Ninety years ago this week, Asheville was the site of some remarkable music recording sessions. Back in 1925, a team from the New York-based Okeh Record Company, under the charge of A&R director Ralph S. Peer, traveled to Asheville and set up a portable studio on the rooftop of the new Vanderbilt Hotel. The sessions attracted musicians and singers from around the region and a total of 60 records were pressed, covering a gamut of styles from old-time to gospel to jazz. Among the notable musicians recorded during the last week of August were Emmett Miller, Kelly Harrell, Ernest V. Stoneman, Henry Whitter, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Ernest Helton, J.D. Harris, and Fisher Hendley. These are believed to be the first records made in the Carolinas.
These Asheville sessions took place two years before the historic Bristol Sessions in Tennessee, which have come to be celebrated as the “Big Bang” of music. The Asheville sessions aren’t as well known in large part because of inferior technology: they relied on the acoustic microphone rather than the electric microphone which was soon to become the industry standard.
On Friday, August 28th, the White Horse Black Mountain music hall is hosting “Away Out on the Mountain,” a special celebration of this anniversary. Local favorites David Holt, Adam Tanner, Rayna Gellert, Brody Hunt, and The Carolina Cud Chewers will perform and pay tribute to the musicians and melodies immortalized in these historic recordings.