Blue Ridge Outdoors is lucky to call two cities – Asheville, North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia – home.  Those in the know are aware that both places have incredible outdoor scenes – hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities abound.  The music fan, however, will also find much to love about both locales.

Both Asheville and Charlottesville are home to vibrant and eclectic music scenes, with great venues – Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater and The Southern Music Hall and The Orange Peel and The Grey Eagle in Asheville– and great bands – The Hackensaw Boys and Sons of Bill call Charlottesville home, while Toubab Krewe and Town Mountain hail from Asheville – and both cities have long been musical destinations for both fans and bands.

Hometown bands are typically privy to the musical best of what their town has to offer.  That is the inspiration behind this new Trail Mix blog format, simply called “My Town.”  From time to time, Trail Mix will tap in to the local scene from the perspective of a musical townie and find out the best of what that town has to offer.

The Hermit Kings

The Hermit Kings

For this first go ‘round, My Town digs into BRO’s hometowns from the perspective of Koda Kerl, of Charlottesville’s Chamomile & Whiskey, and Zaq Suarez of Asheville’s The Hermit Kings.

BRO – Favorite room to play?

Zaq – Our favorite room to play is The Grey Eagle.  It seats 550 folks and has good food and beer.  The sound is super on point and the place feels the way you want a club to sound.  For bands new to Asheville, I usually recommend the Odditorium.  It’s a super fun place to see shows and has about a 100 person capacity, PBRs, and good vibes.

Koda – We are lucky to have so many great venues in Charlottesville, but our favorite one to play has to be he Jefferson Theater.  It is such a beautiful, old theater with a big stage and great sound.  I love to look up to the old brick walls in the wings of the stage and think about all the different types of sound that has reverberated off them over the hundred plus years it has been in existence.

BRO – Favorite local band?

Koda – It is almost impossible to pick a favorite local band.  We love catching Mister Baby or Bobby St. Ours & HolyBear.  Recently, I’d say Red & The Romantics have been a favorite.  They have this unique blend of vintage country and Appalachian-soul-gypsy, and Red is the ultimate showman.

Zaq – Camp David and Shorty Can’t Eat Books.  Camp David is real honest post folk.  The singer is from Nottingham and writes really great lyrics while playing electric guitar over top of pianos, chill sparse drumming, and big delayed and driven bass lines.  Shorty Can’t Eat Books is a spectacle.  Guitar, bass, drums, trombone, and trumpet with wild antics and stage presence.  It feels like you are at the butt of a joke that you find really funny.  It would be awkward if it wasn’t so entertaining.  John Wilkes Booth & The Black Toothe are another super cool act that plays some pretty cool post-apocalyptic folk.

BRO – Favorite spot for a post-show libation?

Zaq – Post-show drinks are a tricky thing.  It all depends on your budget and when you played.  If it’s an early show and you’ve got some bucks, Sazerax makes incredible cocktails and has a great rooftop bar.  If you are on a budget, Wicked Weed Brewery or Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company are great spots.  That being said, you can’t go too wrong in Asheville.

Koda – For post show drinks we are often found at either the Blue Moon Diner, a tradition after radio performances, or The Whiskey Jar.  The Blue Moon is a spot full of close friends and is like a second home to me.  The Whiskey Jar is a bigger spot that we often head to for late night libations; great people and 60+ types of whiskey are right up our alley.

BRO – Favorite local record store?

Koda – The best record store in Charlottesville has to be Sidetracks.  It has been around for a while and carries an eclectic selection with lots of local music.

Zaq – I’m a nerd for record stores and Asheville has its share.  My favorite is Harvest Records because they always have cooler music playing than whatever you came in to buy and those dudes know EVERYTHING about what’s currently going on in music.  Another great place is Static Age; you head there to see DIY punk shows and get vinyl by bands that never made it.  It’s also a good place to get the local scuttlebutt.

BRO – What should an out-of-towner know about your town?

Zaq – There are some definite must see spots in Asheville.  The Lift Studios in The River Arts District and Zapow downtown for some awesome artwork.  Plan on brewery hopping, and I tell everyone if you’re just in Asheville chillin’ with your lady, just walk around and try different appetizers.  There are so many great restaurants you can walk to and you won’t go wrong.

Koda – People visiting Charlottesville should know that we have a great original music scene.  This isn’t a big cover band town.  On any night you can find multiple bands on the Downtown Mall playing their own tunes.  And, of course, the best thing about Charlottesville is that it is just minutes away from Nelson County.

You can check out new tunes from both Chamomile & Whiskey and The Hermit Kings on this month’s Trail Mix. And, if you haven’t yet, plan a road trip to either Charlottesville or Asheville for your next outside – or musical – adventure.