There was once a time when I dreamed of living in Asheville, North Carolina. I’m not sure where the idea started. It probably grew from a mix of the desire I had to be far away from where I was living in Colorado in the early 2000’s and the emails I would get at that time from my older sister who was traveling the country, sending word about the magical South and the it’s secret beauties.
At this time I was living in Durango, Colorado, nestled in the San Juan Mountains near the four corners -- a place where it often snows feet at a time and is below zero for days and weeks on end in the winter. This idea of these southern worn down mountains, mild winters, a drawl, a distant state where I had never been, mystified me. Surely this was where my happiness would be. In my early 20’s I felt compelled to seek out and hold on tightly to this “happiness”. I thought that’s when life would begin. But it was already happening. Life is never the pause it sometimes seems to be. I never made it to Asheville or North Carolina then. Fifteen years and the dream faded. Then, last year my best friend moved to Charlotte, inevitably bringing me to the South and of course this fabled city.
Last month while I was visiting her I had the privilege to play at Isis Music Hall in Asheville, opening for a local folk singer/guitarist named Julia Sanders. Isis began as a single screen movie house the 1930’s and eventually became the iconic music venue it is today. With its streamline schedule, comfy greenroom, amazing sound system and engineer as well as balcony seating, it rivaled any venue I’d ever played. The best part was the audience, eager to engage and really listen to the music.
Being so far from the Pacific Northwest, where all of my solo music has come to life, I had no idea what these folks would think of me and my little tenor guitar. Turns out folk music is pretty universal. Telling the stories of how the songs came to be and spouting the occasional joke made it feel like my connection with the audience was real. Though I don’t think I would have been so at ease if Ana and her kids weren’t there.
Did I love Asheville as much as I thought I would? Short answer is yes. There was something about the tightly packed downtown, the surrounding hills, the wet cold air that made me feel like I was home. I can’t wait to go back.