There are likely enough singer-songwriters in Asheville to fill every coffeeshop and street corner in the city. But amid the region’s bluegrass, Americana and jam music, there’s a new effort to turn people onto the Asheville’s indie rock and punk scene.
The Asheville Rock Collective is a series of club shows featuring 16 local punk and heavy rock bands performing through February at Pisgah Brewing and Fleetwood’s, in Asheville. John Kennedy, a cofounder of the collective and a documentary videographer by trade, hopes focusing a spotlight or two, rather than dozens of distant lights sprinkled across the local landscape, will help people broaden their views of local music.
“The way Asheville is often perceived, as a bluegrass, a jam, a grateful dead community and that’s why tourists go here, is not necessarily resonating with musicians in the area,” Kennedy said. “I think the people trying to create their own music, new music, music that’s true to their experience, are moving more to a back-to-basics garage rock sound.”
Derek Frye is better known as Duke, a vocalist and guitarist with a bluesy rock band called the Dirty Badgers. Kennedy is an enthusiastic fan of Frye’s band, and Kennedy reached out to Frye to partner with him on the Asheville Rock Collective. Frye said local clubs featuring original rock music are too scattered across the city to entice tourists.
"We definitely drew inspiration from the way the jam scene kinda bands together around here," Frye said. "You see all these festivals that strictly jam music, and we thought why can’t we do this thing with rock music?”
Two bands will perform every Sunday at Fleetwood’s beginning January 21. At Pisgah Brewing, two bands will take the stage every Thursday beginning February 1. The series at both clubs runs for four weeks, and Kennedy hopes to recruit more bands to join the collective for a second series of shows.
“We’ve also been challenging all bands, not just these 16 bands in the collective, but everyone who’s been involved and interacting with us, to be like ‘Hey, this is one month -- come to as many shows as you can, bring as many friends as you can, put up your own posters and stickers.’" Kennedy said. "What can we do as a collective to make a statement, from the noises of the gutter, to take over the Asheville sound?”