Asheville Guitar Bar opens in the River Arts District

PLAY DATE: Will Ray and the Space Cooties takes the stage at Asheville Guitar Bar, which recently opened in the River Arts District. Photo by Cindy Kunst

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.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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6 thoughts on “Asheville Guitar Bar opens in the River Arts District

  1. boatrocker

    I don’t see any televisions from the fish eye photo- that is a great start if one desires to run a music-centric club in town.

    Putting live music up against a big glass wall so every pedestrian can stare inside at your arse while playing is also a pet peeve- it sucks for sound and musicians are very sensitive about that- does this guitar make my arse look fat? Good for them not doing that.

    Who built that big guitar neck in the background, by the way?

    Couches, live music- check- the only thing missing from making it feel like your friend from high school’s basement is someone stealing a couple of Rolling Rock lites from their Dad’s fridge in the garage to smuggle out to the band. I like. Like a fine wine, let that place season with age, and one might not need a musicians’ fund to pay the players.

  2. The Real World

    Correct, no TV’s. People actually talk and look each other in the eye…..imagine!
    AVL Guitar Bar is a terrific venue and Mark & Julia are delightful people.
    There is no arse-staring because it’s recessed from the street and Riverside Dr isn’t very pedestrian anyway.

    • boatrocker

      Yeah, that’s kind of what I opined about in my above post.

      • The Real World

        Good grief — your comprehension kind of sucks. Anybody who has some would have recognized that I was confirming YOUR OBSERVATION of the pic as I’ve been to the venue so could speak to it.

        (Guess that’ll teach me to bother commenting on anything you put forth)

        • boatrocker

          Yea, which is kind of why I agreed about the agreeing with my agreement.

  3. Julia and Mark, The place looks fantastic and we expect to spend some real time there with Family, Friends, and Clients. Wanted to wish you the best of luck and we are so happy to see another business that shares in the same fundamental methodologies geared towards the growth and preservation of Local Asheville Music and those who work so hard to create it. Let us know if there is anything we can ever do to help you achieve all the success you deserve. See you soon.
    Shane Hopkins
    Rotted One Note: Sound Recordings /// R1N Studio
    Arden, NC /// Grand Opening – 11/2016

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