West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 42

Photo by Chris Hancock Andrew Adkins calls his January appearance on Mountain Stage a “dream come true.” "Mountain Stage" host Larry Groce has barely begun introducing the night's musical acts when it happens. A lone voice bellows "Go, Andrew!" and then other excited fans from the packed audience join the call. In a couple of minutes, the Fayetteville singer-songwriter will start gently picking the plaintive four-note guitar figure that underpins his song "Frag- ile Heart" — a slow, introspective tune that looks at youthful romance through the lens of experience — but right now, in this moment, Andrew Adkins' home crowd owns the room. "It was a dream come true," Adkins says of his January appearance on the Charleston-based radio pro- gram, which airs nationwide and is produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. "I've been listening to Mountain Stage my entire life, and it 42 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19 molded my musical tastes. My band had some of the best musicians on the planet, and I really connected with the audience. I was the only act of the night to get a standing ovation. It was just an amazing day." Adkins has had more and more amazing days lately, especially when it comes to his music career. His masterful new album, "Who I Am," was praised by one reviewer as "ex- ceptional for its emotional range" and found him being called "the embodi- ment of the current state of roots music in West Virginia" by another. Known for years as a member and primary songwriter of the popu- lar Mountain State band The Wild Rumpus, Adkins has been building a fan base under his own name since recording his first solo project, "The Long Way to Leaving," in 2014. His music is solidly in the realm of what most listeners would call “coun- try music,” with its emphasis on tra- ditional instruments such as acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar and man- dolin and lyrics that deal with small- town life. But Adkins doesn’t make the kind of overblown, fist-pumping, pop-influenced country music that’s popular today. “When I tell people I play country music, they automati- cally think I’m Florida Georgia Line,” he says. “That’s not what I do.” Adkins’ music is nuanced and self-aware. Above all, it’s built on strong, thoughtful songwriting. Each word feels carefully selected, a single thread in a well-woven tapestry, and every rhythmic structure and in- strumental texture complements the story Adkins is telling on a particular song.