Alice Thatcher & Robert Thatcher — 21st Annual Woody Guthrie Festival, 2018

Woodyfest 2018: 3rd Place Songwriter Robert Thatcher

Songwriter Showcase

Third Time’s a Charm

Third place [Sidenote: Part twenty-one of our series on Woodyfest 21 fea­tures song­writer Robert Thatcher.] in the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Contest (2018) went to Robert Thatcher and Tom Brown. Thatcher and his wife and musi­cal part­ner Alice Thatcher per­formed the win­ning song, “On the Wings of a Song,” as part of a short show­case on the Pastures of Plenty Stage on fes­ti­val Friday. Thatcher and Brown had pre­vi­ously received hon­or­able men­tion in the con­test for their 2017 entry, “Would I Be Welcome,” and Thatcher’s song “Woody” received the same honor in 2007. [Sidenote: It might have been 2008; Thatcher’s mem­ory of the date is unclear.]

The song­writ­ing duo gar­nered hon­or­able men­tion in the 2017 Musicians United Against the Pebble Mine Songwriting Contest. This year they placed third in the American Songwriter lyric con­test for their song “The Glitter of Gold (Song to Save Bristol Bay).” [Sidenote: American Songwriter, “Lyric Contest Winners: March/​April 2018] The Thatchers live in Signal Mountain, Tennessee; Brown hangs his hat in Varnell, Georgia.

The Thatchers are two-thirds of the trio The Orchard Band, based in the Chattanooga area, along with gui­tarist, banjo player, and singer Paul M. Hendricks. Alice sings and Robert plays gui­tar and man­dolin and sings.

Thatcher’s songs draw from place (Appalachia), tra­di­tion (blue­grass music) and nature. Much of his writ­ing con­cerns the fragility of the envi­ron­ment as it butts up against human activ­ity and the toll envi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion has taken on tra­di­tional Appalachian folkways.

Although not present to per­form the win­ning song with the Thatchers, Brown does per­form with his band Spatial Effects, of which he is a found­ing mem­ber. Brown co-wrote the blue­grass musi­cal com­edy Fat Shirley’s: A Trailer Park Opera with David Crawford. The 2005 musi­cal enjoyed a revival at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2014 he col­lab­o­rated with poet Peggy Douglas, writ­ing the music to her play Twisted Roots. The play is based on the writ­ings and life of poet Emma Bell Miles (1879 – 1919).

Gallery: Robert Thatcher


About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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