Amanda Anne Platt charts her own course in country-folk

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Amanda Anne Platt and The Honeycutters perform at the Birchmere on May 23. Platt opened for Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, who is on a solo tour. Platt played a set filled with humor, wry lyrics and an Austin-country sound. (Photo credit: Denise Dunbar)
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By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]

When Amanda Anne Platt opened last week for Amy Ray of Indigo Girls fame, nine years had passed since she had last performed at Alexandria’s Birchmere.

In 2010, Platt’s band had only released one album and they went by The Honeycutters. Last Friday, the day after her Birchmere performance, Platt released her sixth album, “Live at the Grey Eagle.” Her confidence as a singer-songwriter has grown to the point that she now headlines the act, with her name front and center: Amanda Anne Platt and The Honeycutters.

Platt’s humor-infused set was well-received by an audience mostly there to see Ray. In an interview after her performance, Platt said her musical influences were Texas-outlaw acts like Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Lucinda Williams, who’s actually from Louisiana, that she listened to as a child living in Austin, Texas.

“My parents met and married in Austin, Texas and so they love a lot of the music coming out of there in the 70s and 80s I guess, and 90s. … All of that was definitely very influential to me,” Platt said.

Shades of Williams could be heard in several of Platt’s songs, with clever lyrics like: “since the bottle took my baby and the banker took my house, we’re living in the heartland surely somewhere here is where the heart is found” from her most-listened to song on Spotify, “Eden.”

Other highlights included “Diamond in the Rough” and “Birthday Song.” On the latter, her voice and harmonies recalled those of the Grammy award-winner Gillian Welch. All three songs are from the band’s 2017 self-titled album.

Perhaps the most moving song of the evening was “Burn,” which was mellow and lovely, though it’s so new that it’s not found on any of Platt’s six albums.

“It will be on the album after this one – next year,” Platt laughed onstage.

Platt said it was her father, originally an Alexandrian, who encouraged her and her brother to play and write music.

“So, we grew up musical and he taught me and my brother growing up,” Platt said. “It caught on with my brother a lot faster. I didn’t start writing or playing anything much until I was like 18 or 19.”

Platt said she got the opportunity to tour with Ray because guitarist Matt Smith plays in the Honeycutters and Ray’s band.

“He’s been in my band a long time and [Ray] made an album in Asheville, not “Holler” but the solo one before it, “Goodnight Tender,” and he got the call to play pedal steel on that. And he joined her touring band too. And then he said, ‘This is the other band I play with,’” Platt said.

Ray has had The Honeycutters tour with her several times, Platt said.

“Amy is just incredible for supporting other artists,” Platt said. “She’s a very generous artist herself. She’s been great.”

Ray’s set with her all-male band was relaxed, as she and her bandmates rocked out to mostly country honkey tonk. One notable exception was a mesmerizing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Racing in the Streets,” that had Ray beaming with delight as the last notes echoed through the music hall.

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