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WNC Business

A musical life brings confidence and conversations to business life

May 27, 2024 11:00AM ● By Randee Brown

In an effort to find a better work-life balance and allow more time for his passion for music, Tim Kuykendall took a step back in his role at Mail Box & Pack, moving from store manager to assistant store manager. 

Kuykendall is in charge of running Musicians in the Round, the open mic night at Catawba Brewing Company on Asheville’s South Slope, and has been doing so for eight years. He said in this role, he is more of an emcee than a musician, but he has always loved playing and writing music.

While his job is not necessarily stressful, any job can have tense moments. Things not going as they should can cause the pressure to mount, but he loves working with people, especially as customers and coworkers become friends. 

“Most musicians really love people,” Kuykendall said. “Playing in front of other people can also be stressful, but the stress around that decreases over time. Early in playing music, we question ourselves about our abilities, harmonies, and rhythms, but we go through it and are glad and proud we did it, unlike work, where the purpose of going through the stress is to get paid."

For Kuykendall, music has always been a way for him to get out, have fun, and hang out with friends. Music has helped him maintain his balance, especially during his college years. Having a way to relax helped him to keep his focus during his studies.

Since college, music has grown into a side hustle. He earns some pay for his hosting role, and plays with other musicians in benefit gigs for area nonprofit organizations. 

Playing live two to three times a week, his passion has grown through adulthood and has continued to be his main way to relax.

“Hosting open mic nights on Mondays is a great way to start my week off right,” Kuykendall said. “I also get to hang out with all my ‘brothers and sisters’ there, and some of them even call me ‘Cousin Mike’. They make me crazy like a family does, and I love every one of them, and I love the trajectory they are on.”

While many musicians have goals of a full, professional musical career, Kuykendall is happy with his open mic nights and playing with friends in several bands. He used to have his own band called Tim & Friends, and said bands come and go, but he loves to hop in and play when and where he can. He also likes playing music across several genres, not wanting to be defined by only one.

“No musician wants to be held in a box,” Kuykendall said. “It’s important to listen with your heart and to the feeling you get when you hear the music you like.”

Kuykendall was in his 30s before uncovering what his music style is all about. He said now collaboration is key to having a more realistic world view as a musician. The most important thing is being in the community without over-promoting, and having good friends and role models in his musical work.

Music has helped Kuykendall to find his own voice, and helped boost conversational confidence. He looks for ways to bring music into his business life, sharing music trivia at Chamber events and enjoying musical conversations at networking events.

Finding a common ground through conversations about music helps people relax and find each other’s sense of humor. Kuykendall has professional relationships with many people who own their own business. Many of those entrepreneurs live a rigid, busy life, and he said casual conversations about music help “lubricate the joints” for both parties to the conversation.

“It helps bring connections in the business world,” Kuykendall said. “Everyone has their own soundtrack, and eventually, people’s soundtracks will overlap. They are good conversations to have; it’s fascinating and fun and a good way for people to connect.”

Tim Kuykendall is the Assistant Store Manager at Mail Box & Pack, and runs Musicians In The Round at Catawba Brewing Company. Learn more about Catawba Brewing’s events at