A local landmark, the Asheville’s Citizen-Times building is making room for Citizen Vinyl, a boutique vinyl pressing plant, record store and bar/cafe. “North Carolina’s homegrown music scene, from the coast to the mountains, is among the best in the country,” says Gar Ragland, CEO and founder of Citizen Vinyl. “This, combined with the ever-growing popularity of vinyl albums among music fans, allows Citizen Vinyl to become our state’s go-to pressing facility for both independent artists and NC record labels and distributors alike.”
Record pressing will be an important linchpin for Citizen Vinyl’s much broader ethos. A diverse, expert team is helping Ragland to realize his vision for the space. “Citizen Vinyl is a celebration of craftsmanship, quality and art across its constituent parts: music, community, food, design, manufacturing, history,” says Ragland.
“Our team is composed of local artists—masters of their respective crafts—and is committed to the local independent artist community of which we are a part.”
The Citizen-Times building is a beautiful three-story example of art moderne architecture, a legacy that will be threaded throughout the Citizen Vinyl experience. Robert Maddox, co-owner with Karie Reinertson of the interior/architectural design firm Shelter Collective, says the new space plays with existing motifs from the building’s original era. “This manifested in color schemes pulled from the terrazzo inlay floor in the lobby, a tambour front bar playing with the circular motif found in the railings and a thrust bar that took its inspiration from the old Citizen-Times concierge counter that used to grace the entryway to the space,” he says.
The Citizen Vinyl brand “is based on historical details found in both the architecture of the building and the original newspaper presses that once ran here,” says Eric Pieper, brand director for Citizen Vinyl. “The goal from the very start was to respect the origins of the building and the spirit of publishing human communication. With that said, we also sought to find ways to reinterpret the past into something that feels fresh, new and ready for today’s audience.”
The ground floor will house the record pressing plant as well as a record store, performance space and Session, a new bar/cafe concept by Susannah Gebhart of OWL Bakery and Graham House, formerly of Sovereign Remedies. “Making music and making food and libations are acts of creativity that, at their most powerful, evoke memory and a felt sense of connection to the landscape of emotion,” says Gebhart. “We are excited to bring these two powerful alchemists together in a space also built to inspire.”
Ragland is a veteran music producer and his label, NewSong Recordings, will be set up on Citizen Vinyl’s third floor in Studio A, which used to house the historic WWNC radio station. The fully operating music studio will host private recording, mixing and mastering sessions, and also track in-store performances to be released on limited-edition vinyl. Citizen Vinyl plans to host album listening parties, rotating art installations, music history lectures and seminars and other programming curated by various community partners including Colby Caldwell of REVOLVE.
“Our team is very committed to building Citizen Vinyl and the community of creators surrounding it as a cultural landmark, one which helps to reestablish both Asheville’s national identity as a community of creators and our deep history of music and craft,” says Ragland. “We share an understanding that together, we have a very exciting and unique opportunity to create something enduring, inspiring, impactful and meaningful. In doing so, our team aims to be good citizens, and to inspire others to do the same.”
Citizen Vinyl and Session bar/cafe plan to open on a limited capacity basis starting mid-September. For hours, menu and more information visit CitizenVinyl.com