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Singer/fiddler takes 600 LBS OF SIN in new direction

Courtesy photo
Singer/fiddler Libby Eddy joined 600 LBS OF SIN after former frontwoman Sierra Ferrell "hopped a train out of town." After apparently being overheard singing "Happy Birthday" at a bar, a friend of the band told Mike Pushkin, "The girl had some pipes."

WANT TO GO?

600LBS OF SIN

WHERE: Sound Factory, 812 Kanawha Blvd. E.

WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday

TICKETS: $5

INFO: 304-342-8001 or www.soundfactorywv.comAlso performing at the World's Championship Chili Cookoff

WHEN: Noon Saturday

WHERE: Magic Island

COST: Free

INFO: www.600lbsofsin.com

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mike Pushkin can joke about it now, but back in May there wasn't a lot to laugh at. Just a few short hours before 600 LBS OF SIN's annual Cinco de Mayo show at Los Agaves Mexican Restaurant in South Charleston, Pushkin got a call from vocalist Sierra Ferrell, asking what time they were supposed to be there.

"I told her, six o'clock," Pushkin said, which presented an immediate problem.

Ferrell was in Nashville.

"And she didn't sound like she was on her way to the airport."

Ferrell never really did come back -- not really.

"Basically, she hopped a train out of town," he said. "She wanted to see the world that way." Pushkin laughed. "I don't know. Maybe she read some Kerouac or something and it inspired her to hitchhike all over the country.

"Things happen for a reason."

Rather than implode, 600LBS OF SIN, which plays Friday at the Sound Factory and Saturday at the 46th Annual World's Championship Chili Cookoff, regrouped and continued to play. Pushkin said, "We played as a four-piece for about a month before we started really looking for anybody else. We did the CD release without Sierra. That was really the last straw for me. For a while, she was saying, 'I'll be back next week, I'll be back next week,' and I thought, she's not coming back."

While he and the band weren't really looking, a friend in Morgantown contacted Pushkin and told him about a girl in a bar he'd seen singing happy birthday to someone.

She told him, "The girl had some pipes."

Libby Eddy laughed. She doesn't remember singing happy birthday to anybody at a bar, but she figured that was something she'd do.

Eddy, a vocalist with a couple of semesters of a music education from West Liberty College, sang and played fiddle but she was between musical outfits. She said, "The only thing I was doing was playing music at a jam in Morgantown, but I had some people walk up to me and ask me if I'd heard about 600LBS OF SIN."

Eddy knew about the band. The group had played Morgantown, but she didn't give it much thought because it was a Charleston band.

"Finally, I got a call from a friend in Charleston who told me to call them now."

Eddy met up with Pushkin, and things between her and the band clicked.

She said, "They gave me the music. I learned it and a week later I was playing with the band."

Eddy played with the band all summer.

Pushkin said "We didn't want to replace Sierra, but we decided if we were going to bring someone into the band, they needed to add more than just vocals."

Eddy's background is in bluegrass and string band music. She grew up in Morgantown in a family where everybody played something. Her father played guitar and fiddle. Her mother had an upright bass and a hammer dulcimer, and her sister played fiddle, too.

"Growing up, my parents would take us to square dances and all kinds of Appalachian cultural things."

In high school, Eddy was involved in theater, the school chorale and even played in a couple of Americana bands before going to school to study music education and operatic performance.

"Halfway through I realized I wanted to play rather than teach music," she said.

Eddy left school, then traveled a little before returning to Morgantown.

Puskin said Eddy has helped take 600LBS OF SIN in an entirely new direction. The fiddle adds a new element to their songs and has encouraged them to try some more acoustic-driven material that pushes them further into Americana.

"But she can jam," he added.

According to Pushkin, Eddy is performing much of the material Ferrell did, plus a few new covers they worked up to showcase her voice.

"We actually need to work on some new songs to feature her voice more."

Eddy is just glad to be part of the band.

"I'm just happy to play," she said.

As far as Ferrell, Pushkin said there's no ill will.

"She always had a traveling jones," he said, wistfully. "600LBS OF SIN travels, but I don't think we traveled enough for her."

The last he'd heard, Ferrell was doing OK and had settled (for the time being) in Portland, Ore.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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