Amanda McCarthy duos for hometown show
On a Thursday afternoon in late October, Amanda McCarthy played a set at Bobby’s Idle Hour, a no-nonsense bar nestled at the edge of Nashville’s Music Row. The busy performer had another gig scheduled later that evening, but this one was special, marking the release of “Lifeline,” a song that takes a healthy look back at a long-gone relationship.
“When I finished that song in the writing session, I was like, ‘Well that’s all I have to say,’” McCarthy recalled in a recent phone interview. “I think there’s something really cool about that feeling.” Begun a few years ago and completed with the help of her fiancé, Tom Shubsda, and Martin Butter, its finality shares common ground with Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.”
At her side that day was Sam Ferrara, a singer-songwriter she’d worked with a lot since leaving New Hampshire just over two years ago, lately singing backup on Ferrara’s own ex-boyfriend burn, “Get Out of My Town.” The two will be making a trip North in early December, with dates at NYC’s Cutting Room and Over The Moon Farmstead in the Granite State.
“I played in New York City before, but she’s from there, so it’ll be really cool to meet her people and be with her in her home environment,” McCarthy said. “Then I’ll get to bring her to New Hampshire.”
The bond with Ferrara is one of many McCarthy has formed since her 2020 leap of faith to Music City. She’s been a part of several songs that have been recorded, co-writing Benn Park’s “Mountain Steep” and penning “Unwrite Every Song” with Emily Myers. “That was a special one,” McCarthy said. “She’s also one of my best friends.”
Though written years ago, “The Long Haul” recently helped April Cushman win a New England Music Award for Best Country Act. McCarthy still hews to the song’s message of tenacity in the face of challenge. “I’ve kept my expectations low but my work ethic high,” she said. “I’ve always been kind of an underdog in a way, and I have no problem working harder day by day, trying to figure it out.”
Her biggest success isn’t one song or even the award she received from Young Entertainment Professionals Nashville for being its most active member. “Being able to quit my job was certainly validating because it let me say I’m stable enough, I’m getting enough work that I can do this,” she said.
She’s aware it’s a crucible that’s not for everyone. “I was always a full-time musician up north and the big question was can I do this in Nashville,” she said. “I was able to, and that really gave me a confidence boost and let me know I’m on the right path, no matter where it’s going. Every time someone records a song I’ve helped write is validating, because it shows me that other people see the value in what I write, not just me.”
The move also helped her growth as an artist. “I’ve learned so much about songwriting from being here, and it hasn’t even been from anyone telling me that I was doing anything wrong. I think just being around so much of it, you absorb a lot, you get inspired by a lot. I’ve kind of become in tune with knowing how to really pull out my inner voice. But I can also become other people’s voices, which is a very cool way to switch things up — and my voice has gotten stronger.”
McCarthy looks forward to seeing friends and family and doing some tax-free Christmas shopping during her brief visit, which also includes a solo show at The Bar in Hudson on Dec. 4. Beyond that, performing at Moonlight Meadery’s home base is about more than music for her.
“The owners, Michael and Bernice, are my best friend’s father and stepmother, and she’s my maid of honor,” McCarthy said, noting that the bridal shower for her wedding next spring happened at the facility. “So not only are they part of an amazing music venue, but I have a very personal connection with them…. I’ve known them since I was a kid, so it’s very cool to be playing there.”
Amanda McCarthy & Sam Ferrara
When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2 p.m.
Where: Over The Moon Farmstead, 1253 Upper City Road, Pittsfield
Featured photo: Amanda McCarthy. Photo Credit Nash Bash Collective.