Capturing the Magic: Echo Mountain Recording Studios

Within an earshot of Patton Avenue—a main artery of hustle and bustle into downtown Asheville—stands an old church. On the outside, one might mistake it to be abandoned or forgotten. But, upon entering the nondescript side door, the sounds of string instruments and poignant vocals ricochet around Echo Mountain Recording Studios.
“I love the sound of this room. From the studio and through the speakers, it’s an organic kind of trail,” said bluegrass legend Jerry Douglas from behind the helm of the recording console. “The space is so big that it lets things dissipate and decay naturally, and not just cut things off—it’s a pretty alive room.”
A Nashville icon, Douglas was there that day producing the latest Steep Canyon Rangers album. Calling Western North Carolina home, the Grammy award-winning Rangers have come into prominence in recent years with genre-bending records, sold out tours, and also backing the one-and-only Steve Martin.
Capturing the Magic: Echo Mountain Recording Studio
Sitting in the state-of-the-art facility, Douglas reminisces about arriving in Asheville decades ago. It’s a city he looks forward to visiting and immersing himself in, time and time again.
“I’ve always loved Asheville, ever since I first came here in the 1970s,” Douglas said. “I love the surroundings and all the nice folks that live here. Here, I feel like I can be in the country, but also have that city feeling, too—all the great restaurants, the incredible music, everything is wonderful.”
In addition to being the launching pad for the “Godfather of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe, Asheville and greater Western North Carolina have always had a reputation as one of the music capitals of America and beyond. From mountain music to southern rock, country to blues, every night in this region is another chance for a melodic adventure.
“The music scene in Asheville is constantly growing and evolving. With a multitude of venues, concert halls and festivals, I’m amazed at how many musical options we have for a small city,” said Autumn Greenfield, assistant studio manager at Echo Mountain. “I feel Asheville is becoming well known as a ‘music destination,’ with people traveling from all over the world to visit our mountain town.”
And at the center of this whirlwind of strings and songs is Echo Mountain. When one peruses their list of past clients, it’s like reading through a music industry “who’s who”: Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Zac Brown Band, T. Bone Burnett, and The Smashing Pumpkins, just to name a few.
“Every musician grows up dreaming of recording in the studio one day. With the advent of technology and the Internet, it has become much more affordable to set up home studios,” Greenfield said. “Even so, I believe most musicians would prefer to record at a professional studio if their budget allows for it, not just for the amazing gear, but also for the opportunity to work with professional engineers and producers. The sound of the room and the console are also huge deciding factors for most artists.”
Hailing from just down the road in Hendersonville, Greenfield grew up in the music business, involved in instrument sales and the service sector. A musician herself, she still is in awe of Echo Mountain each time she enters the building for work or showing around a potential client.

“I love the sound of this room. From the studio and through the speakers, it’s an organic kind of trail.” —Jerry Douglas

“I love giving tours to new clients and hearing the chorus of ‘this place is amazing’ and ‘when can we record here?’” she said. “We feel the recording experience should be as comfortable as possible for clients. Upon the completion of the session, most artists leave telling us what a wonderful experience they had, and how they can’t wait to come back for the next album.”
But, beyond the inspiring atmosphere at your fingertips, there’s one thing musicians and engineers alike find to be the difference maker at Echo Mountain. Here, the age-old saying holds true: “Location, location, location.” Or better put, the aesthetic and social beauty of the Asheville and the surrounding region.
“As an outdoor enthusiast, I love the natural beauty of this area,” Greenfield said. “The scenery is accentuated by the mild climate and the diverse culture that comes not only from the rich history of Western North Carolina, but also the eclectic mix of people who have been drawn to this area and made it their home.”
This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to order your own free copy.