In advance of the fall iteration of LEAF, held at Lake Eden in Black Mountain, Xpress is talking with a number of LEAF performers about their work and what they have in store for the weekend-long music and art festival.
At this year’s spring LEAF, singer-songwriter Ethan Crump was the youngest contestant in the NewSong LEAF competition. His writing chops and sincere delivery won over the judges and got Crump a step closer to the NewSong finals at Lincoln Center on New York. The win also earned him his own show at LEAF; he’ll perform twice during the fall festival.
LEAF takes takes place Thursday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 23. Tickets are available online through Oct. 20, unless they sell out sooner.
Xpress: You won the NewSong LEAF contest for songwriters in the spring. What advice would you give to fellow songwriters interested in entering that contest?
Ethan Crump: I’m not really sure how to answer that because I have very little experience as a songwriter. What I can say is that if you have written a few good songs and are interested in participating in a contest, submit to LEAF. It’s one of the best competitions out there for up-and-coming songwriters.
Have any special opportunities come your way as a result of that win? Yes, I was invited to open for The Kruger Bothers this past June. Initially, I was intimidated to open for classically trained masters with my messy folk songs. Plus, there were nearly 400 pairs of eyes fixed on me when I walked out onto the stage. I had reached a new plateau of anxiety, and picturing the audience naked didn’t help. Somehow I ended up holding it all together and didn’t screw up too badly. The crowd turned out to be amazing. There was a certain collective energy in the room that night that performers only get to experience once in a while. Although this sounds very cliché, it was a gratifying moment and will remain a turning point for me as a performer.
What do you have planned for your set at LEAF this fall? I will be accompanied by a full electric band. Among my original material, I will perform a number of obscure covers.
Your debut record came out earlier this year — where did you record it and what kind of themes are included? It was recorded at Studi LaRoche in midtown Atlanta. My friend, Chris Stalcup, organized the project. I was very lucky to have worked with the group of musicians that I did at the time. Although there was no intended theme, we went into the studio [planning on] recording an alt-country EP with more of a stripped down approach. The songs themselves, however, were simply five songs of mine that I felt were worth recording. Looking back, I definitely think the material in those songs was greatly influenced by my love of Southern Gothic writing and storytelling.
Ethan Crump performs Saturday in the Barn, 12:15-1:30 p.m.; and in the Jam Tavern, 7-8:30 p.m.