Sunday, September 25, from 4-6 p.m., three local songwriters will share their songs and the stories behind them in an intimate writers-in-the-round setting at the Crown at the Carolina Theatre.
Winner of the 2018 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, Catherine the Great from Bedford Virginia will join Sam Foster from Winston-Salem and Eugenius from Greensboro in the fifth installment of the East of Nashville Songwriters series, which has so far featured acts such as David Childers, Momma Molasses, Emanuel Wynter and Matty Sheets.
Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door.
Sam Foster is a road dog. He lives and breathes the idea that repetition and regularity are the scissors to hone his craft. Originally from Winston-Salem, Foster emerged onto the music scene in 2014 as a solo artist, and since then has brought his brand of tenacity to cheering crowds throughout the Southeast.
Foster is a bit country and a lot of rock and roll. While drawing inspiration from country music legends past and present, FosterThe sound of can be more broadly described as rock. His roots run deep into the veins of American music and he continually draws inspiration from folk, soul, Southern rock, and rhythm and blues, drawing comparisons to singer-songwriters such as Jason Isbell and Bruce Springsteen.
Some of his earliest memories are of the music his parents listened to, especially Dwight Yoakam. “I saw a clip of him when I was 4 or 5 and thought he looked cooler than anything singing and playing guitar,” Foster said.
The best part of being a songwriter, according to Foster, is the art of putting an idea on paper, making it rhyme, then making sense of it, then filling it out by working on it with a band. “I write the songs for myself, but if just one person tunes in to them and feels the same way I felt the first time I heard Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’, then that’s it. Cherry on the cake.” Foster will present simplified versions of songs from his recent album, heat waves (June 2022) – “it’s the material I’ve felt most confident about as an artist” – and maybe others.
Regarding the place of music in her own life, Foster says, “It’s a catharsis. Whether I’m writing and performing my own material, or listening to records, it’s a way of processing emotions. There are records and songs that got me through rough nights on a 3 a.m. bender. There are records and songs that have been there to help celebrate the good times. Music changes and sustains life.
From North Carolina Eugene is a rapper, producer and songwriter. Born Timothy Eugene Peterson to a preacher and playwright, he suffered from stage fright for most of his childhood, but found solace in hip-hop as a young teenager. Drawing inspiration from his faith and life experiences, he began to put his thoughts to music and hasn’t stopped since.
Growing up in a Christian family with a Bermudian mother, gospel and island music (reggae, calypso, soca, etc.) formed the soundtrack of her upbringing. Meet Blackwell reality check, however, changed his life. “I had never heard so much wit, humor and sincerity from a ‘gospel rapper’.” It was then that Peterson took up the pen, and he and Blackwell eventually became friends.
Timothy’s faith profoundly influences his music and the diversity of music he pursues and studies: “God is my favorite artist. The Bible even says that we are his masterpieces. Although he loves all kinds of music, he is primarily a rapper: “Rap is such a fun medium because the traditional 16-bar verse is kind of a puzzle – how am I going to say what I want, do it rhyme and stay all beat at the same time?” But he’s also willing to break the rules of the form: “Who says I can’t rhyme over a 5/4 time signature or start singing in the middle of the verse?”
He collaborates regularly with his friend DEViANt Sounds, and follows musicians such as Sonny Miles (whom he met at Flat Iron), Free Derrick Hardy, Lil Kawaii. Eugenius is working on a new project that is set to drop this winter, with several side projects also in the works.
catherine the great is the solo project of Catherine Backus (the skipperdees, After Jack). Although the project exists primarily as a repository of his feelings, his sad songs have earned him many accolades, including first place in the Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, fourth place in the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase, and the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting finalist. Price. During her career she has shared scenes with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Kim Richey, Willie Watson and Ben Sollee.
With too many musicians to list as influences, Catherine credits some of her strongest inspiration to “a few Anaïs Mitchell albums and a collection of Alice Munro short stories” given to her by her current wife in her early twenties. “That combination probably made me a lot better at my craft, and a better human, to boot.” She and her wife, a fellow musician and songwriter, met at an Eddie’s Attic songwriter shootout in 2012. “We both lost that night, but I think we won at long term.”
For Catherine, songwriting is like distilling: “It’s an act of taking the most important ideas, stories and feelings and condensing them into (ideally) about three minutes; when it works, it feels a bit like magic, every time. Her writing is all about kindness and love, written to encourage “people to be a little kinder to themselves and each other. And maybe to tell someone they love them, if they’re so moved.
Apart from performance, music is also at the heart of his work as a music therapist. she sees this work as a huge privilege that is also incredibly fulfilling: “I get to make music every day with people at all stages of life, from infancy to the dying process.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
Hosted by Colin Cutler and sponsored by YES! Weekly, the series has another appearance lined up this year in Crown at the Carolina Theater. The goal of the East of Nashville series is to shed light on the region’s diverse voices and musical origins, while exploring common threads of storytelling and musical exploration.