Show Review: An Evening with Avidity


I can’t think of a better way to kick off my time as a staff writer for The Western Carolina Journalist than to review a show put on right in our neighborhood. Those of us addicted to concerts know that that’s a big deal because we are used to driving to Asheville to get our fix.

“An Evening with Avidity” was a great success by my standards. The house was packed, the coffee was fresh and the air was thick with good vibes: a setting begging for live music.

Hosted by The Point, the cozy coffee house across the street from the Cullowhee post office, Daniel Ross, John Luke Carter, and Brandon Day presented the music of Avidity Recording Studio. The trio sat in a row on the stage, each with a guitar.

Brandon Day, Daniel Ross and John-Luke Carter are introduced by Jeremy Mulloy. Photo by Ceillie Simkiss

Brandon Day, Daniel Ross and John-Luke Carter are introduced by Jeremy Mulloy.
Photo by Ceillie Simkiss

Daniel introduced the night to us as a “writer’s round.” He explained that these events are a common happening in Nashville, where writers of possibly-popular country songs can play the songs they wrote for the voices we hear singing them on the radio, and talk about the inspiration behind the songs. Avidity Recording Studio writes songs to be pitched and sold to artists.

While we can’t exactly expect to hear Daniel, John-Luke or Brandon on the airwaves anytime soon, we might just hear familiar words and melodies heard at the first writer’s round the audience in its entirety had ever attended.

I wondered how exactly the night would work, with three artists on stage at once all with the same instrument. I got my answer when John-Luke started the show. The guys acted as back-up for each other; while one sang a melody, the others sang harmonies or played complimentary guitar riffs.

John-Luke’s first song was “the first song I wrote where I didn’t feel like it sucked.” His voice was effortless and soft; I instantly understood that he makes music because he wants to, and he’s not out to prove his talent to anyone. Daniel and Brandon followed with songs that they had written in their early songwriting days as well. Daniel comes from a punk-y, scream-y musical background, so he mentioned that this was one of the first songs he wrote that didn’t involve screaming.

It was evident that both Daniel and John-Luke had written those first songs in the midst of teenage angst, and Brandon’s “Runaway” didn’t stray much from that classification (as is probably obvious in the title).

There is something endearing about hearing songs written from the heart of a confused, misfit teenager. Being only a few years past that mess of a life stage, I still connect with those feelings and I appreciated that they chose to play those songs first. It worked especially well because it allowed us to see the growth from those early songs to what they are writing now.

I can’t say that the night was totally seamless; there were moments of forgotten lyrics and a key-change misunderstanding, but for me, it simply added to the realness of the kind of art they make. And those slip-ups didn’t go without self-deprecating jokes.

Daniel began one of his songs by saying he wrote it while imagining how he would feel if his wife left him. This was met with an inevitable “awwww” from the crowd, and the follow up comment, “It’s sad, but it makes for a good country song.”

Just when I was pondering how odd it was that none of them sing with southern accents, though they market their songs for country artists, Daniel pointed out that they were trying to fabricate accents. The songs didn’t sound awkward without an accent; in fact, I found when any of them threw in a purposely mispronounced word (i.e. “can’t” became “cain’t”), only then did it sound a little uncomfortable. Without the accents, all three guys had a widely likable folk-y sound.

My personal favorite of the night was Brandon’s catchy pun-involved song with the tag, “I love you from the top down.” I am positive I wasn’t the only girl present secretly projecting herself as the subject of the song (even though he got my hair and eye color wrong).

The music they play is the kind of music that you can listen to in the car with your parents. It’s the music you can sing along to obnoxiously with your friends. It may even turn out to be the music we all raise our kids on. Anyone can find something they like about it, and if you don’t like it, you’re probably the same person who hates Fleetwood Mac and/or The Eagles, which means you’re probably not even American. Or human.

I am positive this is just the beginning of what we’ll hear from Daniel, John-Luke, and Brandon, and I hope this isn’t the last “Evening with Avidity.”

You can keep up with Avidity on Facebook, or get a taste of their music on their Soundcloud.