Run, Don’t Walk to The Joint Next Door

I’m a big music fan, so one would think I’d be ecstatic to live in a town like Asheville, where you can easily find live music every night. I’m not. Well, I like living here and am ecstatic about plenty, but I haven’t enmeshed myself in the local music scene, largely because I’m a man of low-brow tastes. 

When I deign to hit the town, I typically don’t want to listen to an indie singer-songwriter try to make it big or wow me with insightful lyrics I’ve never heard before. Nope. I want a cover band, and I’m not talking Grateful Dead or Beatles tributes. I want a bunch of dads providing me with the musical stylings of Bruce Springsteen, CCR, and Elton John. I want to hear “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Wagon Wheel” by people who clearly have no musical training and wouldn’t make it past the American Idol audition tape. That’s the lane I live in, and Asheville simply has too much taste for that lane. 

Recently, my friend Dani was dogsitting out in Fairview, and I took advantage of having a friend right in the neighborhood (convincing those who live in Asheville proper to truck the entire 12 minutes it would take to get to Fairview has proven a challenge) and hit up Turgua with her on a Tuesday. Turgua proved delightful as always but closes at eight during the week, and since it was the first week of lengthened days, we wanted to stay out a bit longer. I suggested The Joint Next Door as it’s in a gas station, and gas station bars are at least always good for a laugh. 

I’ve been to The Joint Next Door multiple times and have always had a nice, low-key time there, but truthfully, it’s never been a must-stop, and it’s been over a year since I stopped by. There were sometimes half-decent bands in the past, but there were also sometimes bluegrass troops. The beer was cheap, and the crowds were pleasant enough, although you were never sure they could disclose where they were on that particular January 6th. 

I sensed something different when we pulled in, and I had to park on the far side of the building since the main parking lot right outside the bar and the entire plaza next door were completely full. “It can’t be this packed on a Tuesday,” I said to Dani as we walked over, but sure enough, it was. The bar was packed to the gills with happy retirees dancing their hearts out to “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog.” As I captioned the Snapchat I sent my friends of these happy elderly couples boogieing down, “I walked in here and feel home.”

We were going to just stop for a nightcap but ended up staying to hear the band finish their set, which they did promptly at nine, at which point the happy retirees fled en masse into the night. The band was just what I was looking for. They played CCR. They sampled some Springsteen. A crowd favorite seemed to be “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’”, and they played several Linda Rondstadt songs, which you rarely hear in the wild (my mother is a huge Linda Rondstadt fan, and I grew up listening to her greatest hits every Sunday)…and the closing song was “Wagon Wheel.” 

Dani and I ended up chatting with the bar manager who’d just taken over last spring, and you could tell the place has somewhat transformed since then. The bar is still no-frills and cheap (especially for being Asheville adjacent), but the band and the crowd were just…fun. I had such a good time being there for an hour and spent the next day texting all my local friends about how we must go back. 
The Joint Next Door has bands six nights a week (save Sunday), and the manager showed us a great outdoor space I’m excited to utilize in the summer. I mentioned earlier that the Joint Next Door is in a gas station. That wasn’t a euphemism. It’s literally in a gas station, along with The Local Joint, its sister restaurant where you can order food. Since moving here, I’ve long advocated for making Fairview a day trip destination…now the Joint Next Door makes an argument for staying all night.

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