On the Scene: A musical echo from the family farm by Otis Taylor (The State)
BLACK TOP MUSIC: The barn was knocked down without warning. Trees were chopped, and tar was poured.
The farm land owned by the Hammett family of Greer is slowly being annexed by the state for residential homes along Hammett Bridge Road.
"There's even a complex called Hammett Farms," said Angela Easterling, who will perform at the Alien Carnival House Saturday.
Easterling, a furtive songwriter who injects country, bluegrass and soul into her music, will release her new CD, "Black Top Road," in July. The title track is a stomper about her family's fight to preserve the farm — and the state's unwillingness to pay for the land.
"After a year of court battles, we were finally paid for the land," she said. "There wasn't anything we could do to stop them from building the road.
"It was about the way we were treated."
The punctured economy has provided a silver lining: It has slowed the housing market in Greer.
"It's just going to be an ongoing situation because we want to keep our land," Easterling said. "Our trees provide air, and they're something to look out at other than rows and rows of houses."
Easterling isn't all fire on the CD. For instance, there's "Just Like Flying," a lilting story about love and flight that features famed Nashville guitarist and dobro player Al Perkins. The song was written on a flight to L.A., where Easterling lived for several years — and fell in love with country music.
"When I thought of country music, I thought about Garth Brooks," she said. "I didn't know the old stuff. And definitely not the alt-country stuff like Lucinda Williams."
"Black Top Road" was recorded in Nashville by Will Kimbrough. (Select songs are streaming at www.myspace.com/easterling.)
Easterling's songwriting has earthy and ethereal qualities, which are hyper-realized in an intimate setting like a house show. And the songs have earned her a place as a finalist in the 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival new folk songwriting competition.
"That is a really big deal," said Easterling, who will be driving to Texas next week for the festival. "It's definitely a big honor. I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
The evening starts at 5:30 p.m., with the music at 7:30 p.m. Bring a covered dish and adult beverages. $15; (803) 413-5676 for reservations and directions.