SONGSMITH GATHERING "A Springtime Sister" To Mountain Song Festival in Brevard, NC

Apr 16, 2019

Mountain Song Productions, LLC is proud to present the Second Annual Songsmith Gathering - Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC.
“Songsmith Gathering is being developed as the springtime version of Mountain Song Festival but featuring performing songwriters and the bands that support them.  I think of it as the springtime sister of Mountain Song Festival,” says Mountain Song Productions’ John Felty. Like Mountain Song, Songsmith Gathering will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania Co.

Simply stated, a Songsmith is a master creator of songs. Songsmith Gathering is a bringing together of great songwriters, not specific to genre, in an environment well suited to the listening experience. “Brevard Music Center is tailor made for this type experience,” says Felty.  “I’ve always been moved by great songwriting as that is the key ingredient in almost all styles of music. A great song transcends genre.  To be able to assemble these great songwriters here is very exciting.”

Building on the experience of the inaugural festival, this year’s Songsmith features a legendary musical icon and some yet discovered artists spanning multiple genres and highlighting national, regional and local artists with two stages. This year’s headliner is two-time, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby. “To have one of the legends in American music at Songsmith is really exciting,” says Felty. Also featured is North Carolina’s own modern folk and Americana quartet, Mipso,  NPR darling newcomer The Suitcase Junket,  Sarah Siskind, Hush Kids (Jill Andrews & Peter Groenwald), Stand & Sway featuring Beth Wood and Ara James, Erin Rae, Ross Newell (Mulligan Brothers), 5J Barrow, and Warren Givens.

“Songsmith has a character that’s distinctly different from most music festivals. So many festivals are really big, with several stages, and you can get lost in that. In contrast, the Songsmith Gathering has two stages with the focus is on each artist, which is great because you get to see all of them and don’t have to choose” says Beth Wood. Sarah Siskind and Beth Wood have been the de-facto ambassadors for Songsmith. They are the resident instructors and creators of the Songsmith School taking place at Brevard Music Center May 16 and 17, the days leading up to the festival. "One of the most notable innovations complimenting the festival is the two-day Songsmith School that Sarah and Beth collaborated to create last year,” adds Felty. They lead a hands-on songwriting workshop with each bringing their respective experiences to the school. “Something really magical happens when a bunch of creative people get together, you feel like you’re with your tribe of people, and there’s an energy that comes out of it that leaves everyone inspired,” says Siskind.

The workshop will include creativity exercises, co-writing and discussion of what does and doesn’t work. “Everybody will have a chance to hear each other with song sharing circles, too,” Wood says. “Being able to take all that knowledge and start something with Sarah in Brevard is going to be amazing.” The two have over three decades of  combined instructing and music industry experience. The Songsmith School offers aspiring, as well as seasoned songwriters the opportunity to learn and expand in a supportive setting, the art and craft of songwriting.  
2019 Songsmith Gathering Artists:

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, David Crosby is heading out on tour in May and June. Joining him will be five musical friends, collectively and affectionately known as the ‘Skytrails Band’. James Raymond on keys, Mai Agan on bass, Steve DiStanislao on drums, Jeff Pevar on guitar and Michelle Willis on keyboards and vocals. Crosby is in the midst of an incredibly creative and powerful period, showcasing his skills as the brilliant songwriter that he is. On this tour, he will be performing some of his best loved songs and greatest hits from right across his illustrious career, alongside material from the Skytrails album, plus a few surprises as well.
Chapel Hill’s indie Americana quartet Mipso – Jacob Sharp (mandolin, vocals), Wood Robinson (bass, vocals), Joseph Terrell (guitar, vocals), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle, vocals) – released their fifth album, Edges Run, on April 6th, 2018 via a newly inked record deal with AntiFragile Music. Influenced by the contradiction of its progressive home and the surrounding rural southern landscapes, Mipso has been hailed as “hewing surprisingly close to gospel and folk while still sounding modern and secular” (Acoustic Guitar) and was recently recognized by Rolling Stone as an

“Artist You Need to Know.” The band brings a distinctly unique sound – full of wistful beauty, hopeful undercurrents, and panoramic soundscapes.  Venturing ever-further from its string-band pedigree to discover a broader Americana where classic folk-rock and modern alt-country sounds mingle easily with Appalachian tradition, Mipso’s music is lush and forward moving, with lyrics that sear and salve in turn.   
Hush Kids is a friendship with music. It began long before it had a name, when two beloved Nashville artists with impressive solo careers were put together by their publishers to write songs for other people; in time, they discovered they had been writing for themselves all along. Their earliest sessions revealed more than chemistry, they revealed kindredness, an innate understanding that allowed two very different people to write some of the most deeply personal music of their careers.Incredible, instinctive vocal symmetry, captivating melodies, and intimate, intelligent lyrics speak to the years of tireless craftsmanship and well-earned successes by both artists respectively. A gifted composer, producer, and musician Peter has toured extensively and shared the stage with artists such as The Civil Wars, Andrew Belle, and John Mayer. Jill, a founding member of the alt/country favorite The Everybodyfields, has performed alongside The Avett Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors and secured television placements that include Greys Anatomy, American Idol, and Nashville. Hush Kids self-titled debut journeys across the unexpected, the strangeness of love rather than the sweetness - the beauty of the world. Guided by writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Ian Fitchuk and joined by some of Nashville’s most sought-after musicians, the record pairs the effortless, addictive pop sensibility of The Carpenters with the dusty, atmospheric, desert landscape of Robert Plant and Allison’s Kraus’s Americana classic, “Raising Sand.”
The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.Produced by Steve Berlin (Jackie Greene, Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke) of Los Lobos, Mean Dog, Trampoline marks a deliberate departure from the self recorded, homespun approach of The Suitcase Junket’s previous efforts. In creating the album, Lorenz pulled from a fantastically patchwork sonic palette, shaping his songs with elements of jangly folk, fuzzed out blues, oddly textured psych rock. Engineered by Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz) and mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, Houndmouth), Mean Dog, Trampoline rightly preserves The Suitcase Junket’s unkempt vitality, but ultimately emerges as his most powerfully direct album so far.
Erin Rae, whose genre-fusing mix of traditional folk and indie-rock has landed her collaborations with artists like Margo Price and Andrew Combs—not to mention critical acclaim from some of the world’s top music media, including Rolling Stone, NPR, and the BBC—is finally stepping out into the spotlight with her new album Putting On Airs. The album is out June 8, 2018 on Single Lock Records. Buoying the release is Rae’s reputation as an enthralling live performer, which has earned her the respect of Nashville peers and music notables alike, including Grammy Award winner John Paul White, who has signed her to his Florence, Alabama-based label, Single Lock Records. Rae joins a Single Lock roster that includes Nicole Atkins, St. Paul And The Broken Bones, and White himself, who said “When I first heard Erin’s compelling voice, I knew nothing about her. It was live, with no intro (she was opening for friends of mine), and I was instantly transfixed. I couldn’t wait to engage, and that’s something I very seldom feel, much less do. I was thrilled to find out her personality was as engaging as her voice and songs, and that she was looking for a home. I couldn’t be happier to be hitching our wagons together.”
Sarah Siskind continues to be one of today’s most respected and covered songwriters as well as a stand-out independent artist, who Spin Magazine calls “an artist you must hear now.” Armed with a striking vocal style and solid guitar and piano work, Sarah is a regular NPR performer with features on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, World Cafe with David Dye, All Songs Considered, Song Of The Day and Mountain Stage.  She has toured with Bonnie Raitt, Paul Brady, Grammy winner Bon Iver, who also famously covered her “Lovin’s For Fools” and The Swell Season and had songs recorded by Alison Krauss (the GRAMMY nominated “Simple Love”) Randy Travis, Madi Diaz and many more. Born and raised in North Carolina, Sarah built her musical career in Nashville, TN.  Her 2009 release “Say it Louder” was crowned ‘Americana Album of the Year’ at the Nashville Music Awards. In 2011, Sarah’s album “Novel” highlighted her as the sole musician, producer and engineer. Bonnie Raitt had this to say about it: “With Novel, Sarah has created another extraordinary collection of some of the most beautiful and unique songs you’re likely to hear. She continues to be one of my favorite singers and songwriters. She absolutely knocks me out.”Siskind’s songs are heavily featured on ABC’s hit TV show Nashville and she recently made her primetime television debut in the music special “Nashville: On the Record”, performing her song “A Life That’s Good” with the show’s cast.  Other television shows that have featured Sarah’s songs are MTV’s Teen Mom 2, MTV’s Awkward, ABC’s Pretty Little Liars, Lifetime’s Army Wives and HBO’s The Wire. In April of 2017, Sarah Siskind & SUNLINER released a 6-song collection called “Love.”  Huffington Post said in a review of the album: “Siskind has been compared to Bonnie Raitt and Brandi Carlile, but in my humble opinion, she’s incomparable.” Sarah just completed recording her most honest and auto-biographical album to date “Modern Appalachia” and is readying it’s release.
Texan-raised, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Beth Wood has won almost every major songwriting competition in the United States, and with 20 years of touring and 11 studio albums under her belt, she’s done. With anything that doesn’t bring her joy. So she’s added publishing poetry now, and tortilla making, and teaching songwriting and poetry to pass the torch of music for music’s sake. Beth’s mission is to communicate and share the joy she feels through singing - through music as a spiritual practice. When you see her live you’ll taste this, and you’ll understand why Beth has long been one of the most beloved singer-songwriters in the industry.

Appalachia-raised, Washington-based Ara Lee James is a singer, poet, and truth-teller with an unmistakable sound, commanding presence, and a voice that will leave you speechless. Ara has been singing professionally for over 20 years as an award-winning soloist, studio vocalist, and songwriter formerly Ara Lee. Rooted in the traditions of gospel and deep South soul, Ara holds court on stage like a modern-day mystic. When you see her live you’ll wonder what just happened to you, and you will understand why Beth grabbed her after a show and said “We have to work together.” As a duo, Wood and James push the boundaries of soul and folk music and attempt to break down the walls that have separated the worlds of music and poetry. Wood and James Stand and Sway. The two also sit down and cry when it’s tough, laugh when it’s useless, and sing really loud often. They also have a passion for teaching and mentoring, and they lead workshops in conjunction with their tours to help people uncover their musical selves. Stand and Sway’s upcoming album, “DEEP BLUE”, set to be released in summer of 2019, takes soul, folk, spoken word, gospel and Americana, shakes them around in a basket of harmony, and makes what Wood and James affectionately call “grown-out-roots-music.”
Ross Newell can usually be seen and heard as the lead singer and songwriter in The Mulligan Brothers from Mobile, AL – his song writing weaves heartfelt tales of love and loss into complex yet comforting storytelling, the combination of which will leave you nostalgic for something, or someone, that you can’t quite put your finger on. With a remarkable universality, you could as easily imagine the tales spilling from the mouth of a storied, laugh-lined old man as his teenage grandson grieves his first heartbreak. He sings and plays about where they’ve been in a way that makes us all realize we’ve been there, too.
From the historic Apollo Theater to the open air of Washington Square Park, 5j Barrow has inspired audiences with soulful music, evocative imagery, and lyrics that touch the heart.  Founded and grown in New York City by Broadway performers and newlyweds, Eryn Murman and Jason Hite since the fall of 2011, 5j Barrow was named "Best Band in NY" after winning The Greene Space WNYC/WQXR's 'Battle of the Boroughs 2014'.  After touring non-stop for over a year, they have built a loyal following from coast to coast of North America with performances that are both intimate and rousing and they're now based out of beautiful Asheville, NC.  5j Barrow released their debut album From the Dim Sweet Light in 2014, and their first two installments of three EPs produced by Grammy nominated David Mayfield, were released October 6th, 2017 titled The Journey, Vol. 1 and May 19th, 2018, titled The Journey, Vol. 2The Journey, Vol. 3 is set to release later this year.
An exploration with only one mission: to find the ever-elusive musical middle ground between meaningful songs and good ol' Rock n' Roll.