Not the famous ones who already live here–Andie MacDowell, Harry Anderson, part-time Brevardian Steve Martin… The ones who clearly WISH they lived here, visit a lot, or who show Asheville some special love.
Here’s our list:
The president: The Obamas have been here a few times after the president fell in love with Asheville during a debate-preparation session (facing then-opponent John McCain) at the Grove Park Inn.
By his second visit we even made him his own Asheville beer, and knew to look for him and Michelle at 12 Bones riverside. (The Huffington Post says a Secret Service agent reportedly picked up a few extra bottles of his special Asheville Brewing creation.)
The Corner Kitchen sports plaques where the Obamas sat for dinner. Barack had the mahi mahi, we hear.
Woody Harrelson: The Buchi Kombucha fan and hemp supporter is a natural fit for Asheville. He even hit LAAFF during an Asheville stay and posed for pictures at the Buchi booth after picking up a Buchi Air.
Amanda Palmer: The Twitter-loving punk-cabaret musician had what she called the best day of her life here just a few years back. She played a ninja street gig at Pritchard Park that moved inside to Malaprop’s, and hit Moog Music for a tour.
She returned last fall to become a stepmother-in-law when her husband, writer Neil Gaiman, saw his son married to an Asheville woman at the Biltmore Estate.
From a Citizen-Times interview with Ross:
“I remember nights at the Bywater, pulling up a stump, sitting by the water and listening to some music; riding my bicycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Ross recalled.
“And rolling down Lexington Avenue past the used record stores and coffee shops, and pulling books off the shelf at the (Battery Park) Book Exchange and reading passages.”
Michael Franti: Always taking a local yoga class and/or spotted at Rosetta’s whenever he plays the Peel, Franti calls Asheville one of his favorite cities. He and Harrelson probably just need to move here and open up a vegan cafe, Mike & Woody’s.
The Avett Brothers: Natives of nearby Kannapolis Mount Pleasant N.C., the band played Asheville long before they were famous, with gigs at Malaprop’s and Be Here Now back in the dark days when Asheville’s downtown was a ghost town and 11 people showed up for an Avett Brothers show.
I’ve heard Scott Avett say he considers himself to be as much from Asheville as from his hometown, and the brothers’ recommendations of favorite Asheville places in this Slacker video (Salsa’s, Early Girl, Izzy’s) are fun to watch (and spot on):
Band of Horses: While not from here, the band has recorded here and nabbed ace Asheville guitarist Tyler Ramsey as one of its own a few years back. Ramsey’s vocal about being a proud Ashevillean, and it seems that quite a bit of his appreciation has rubbed off on the rest of the band, who share his love of the food at Tod’s Tasties, the popular Montford eatery they frequented while recording at nearby Echo Mountain.
If you’ve eaten at Tod’s, you understand.
James Franco: The Ashvegas Man of the Year 2012 visits regularly as part of getting his second MFA degree from Warren Wilson College. He’s almost definitely still in town this week, preparing for graduation this weekend from the college’s MFA in Fiction program.
Henry Rollins: A big fan of “Look Homeward, Angel” author Thomas Wolfe, Rollins often visits the Thomas Wolfe Home when in town, and donated the proceeds from several sold-out local spoken-word shows to restoring the home after it was severely damaged by arson.
From Mountain Xpress in 2004:
“I remember reading a chunk of Wolfe’s Of Time and the River onstage in Asheville,” Henry Rollins recalled by phone recently.
No one at that bygone show, he laments, could relate. And at this, he’s utterly baffled.
“All that people seemed to know was that Thomas Wolfe was a famous writer who came from Asheville, and that his house is down the street.”
Then, the former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman turned author, publisher and stand-up philosopher takes a huge breath. ”Geeeeez,” he bellows in frustration.
Of Time and the River is the sequel to Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe’s famously dense, lushly detailed autobiographical novel that narrates protagonist Eugene Gant’s escape from the small North Carolina town of Altamont (Asheville) to the author’s real-life retreats — Harvard, New York and the like. But most readers today never reach the River.
“Look Homeward, Angel is a pretty mighty tome — it’s a wounded-dog-sized book — and I guess it’s a little intimidating,” Rollins finally allows.
Brian Eno: The “Mayor of Moogfest” loved Asheville so much he extended his stay just to hang out, and was often spotted on the streets of downtown taking his morning walk. The U.S. debut of his digital art installation, 77 Million Paintings, was here in Asheville as part of Moogfest 2011.
After a visit to West Asheville’s Harvest Records he gave the record store an enthusiastic shout-out from the stage during a presentation at the U.S. Cellular Center. Harvest posted this image on Facebook, saying they were going to start a band.
Zach Galifianakis: The Wilkesboro, N.C. native turns up from time to time, with rumors popping up that he’s looking for a place here. He hit the Admiral and Red Stag Grill back in 2010.
Joe Rogan: Another funnyman who loves Asheville, Rogan’s September visit resulted in a podcast in which he said he was almost afraid to talk about Asheville, as he doesn’t want people to move here. Calling Asheville a city with the best aspects of Austin along with cool people and great scenery, he said visiting is like freebasing all the best things about Austin.
As one Redditor commented after listening, “Basically, he loved it here.”
Oh, Asheville, you wonderful little space monkey town, you’ve won me over with your mountain charm. This place fucking rules. –Joe Rogan on Twitter
Category: Asheville features