If there were an East Nashville Music Hall of Fame, Amelia White would already be in it. The now-famous scene was in its formative days when White arrived from Boston in the early 2000s and became a fixture at the Family Wash.
She’s been a leading light in America’s most musical zip code ever since, even as she’s developed a reputation in the rest of the U.S. and Europe as a first-rate songwriter. She helped define and refine the core folk-rock sound of Americana, yet her band’s energetic pulse never outshines her carefully wrought lyrics. She’s a poet who’s been compared to more famous songwriters for years; now, it would be more appropriate to use her as a benchmark.
White’s seventh album, Rhythm of the Rain, due out January 25, 2019, is a volume of ruminations and short stories written largely during a tourin the U.K. in 2016. There, at a distance and with a sense of helplessness, she watched America’s political system and her values attacked from within. Then the project was recorded by East Nashville sonic maestro Dave Coleman (The Coal Men) in an emotionally wrenching four days between White losing her mother and marrying her partner. Roots music is a journal of love and loss, and Rhythm of the Rain couldn’t be a more potent dispatch.
“As a songwriter, I feel obliged to tell the stories that are coming through in the air to me in my world whether it’s personal or political or both. That can be hard,” White says. “The antenna is always on. Man, you’ve got to feel a lot. It’s a heavy load sometimes.”
Her songs and co-writes have been recorded by some of the great names of Americana music; Anne McCue, Julie Christensen, Wild Ponies, and Tony Furtado.
No stranger to the east coast music scene, Texas-bred and Cape Cod washashore, Monica Rizzio is emerging as one of the finest singer songwriters that call New England home. For over 10 years she played fiddle and sang with Tripping Lily, a folk acoustic pop band, who toured up and down the east coast. In 2012, Monica left the band to rejuvenate her passion for music and began writing to help cope with the loss of the band and love.
At FreshGrass, the following year, while perusing the vendors Rizzio found a 1956 Martin 0-18 guitar that would change her life and her song. She calls it the “moment I found Jesus again.” Drawing on her East Texas roots, Monica and her Martin, brought back the the little girl who loved to barrel race on her horse Bo, and she found her outlaw country sound deep within the folk world. Her debut album, aptly named, Washashore Cowgirl, is completely autobiographical, often times delivered in a fictional approach, sometimes with humor, and sometimes so strikingly honest you can feel the pain in her voice. The album is a testament to the relationships she has forged with many artists over the years and features Mark Erelli, Sierra Hull, Abbie Gardner & Molly Venter of Red Molly, G. Love, Tim Chaisson, Brittany Haas, and Laney Jones.