Arts Journal

For starters, a couple of Orange Peel alums are returning to the live music fray, and none too soon. Jack and Lesley Groetsch, who formerly managed the venue, have announced their new venture in the former Old Europe space (corner of Lexington and Walnut).

Orange Peel house photographer Jon Leidel recently earned a national award for his live concert shots, such as this one of Charlotte-based New Familiars at AMJam.

“The front room will be The Sazerac, the back will be called Missionary,” writes Lesley. “The Sazerac will feature a simple menu of traditional pressed sandwiches on brioche style bread, gumbos and soups, salads and charcuterie platters (cheese, pates, little pickles). Classic cocktails will be expertly mixed and served by the most experienced bar staff in Asheville. The service will reflect our New Orleans heritage; everyone will feel the love. We plan on reviving the three-martini lunch!

At Missionary we will book a mix of live and DJ music. Missionary will be a warm and comfortable after-hours hangout. Typically shows will be no cover, but we’ll ‘pass the hat’ to encourage tipping.”

They plan to open the spot sometime in April.

As for the Peel itself, the venue got the promise of a loan last week for an expansion. While the financials aren’t yet firm (but hopefully will be within a month or so), the plan calls for:

• Increasing the club’s capacity up to 1,150 by redoing the bar configuration,

• Renovating the bottom floor into a club where liquor could potentially be served,

• Adding a deck on the north side (towards Asheville Hardware) where smoking would be permitted,

• Adding box seats.

“We want to increase capacity while still making it more intimate for the smaller shows,” said Pat Whalen, the venue’s manager. Whalen is also the president of Public Interest Projects, the business and real-estate firm that owns the Orange Peel. An increased capacity could allow the club to nab more acts. “We make offers to lots of bands—a lot of times the Orange Peel is the smallest club they’re playing on their tours,” he said.

And in other OP-affiliated news, house photographer Jon Leidel was recently honored for his live concert photography. Leidel earned an Independent Music Award for his shot of Charlotte-based folk-rockers the New Familiars performing at Am Jam last May.

Xpress asked Leidel, a self-professed “music junkie,” how he gets the shots. “You’ve got to be connected with the music,” says Leidel, who’s been the official Orange Peel photog since 2002. “So you know who’s going to take the solo next, where the energy is going, who’s going to close their eyes when. Otherwise it just looks like people standing there with their instruments.”

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