Andrew Scotchie sings his heart out and plays lead guitar June 25, as Asher Hill plays bass and Eliza Hill drums. The River Rats headlined the grand opening of Ecusta Brewery in Brevard. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
This summer free outdoor music series, put on by the Asheville Downtown Association with Prestige Suburu the main sponsor, is 5-9 p.m. on third Fridays. The site, at the end of North Lexington Avenue, has food and brew vendors and draws several thousands.
The next concert, on Aug. 19, has an annual favorite — Asheville All Stars. Josh Blake organizes, and plays. The lineup includes Scotchie, renown percussionist River Guerguerian, CaroMia Tiller who sings soulful R&B for Goldie & The Screamers, jazz vocalist Peggy Ratusz, Suzanna Baum, Whitney Moore, Josh Phillips and Je Widenhouse. Some played as the Soultown Review Band, in LEAF Downtown two weekends ago.
“I’m honored and thrilled to share the stage with these amazing musicians,” Scotchie said. Opening are youth bands from LEAF Southside Drummers and from Asheville Music School.
The series finale, Sept. 15, has rock band Cracker (which has a new CD) and local bluesy punk The Dirty Badgers. Proceeds from the $2 beer-authorizing wristbands go to a different area nonprofit each month.
Scotchie, 23, is lead singer and electric guitarist of Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats. By busking acoustically alone for tips on Asheville streets in early 2012, he networked with musicians. He started a band that year with longtime friend Eliza Hill, now 22, who drums. Her brother Asher Hill, 20, later joined. He plays bass and keys. They often play as a trio. They record with Alex Bradley on trumpet and Kyle Snuffer on trombone, who also refine new compositions in some live shows. The band won the Charlotte N.C. Music Awards blues award in 2014.
“Truthful energy” and “happy” is how Scotchie describes their sound and lyrics to The Tribune. Even “Wasted Time” about moving on from a doomed relationship steers to future optimism.
They classify their energetic original music as high-energy rock, “neo blues” and funk. Their self-produced CD titles are Soul & Sarcasm in 2012, Barnaroo Bootleg (live) ’13, and We All Stay Hungry in ’15 that includes Lyric and her soulful vocals such as on “The Best in You.”
“Set My Soul Free (Rock ‘n Roll)” is a signature song for its exciting pace and raw energy, they agreed. “Love Like Fire” features Eliza’s fervent drumming. She said she plays “very aggressively,” and likes how horns blend in.
Scotchie plans a solo “acoustic piece of art” EP release this year. He creates songs on acoustic guitar anyway, electrifying them with the band.
Scotchie promotes area music. In 2009 as a teen, he launched Asheville Barnaroo. The small, cozy festival’s name spun from huge Bonnaroo. Asheville Barnaroo is Sept. 30-Oct. 2, at Franny’s Farm in Leicester. It began at his mother’s house (thus the ’15 tune “Wake the Neighbors”) as a jam by friends, then showcased local and regional acts playing rock and roots blends.
Yarn, Folk Soul Revival, Shake it Like a Caveman, The River Rats (on Oct. 1), Goldie & The Screamers and an all-star band are among acts. The festival benefits Asheville Music School with a silent auction, and some of alcohol sale proceeds.
Scotchie is very flamboyant live — especially with guitar solos. He plays guitar on his back, a la Jimi Hendrix. His long blonde locks flow as he vibrates with the music on stage, bouncing into his eyes as he jumps. He wanders into the crowd while playing. Asher Hill jests at times he looks into the crowd, to hunt where Scotchie is and wonder when he gets back onstage.
Like many live performers, Scotchie is subdued offstage. He is composed, mature, and very introspective about his craft.
Asher Hill is also flashy, moving steadier to compliment Scotchie just as base does for guitar solos. He has helped steady the “concrete structure” as a base for jams, Eliza noted. Asher agreed how “improvising keeps it fresh.” Eliza likes their “sticking to our guns” in exploring then refining its sound, the varying it live. “Each time, it sounds a little different.” Asher Hill adjusts tones on the fly at times, such as with foot pedals. Doing so gave Scotchie’s vocals a high-pitched Geddy Lee piercing.
Alvin Lee and Ten Years After is a prime influence on Scotchie, he said, and it reflects his guitar playing and earthy vocals. “I’d Love to Change the World” in 1971 is a smash classic rock hit by that British blues rock band, on helplessness over much social turmoil. Singer-lead guitarist Lee, who died three years ago, was known for his rapid-fingered guitar playing.
Andrew hails his late father, Tom Scottie, who was “so supportive” of his musical path. Tom owned Mountain Valley Spring Water, and was a festival vendor. Andrew accompanied Tom to the Flat Rock Music Festival last decade, sensing the vibe of outdoor festivals
Then when Andrew was 15, his father was shot to death in Asheville. This shook the teen’s world. But he has used it as motivation for dedication to his craft, to go after a music career with full “vigor,” and for a gradual “healing process” through cathartic recording and live shows. He keeps “memories alive. I think of him every day. He’s my main inspiration. He taught us to live as simply as we can. And don’t give a $#!^ what others think of you. Doing this is a tribute to him.” Andrew’s elder brother Ryan is also a guitarist.
For more on Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats, check http://www.andrewscotchiemusic.com.