"Substantially Blue" has local band happy with results

October 18, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Tori Anderson & Possum Holler, the country music band based in Berkeley Springs, has been entertaining audiences since 1998 and released its second CD, "Substantially Blue," last month.

Band manager Bill Clark said the new CD sales are going well and about 80 radio stations in five or six states from West Virginia to New Jersey have received a copy of the album. The group recently performed at Borders in Hagerstown to promote the CD that has a song collection that "combines the country, blues and gospel influences of the band," Clark said.

The band has been the opening act for many popular Nashville artists, Clark said. Possum Holler has toured throughout Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and performed at festivals, county and state fairs, arts council concerts and benefits.


He said large crowds are attending performances.

The band's vocalist, Tori Anderson, said "we want to be known for the music we are writing and performing." And, Clark, who is Anderson's brother-in-law, said "I heard her sing a long time ago, and I knew she needed to be heard."

Anderson is tall and thin and her voice is both husky and powerful. Clark said many people ask: "Where does that big voice come from that little girl."

The CD, "Substantially Blue," is a mix of country, pop and blues. One song, "Black Widow," has a "jazzy" edge that brings to mind the late 1950s single hit, "Fever," performed by Peggy Lee.

Nine of the 12 songs are Possum Holler originals. Three others, or "covers," are popular favorites the band performs that were written by other artists. One of those is a love song, "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)," that Tori Anderson learned in 1986 and is a favorite with audiences, she said.

The title song, "Substantially Blue," is a haunting blues song and one of several on the album written by Anderson. She said she "plunks out songs" at the piano and on the guitar. Anderson said she has been singing since 4 and sang with her parents as family gospel singers.

Mike Anderson has been playing the guitar since 14. He said he started playing an accordion and learned to read music. He wrote the music for "Leavin' Star Junction Behind," about a mining town where he grew up. Tori Anderson wrote the song's lyrics.

Mike Anderson also co-wrote the music on two other songs on the CD.

The band members live close to Berkeley Springs, where Clark resides. Tori Anderson is married to band member and acoustic guitar player, Mike Anderson. They live in Hancock.

Lead guitarist David Ausherman lives in Falling Waters, W.Va., and he co-wrote the music to the CD's first song, "Leavin."

Bryan Seal, the drummer, lives in Winchester, Va., and bass guitar player, Greg Mills, lives in Pecktonville, Md.

Mills is the "true artist of the group," said Clark. He started playing bass at 13, and also plays the keyboard, sitar and banjo, Clark said. He also paints "reflections of his Native-American background," Clark said.

Mills wrote both the words and music to three of the songs and the music to Clark's lyrics to "Mr. Left."

They all have day jobs. The men work in construction and Tori works for a radio station in Greencastle, Pa., said Clark, who is administrator for Morgan County.

They perform in the spring, summer and fall and rehearse new material in the winter.

"Everyone does their homework to make the songs whole to present to the audience," Tori Anderson said.

Mike Anderson said his wife and Clark are the ones who get nervous, and Clark admitted he's the worrier.

"Mike is the perfectionist, and Tori is the happy one," he said. "She finds everything positive."

"Tori has the passion every time for a small or large audience," said Mike Anderson.

"I feel the song. If I sing a sad song, I'm hurtin', I'm feelin' it," Tori Anderson said.

"Our songs are all about drinkin', cheatin' and leavin," she said.

"I love being behind the scene at a show," Mike Anderson said. "I'm always working to find venues that fit our type of music."

Possum Holler's first CD, "Out on a Limb," was produced in 2001 and contains all original songs.

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