News obit: Jeff Knorr, a pillar of Asheville music scene, dies


Jeff Knorr, known as a tireless participant and supporter of Asheville’s music scene, died suddenly earlier this week. He was 44.

Knorr was an audio engineer, music producer and studio musician. He performed in a number of bands around Asheville (Secret B-Sides, Chalwa, Nuevo Montuno Salsa Orchestra), and helped many more produce recordings. The silver-bearded keyboardist also worked as an audio engineer on high-profile Asheville music events such as LEAF and at Diana Wortham Theatre.

Knorr was also part of the house band at the Tuesday Night Funk Jam, an Asheville institution at the Asheville Music Hall. For the past decade, Knorr has joined in the jam, which is both a networking opportunity for local players and one of the best shows in town week in and week out.

Friends and fellow musicians have been sharing memories and tributes all week. Josh Blake, another long-time Asheville musician and member of the Funk Jam house band, wrote in a Facebook post that he knew Knorr for nearly 20 years and played hundreds of gigs with him.

I will miss your bubbly, relaxed playing style, your silky smooth voice, they way you were always down to sing anything if you had the lyrics in front of you, the way you literally provide a safety net for all the musicians you have played with. You laid a sonic landscape down so thick and lush, any musician who entered it was free to explore it’s wonders.

I’m gonna miss the way you look at me when we are supposed to do a certain thing on a song, the way you fist bump me if I did a good job melting face on a solo, the way you always had a chart if I missed a tune that we were supposed to prep, an extra cable if I forgot mine, and maybe most of all, the way you would lay the hammer down on anyone sucking at funk jam. … I’ve learned so much from you. The psychic energy we developed and shared…I mean I wanna say it isn’t lost and I can still touch it as we move forward…but I will miss it’s direct connection dearly.

Many more social media tributes have been shared. Here’s a smapling:

LEAF organizers wrote that “Jeff will be remembered as a great friend, inspirational teacher, a leader in our musical community and a very funky man! Rest in Peace dear friend.”

Diana Wortham Theatre wrote that Knorr was “a beloved member of our crew and a talented sound engineer who worked with many venues and artists in Asheville. Our hearts and thoughts are with Jeff’s family and friends at this time.”

Asheville Percussion Festival wrote : “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of Asheville’s finest Jeff Knorr. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeffs family, friends and community. Jeff contributed to the Asheville music scene in so many ways and shared his massive gifts and talents abundantly. Rest easy, Jeff. We will miss you.”

Asheville filmmaker Paul Schattel wrote that he and Knorr were part of a team that worked on a Moog Music series for Paste Magazine called Live @ Moog.

I shot and directed it (along with several others); Jeff recorded and mixed it. We would come together quickly–bringing in cameras and lights and mics and amps and Hammond B3’s. The space was tiny–there was hardly enough room to move around in there, let alone perform–and it was hot, but Jeff always had a zen about him that allowed everyone else to ride his waves. I would poke and tease at him, trying to get a rise out of him, and he would look back at me with that hairy Buddha smile, not taking the bait; he was just too kind to snark back. All the while this master musician was happily staying in the background, supporting other artists, making them sound terrific (his mixes, done quickly, were impeccable) while he took very little credit. He was the quiet glue that held it all together. While I didn’t have the sheer amount of time with him that many others did, I immediately loved and respected him, and took him for a brother. I miss him already.