In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Rabbit Motel in Asheville’s South Slope drew touring black musicians to the four tiny rooms out back and the soul food restaurant facing McDowell Street. On Saturday, the motel launched its new life as SoundSpace, with the four motel rooms converted to rehearsal studios for bands to rent by the hour or month, with plans to refurbish and reopen the soul food restaurant in about a year.
"Every single side, all faces and all square areas, are going to be covered with murals kind of depicting the history of rabbits here, depicting the history of South Side and the other Black Asheville communities," said Claude Coleman, longtime drummer for the band Ween and a co-developer of SoundSpace. "We’re creating a cultural landmark with this property."
The opening of SoundSpace follows the launch in October of Citizen Vinyl, a vinyl records pressing plant in the former Citizen-Times building downtown. These are uplifting developments for a local music scene beset by closed venues and the disappearance of virtually all live performance opportunities.