North Carolina

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The Asheville, NC-born novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote in You Can’t Go Home Again that, “Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.” You could try that literally in this liberal and spiritual city of 90,000 and nobody would likely bat an eye. But listening for something timeless and true? That’s pretty much the mainstream in Asheville. It’s a musical Mecca, 2,100 feet above sea level amid ancient mountains.

Sandra Davidson for Come Hear North Carolina

The folk duo Mandolin Orange announced its first headlining engagement at the Ryman Auditorium early this year, and tickets sold so fast that the hallowed venue added a second night. On a recent hot September weekend, the shows offered a cocoon of string-band heart and refined songcraft amid the blaring bars of downtown. And it was a landmark for the artists, married couple Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin, who launched their musical union ten years ago in Chapel Hill, NC.