By BRENDAN SORRELL, special to THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Opening for Steven Tyler Wednesday night at LaconiaFest is a local musician by the name of Amanda McCarthy. Based in Hampton, she frequently plays shows in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts and recently came to the Lakes Region to perform at Inspire Music in Franklin. One's musical genre is often hard to put into words and for Amanda it's changed over the years, but in performance with her backing band she defines her music as "indie-pop-rock."
"Since I was 4, I've been telling everybody 'I want to be a singer when I grow up,'" she said, and the dream has stuck with her all the way up to the present day. She began singing at school events at the age of 12 and started singing at outside events at the age of 14. When her cousin entered a talent show in Salem, Massachusetts, she decided to give it a try as well and finished first. That was the end of 2007, when she was just a singer. At the age of 15, she picked up the guitar and started playing a lot of her original songs.
"As far as finding my voice in songwriting," she said, "I started that when I was 13, but it was when I picked up guitar that I really dove into it."
She has been working on both her songwriting, singing, and guitar work ever since and credits most of her talent to hard work and practice.
"I've been lucky," she said,"but I also haven't had things handed to me." She calls herself lucky because she has met the right people for her development as a musician and performer, and much of this to her performance at smaller venues. Although she has been asked to open for Steven Tyler and has a few other gigs coming up that aren't in your typical small-venue environment, she still likes to perform at smaller venues because, she said, "I've met some of the greatest people at some of the smallest shows."
Her versatility as a musician allows her allows her to play for a variety of audiences, switching from singer-songwriter type of work to fuller work with a backing band. She'd played mostly by herself for a number of years but in January found a group of backing musicians she can rely on. Another aspect of her versatility is her ability to draw from a variety of influences. "When I started, I was very much a Taylor Swift wannabe," she says, "because she really got me to pick up the guitar." McCarthy says she had a pop-country sound at first, but this has since changed. She first dropped the country sound, something that she says made her sound like Colbie Caillat, and afterwards listened to Fall Out Boy and similar artists which gave her music more of a rock sound.
"The songs I write are still very much structured like pop songs," she said, "but the rock sound is definitely what gets me going."
She credits working with a full band – the group she'll be playing with on Wednesday – with support, giving her more confidence as well as the ability to work on songs that have more of a rock edge to them. "I'd have these ideas for rockier songs but would think well that's not something I can pull off with just an acoustic and would back of from writing it. Or I'd write it and not play it because it didn't sound right acoustic." She says of being in a band that can truly get the sound she desires: "It leaves me not afraid to write, not afraid to have an idea and therefore much more confident."
You can catch Amanda with her full backing band this Wednesday before the Steven Tyler show at Laconia's Drive-In Theater as part of LaconiaFest.
Amanda McCarthy of Hampton will be one of the opening acts for Steven Tyler at LaconiaFest Wednesday. (Courtesy photo)
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