Andrew Scotchie‘s birthday bash began three years ago, celebrating the Asheville singer-guitarist’s 21st birthday. Now in its third iteration, the bash will be held Saturday, Jan. 14, at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall and will feature Scotchie’s band The River Rats, plus several guest stars.
To some attendees, Scotchie’s annual event might seem nothing more than a fun party with a top-notch lineup of Asheville-based musicians providing the soundtrack. In fact, there’s a back story to the event. Scotchie says that the 2013 show “was the first time I actually played on my birthday. I noticed that it got a really good turnout, and people really enjoyed it.” But he was also beginning to come to terms with the connection between the anniversary of his birth and his father’s death.
Thomas Scotchie was shot and killed by a former employee at his business on Haywood Road on Jan. 16, 2008, one day before his son’s 15th birthday. “Especially in the last few years,” Andrew Scotchie says, “I’ve realized how much my Dad is a part of my story, my music, my lyrics, and my overall understanding of life.” So while he downplayed that part of the annual event, focusing publicly on its celebratory aspect, in truth Scotchie has always thought of the birthday bash as a tribute to his father as well.
“Try to imagine what this would be like,” Scotchie says. “I was just about to turn 15. I had a conversation with him at the dinner table the night before. Dad was a real family man — he worked, he came home. It was a very blue-collar situation.”
Earlier that day, the then-burgeoning musician had gotten himself kicked out of a band. “I had jumped into a drum pit, broken something onstage … I can’t remember exactly what it was,” Scotchie says, laughing at the memory. “Just some teenager bullsh*t.”
His father listened to him tell the story and replied, “Listen, friends are going to come and go. Bandmates will come and go. But family — me, your mom, your brothers, your aunts and uncles — we’re all going to be here for you forever.”
But by the next morning, Thomas was gone. “Family is forever,” Scotchie says. “That’s what he’d say. And then the next morning a crazy person shot him.”
Scotchie’s mom went on to raise him and his brothers on her own. “I really lean on her,” he says. And as he’s established and grown his musical career, Scotchie has taken the time around his father’s death and his own birthday — the beginning of each new year — as an opportunity to go forward with renewed purpose.
“The birthday bash doubles as a way to remember a great person,” Scotchie says. “Someone who pushed me to enjoy life, treat people the best I can treat them and believe whole-heartedly in what I’m doing.”
But while Scotchie’s celebration honors his late father’s memory, it’s anything but a solemn event. “As far as my heart and soul goes, it’s the best way for me to start the new year,” he says. “We just don’t play Asheville that much anymore. And whenever we do, we try to put together the best lineup possible.”
Scotchie notes that he draws all of his inspiration from local artists. This year’s event lineup includes a set by the Patrick Dodd Band with special guest Ashley Heath. “Them coming together onstage is something that doesn’t happen often,” Scotchie says. “Ashley’s one of my favorite musicians.”
Aaron “Woody” Wood will play a set as well, in addition to guesting with The River Rats. “Woody was one of the first local artists that I actively went out and saw,” Scotchie says. “It just made sense to pull somebody in who’s been such an inspiration to me.”
Local charity Grateful Bread will be on hand to collect winter clothing for those in need. The bill will also include appearances by David Earl and Jack Mascari. “Jack actually went to Asheville High School with my Dad,” Scotchie says.
The musician emphasizes that he’s chosen guests who mean a great deal to him in his life and work. “But they’re also people who are benefiting the community and who have a connection to my father.
“For years, I didn’t talk about all this,” he admits. “And then, quite recently, I realized that there’s nothing to hide. It’s part of who I am. In my songs, I end up alluding to many things that my dad taught me, things that he said. So it only makes sense that he is honored throughout the process.”
WHO: Andrew Scotchie and The River Rats with Aaron “Woody” Wood, The Patrick Dodd Band, Ashely Heath and more
WHERE: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, 743 Haywood Road, isisasheville.com
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 14, 9 p.m. $10 advance/$12 at the door