Billy Joe Shaver
111 East 6th Street
Newport, KY, 41071
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Billy Joe Shaver
From "Honky Tonk Hero: An Autobiography"
I was not even born yet when my father first tried to kill me.
It was June and the evening light had started to fade, but it was still hotter than nine kinds of hell. We were outside of Corsicana, a little cotton town in northeast Texas, and I was in my mother's belly, two months from entering the world.
Buddy Shaver was convinced that my mother, Victory, was cheating on him. That was bullshit, and he probably knew it. But he'd been drinking. My father was half-French, half-Blackfoot Sioux, and one-hundred-percent mean. He drank a lot, and the booze didn't mix well with his Indian blood. You know there are some guys who are just born naturally strong, with big shoulders and a chiseled upper body even though they never work a lick at it? That was my father, and my mother didn't have a chance.
It's just a story I've heard, told by family members who don't enjoy the retelling. But I can see it as clearly as if I was there. They were standing next to a small stock tank with black, still water. It was the middle of nowhere, with no roads or houses in sight. Who knows what he told her to get her out there, or whether she knew what was coming when they stopped there? He held nothing back, yet his cold gray eyes showed no emotion as he beat her within an inch of her life. When she was down, he stomped her with his cowboy boots until she stopped struggling. Then he tossed her limp body into the water like a sack of potatoes. Years later, when I was a grown man, my momma couldn't stand to be around me when I wore cowboy boots—she never could forget what they did to her that night.
Momma laid there for hours until an old Mexican man showed up to water his cattle. Even though he knew my kinfolk pretty well, he didn't recognize her at first. He thought she was dead. But she spoke to him through the bruises and the blood, and he threw her over the back of his horse and carried her home.
The violence of that night set the stage for my childhood: It's the reason my father left, it's the reason my mother didn't want me, and it's the reason I went to live with my loving grandmother. In many ways, I think that night is the reason I write country songs.
When you get right down to it, country music is essentially the blues, and that night introduced me to the blues. In the years since then, they've never left me. I've lost parts of three fingers, broke my back, suffered a heart attack and a quadruple bypass, had a steel plate put in my neck and 136 stitches in my head, fought drugs and booze, spent the money I had, and buried my wife, son, and mother in the span of one year.
But I'm not here to complain or ask for pity. Life is hard for everybody, just in different ways. I'm not proud of my misfortune—I'm proud of my survival. For years, my family kept a bundle of life insurance on me because they were sure I would be the first to go. But as I write this, at sixty-four years of age, I'm still here and they are all gone.
The question is—why? That's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
Throughout my career as a songwriter, I've just written songs about me—the good and the bad, the funny and the sad. I've written songs about other people, but I don't sing other people's songs. They're just little poems about my life, and I've never pretended they were anything more. Despite all my ups and downs, I've never been to therapy or rehab or any of that stuff. The songs are my therapy.
But after my shows, people always come up to me and thank me for writing those songs. They tell me about their lives, and how a song of mine helped them through a tough patch or made them smile during a difficult time. Sometimes they say I inspired them—that if I can make it through my life, they can damn sure get through theirs. When we're done talking, I give them a hug and tell them I love them. I know exactly where they are coming from.
My point is, it's truly a miracle I survived that night by that stock tank, and I don't mean that the way most people say it—like it's a lucky break. I think God allowed me to live. He wanted me to tell my story.
The Honeycutters are an original country roots band from Asheville, North Carolina. Since 2007, when the group formed, they have been playing music that is consistently as catchy as it is heartfelt. In 2011, 2012, and 2013 they were voted WNC’s favorite Americana band in the Mountain Xpress reader’s poll. Organically grown around the songs of lead singer Amanda Anne Platt, the band has gained an audience that has stretched far beyond their mountain home to include all corners of the United States.
Their most recent release, When Bitter Met Sweet (2012), hit #23 on the Americana Chart, and landed at #94 for the year. It was also one of the top ten best selling albums at MerleFest that same year. The record came in at #4 in WNCW’s listener voted top 100, and #2 in the regional favorites (right behind The Avett Brothers).
The Honeycutters’ first full length studio release Irene (May ’09) was recorded at Asheville’s own CollapseAble Studio, and mixed by Grammy Award winning sound engineer David Fergason (Nashville TN) . The album has garnered radio support across the USA as well as overseas, and landed them in Iaan Hughes’ (No Depression Podcast) top twenty of 2009, as well as in Fret Knot Radio Hour’s “Nine to Know from ’09,” and as number 32 in WNCW’s listener voted top 100.
Amanda Anne Platt has been hailed as “one of the best songwriters coming out of WNC these days” by WNCW programming director Martin Anderson, and her voice has been described as “perfectly unadorned” and “recklessly beautiful”. Her song, “Little Bird,” won second place in the general category of the MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting contest in 2011 as well as taking home the grand prize in the Great Lakes Songwriting Contest that same year. Dane Smith of Asheville NC’s Mountain Xpress writes “Her songs make you sad…in a good way!” In both her simple composition and honest delivery it’s easy to hear the influence of country legends such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, or Loretta Lynn, and with this Miss Platt credits growing up listening to her father’s extensive record collection every Saturday morning. Despite her love for classic country, she cites Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as major influences and her songwriting carries a wit and an edge that plants her firmly in her generation.
The band is frequently mentioned along with the movement to “take country music back to its roots”. The Honeycutters are just doing what they know how to do: making music that feels as good to hear as it does to play. Their original brand of Americana has proven equally appealing to both the musician and the music lover, the country and the city, and the old and the young.
Tal Taylor on mandolin, Rick Cooper on bass, and Josh Milligan on drums round out Platt’s songs and create a sound that carries just as well across the bar room as in a church or theater.
Since the release of their first studio album, The Honeycutters have shared the stage with such Americana greats as Guy Clark, Tony Rice, The Seldom Scene, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Donna The Buffalo, Jill Andrews, and The Steep Canyon Rangers. After a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign, The Honeycutters are currently working on their third studio album to be released in 2014.
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