The new venue opened in July of 2007, and promotes a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere where good friends and good music come together for old-fashioned fun and entertainment.
Just as exiciting as the band is the historic building which houses the concert. The Fletcher Supply Company was built in 1919 by the Youngblood family and served as the “heart of downtown Fletcher” for many many years. Over the years, the building, has been a butcher shop, pottery and ceramics studio, TV repair shop, bingo hall and a feed store. The hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and hammered tin tiles on the ceiling have stood the test of time and create a unique ambience for experiencing our regional musical heritage. The building has been recently updated and restored with the addition of a stage and nice sound system.
Fletcher has undergone rapid change in recent times and the old Fletcher Supply Co building has long been an anchor for the community. Many old buildings have given way to the developers bulldozers and our heritage is being lost one brick at a time. Fortunately, there are still those who value history and value communities having their own distinct identities.
Over a year ago, Phillip Trees, had a vision for making Feed & Seed into a community center celebrating the arts and embracing contextual music, film and visual art which pay tribute to the mountain heritage of the area. “We would love to see the lights on every evening, and something going on culturally with arts, music, meetings, seminars, book clubs, art viewings and bluegrass,” Trees said.
Thanks to generous donations from fellow Fletcherites, Trees has outfitted the historic venue with comfortable pews, chairs, couches and even rocking chairs under the front awnings of the old store. The old-fashioned atmosphere pervades throughout including RC Colas and Moon Pies which are available for sale during the shows.
In addition to serving as a cultural center for the community, the historic building is home to a church pastored by Phillip Trees.
This scene is happening at the Feed & Seed, which is fast becoming an arts and music venue to reckon with, drawing notable bluegrass acts like Chicago’s Tangleweed; Ron Block, banjo player with Alison Krauss and Union Station; and Asheville’s own Dehlia Low.
“This has once again become the centerpiece of Fletcher,” says Phillip Trees, the man behind Feed & Seed. “We’re doing this for the community.”
What was originally the Fletcher Supply Company general store found a new incarnation in July 2007, when live music first started with a show by a local band, the Redeye Ramblers.
The Redeye Ramblers have since become something of a house band at the Feed & Seed, rocking the joint with music inspired by the likes of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers.
“I see Asheville becoming the ‘East Coast Austin’ and there are not enough venues,” Trees adds. “This is an acoustic venue, and it’s for all ages.”
The non-smoking, no alcohol venue is a comfortable place to hear some of the best music of Western North Carolina and beyond.
“Our band just loves to play there,” says David Troxler of the Redeye Ramblers. “It’s a cozy, friendly atmosphere where the focus is on the music.”
It’s a setting that keeps the focus pure.
“It reminds me of what it must have been like in the old days,” Troxler says. “There’s lots of interaction between the performers and the audience — people are there to really listen.”
“I think we’ve had people wondering, ‘What’s behind this bluegrass place?’” says the affable Trees. “I’m in a midlife renaissance, doing a church that is so grassroots and innovative.”
Trees, who holds a Masters in Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, says, “it’s relationship, not religion” at the Feed & Seed.
“God’s message is being shared in newer ways, whether it’s books, music or movies,” he says.
Trees, who plays piano and guitar, usually performs on Sunday mornings. His children, 9-year-old Nathan and 5-year-old Brie, sometimes play and dance along with the music.
The atmosphere is low key and there is no pressure on participants to join the worship as regular members.
A scheduled potluck dinner and prayer meeting takes place Wednesday nights at the Feed & Seed, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The unstructured format of the church at Feed & Seed include making ‘field trips,’ like the one planned the first weekend in September in Pisgah National Forest.
Two group campground spots have been reserved at Davidson River for anyone who would like to camp, and a Sunday morning service will be held at the campground’s outdoor amphitheatre.
“We want to be mobile, to really get out there,” Trees says. He adds that anyone is welcome and simply needs to call Feed & Seed to reserve a space for camping.
Since opening in Fletcher, Trees has welcomed a large portion of the former Christ Community Church to the Sunday Feed & Seed services.
“I see a lot of old friends coming in,” Trees says. “People are welcome to join us as often as they like — every week, or maybe only one week and then again six months later.”
Momentum has been gaining at Feed & Seed, both for its Sunday services and for live music. In fact, dates are booked for both until Christmas.
The sunny interior, brightened by five picture windows overlooking the Hoopers Creek portion of the Blue Ridge, helps welcome crowds to the Feed & Seed.
Vintage elements give the place character: The tall ceilings still hold the original molded tin tiles, the wooden shelving was used in the Fletcher Supply Company and the old safe, meat counter and account register were in use circa the 1940’s.
“It’s so rare to find these old buildings,” Trees says. “Most might want to tear them down but we want to keep it the way it was.”
Feed & Seed rents the building from Harry Thomas, who married into the Youngblood family, the original owners of the Fletcher Supply Company.
“We’re fortunate that the owner of the building believes in what we are doing and supports us,” Trees says.
Feed & Seed has gained non-profit status and will begin applying for grants as a community arts venue, Trees says. There is no cover charge at the door or ticket sales. “Donations are accepted, but not expected,” he explains.
Rows of comfortable, upholstered pews line the middle of the space, while a simple stage, lined with books and two small ornate crosses, dominates the rear center.
Most of what you see in the Feed & Seed has been donated to the organization, from the pews and chairs to the PA system and the commercial coffeemakers. Volunteers painted the interior and local builders’ supply companies donated sheetrock and lumber to complete the initial renovation.
Trees is proud that the Feed & Seed building has re-emerged as a gathering place for the Fletcher community and maintains a membership with the Fletcher Arts & Heritage Association (FAHA).
“Feed & Seed is a dream come true for the FAHA,” says Dene Hellman, president of the Fletcher Arts and Heritage Association.
“We had longed to see some entity bring bluegrass into the community on a regular basis,” Hellman says. “Having the performances in one of Fletcher’s historic buildings is a wonderful plus.”
What’s more, Hellman adds, the Feed & Seed has generously shared its space with FAHA for the children’s theater events that the Association sponsors.
On Friday nights, Trees plans to feature more “plugged in” acts, that use small amps and Feed & Seed’s PA system.
On Friday, August 1, Susan Cowsill—a member of the 1960’s family band the Cowsills, who were inspiration for TV’s the Partridge Family—traveled from Louisiana to perform.
Also performing recently was Bill Mallonee, a singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia whom Trees likens to Bob Dylan.
Mallonee, who was formerly in the band Vigilantes of Love, has been voted one of Paste Magazine’s ‘Top 100 artists of all time.’
Trees has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the amplified acoustics when amplifiers are used and is excited about including more edgy, Americana acts to the Friday night line-up in the future.
Upcoming bluegrass shows include Bruce Moody & Elk River on August 23, and the Dogwood Mtn. Boys on August 30.
While Moody, who hails from Marion, exemplifies authentic bluegrass music, the Dogwood Mtn. Boys “are young guys carrying on the tradition,” says Trees.
The Feed & Seed is located at 3715 Hendersonville Road in Fletcher. For more information, visit www.feedandseednc.com or call (828) 216-3492.
Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday nights. Sunday services begin at 11 a.m.