It has been two years since Greer native Angela Easterling last played in Columbia. Two albums (2012's rocking Beguiler and 2013's French-language outing Mon Secret), a new baby and an engagement to her on-and-off stage foil, guitarist Brandon Turner, have come her way in that time.
“The last couple of years have been a huge change for me,” Easterling admits. “I have to pick and choose where to devote my time and energy more. Last year it was touring. This year we're recording a new album.”
What: Fayssoux McLean and Angela Easterling with Brandon Turner
Where: Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St.
When: Friday, June 27, 8 p.m.
Price: $15 ($12 advance)
More Info: conundrum.us
A teaser tune, “Arkansas Murder Ballad,” offers a peek at Easterling's country-folk leanings with a tale worthy of Johnny Cash and a tune straight from the songbook of “Mother” Maybelle Carter. It's a potent combination that bodes well for the rest of the upcoming album.
Turner serves as the musical connective tissue between Easterling and fellow Upstater Fayssoux McLean, and he'll perform with both artists on Saturday at Conundrum Music Hall.
“I had just moved back from California and went to see Fayssoux play,” Easterling says, recalling her first encounter with Turner. It was while living out west that she released her first full-length album, 2006’s Earning Her Wings. “Brandon was playing with her, and I thought, 'That's the guitar player I've been looking for my whole life.’”
Turner is an Upstate legend who’s been playing in bands there since he was a teenager, from serving as McLean's sympathetic sidekick to smoking the electric blues with Freddie Vanderford. Turner's tasteful licks amped up Easterling's country-rock on Beguiler, though he's equally capable of wrangling an acoustic guitar, Easterling assures.
“Brandon's adaptability will really come out playing with both of us in one night,” She says. “Fayssoux is much more bluegrass and folk, where I'm more rockabilly.”
As much of a fan as she is, Easterling says that she hasn't been able to play too many shows like this with McLean. The elder songwriter appears on a string of Harris' most well-regarded albums from the ‘70s, and was married for a time to folk, bluegrass and old-time musician John Starling.
“Fayssoux is someone I look up to a lot. I love to hear her sing,” she says. “I used to listen to her singing on my Emmylou Harris albums.”
Even though Easterling has benefited from great producers — Will Kimbrough, for example, on 2009's Blacktop Road — and a full-bore touring band the last few years, she's eager to get back to basics with her newer material.
“I want to strip it back down from the band thing and present what Brandon and I are as a duo,” she explains. “Bring the country element of it back. There will be some dark stuff like that first song, and some fun tongue-in-cheek stuff, too. I'm really excited about the new songs I've been writing this year.”
Asked if the new compositions address any of her recent life changes, Easterling admits that those events come out in the songs.
“Being a mother and all the changes I'm going through from that is addressed,” she says. “This has all opened up a new part of me, helped me grow as a songwriter. It used to be that everything was just my music and what was happening or not happening with it. Now I have a family and a little boy, so my perspective has really changed. I have other things in my life that are really important.
“We're just taking it one day at a time,” Easterling adds. “It involves a lot of scheduling for Brandon and me, and a lot of babysitters.”