Home » Staff Writer

Staff Writer

This article was brought to you by one of our awesome staff writers. Some of our writers don't want the fame and glory that comes along with being awesome, so we respect their privacy. Want to tell them how good their work is? Write a comment below and leave them some love!

SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s Now Open Inside Historic Rabbit’s Motel

A three year revitalization project taking place inside of Asheville, North Carolina’s historic Southside neighborhood has come to fruition with the opening of SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s, the city’s first public access music rehearsal facility. The studio space, which will soon include a soul food eatery and mixed medium artist amenities has taken residence inside the now-defunct Rabbit’s Motel, a Green Book site for African-American travelers which operated from the late 1940s until the turn of the 21st century. Repurposing the building to accommodate the influx of creatives who call Asheville home, co-founders Claude Coleman, Jr. (of the rock outfit Ween) and Brett Spivey hope to carry the legacy of the historic construction by providing functional practice quarters and an accessible gathering place for artists of all mediums. 

Established in 1948 by Fred “Rabbit” Simpson, Rabbit’s Motel was considered a crown jewel of Black-owned tourist courts in the segregation-era South. The inn provided lodging and dining for Black visitors, including such prominent figures as Chitlin Circuit entertainers, soul singer and performer Jackie Wilson, comedian Richard Pryor, race car driver Wendell Scott and baseball star Willie “Pops” Stargell. At the heart of Rabbit’s Motel was Lou Ella Byrd’s beloved soul food kitchen, a town favorite dining establishment which was famously known for its “pork chops the size of bibles.” Mrs. Byrd’s café operated for over half a century and was cherished by a cross-section of Asheville’s communities up to 2003. In late 2021, local chef Clarence Robinson (also known as The Flavor King) will bring his culinary chops and signature “Cooking With Comedy” flair to the SoundSpace facility. A lifelong Asheville resident and relative of Rabbit Motel’s original owner, Robinson is set to recharge the vacated kitchen space with a new soul food café that will pay homage to the accomplishments of Mrs. Byrd while informing a new vision for Western North Carolina’s rich food scene.  

In addition to providing a vital service to Asheville’s rapidly expanding music sector, SoundSpace will soon boast a series of workshops, events, and programs to foster the arts in underserved communities. Future plans include a livestream series called SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s Live which will feature Afro-centric performances broadcast directly from inside the facility, and a multi-artist mural project that will reinvigorate the building’s exterior. With equity and collaboration at the forefront, 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 collaboration.

For more information about SoundSpace, visit www.soundpaceavl.com. For a brief history of Asheville’s historic Southside district, see below.

For media inquiries and interview requests, contact Danielle Dror (danielle@teamvictorylap.com) at Victory Lap Publicity.

Southside: Lost Communities of Black Exceptionalism in Asheville
Rabbit’s Motel sat in the heart of Southside, a flourishing African-American neighborhood that was one of many Black communities burgeoning in Asheville, North Carolina. Southside contained a vital business district for the African-American community as much as The Block in the center of downtown, which was a nexus of Black commercialism and one of the largest Black-owned business districts in the South. The Block was adjacent to East End, home of Stephens-Lee High School, the only public African-American school in North Carolina.

Southside was a mixed district of businesses ranging from funeral homes and drive-in diners, and was an entertainment hub of hotels and bar-clubs frequented by Chitlin’ Circuit groups as well as supporting a robust local music scene of Black bands.

Municipal neglect to these communities allowed widespread blight. The practices of Urban Renewal upended these historic communities over a period of 30 years. Entire neighborhoods were dispossessed, roads were redrawn, and communities and their sense of belonging and connection were dismantled. In just the East Riverside area alone, “we lost more than 1,100 homes, six beauty parlors, five barber shops, five filling stations, fourteen grocery stores, three laundromats, eight apartment houses, seven churches, three shoe shops, two cabinet shops, two auto body shops, one hotel, five funeral homes, one hospital, and three doctor’s offices.” (Reverend Wesley Grant) During the East Riverside Redevelopment Project, an urban renewal effort targeting 425 across was completely demolished.

Read More »

The Magnetic Theatre 2021 Season Auditions

The Magnetic Theatre is pleased to announce its first round of auditions for the 2021 season!  Taking place over Zoom on January 9th, 10th, and 11th, these auditions will cover the first half of the season, which includes roles for actors age 18 and up.

Read More »

Cold Weather Stories from ABCCM

Cold weather stretches ABCCM’s urgent need for donations to help with heating assistance for elderly and families with children in Buncombe County. Every winter season with 29,797, or 11.5% of the Buncombe County population living below the poverty level there is a need to help families and individuals with heating assistance. What follows is just one of many “Cold Weather Stories.”

Read More »

ABCCM Christmas Angel Shop Key Presentation by Ingles Markets

On Tuesday, November 24th at 153 Smokey Park Highway in Asheville, N.C. near the recently redesigned Smokey Park Highway Ingles Store #031, Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) will be receiving a ceremonial key from Ingles to open ABCCM Christmas Angel Shop for 2020.

Read More »

Ingles Markets To Administer Covid-19 Vaccines

covid-19 vaccine

Ingles Markets, Incorporated (NASDAQ: IMKTA) has announced that the company will be partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide the administration of the coming COVID-19 vaccine. Ingles Pharmacies will receive direct allocations of COVID-19 vaccine once a vaccine is approved for its safety and efficacy and recommended for use in the United States.

Read More »

ACMS PRESENTS THE CALIDORE STRING QUARTET

The Asheville Chamber Music Series (ACMS) will present  The Calidore String Quartet in virtual concerts aired Friday, November 20 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, November 22 at 3 PM. All the programs can be viewed on the ACMS website and YouTube.

Read More »

Asheville Holiday Parade 2020 Cancelled

holiday pop up

The Asheville Downtown Association today announced that the Asheville Holiday Parade is canceled for 2020 due to public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to cancel the parade was based on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s September 30th announcement moving North Carolina into Phase 3. Phase 3 continues to limit outdoor gatherings to 50 people and provides capacity limits for outdoor spaces. The uncertainty of COVID-19 conditions and public safety protocols in effect at the time of the parade drove the decision. 

Read More »

Bob Moog Foundation Announces Trifecta Raffle

raffle

The Bob Moog Foundation is excited to announce its 2020 Trifecta Raffle featuring three vintage Moog synthesizers: a Moog Rogue, a Moog Prodigy, and a Moog Source. The synthesizers being offered have been fully restored and are in excellent technical and physical condition. Together their collective worth is nearly $7,000.

Read More »

Local Nonprofits Help Animals Impacted by Storms Marco and Laura

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and Asheville Humane Society are pitching in to help animals being evacuated from southern Mississippi, ahead of tropical storms Marco and Laura. The large transport of animals, coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States, will make stops in Nashville and Asheville to deliver animals early this week.

Read More »

Earth Fare Partners with ABCCM for its inaugural 5% Giving Day

This quarter Earth Fare, Westgate will support ABCCM (Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry) in their endeavor of furnishing the kitchen at Transformation Village. ABCCM’s Transformation Village is a new 24 acre campus located off of Brevard Rd and I-26, providing 100 beds so homeless women and moms with children have a safe place.  ABCCM offers hope and healing with life skills and work readiness training that leads to living wage jobs and permanent homes.

Read More »