Correction: This post was updated to reflect the correct spelling of Altamont Theatre partner Richard Barrett’s name.

The Altamont Theatre, a downtown Asheville music venue known as an intimate listening room showcasing quality music, is closing at the end of the year.

Business owners and operators Sam Katz and Richard Barrett say the building owner Brian Lee has new plans for the 150-seat listening room space.

“He’s dead set on what he wants to do, so we’ve got until the end of the year and we’re planning a series of celebrations,” says Barrett, a musician himself.

“It’s a shame. The Altamont had a special place on the Asheville music scene,” he says.

Katz, a music promoter on the Asheville scene for about the last decade, says “the city is losing a special venue.”

“I think our regulars are going to be devastated, just like we are,” Katz adds. “This is what happens when the city gentrifies.”

Lee says he’s sorting out plans and will issue a statement sometime soon about what’s next.

In 2015, Katz, of Charlie Traveler Presents, announced that he and two partners had signed a lease to operate a music venue at 18 Church St., a location that was home to a black box theater following an extensive 2010 renovation of the building by owners Brian and Tiffany Lee.

Katz and Barrett say they’ve put their heart, soul and most of their earnings into the business since then (the third partner bowed out). The room, with some of the best acoustics for a venue in Asheville, has hosted numerous Grammy-winners, local singer-songwriters more, while also occasionally serving as a wedding reception venue.

Barrett says he’s working on a series of “farewell to The Altamont” shows that will feature some favorite acts. After that he says he’s not sure what he’ll do. Katz, too, says the future is a bit unsure.

“I’ll might do some consulting work,” Katz says, “or I might just quit this crazy music business and do something completely different.”



  1. Hauntedheadnc says:

    I wonder if this will put any sort of dent in Ashevillians’ passion to turn every space large enough to lay down in into a short-term rental. In a town with a housing shortage we’ve already lost God only knows how much living space to STR’s, developers are building condo buildings and townhouses where nobody will actually live because they’re set aside for STR’s, and now we’re losing businesses when they get kicked out in favor of STR’s. I seem to recall that having the whole alley turned over to STR’s is why Carolina Lane is as bland as it now, also.

  2. Brian Lee can go F’ himself with a very large barbed utensil.

  3. Kind of ironic given that Brian Lee was part of the Lee family who ran radio station WZLS which was forced off the air several years ago due to bigger money getting control of the frequency. Lee was Program Director.

  4. This makes me so very sad. Asheville has become being ruined by greed.

  5. Can people not get together and prompt the city to not let this happen?

    • Really?!? WTF…what can the city do about a private business that wants to sell or re-purpose their own property. Give me a break. You live in a dream land.

  6. That landlord, Brian Lee, has pulled stuff like this before and screwed over both vendors and musicians, he’s got a bad rep and appears to be a real scummy businessman.

  7. Isn’t it Richard Barrett?

    And don’t you mean, in Sam’s quote, “…our regulars…” and not “regulators?”

  8. Ellie Schwarz says:

    It is Richard “Barrett” 🙂

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