Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Garage at Biltmore Hosts Ashvegas Blues Fest

Many of you may already know about The Garage, an Asheville-owned all-ages music venue, which shares a builing with French Broad Brewery near Biltmore Village. You may have seen its space transform with time, seen local bands get their start there and climb in status. You may have gone as a family to one of their all-ages shows or community garage sales and hung out on beanbags or played together in the game room. And you may already understand the sense of community they are intent on inspiring in Asheville, both in their open atmosphere and support of deserving non-profit organizations. While The Garage has established itself as a place in Asheville for all people, families and friends alike, to jive as one, we at The Hop feel they are due some love and recognition for their veritable mission.

Also, The Garage will be hosting Ashevegas Blues Festival this weekend, June 12th and 13th kicking off at 7pm and 3pm respectively. The all-ages, families-welcome event is Asheville's first Big Blues festival and is being held to benefit five awesome local non-profits.

Thus, as a genuine "thank you" for what they do and an opporunity to offer information about The Garage to The Hop's fans, friends and followers, we conducted an interview with, co-owner, Jan Rogers and Ashvegas Blues. Hope you find it as inspiring as we did!

TheHop: Is the Garage strictly a music venue?

JanRogers: Live Music Venue is our primary function as we have a simple but great sounding room and hold a 300 capacity. However, we like to think of the Garage as a Community space and have been known to use the space for other functions too. Examples: The first Winter Warmer Beer Fest in January 2008, The first Push Asheville Fashion Show in March 2009, Ask Asheville’s free Social Media School in March 2010, the upcoming Pizza Wars in August 2010, Awesome parties including the Asheville Full Moon Gatherings (during winter months), Spoken Word gatherings such as ‘The Rising’, After Party’s where you can dance all night, lots of Benefits for non-profits, a few Community Garage Sales/Flea Markets, and we have also been known to serve as a host meeting place for meet-up groups.

We regularly sell local artists wares including but not limited to: paintings, photography, jewelry, clothing, oils and bath/massage products, and on many occasions have offered vending opportunities during shows for food, clothing, and glass vendors as well as paint live opportunities. When we first opened, we had a retail store where our game room currently is. After we put the game room in, we continued to sell retail clothing for a while: hippie sundresses, skirts, tank tops, t-shirts and men’s and women’s cargo shorts until Caffiend made the decision to resurrect their business inside of the Garage at Biltmore late last summer and space became limited and we liquidated the majority of our product. We do still have a limited selection of t-shirts available at an extremely discounted rate as they are picked over, but for the most part the retail fixtures have been put in storage until we meet a local designer that has an interest in vending at the Garage on a regular basis.

Last October, Caffiend resurrected inside the Garage at Biltmore and we attempted a 24 hour coffee shop business model for about 60 days until January 2010 — unfortunately, the business model was not a win/win for both of us and they later opted to re-open their shop in Marion. We wish them well with their new endeavor.

TH: There are so few in Asheville, what is the motivation behind all-ages shows?

JR: The kids motivate us — especially the younger musicians and their fans. They seem so genuinely happy to have a place to go that has a semi-adult atmosphere but yet will allow them to do their ‘thing’ their way.

The Garage has been an all-ages venue since it’s conception in 2007. Many of the people that have frequented the Garage over the years have families and we never wanted anyone to feel like they couldn’t come to a show because they couldn’t find a babysitter. Over the years we have hosted ‘Dance Camps’ for children of all ages and dance recitals as well as shows intended for kids. We host under 21 nights for the under 21 crowd regularly and showcase many bands that have members that are under 21 as part of our mix. Due to the nature of our hours, most events that we have cater to a later night time crowd though we do sometimes host day time and earlier evening/weekend events, we do our best not to compete during the open hours of neighboring businesses.

TH: Would you consider the Garage "family-friendly"?

JR: is something that all generations can appreciate. It is not uncommon to see three generations dancing and appreciating the music together inside our four walls.

TH: What can a 10 year old expect at one of your shows?

JR: Video games, pin ball and air that the kids of all ages have termed the ‘Avatar Tree’ with bean bags to lay on underneath, the under-construction ‘tree of life’ (as many have termed it) that distributes as much filtered water as they can drink, sodas and juices, and during specified kid shows we have also offered popsicles, root beer floats, grilled cheese sandwiches and/or hot dogs.

(In reality, both trees are installations for a local artist that has an organization called The Return of Free — she has a beautiful vision ‘with a purpose’) The kids see the art as they wish to see it and we can appreciate their version of what they see too.

TH: You are hosting the inagural Ashvegas Blues Festival. Where can one find information about the event?


JR: Listen for free tickets on 98.1 the River
Mountain Xpress advertisement

TH: I understand that the festival serves as a fundraiser for local non-profits. Which organizations are you supporting for the event and why?

AB: A portion of the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity, MANNA Food Bank, Mountain Housing Opportunities, The Southern Fried Blues Society and Brother Wolf Canine Rescue. We believe in giving back to our community.

JR: We do benefits regularly, usually for whatever cause is brought to our attention whether it be a local family that lost their belongings in a house fire, a fundraiser or food drive for a local non-profit or charter school, or global concerns such as the Haiti Relief effort. With the present economy the way that it is and the fact that we keep hearing that more and more funding for important services in our society are being cut — the question for us becomes why not? give back to the community if we can and in our business, the creative opportunities for how to give back are there as long as everyone participating is willing to do so and more often than not, they are.

TH: What else would you like folks to know about The Garage?

JR: Our musical selections are primarily all ‘original’ creations from the artists that we feature — rarely will you hear a cover tune played at the Garage. We focus on local musicians though we do often feature regional and national acts as headliners. Our primary form of advertising is social media and grassroots. We aren’t a “walk-by” venue per se — people come here because they are interested in the music that we are featuring or the event that we are hosting. We have a limited beer selection — usually 3 – 4 taps for local breweries along with what we have experienced to be our best selling bottle beers in the refrigerator (The selection changes depending on the music that we are featuring — Heavy Metal and Rock fans are Bud fans while Bluegrass and Funk are Brewery Fans, etc.). We feature all genre’s of music: from Christian rock to Heavy Metal, Country, Bluegrass, Rock, Soul, Funk, Reggae, Punk, Indie, New Age, World, R&B, Higher Conscious Hip Hop, all types of DJ’s — House, Trance, Drum & Bass, etc. We have been described as a very down-to-earth music venue and I think that fits us to a T. The Garage is simple, the space was literally a Garage when we started and will likely be again when we leave. Our walls are decorated with local artists work from paintings to photography and 95% of it is ‘for sale’. The shows and events determine our hours and the best way to know what we are doing is to follow us on twitter or facebook, check out our web-site or look in the fine print in the Mountain Xpress and on some occasions you will see us in feature articles or smart bets or hear about our shows on the radio. Typically, we have shows on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday. Our greatest joys have been watching the bands and events that got their start here outgrow us and move on to play bigger venues but yet still come back on occasion to play or patronize the house.

For the most part, the vibe that you experience at the Garage is a result of one man’s vision, Christopher Hart — my partner and friend of 7 years, though we have had much help and support along the way, he manifested a vision into a reality that in my humble opinion has done much for the music community in Asheville over the past three to four years. On normal nights, you will find him at the Garage’s sound board or working hands-on with the musicians as they get ready to play their show. As an observer, I would have to say that some of the most rewarding experiences have been watching others improve their skills and talents and succeed at what they set out to do.

TH: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, and can't wait for the event!

The Garage at Biltmore:
101 Fairview Rd. Suite B, Asheville, NC 28803
(next to French Broad Brewery)

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