Press release from Victory Lap Publicity:
SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s, Asheville’s first public access music rehearsal studio is set to open its doors on Saturday, December 5th. The project, spearheaded by resident Asheville musicians Claude Coleman, Jr. of the rock outfit Ween, and Brett Spivey, will transform the historic Rabbit’s Motel into a multi-use facility and soul food kitchen for local and touring artists alike.
Widely recognized as a cultural hub of the American south, the city of Asheville possesses myriad music establishments from the iconic Echo Mountain Recording Studios, to dozens of venues and more recently, the state’s first and only large scale vinyl record manufacturer. A 2017 study by the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition revealed that over 3,300 jobs were created or supported by music industry fields, and the Western North Carolina music industry as a whole was responsible for nearly 45% of the local economy’s Gross Regional Product. With no shortage of talent, Asheville’s growing music and arts scene has long been in demand of affordable rehearsal facilities. Bred from this need, SoundSpace aims to accommodate the bevy of musicians who do not have access to private practice spaces. Co-founder Claude Coleman, Jr. recalls,
“I’ve utilized rehearsal spaces nationally and internationally for over 30 years in my career as a professional musician. Moving to Asheville in 2012, I was immediately hindered by this lack of resource for my own music production work, as well as the music work I wished to create and contribute here. I simply couldn’t believe a town as musically rich and busy as Asheville didn’t have these types of spaces that exist almost everywhere else. Public access studio facilities are critical elements for musical artists to rehearse their productions, and they’re also a major factor in the local community art scene, acting as collaborative melting pots that engender new music output of all types.”
Before the promise of a sanctioned musical cooperative, many local musicians held band practices in repurposed storage units.
“It was when partner Brett and I were working in someone’s unheated warehouse space, going to the bathroom on the roof in spackle buckets, that we realized Asheville can do better than this, and deserves it — more so than anywhere else — and needed to join the ranks of the rest of the planet in this regard, for its sustenance and its future.”
SoundSpace will minimize the need for makeshift rehearsal spaces by providing a vital service to Asheville’s rapidly expanding music sector. Boasting three private studio rooms and a variety of backline and P.A. equipment, the facility will be available for rent on an hourly basis. Each studio will come complete with its own entrance, allowing for a “motel-style” load-in process ideal for social distancing.
With community at the core of its ethos, the SoundSpace project will prioritize collaboration at every measure. In addition to the rehearsal facilities, the space will soon be home to modern-day Asheville’s first soul food eatery — inspired by historic culinary figure Lou Ella Byrd’s famous kitchen which operated inside of Rabbit’s Motel for half a century. Once a crown jewel of Black-owned tourist courts for African-American travelers in the segregation-era south, Rabbit’s Motel provided lodging and dining for Black visitors including Chitlin’ Circuit band musicians, entertainers, and athletes until the turn of the 21st century. Established in 1948 by Fred “Rabbit” Simpson, Rabbit’s Motel served as a beloved cross-section of Asheville’s communities and remains a significant cultural landmark and figure of Black entrepreneurism in the south. Carrying on this legacy, SoundSpace will breathe new life into the historic construction by providing functional practice quarters and an accessible gathering place for artists of all mediums.
Future plans for SoundSpace include the creation of workshops, events, and programs to foster the arts in underserved communities. A livestream series called SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s Live (sponsored in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company) will feature Afro-centric performances broadcast directly from the SoundSpace facility. In this pursuit, co-founders Claude Coleman, Jr. and Brett Spivey, both lifelong musicians and passionate community stakeholders, hope to establish SoundSpace as a longstanding resource that embraces a model of diversity through music, art, food, and cooperation.
SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s is located at 109 McDowell Street and will be open seven days a week from 12:00 PM-12:00 AM starting Saturday, December 5, 2020. For more information, visit www.soundspaceavl.com.