Q+A with LEAF performer Ethan Crump

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.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.