Isis Music Hall, like places elsewhere, may be quiet and empty for the time being, but the floorboards and rafters are just waiting for shelter-at-home orders to be lifted so that reverberating music and the toe tapping and hand clapping that ensue can brighten the stages inside and the patio outside. When it’s business as usual, music lovers can look forward to a rocking good time catching up on all of the great sounds missed.
West Asheville’s landmark building began its life in the late 1930s as Isis Theater, a single-screen cinema. Scott and Lillianna Woody and their children Josephine, Harris and Martin purchased the Art Deco building in 1998. They spent years doing major renovations to bring it to its present use as a premier venue for music of all genres, from brand-new performers to seasoned musicians of renown. “We elected to retain the name ‘Isis’ because of the historic and iconic nature of the building,” Scott says.
When the Woodys purchased the building, there was a small restaurant in the front that remained there for ten more years. Since then, they have added their own Kitchen 743 with its award-winning, seasonal-inspired menu for dinner, Sunday brunch or late-night cocktails.
The shape and size of the venue allow up to three shows in one evening. “The structure of the theater is well designed for acoustics,” says Scott. “We spent a lot of time on the acoustics and really tried to make sure that the system in here fit the room and that the balcony fields were all timed perfectly to deliver a uniformed sound throughout.” Besides The Main Stage, shows indoors are also held in the intimate Lounge, located in what was the old theater’s projection room. Outdoors, the patio and adjoining green space are a welcome West Asheville spot.
A wedding became the Woodys’ first event in 2012 when they opened, and The Claire Lynch Band broke the stage in for all of the performers that would follow. “West Asheville has evolved as we had hoped while keeping the history of the area in place,” Lillianna says. “The Bledsoe Building [West Asheville’s largest commercial building] was such a leap for West Asheville. Shortly after, Isis Theater raised its head again and became a place to gather for entertainment, food and beverages. The rest is history!”
In 2015, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awarded Isis the Venue of the Year Momentum Award, an honor voted on by a panel of top musicians and industry leaders.
Meanwhile, until venues can safely open their doors again during this time of coronavirus concerns, the Woodys are working on ways to support artists and their staff. “Our community should support all the artists everywhere,” Lillianna says. “They have remarkable talent. Let’s show these musicians how we care.”
Isis Restaurant and Music Hall is located at 743 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For ticket information and reservations once shows resume, call 828.575.2737 or visit IsisAsheville.com where a complete schedule of events and times may be found.