Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band to open Music by the Lake

July 15, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band perform Saturday, July 17, for the first concert in the Music by the Lake series at City Park in Hagerstown.
Courtesy of Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band,

Music by the Lake openers Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band have had their share of setbacks, but they aren't giving up on music anytime soon.

Possum Holler guitarist and backing vocalist Michael Anderson received a kidney transplant earlier this year, news that comes only two years after the band's leading lady -- and Michael Anderson's wife -- Tori Anderson -- was diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic disease that hardens skin and connective tissue.

But the Andersons are not big on complaining.

"We just got through it," said Tori Anderson, who lives in Hancock.

Music by the Lake is a series of four free Saturday night concerts at Hagerstown's City Park. The string of performances start Saturday, July 17, with Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band. Stoney Creek Bluegrass Band closes out the four-concert series Aug. 7.

Music by the Lake is sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council, the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Typically, bluegrass and country bands are the featured acts, said Mary Anne Burke, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council. Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band performed in the series last year, Burke said.

Possum Holler is a six-person country band that formed in the mid-1990s. The band has released two albums, "Out on a Limb" in 2001 and "Substantially Blue" in 2006.

But illnesses have stalled further recording sessions for Possum Holler.

Prior to the transplant, Michael Anderson was undergoing daily dialysis. The band has only been able to meet a half dozen times this year, when generally they'd meet once weekly between February and June.

"I tire easily," Michael Anderson said.

Michael Anderson said he draws inspiration from his wife. The Andersons have been married for 25 years. They have three adult children.

"My wife, she pushes me," Michael Anderson said. "She drives me. She makes me want to do things. It's what makes me go."

Tori Anderson was diagnosed with scleroderma on Valentine's Day in 2008. She said the disease makes it hard for her to open her mouth, making some notes difficult to hit.

"Your skin feels like it's ripping or burning," she said.

She said she no longer plays guitar and mandolin because her finger spread is limited. But, she said, she can still play piano.

Tori Anderson said she's taking medication to slow the progression of her illness. She said she's due for throat surgery in August and plans to sing at already-booked shows after that date.

"I refuse to give into it," Tori Anderson said.

On Saturday, Possum Holler plans to perform covers of familiar country music songs. There's even been discussion of recording a third album.

"I want to record an 'old-timey' gospel record before I can't sing any more," Tori Anderson said.

Michael and Tori Anderson said the band probably won't book any new shows next year. But it isn't the end for Possum Holler.

"We'll never give up the music," Michael Anderson said. "There ain't no way."

2010 Music by the Lake series

The free concerts are 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, July 17, through Aug. 7, at the Peter Buys Bandshell at City Park, off Virginia Avenue.

Performances will be canceled in the event of rain.

o July 17 -- Tori Anderson & The Possum Holler Band; http://www.possumholler

o Saturday, July 24 -- Patent Pending;

o Saturday, July 31 -- Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition;

o Saturday, Aug. 7 -- Stoney Creek Bluegrass Band;

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