Currently emerging with his debut EP whose title, I Was Born, boldly asserts his presence as a compelling new voice on the traditional American roots music scene, Andy Ferrell grew up in the small Blue Ridge Mountain town of Boone, North Carolina, not far from the birthplace and home of his greatest musical influence, bluegrass/country/folk music legend Doc Watson.
It would make perfect sense for an artist from this region to create a modern equivalent to a sound Watson once called “traditional plus.” Ironically, it took a lengthy journey “On The Road” far from home -- an extended soul searching stay in New Zealand, to be exact - for Ferrell to decide to defy conventional expectations and pursue his musical dreams. After attending Florida State and later enrolling in the renowned music program at East Tennessee State, he quit school altogether, formed his trio Oncoming Train (anchored by upright bassist Zach Smith) and began recording and performing. He still enjoys performing alone on occasion, but likes the extra dimensions and danceability that the trio brings to his songs.
The multi-talented performer began performing in bars, breweries and restaurants in the Boone region in February 2013 and by May he was playing full time. He is set to launch his first tour in February, hitting coffeehouses and clubs and performing as the opening act for bands in auditoriums everywhere from Nashville and throughout Tennessee to Missouri, Kansas and Texas.
Ferrell cites Beat generation icon Jack Kerouac as one of his favorite writers, but insists that his opening track “On The Road” – also the title of Kerouac’s most enduring novel - was inspired more by his own adventures than the book. The infectious harmonica and fiddle laced tune tells the story of his life changing experience Down Under: “They said I should know better than to go chasing crazy dreams/Better to stick to that straight and narrow/ Gotta get that degree/Now I’ve got a master’s in hitchin’, and a doctorate in livin’ free/I don’t care if I make it back to sunny Tennessee.”
“The music on this EP represents my earliest work and initial writings, the earliest being ‘Waiting On The Rain,’ written when I was 18,” says the 21 year old Ferrell, who cites his guitar playing father’s love for a wide variety of music as the driving force behind his own passions. “I love the way this album turned out because it is a very accurate reflection of my life since I started playing music. I think it is a good mix in that some are directly from personal experience. I wrote ‘On the Road’ and ‘Poor Boy Blues’ during the extended New Zealand trip, and they are literally the story of that life changing time from two different perspectives. It was while in New Zealand that I came to the realization that music was what I not only wanted to do but also, at the risk of sounding dramatic, what I needed to do.
One of Ferrell’s other favorites is “Honey Where You Been So Long,’ which is a powerful representation of the Doc Watson, bluegrassy traditional music influence he grew up with. He gets a kick out of hearing people make the mistake of thinking it’s a traditional song. “As a songwriter, I’m inspired by human nature more than anything else. People and why they behave the way they do are fascinating to me. These concepts are not as apparent on this EP but are very much a part of the songs I've written for my future albums. Literature is also a big thing for me. I always have an eye open for something to write about, it's just second nature at this point. Everything sounds like a song to me, even things that aren't destined to be songs sometimes.”