Spot the Shop: White Horse Black Mountain offers eclectic range of concerts

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Bob Hinkle, owner of White Horse Black Mountain, spent 40 years in the New York music industry before returning to the area.

White Horse Black Mountain owner Bob Hinkle began his career as an artist and music manager. Just about the only thing he hadn't done was run a venue.

"It is a hell of a lot of work," Hinkle said. "If I'd known how much work it was going to be, I may have thought twice about it."

Hinkle grew up in West Asheville "before it was cool." After attending school in Chapel Hill, he spent 40 years in New York in the music business before returning to the area 15 years ago.

"Forty years is a long time to live any place, even New York," Hinkle said. "It was time to move somewhere, and when I left here after high school, Asheville was a place that was being boarded up and everybody was leaving here in droves."

Hinkle always appreciated being close to music. During his time as a manager for musicians such as the J. Geils Band and Etta James, he enjoyed being close to the industry without being at the center of it. 

Relying on community connections led Hinkle to Black Mountain. He said he could see issues forming in the Asheville scene and upon discovering the White Horse building, he made his decision to come to Black Mountain.

"It was quite a mess. The floor was in pieces, it was a mess," Hinkle said. "My ex-wife is an opera singer, so she stood in the middle of the room, gave it a good high C to see what the acoustics would be like because we had a feeling they would be good."

White Horse Black Mountain offers a wide variety of eclectic musicians in concert.

Formerly a Chevy dealership, the vaulted, wood ceiling proved to create excellent acoustics, Hinkle said, warming the sound.

Hinkle said his wife asked if this building was the White Horse. Before he could respond, Hinkle noticed a poster hanging on the large garage door showing six white horses running through a meadow. 

"We figured some things in life should never be ignored," Hinkle said. "It took us about seven months to get open. We're working on 14 years now."

White Horse hosts a wide variety of musicians in concert. Hinkle said he tries to keep the range of shows as eclectic as possible. 

From Celtic to blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and folk, White Horse offers a broad range of acts. Hinkle said he tried hip hop a few times but hasn't yet found much of an audience.

Formerly a Chevy dealership, the large White Horse building provides excellent acoustics and ample audience space.

Opening in 2008, White Horse was hit with the recession. Nevertheless, Hinkle pushed on. When the pandemic hit, he stayed afloat by converting to livestreamed concerts via social media.

Since many local venues cater to young audiences, Hinkle said he began catering to an older demographic to stay unique. Each show offers wine and beer with the help of a small staff of bartenders, a bar manager and a ticket master. 

"I think we've done a lot of good here," Hinkle said. "I love this town. There's so much that's good about it and so little that's bad."

White Horse offers many concerts and live shows. For scheduling and ticket information, visit www.whitehorseblackmountain.com.

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.