There’s no question that you’ve arrived at the Asheville Guitar Bar. From the guitars scattered throughout, to the furniture constructed from repurposed instruments, to the ceiling beam made to look like a guitar fretboard (complete with strings of different gauges), the theme is apparent. But the new watering hole, located in the Cotton Mill Studios in the River Arts District, is also living-room comfortable and artistically stylish.
“It’s a music bar built by musicians, for musicians,” says Mark Goldthwaite, who owns the bar with his wife, Julia. “We wanted to create a networking place for local musicians. A place for them to meet other musicians to play and jam and get together.”
Certain nights are booked, such as a Gypsy jazz jam run by local guitarist Steve Karla, and a singer-songwriter night on Wednesdays. Sunday is an open jam — a time for the Goldthwaites’ friends to play and a chance to vet newcomers interested in booking a show. “We have some very professional people coming in — Grammy Award winners,” says Mark.
But just because big names have graced the stage, it doesn’t mean every player has a lot of resources. Part of Mark’s extensive guitar collection comes from the habit of purchasing good-but-cheap instruments at thrift shops to give away to musicians in need. Plus, at the Asheville Guitar Bar, there’s a plan to start a musicians fund “so whoever’s playing can walk offstage with some money in their pockets,” says the owner.
And, just because it’s a guitar-themed bar doesn’t mean beer is the only beverage. There are four brews on tap, but the lounge features “high-end, Old World wines at great prices,” says Mark. “You can get beer anywhere in town.”
The Goldthwaites are also the owners of The Paintbox, a studio in Pink Dog Creative. The jam sessions, now held at the bar, started there two years ago. “I said, ‘Let’s build a destination. A reason for people to come,’” says Mark — and the Asheville Guitar Bar was born out of that idea. The Goldthwaites also have a motto for their new space: “Keep it local, keep it live, and keep it Asheville.”
Asheville Guitar Bar is at 122 Riverside Drive, Suite D. facebook.com/ashevilleguitarbar