenced and derived from the music of this region.


Appalachian ballads and folk songs are the root of folk music of Woody Guthry, Pete Seeger, Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Dylan,, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, and many more, and this tour takes you to the back roads and towns where this important link was played for centuries before it became significant cultural expression Americana music.

Citizen Vinyl is Open for tours to view record pressing, a cafe, and a vintage record store, all in the historic Citizen Times building on O’Henry St.

Live Music Events Calendar

Blue Ridge Music Trails


Flat-Iron-BuildingBecause of the two 100-foot antennas atop the tall Flat Iron building where Asheville’s first radio station, WWNC, was located, the city made its mark on radio history. With this broad reach, WWNC sent out the distinctive sounds of Appalachian music to locations around the country and, when atmospheric conditions were right (helped along by the high mountain elevation), as far away as Australia!



Asheville’s world-class art scene has been a fact for over a century.  People are drawn to the region for the arts, including this writer. Home to the Black Mountain Arts College, an active local vibrant art scene and art schools in the region add to the mystique.



Asheville has the second-largest collection of art deco buildings in the southeast. The sophisticated deco architecture and craftsmanship were partly due to George Vanderbilt bringing European craftsmen and artisans to Asheville to build the Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Village. Many of those expert craftsmen, stone carvers, and woodworkers stayed and built other unique buildings in Asheville.  The time capsule that saved the Art Deco buildings was due to the high debt accrued in the booming 20s. The 1929 stock market crash reveals how precarious Asheville’s financial debt was. The revelations led to suicides and 50 years of stagnation while the city paid off bond debts. This stagnation saved downtown Asheville from being developed and inadvertently left us with this collection of architectural jewels.
Art Deco, Beaux Arts, Spanish Renaissance, Gothic, French, and more.

The guided tour directs you through downtown Asheville

Basilica of St.Laurence

The style of one of Asheville’s most treasured pieces of architecture is Spanish Renaissance. The Basilica of St. Lawrence is a massive stone structure with a copper roof. It has the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the country and is worth a visit if you’re looking for things to do in Asheville.

Grove Arcade

The Jackson Building

City Hall

Omni Grove Park Inn

Wilderness Conservation