Special Orange Peel Interview

Well, here it is. I promised you something special and here it is, an interview with Liz Whalen from the Orange Peel. While many of you know exactly what the Orange Peel is, others are not as familiar. It is no overstatement to say that the Orange Peel is the premier club and musical venue in Asheville and probably Western North Carolina. For better or worse I’ve never been there and yet even I am aware of the wide variety of groups and acts they host. Several of my friends are really excited that the rapper and actor Ice Cube will be coming there later this year. The club has also hosted many charity fundraisers through the years. It is a privilege to provide you with this interview with Liz Whalen, the club’s marketing and special events director.

WNCTRAVEL: Why is the club called the Orange Peel?

LIZ : The Original Orange Peel was the name of another club, in this same building, back in the 70’s when it was owned and operated by different folks than today. It was a soul and r&b club and featured popular soul acts from the Bar-Kays to the Commodores and many more.  When it reopened 30 years later with the current ownership, we wanted to pay homage to that original club, so we called it The Orange Peel.

WNCTRAVEL:  What are you really excited about during the coming year?

LIZ: We are excited for two nights of Yonder Mountain String Band, 311, a lot of up and coming bands like French composer and folk artist Yann Tiersen, electronica duo Big Gigantic, bluegrass with Nickel Creek feat. Chris Thile, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, from the 90’s Toad the Wet Sprocket plays in April….  And of course all the big names we have in the upcoming months:  Lucinda Williams, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Mike Gordon of Phish, Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden, Audioslave, etc), Wanda Jackson who toured with Elvis and has now come out with a new rock-a-billy album she produced and record with Jack White (of the White Stripes), hip hop Ice Cube, British grammy-winner Adele…the list goes on!

WNCTRAVEL: What would you like to say to our readers, whether they have or haven’t been to the Orange Peel?

LIZ: We feature the very best in acts from all over the country and every genre imaginable, in a non-smoking historic venue in the heart of downtown. Over the the last 9 years, The Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club has been recognized as one of the best live music venues in the nation, including Top 5 in the country by Rolling Stone magazine. We’ve been featured and highlighted in USA Today, Travel and Leisure Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, Turner South Cable Network, Rolling Stones Magazine, and the New York Times.  We’re know for presenting up and coming new talent as well as showcasing legendary performers. Everyone from Bob Dylan to the Smashing Pumpkins, from Joan Jett to Cyndi Lauper, and from Kings of Leon to the Beastie Boys have performed to sold-out houses at The Orange Peel since 2002.  There’s something for everyone, and it’s not to be missed during a trip to Asheville! Our new show announcements are always posted on our website – http://www.theorangepeel.net – and we encourage fans to subscribe to our e-newsletter so they don’t miss out on big concert news.

WNCTRAVEL:  In your time at the Orange Peel what act or group has been your personal favorite

LIZ: Hmm! That’s a hard question, there have been so many great acts! I especially loved seeing Ms. Lauryn Hill (of the Fugees and her own solo career) here this past January – that was pretty amazing in such a small venue. The Black Keys always put on a rockin’ show, and it’s been fun to see them since they’ve gone from indie band with a “cult” following to huge mainstream hit nominated for Best Rock Grammy’s this year.  They played a sold out show here this past Fall. I loved seeing Iron and Wine here, as well as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  Blitzen Trapper (an indie band) put on an awesome show here.  She & Him, featuring Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward were amazing live…it’s hard to choose!

Well, I want to thank Liz for granting us the interview. I encourage all of you to check out their web site. And will continue our series on free stuff to do in West Asheville in the next blog posting.

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