Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Spartanburg Herald-Journal Article by Dan Armonaitis 9-30-09

Upstate native Angela Easterling wasn’t sure if she was making the right decision when she chose to move back to Greenville about two-and-a-half years ago.

“After living in Boston and living in Los Angeles, I really thought I was going to be miserable here,” Easterling said. “But I’ve been really happy. Greenville has changed a lot since I was growing up. I think this whole area is kind of a hidden little treasure.”

Easterling’s homecoming provided the genesis for her recently released album, “Blacktop Road,” which is a spectacular slice of folk-laced Americana that details the singer-songwriter’s relationship to her maternal family’s farm that has stood in Greer since 1791.

Hammett Farm is only a fraction of what it once was, much of it lost years ago to make way for the “Blacktop Road” that Easterling sings about on the blistering title track.

“Even though (the subject matter of the album) is very personal, relating to my family, I’ve found that it’s also very universal,” Easterling said. “It seems that every single time that I play the song “Blacktop Road’ at a show, anywhere in the country, I have at least one person in the audience come up and tell me that their family went through the same thing.”

The response to the new album — recorded in Nashville, Tenn., and produced by acclaimed musician Will Kimbrough — has been overwhelming.

Easterling has reached the Americana Music Association Top 40 chart with it and recently received a glowing endorsement from Byrds’ co-founder Roger McGuinn, who called her “a bright shining star on the country/folk/ horizon.”

“When the whole thing happened this summer with Roger McGuinn, that was a big sign to me that “OK, I must be doing something right,'” Easterling said.

Just two weeks ago, Easterling gave a major showcase performance at the Americana Music Festival and Conference in Nashville, where she was pleasantly surprised to have genre stalwart Jim Lauderdale approach her and introduce himself as a fan.

“There’s nothing better than having people I look up to like my music,” Easterling said. “There’s no amount of money that you could make that could add up to a moment like that.”

Although Easterling continues to build an impressive national reputation, she said that she’s looking forward to headlining this week’s installment of the Sonny’s Sunday Songwriters series in Spartanburg.

“I actually performed “Blacktop Road’ and “The Picture’ in public for the first time at Sonny’s, maybe a week after I had written them,” Easterling said. “So, I definitely have a special place in my heart for that gig. As long as I have open dates where I can go play over there, I’m going to do it.”

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