The last 2 years have been tough for many small businesses, and live music venues have had it particularly grim. In the United States, tour cancellations were among the first signs in March of 2020 that life would be upended for the foreseeable future. And the road to reopening has held false starts, lower ticket capacities, and a whole new slate of nuanced responsibilities for club owners around the world.
The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina is no exception. Known for its wide-ranging artist lineup and intimate feel, the 1,000-capacity club had been bringing world-class musical acts to the mountain town since it opened in 2002, gaining praise everywhere from Rolling Stone to Southern Living. When health advisories and local legal regulations caused the downtown venue to shutter in March 2020, Orange Peel Events (the group that manages the venue) continued their good work—not only presenting live streamed concerts and other morale–boosting virtual events, but also readying the launch of a new outdoor music destination across town.
The new open-air venue, Rabbit Rabbit, was an immediate hit when it opened in late 2020. But its seemingly overnight success was really a decade-plus in the making. Liz Whalen Tallent, marketing director at Orange Peel Events, says that Orange Peel Events’ robust email list was crucial in getting the word out about their new location. Here, we caught up with her about how her team keeps in touch with the iconic venue’s large online audience—and how that same audience helped launch another beloved new home for music lovers just a few miles away.