There’s something special going on in Asheville. In a state that is home to some of the best artists making music today, most of the attention has been directed to Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. But if you head four hours west on Interstate 40 to Asheville, you’ll find a community of North Carolina artists that is equally rousing (albeit slightly less famous). Yes, mega-star Angel Olsen is pretty well known, but a host of other Asheville musicians maintain a lower profile. Whether it’s improv specialists Tashi Dorji, Tyler Damon, and Thom Nguyen; cellist Emmalee Hunnicutt; or roots rockers The Dead Tongues and Floating Action, the sounds coming from the Land of the Sky is just as vibrant as the music from the Triangle.
One of the most gripping players from the Asheville scene is Sarah Louise. A master of the twelve-string acoustic guitar, she first gained renown with her solo, instrumental albums Field Guide (2015; self-released; Scissor Tail reissue) and VDSQ Acoustic Series Volume 12 (2016; VDSQ). She also teamed up with Sally Anne Morgan of the Black Twig Pickers to form House and Land, a folk-drone duo whose self-titled release on Thrill Jockey was one of last year’s highlights.
This year is shaping up to be another good one for Sarah. She recently announced the release of her next solo record Deeper Woods (Thrill Jockey) in May. Although she invited a small group of friends to participate in the making of it, the record is very much a product of her own vision. She taught herself to play other instruments for it. She wrote all of the songs, produced the record herself, engineered it, and perhaps most alluring, broke free from her signature twelve-string guitar to emphasize vocals, keys, and synthesizers.
Sarah Louise will be making her Charlotte debut on February 24th at a house show. We caught up with her in advance via email to discuss the new record and her musical roots. She also provided a long list of other great female guitarists we should be checking out and told us why a crockpot of soup can lead to a killer DIY event.