Sounds of Asheville now resonate into homes across the state with Independent Arts and Music of Asheville’s new UNC-TV series.
Scott Reese and Josh Blake founded Independent Arts and Music of Asheville, aka IamAVL, about five years ago. Their aim was to capture Asheville’s vibrant music scene through a community-based web channel that could live-stream shows from local venues and archive footage.
The web channel is alive and well, with an average of about 50,000 viewers per month. But IamAVL hopes to up that number to a million viewers per week with its flagship music show, “Echo Sessions,” now appearing on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel.
“We’re really proud of this series,” says Marisa Blake, IamAVL’s marketing manager. “The main purpose of it is to provide a unique musical experience by blending the magic of a live performance with the comfort of a studio session.”
IamAVL’s mission is to expand the reach of Asheville’s creative sector, bringing its vibrant art and music community together through episodic audio and video content of what’s happening in the streets, clubs and studios.
Based at Echo Mountain Recording, IamAVL produces in-studio audio and video recordings and its already popular “Echo Sessions” — a combination of interviews and live performances from local and visiting artists. “We wanted to have that aspect of bringing the studio to your home and then putting local acts with national acts on the same platform,” Marisa Blake says. “We love being able to provide a beautiful feel and audio for bands to be able to promote themselves on the road and at home.” The sessions, previously available by live-stream or as edited videos released to the IamAVL website, will now air in 30-minute episodes on the North Carolina Channel every Saturday at 6 p.m. Reruns of each episode will air Saturdays at midnight and Sundays at 2 p.m.
The first episode premiered earlier this month, and the season will continue to showcase musicians like Indigo De Souza (indie-folk), Camp David (indie-rock), Doc Aquatic (indie-rock), Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band (funk), The Filthy Six (jazz), Stephaniesĭd (indie-pop), The Nth Power (soul), Cardinal Sons (indie-rock), The Marcus King Band (Southern rock), Max Hatt/Edda Glass (folk and bossa nova), The New MasterSounds (funk) and Colonel Bruce Hampton (rock).
Marisa Blake approached UNC-TV with a pitch for “Echo Sessions” last year, and IamAVL received a license for the series. However, choosing which musicians to spotlight continues to be a difficult task. “Because of what we do, we sort of know what’s happening in the music community and who’s touring around a lot,” Marisa says. “We look for people who are actively playing and working at their craft and trying to get their names out there.” Members of the IamAVL team reach out to some musicians and, many times, the artists approach Marisa or Josh, requesting to be featured.
“We knew Asheville when it was still kind of a sleepy town, and to see it be a place where artists are coming to sort of cultivate their craft more, fine-tune it and make connections, is awesome,” Marisa says. “One day, I hope to see an IamBoulder or an IamSanFrancisco.”
Josh says that through “Echo Sessions,” he hopes to capture a piece of history: “We might just catch the next Bob Dylan.” Though the company did not begin with a television series in mind, IamAVL is continuing its mission by expanding the reach of Asheville’s thriving and eclectic music community.
Learn more at iamavl.com and unctv.org