By Bob Hemenger
Special to The PREVIEW
The American Project class is in its seventh year as an elective class offered at Pagosa Springs High School. Each year, the students promote, produce and perform a concert with a professional artist. The experience allows them to learn about the business aspect of music, connect with a professional musician and experience what it takes to make a living playing music.
This fall features the amazing sounds of Beth Wood. Wood is a modern-day troubadour and believer in the power of song. Her exceptional musicianship, crafty songwriting and commanding stage presence have been winning over American audiences for 20 years. Wood’s music is soulful, organic, intelligent, barefoot, high-energy communication of joy.
Picture a homebody with an ever-present wanderlust, an introvert with a passion for performing, a creative free-spirit with enough discipline to rework her dream year after year, calloused little hands and a big pile of curly hair — and you’ve got Wood.
“Beth Wood is a musical triple-threat — a thoughtful songwriter and talented multi-instrumentalist with a supple, soulful voice.” wrote The Washington Post.
Wood began her musical journey in Lubbock, a high plains Texas town with a uniquely rich musical heritage that includes Buddy Holly, Natalie and Lloyd Maines, Mac Davis and Joe Ely, to name a few. When she wasn’t dodging tornadoes and dust storms, Wood was studying classical piano, violin, harp and voice and contemplating the greatness of her dad’s record collection. With big dreams of becoming a musician, Wood left west Texas to study voice and piano at Brevard College in North Carolina. A detour from her classical studies led her to Austin, where she picked up a degree in literature and a guitar. Wood began writing her own songs and quickly discovered a feeling of musical freedom that she has been hooked on ever since. Eighteen years, thousands of shows, nine albums, three cars, and numerous awards later, she has never looked back.
Wood has been featured on OPB’s “Artbeat” and on “Troubadour, TX,” a nationally syndicated documentary-style singer/songwriter reality television series airing in almost 40 million households and 140 U.S. markets. Wood has also been a three-time featured artist on Cayamo: A Journey Through Song, a week-long Caribbean songwriters’ cruise.
In May, 2013, Wood launched her Song of the Month Club, an innovative way to engage fans and offer a steady stream of new work. The result of that work is “Sometimes Love,” Wood’s ninth album, recorded in her adopted home state of Oregon with rising star producer Tyler Fortier and released in 2014. Wood released her first book of poetry, “Kazoo Symphonies” (Mezcalita Press), in 2015.
Wood lives in Portland, Ore., and is loving the northwest life. She has immersed herself in the northwest music scene, including working on staff with the Sisters Folk Festival and Americana Song Academy for five years as an instructor and host of the Sunday Community Celebration. Wood’s work has expanded to include teaching voice and song coaching as well as leading workshops at festivals, retreats and beyond.
“Lord have mercy … Wood is a down-home, old-fashioned girl with a wicked streak,” states Indie-music.com.
Please join Wood and the students from the Americana Project on Nov. 9 in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium. The show starts at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 (12 and under free) and are only available at the door. Students from the class will be the opening act. Please come out and support The Americana Project and let Wood’s powerful, soulful and joyful music take you on a musical escape.