Cabaret, cabaret, cabaret

King croon: Singer Russ Wilson will perform at the first outing. Photo by Frank Zipperer/

Could the best-kept music secret around here be that Western North Carolina has world class jazz? Some outstanding jazz musicians have chosen Asheville and its surrounding area to call home. With just a little effort, anyone can fill their calendar with top-notch shows.

Capturing the feel of classic big-city jazz cabarets, White Horse Black Mountain is announcing the launch of a new vocal jazz cabaret series beginning on May 24. The White Horse Jazz Cabaret Series will feature a variety of top vocalists in the region, backed by instrumentalists. Each show will feature an emcee, table seating and an optional pre-show dinner by Black Mountain Bistro. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., with an 8 p.m. performance.

Jazz has been an increasingly popular offering at White Horse over the past three years, with monthly big band/jazz concerts from the Asheville Jazz Orchestra. Audiences have enjoyed listening to big band/swing-era favorites, along with original compositions. Jazz fans have driven in from Brevard, Boone and Charlotte.

This past Valentine’s Day, vocalist Wendy Jones and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens performed a wonderful jazz dinner concert. After that, White Horse co-manager Don Talley began discussions with me about putting together a series of vocal jazz concerts.

“We’ve carved out our own niche in Western North Carolina as a listening room where the focus is on the intimate connection between artist and audience,” Talley says. 

White Horse owner Bob Hinkle is excited about the lineup. “The performers in this series have established impressive jazz careers over many years,” he says. “They are true veterans of their craft and have performed in top venues around the world.”

— Eddie LeShure is curator of the White Horse Jazz Cabaret Series, is a jazz writer and a radio host.

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