While AmericanaFest may take place in Nashville, the story of Americana is largely one that occurs outside of Music City. Originally from New York and now based in Asheville, North Carolina, Amanda Anne Platt and her band, the Honeycutters plug into the grand panorama that is Americana music. On the Sunday evening before Martin Luther King Day, the band delighted a jam-packed house at DC’s Hill Country BBQ with their inimitable “Appalachian honky tonk and country roots” style. After a tight, banjo-accented, country-rock opening set with lots of Neil Young flavor by Charlotte band Time Sawyer, the Honeycutters’ deep grooves and rhythms had the standing room only crowd dancing to the beat.
Most of the Honeycutters’ set consisted of original music composed by Platt, but two covers they played showed their debt to the diversity of Americana music that originated outside of Nashville. With Merle Haggard’s “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me,” they paid tribute to their honky-tonk roots in the Bakersfield sound. Dan Pann, a legendary Memphis songwriter, wrote “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” made famous by the Queen of Soul.
The Honeycutters consist of Amanda Anne Platt (lead vocals, rhythm acoustic guitar), Matt Smith (pedal steel, dobro, electric guitar), Evan Martin (keys, electric guitar), Rick Cooper (upright and electric bass), and Josh Milligan (drums/harmony vocal). Four of the five Honeycutters made the trip up from Asheville; Martin did not appear at Hill Country. Smith played lead on pedal steel and electric guitar, but did not have his dobro on hand for the performance.
Americana Highways covered the band’s previous performance at Hill Country on June 3. That show also took place on a Sunday. Likely because of Martin Luther King Day following the day after this show, it started later, and had more of a party atmosphere. Americana Highways’s editor, Melissa Clarke, interviewed later Amanda Anne Platt, and they had a fascinating discussion about being a woman in Americana music.
The band originally intended for Sunday’s performance for to come as the second night of a swing north, following a concert in New York. With forecasts of a massive snowstorm, looming, the band postponed Saturday’s concert in and, Amanda said “We came down to Baltimore. We hung out at a Red Roof Inn. The Boys went out a Chili’s, and I went to bed at eight.” She bemoaned the difficulties of the life of a band on the road.
Amanda felt a little disappointed that she hadn’t been able to sing her new tune, “New York,” in her hometown. “It would’ve been great,” she said, “to play this in my hometown. We postponed. It’s still going to happened. My parents recently sold their house in my hometown, and I wrote a few songs out of that process.”
The band played “Wedding Song,” written by Amanda for a friend, at the special request of a fan in attendance. Amanda explained that when she wrote this love for a friend who was getting married, she realized she didn’t feel this way about the person she was was with. That led to the end of that relationship, but, happily, she moved, and met someone else, to whom she is now married.
Ending their set on Barmaid’s Blues, the band stuck around to sell merchandise and meet with fans. As always, Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters put on a terrific show, proving why they are Hill Country and Americana Highways favorites. If this terrific group is in your town, don’t sleep on the chance to take in their show!
For our interview with Amanda Anne Platt, see here: Interview: Amanda Anne Platt of the Honeycutters Gets to the Heart of the Matter on Defining Teamwork and Community