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Mothlight Closes, Becoming Music Scene's First Coronavirus Victim

Matt Peiken | BPR News

You could consider 12:32pm Thursday as an official time of death for The Mothlight, an anchor of Asheville’s live music scene since it opened seven years ago. Within minutes of the announced closure on the club’s Facebook page, fans and musicians flooded owners Jon and Amanda Hency with notes of shock, grief and gratitude.

The Mothlight was a favored destination for touring bands of all stripes and, particularly on Monday nights, to local artists on the rise. The club was also home to the monthly Moth StorySLAM.


Just a few strides away along Haywood Avenue from another West Asheville staple, the Isis Music Hall, the Mothlight had a feel all its own—open but gritty, dark but homey, with a stage not much higher than the floor.

Like all clubs during the pandemic, the Mothlight held no shows since early March and had gone three months without another source of revenue. Still, in a conversation with Blue Ridge Public Radio just a month ago, Amanda Hency gave little hint of an imminent closure.

“I don’t think there is a chance in hell people are going to give up on live music,” Hency said. “I think everyone is just that much more excited about gathering and it will just be a matter of knowing how long we each can sustain our businesses to get to that point, but it will all come back.”

In their note on Facebook, the Hencys said they felt unprepared for the challenges of this pandemic and that finding someone suitable to buy the club during these times was unrealistic.

The Hencys closed by writing: “The Mothlight is a small piece of a very large and important puzzle. Venues all over the world are facing this same struggle. Without these homes for musicians, your favorite artists will be facing serious challenges for many years to come … Thank you for every insane story, goosebumps-inducing chord, and quality connection. We are forever grateful.”


Matt Peiken, BPR’s first full-time arts journalist, has spent his entire career covering arts and culture.
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