In 2017, Bill Abernathy’s album “Find A Way” reached #5 on the Roots Music Report Traditional Folk Albums chart, spending more than a year on the chart. His single, “Goodbye Will Never Come Again” reached #1 on the Traditional Folk Songs chart. Now, the rootsy folk/americana artist is riding high on his recent success. With his latest album, “Crossing Willow Creek” receiving critical praise and first single, “Cry Wolf” climbing several radio airplay charts, Abernathy is just hitting his stride as one of today’s most important voices in his genre.
Bill took some time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions in this exclusive one-on-one:
Indie Pulse Music: Congrats on your album, “Crossing Willow Creek.” Tell us about the concept behind the songs:
Bill Abernathy: “Crossing Willow Creek” is all about stepping out of your comfort zone, moving forward while ensuring the lessons learned in the past are not left behind. Willow Creek is my name for the physical place I was raised. The song Willow Creek documents this special place quite well, (you should listen to it) ha-ha. Outside of the physical place, Willow Creek is also the special place that I go in my mind when I am writing music. I think every writer has a place they go when they are creating, and Willow Creek is mine. Musically Willow Creek is a very personal and acoustic place for me. I always write with only an acoustic guitar, and it’s really easy for me to stay with that pure acoustic sound. Crossing Willow Creek personifies my desire to step away from that purely acoustic sound and explore new sounds and dimensions in my music. I think this desire is exemplified throughout the “Crossing Willow Creek” album as we explore through some country, rock, blues, and folk sounds. It sure is a lot of fun to step outside your comfort zone and let the music take you places that are fun and exciting to visit.
IPM: Is Rock Dead? Why, or why not?
BA: Absolutely not. I find it interesting that we love to put certain genres of music into a box. Rock has evolved. Just in my lifetime I have seen so many iterations of that genre ranging from Acoustic Rock, to Country Rock, to Hair Band Rock, Stadium Rock, etc…. All of these have their place, and it’s really fun to think of what may now follow. That said, I think of Rock as songs written by the artists, produced by the band, and played by the band in the studio. That is not as common these days as one would think, but still is prevalent in the industry. I think of bands like U2 and the Foo Fighters as some of the last hold outs to this process and I hope others follow.
IPM: What is the single biggest challenge facing music artists today?
BA: Finding your spot in the confusing world of music. There are so many artists producing music that finding your identity is sometimes a big tough. Finding your audience and learning to focus your music to them is the key. For me, I am still learning the demographics of my fans and finding ways to communicate effectively with them. I believe this is the key. An analogy could be shopping local in instead of shopping from the large box stores. The box stores have their place and add a lot of value, but the local shops have more interesting items as well as the opportunity to establish a relationship with the owners. That relationship is what keeps bringing you back. In music I see it the same way. There are those that can reach large mainstream sections of the population. I think the more interesting music comes from artists that market more into the non-mainstream audience and establish that close relationship with their fans.
IPM: Tell us about a Bill Abernathy live show. What should fans expect?
BA: Stories, expect stories. LOL. Each of my tunes evolved from some event in my life and I like to tell the back story of the songs as we perform. I do like to play to smaller audiences, so I have the chance to create a connection with each person. We can play purely acoustic or full band and any combination in between. I have found the more acoustic and simpler the shows are, the easier it is to adjust to the audience and develop a relationship and rapport. We may laugh, giggle, think, cry and about any other emotion you can think of. The goal is for everyone to leave with something they did not have when they arrived.
IPM: What was the first album or single that you bought with your own money?
BA: “In the year 2525” – Zager and Evans. I can’t imagine this is very common, but I have always had a fascination with science fiction, and when I had an extra $.69, I bought this single. It’s an interesting song with some interesting statements made throughout. I guess I have always been a little off the beaten path. lol
IPM: Where in the world would you love to play, that you haven’t and why?
BA: I have never played the Bluebird in Nashville. I love the fact that they have rules about crowd noise with the expectation that the audience listen and more importantly “hear” what the artist is saying. Of course, I think everyone would love to play Red Rocks just because of how cool the venue is.
IPM: Should musicians get involved in politics, including posting about their political beliefs? Why or why not?
BA: Musicians, writers, and artists draw inspiration from many places and trying to limit that is not a good idea. I think of the 60’s when so many artists were quite well educated about the events of the day and created great music to expose their ideas. I think it’s a great outlet to let folks know how you feel. There is a bit of political statement in my “Cry Wolf” tune. It’s important for all of us to be educated about the events of the day, and if you have something to say about it speak up. That said, it’s also important to not “Cry Wolf” and mislead people with false information and alternative facts. I saw a shirt the other day that said, “I just want to live in a world where Orwell’s 1984 is still fiction”. I love that.
Cry Wolf – Verse 3
“We tear down the statues, hide the flags hide the wars, but George said it right in 1984
He controls the present, has full control of the past, so we can repeat it complicit with alternative facts”
IPM: Thanks for the fantastic conversation! Where can our readers find out more info about you?
BA: Here are the links to my social media sites. I always appreciate a note from fans and respond quickly. Making contact and getting to know folks is important to me so don’t be shy.
Bill Abernathy.com.. This is where you can send me a note.. please do!
Bill Abernathy Music on Facebook
Bill Abernathy on Twitter
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