The Orange Peel, one of Asheville’s most well-known and loved music venues, is set to celebrate the unique history of its location with a new permanent history exhibit in its front gallery space, as well as free tours.
Orange Peel folks came across a trove of documents that inform the exhibit, according to Robb McAdams, the music club’s assistant office manager and social media manager, who worked with a team of other Orange Peel managers to complete the project, according to a press release.
The new permanent exhibit will debut Wednesday, June 26. It will recount the history of the building from its construction to present-day, including the highlights of the modern Orange Peel. It will also cover the story of some of the previous tenants of the building, such as the Jade Club and the historic funk and soul club, the original Orange Peel, which operated in the space during the late 1970s. That version of the club featured iconic acts like the Commodores with Lionel Richie, the Chi-Lites, and the Bar-Kays, according to the release.
The venue is also launching free tours to the public twice a day on Wednesdays through Fridays, when show schedules permit. The tours will afford visitors to access behind-the-scenes spaces in the historic music club, while learning more about some of the Orange Peel’s biggest shows past and present, according to the news release. Tours will end in the new history exhibit area, allowing guests to go at their own pace viewing the historical concert memorabilia, photos, newspaper articles, and firsthand accounts that are featured.
“A highlight for us has been meeting with many of the important local musicians and participants in the Asheville music scene from back in the era of the original Orange Peel and the Jade Club, such as James (Omar) Brown, Michael Miller, Sammy Bowman and J.C. Martin,” McAdams said in the release.
“These guys were members of bands like Bite-Chew & Spit, the Royal Primes, and The Innersouls, which were huge at the time and played this building frequently. We also got to meet Mr. Jim Robinson, who founded Asheville’s first black radio station, WBMU, which used the original Orange Peel deejay booth as a training ground and development space for their on-air deejays. It has been such an honor to interview these gentlemen and include their stories in what we are producing for the mini-museum; they were incredibly generous to share their memories with us.”
The history exhibit will cover the building from its initial construction as a rollerskating rink in 1946 to its time as a soul and R&B club. The history extends to the location’s empty days in the 1990s and through to its renaissance as the modern day Orange Peel, which has hosted legendary artists of all genres in its 17 years in operation, including Bob Dylan in 2004, the Smashing Pumpkins in 2007, Ms. Lauryn Hill as well as Ice Cube in 2011, and Dave Grohl with Warren Haynes this past December 2018, according to the release.
The exhibit space will be open for ticket holders to peruse during most show nights year-round, and also during the day as part of the venue’s new free guided tours. Interested participants must sign up for tours in advance here. Each tour has limited spaces.