“Country singer Easterling set to play in Silver Spring”

Musician to play songs off new album, “Common Law Wife”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
by Joseph Antoshak
Montgomery Gazette, MD

Angela Easterling didn’t know she was a country singer until someone told her.

By the early 2000s, the singer-songwriter had decided she wanted to write and perform music, her main influences coming mostly in the way of folkier artists. Despite growing up in the South, she said, she never listened to much country music.

So she was surprised when after some early shows in Los Angeles, the people that approached her told her, “‘Oh, you sing country music.’” She didn’t know what they were talking about.

“But I think it’s growing up [in South Carolina],” Easterling said. “There was some sleeping, dormant gene of country music that was in me, that came out even though I didn’t really know anything about it. It came out while I was writing.”

She’s embraced it. On Saturday, she’ll bring her blend of Americana to the Woodside Park House Concert series in Silver Spring. With her partner, guitarist Brandon Turner, she’ll play a mix of songs that come both from her past four albums and from her upcoming August release, “Common Law Wife.”

Easterling said this new album is different from her past work in that much of it has to do with the triumphs and tribulations of motherhood.

“There’s a lot of joy,” she said. “If anything, this album is probably more joyful than any of my other albums because I have so much joy and happiness in my life these days.”

But there’s still a healthy serving of political and social issues that similarly shows through in Easterling’s previous albums, such as 2009’s “BlackTop Road.” The title track of that album comments on the pressure eminent domain poses on families like hers, which has lived on the same farm for centuries.

In the upcoming “Common Law Wife,” Easterling will include a song she wrote about Isaac Woodard, a World War II veteran who in 1946 was beaten to the point of blindness by white police officers in South Carolina on the basis of racial prejudice. This was just hours after he, an African American man, had been honorably discharged from the Army, and while he was still in uniform.

“I’m always going to have one foot in that old tradition of topical issues,” Easterling said. “Those are what really interest me: historical things and social subjects. And so there’s always going to be songs like that on the album.”

She hopes her socially-conscious songs will inform as well as entertain. For example, she didn’t know of the Woodard case until roughly a year ago, despite living for many years in the state in which it happened.

“I like to talk about things that maybe other people don’t know about either, so that they can maybe learn something too if they’re interested,” Easterling said. “There’s nothing better than when someone comes up to me in another state and says, ‘I’d never heard of that, I went home and looked it up and that’s fascinating.’”

But when it comes to live performances, she said she’s just trying to make sure that everyone is having a good time.

“I just want [the audience] to sit down and be comfortable,” Easterling said. “I just want to share my songs and stories with them.

She’s looking forward to the intimacy that Silver Spring’s house concert will allow. In these types of gigs, Easterling said, the artist gets to know people on a deeper level than at a bar or a club.

“It’s really a fun and unique experience,” she said. “We want to have them laugh and cry and all that. Just have a great evening and forget about their troubles for awhile.”

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