There’s a winning formula in attracting a hip, young crowd of music-lovers with an ear for the unknown and obscure, and a taste for cheap, well-made beer. It’s a mix Jon and Amanda Hency hope to achieve through their new music venue, The Mothlight at Mr. Fred’s, that’s on track to open in October along Haywood Road.
Jon, in particular, takes pride in his connection with the scene, having worked for The Empty Bottle, a respected alt-music hipster hangout in Chicago known for its eclectic, nightly music line-up.
“There are so many good things happening with the growth of Asheville, I believe we are filling a niche – stemming from a sub-culture I take pride in being a part of,” Hency said. “We love the established venues in this town, and we will forever frequent them. Our goal is to provide a home in Asheville for a lot of touring bands that do not frequent this town – and have a lot of fun.. and maybe get a little weird along the way.”
The couple have been working for months to transform a long-time former mattress shop and furniture store, Mr. Fred’s, into a music club featuring a full-bar, room for 250 customers and roll-up front windows. There’s a spacious downstairs green room for visiting musicians, and space for two more tenants at the back of the building.
Jon and Amanda met in Chicago about four years, married, and decided to move to Asheville about three years ago.
“It’s been our dream to do this together,” said Amanda, who has been slinging drinks at Jack of the Wood and plans to manage the front of house at The Mothlight, while Jon handles the music end.
Jon has other music connections he’s been building locally through the Asheville-based independent record label he’s been working with, Bathetic Records. He hopes to work with other indy producers, including Harvest Records and Grandma Presents.
Amanda said The Mothlight will embrace all kinds of music, from a 50-person show to one that fills the house. They also plan to offer all-ages shows. The couple stressed that they see their venue complementing the local music scene. “We’re not competing with The Isis,” for example, Amanda said. “We just want to complete what’s being served in Asheville.”
The Hencys are moving in to a hot block at the red hot Haywood Road corridor. Several new restaurants and bars are in the works for Haywood Road. The stretch between Haywood’s intersection with Dunwell Avenue and Jarrett Street, where The Mothlight will be located, is abuzz with activity. Next door to The Mothlight, in the other half of the former Mr. Fred’s, construction is underway for a new retail business, while the new Barleycorn restaurant and bar is in the works just east of The Mothlight.