Songwriting heavyweights take the stage in Black Mountain

The four-person songwriter round is at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 27, at White Horse Black Mountain. Cover is $8. The show features some powerhouse local talent: Mary Ellen Bush (Menage), Woody Wood, Amanda Anne Platt (The Honeycutters) and Juan Holladay (The Secret B-Sides).

From the organizers:

“A songwriter round is a unique experience in which an audience has the opportunity to see four different performers onstage at the same time within a 2-hour span. What takes place is a wide variety of songwriting, singing and performing, by top-notch artists, who regularly take the stage with a backing band. It’s an evening where the audience can see the songwriter alone, with his or her guitar and their voice, playing a song in its most raw form, probably the way it was written while they were sitting on their bed. It’s intimate, it’s magical, and it’s a show that offers such variety, that it’s impossible for the audience to look at their watch.

The songwriters:
Mary Ellen Bush has been a part of the Asheville music scene since 2002, when she and her group Ménage first took the town by storm. She has a powerful, soulful voice that is often compared to Stevie Nicks. She is also a talented and prolific songwriter who may be seen strumming the guitar, but really wows people when she plays her upright bass and harmonica at the same time. When on stage, she is captivating as she throws her whole body into whatever song she’s belting. Over the years, Bush has appeared with many different groups in a wide range of genres, from 1930s jazz to rock to old-time. Many of her projects involve vocal harmony, mostly three part.

Bush is appreciated for her vocal strength, unique sense of style, exceptional ear, her sassy raspy voice and has thus been called upon to record backing vocals with many bands in the region over the years, such as The Avett Brothers, stephanie’sid, Strut, Woody Wood, Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band, The Firecracker Jazz Band and Marty Lewis (of The Sons of Ralph). 

Woody Wood may be a legend. The skinny white boy from the mountains of Western North Carolina carries around more soul in his restless bones and battered guitar than most of us ever dream of. With a background as diverse as his music, Woody converges elements from all walks of life to present music that contains a sense of familiarity like no other. His songs are stories that are delivered as if he was giving his first account and confession of the subject matter. When he sings he speaks to you, not at you.

‘I think the most important thing is that you have to be completely honest in your music,’ Wood says. And he bears it evidently and without shame. One look at the long list of artists he has shared the stage with exemplifies his diversity, not to mention respect from his musical peers. From Jimmy Martin to Leon Russell, R.L. Burnside to Warren Haynes, country music superstar Sara Evans or Carlos Santana, Woody has played and learned from some of those who have helped shape music into what it is today.

Growing up, Woody was steeped in the knowledge, legacy, and traditions of Bluegrass music. His father, A.L. Wood, and his band, The Smokey Ridge Boys, toured the traditional bluegrass circuit extensively alongside legends like Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers and The Seldom Scene. Tagging along with his father to various festivals, Woody experienced first hand the power of music and the etiquette that goes into it. As he got older his appreciation of music grew to much wider horizons. Soul, R&B, blues, folk, rock, jazz and world music now started to blend with the sounds of his childhood.

As a professional musician, Woody was a pivotal member of the Blue Rags, with whom he had success with National media coverage (MTV) and international tours. Woody was also recorded and performed with a slew of New Orleans and WNC’s finest musicians in what was a blending of musical styles, combining New Orleans Jazz and Bluegrass. The Blue Brass Sessions featured members of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Larry Keel,Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and many others.

Amanda Anne Platt has a way of making you feel right at home with her song writing. Dane Smith of the Mountain Xpress writes, ‘Her songs make you sad in good way.’ The product of an active imagination and her father’s extensive collection of early Americana records, Amanda’s impressive lot of original material ranges from stories of everyday heartache, to murder ballads, to personal and moving childhood recollections. Her voice is pure and honest, bringing the listener in closer to share in both the joys and the hardships that she sings of. Her first release with her band The Honeycutters, Irene, has met approving Americana audiences from coast to coast, and is a promising start to this young songwriter’s career.

Juan’s music is full of soul and groove. His vocal stylings call to mind the essence of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley. Juan has shared the stage with national touring artists Neko Case and Calexico. Juan is the frontman for local funk, groove band The Secret B-Sides. He also appears with concert harpist Eliza Sydney. He has been writing songs for 15 years.”


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