Southern troubadour Rob Abernethy at library August 3

Jul 18, 2019 by

Published in the July 18, 2019 edition.

By ALLISON HASTINGS

NORTH READING — Southern singer-songwriter Rod Abernethy headlines the next live show in the Performing Artist Series on Saturday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m. This community-based event was introduced to the town last fall by Art Grossman and the Friends of the Flint Memorial Library.

GUITARIST ROD ABERNETHY will headline the next Performing Artist Series on Saturday, August 3 at the library. (Courtesy Photo)

Separate from the North Reading Coffeehouse/Open-Mic Nights, which are run on a monthly basis, the Performing Artist Series aims to bring three or four professional-level musicians to perform in town in the activity room of the library each year. Grossman, the creative brain behind both of these events, explains that he enjoys putting together music-related projects in his free time, which can also serve to benefit the community at large.

The Performing Artist Series has been a success thus far; past performers have been a husband and wife duo from Nashville called “The Twangtown Paramours,” a local zydeco band called the “Squeezebox Stompers,” and a British folk musician named Rupert Wates.

A North Carolina-native and self-described Southern troubadour, storyteller and guitar instrumentalist, Rod Abernethy will be the fourth artist featured in the series.

As a board member of the Boston Area Coffeehouse Association (BACHA), Grossman was invited to attend a showcase hosted by the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance in Cambridge earlier this year, where he first saw Abernethy perform live. Roughly six to seven acts took the stage that day, but Grossman felt most transfixed by Abernethy. “I play guitar, and when I see somebody doing something that I can’t even imagine doing, it gets my attention,” he recalled.

What particularly impresses Grossman about Abernethy is his ability on the guitar and the seamless way in which he is able to directly interact with the audience. “It’s very smooth and comforting. You feel like you’re at a house concert… there’s a very cozy feeling about it.”

Rocker returns to his roots

Abernethy’s journey through the music industry has been an unconventional albeit rewarding one. Junior high is where he first learned to play acoustic and electric guitar, discovering a passion for instrumental music. After earning a degree in music from Chapel Hill, Abernethy performed in rock bands up until the mid-80s, when he was encouraged to audition for the talent show “Star Search.”

Although his dream of getting a record deal in LA did not pan out the way he once hoped, Abernethy acknowledges that this experience was “the dark cloud with a silver lining,” as an opportunity for composing music shortly presented itself.

Having scored music for film, TV shows, and over 80 video games, including Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and Electronic Arts’ “Dead Space,” Abernethy had found his niche in the market. But just five years ago, an urge to return to his first love – performing acoustic guitar live – overtook him, and since then his music career has come full circle.

Describing his sound as intimate and dynamic, with a heavy focus on acoustic guitar, Abernethy states, “What I’m doing now is kind of picking up where I left off in the late ‘70s as a folk musician.”

Gathering inspiration from James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Leo Kottke, and other soulful guitarists, Abernethy takes a personal approach to songwriting. The tracks on his latest record, “The Man I’m Supposed to Be,” which reached the ninth spot on Folk Alliance International’s Folk DJ chart last June, revolve around his childhood experiences, family and friends, and destinations like North Carolina and Cape Cod – the two places he calls home.

Music “can be your best friend”

When asked how music has kept him grounded throughout life and acted as a guide during hard times, Abernethy responded, “To put it simply, music – for a lot of people, and for me – it can be your best friend. It’s always with you. It’s an emotional language that you learn. There’s nothing quite as expressive and cathartic as singing, and vocally letting it go.”

Abernethy’s performance in the Flint Memorial Library on August 3 will feature two sets, each approximately 45 minutes in length. Water and coffee, as well as exquisite pastries sold for $2 to $3 apiece, will be provided during a short break. All food sales will directly benefit the Friends of the Library programs.

Attendees are encouraged to make a $15 donation, but anyone is welcome to sit back and enjoy this night of entertainment. Individuals in attendance will also have the opportunity to purchase Abernethy’s double CD, “The Man I’m Supposed to Be.”

To learn more about Abernethy and his music visit his website, https://rodabernethyguitar.com/

Grossman would like to thank Maureen Doherty of the Transcript, NORCAM’s staff, Assistant Library Director Dan Tremblay, Library Director Sharon Kelleher, and the Friends of the Library for their continued support in promoting the Performing Artist Series. He would also like to recognize the event’s sponsors which include Winter Hill Bank, The Savings Bank, Reading Cooperative Bank, Moynihan Lumber and Heavenly Donuts.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the Performing Artist Series may direct their questions and inquiries to Art Grossman at NRCoffeehouse@gmail.com or 617-592-4398.

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