Pony up, says Don Talley. It's time to help White Horse Black Mountain stay in business.

Popular folk artist David Holt will perform at the benefit, along with a host of others.

The venue and listening room opened in Black Mountain in 2008. Singer Kim Hughes and music-industry vet Bob Hinkle renovated a former car dealership right in the heart of downtown, and it fast became a popular place to convene and appreciate great music — and despite its infancy, has already scored acts like Adrian Legg, Cyril Neville, Jack Clement, Beausoleil and more.

But times have been tough, says Talley, a longtime music supporter and founder of online blog and newsletter Black Mountain Music Scene. "Starting a new business is a strain, and it usually takes three years to get a business going successfully." White Horse has been struggling since last fall, and a series of snowstorms and cancellations put a further strain on operations.

After they held a benefit show for WNCW in November, Talley asked Hughes and Hinkle if he could hold a benefit for them. The owners were reluctant, he says.

Owners Bob Hinkle and Kim Hughes in front of their venue.

"They admitted that their needs were great, but were hopeful that business would pick up and that they wouldn't have to ask help in such a direct way. The eternal optimists, Bob and Kim felt that they had some great shows booked, and with a little luck things, would turn around in December and January." Weather hurt those plans — as it has hurt many local businesses, with snowstorms seeming to strike with regularity on the weekends, typically a boom time.

Talley decided to move ahead with his plans for a benefit, especially after he saw the effort and concern White Horse's owners put into holding three Help Haiti Heal benefit shows for earthquake relief. He found local musicians quick to offer their services.

"I liken it to an old-fashioned 'barn raising' where people in the community came together to help their neighbors with a specific need. … The same community spirit was exhibited in urban areas in the '60s with the 'rent parties,' where folks came over to play music and a hat was passed around to collect money to pay rent to keep someone from being evicted," Talley says.

"The many friends of White Horse Black Mountain have already expressed an eagerness to give something back to a music venue which has given so much to others and created such a wonderful sense of community among those who've attended concerts there, who've performed there, and who've found a sense of 'belonging and home' at White Horse," he says. "Bob and Kim have created something which is more than just a music venue … White Horse is truly community."

The benefit is Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11, with tickets for $12 a day or $20 for both. The show on Saturday starts at 7 p.m., and the music will start on Sunday at 2 p.m. More information at whitehorsebenefit.blogspot.com. 


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