Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats


Andrew Scotchie sped off stage. Guitar in hand, he snaked through a darkened corridor back-stage at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon.

Moments later, Scotchie reappeared — in the balcony. He grabbed a fan’s hat, put it on, then leap like Kong on the Empire upon the ledge to play a riveting guitar solo, high above a disbelieving though thunderous crowd.

“I wanted to leave an impression,” Scotchie said.

Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats intend to make another mark come Friday at the Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room in Johnson City.

“The world is a playground,” Scotchie, 25, said.

Guitar plugged in and amped to 10, he’s punched a ticket to ride.

“Hell, yeah!” he said. “You gotta try. We gotta make an impact.”

Off stage, the shaggy-haired musician from Asheville strikes the notes of a respectful and affable fellow. He’s Bruce Banner. On stage, he’s The Incredible Hulk sans muscles and green skin.

“It’s raw, real and euphoric,” Scotchie said. “It’s euphoria and adrenaline. It’s natural. My favorite shows are the shows when I blink and it’s over.”

The stage serves as Scotchie’s couch, the crowd his shrink. Equipped well with songs meant to entertain and prompt thought, they’re introspective revelations meant to revolutionize his ever-evolving style.

Take Scotchie’s forthcoming “Family Dynamo” album.

“‘Family Dynamo’ is the culmination of the past couple of years,” he said. “‘Family Dynamo’ is a statement to our friends and family of what has kept this together, and that’s family. Especially in a time when people are so damn divided, I wanted to call this ‘Family Dynamo.’ We need to realize how beautiful community and family can be.”

Sonically, the album shrugs the grit of 2015’s “We All Stay Hungry.” Rock intact, “Family Dynamo” injects generous slivers of rhythm and blues as spun through a psychedelic whirlwind.

“We’ve entered a phase of the band when we are accomplishing different genres,” Scotchie said. “We’re not just a rock ‘n’ roll band. We want to blow the lid off the jar with this one.”

A fuse attaches to the album’s weighty themes of heartbreak, loss and mental illness. Therapy in a song from song to song, they’re intended as outlets for Scotchie and those who choose to consume them.

“I want people to feel like they’re not alone as they struggle with a sense of loss,” he said. “Lyrically, it’s about resiliency and encouraging people to feel a sense of family.”

Scotchie knows what it’s like to love and lose dear family. Ten years ago, his father was shot and killed. In the past, he’s alluded to his father in song. This time around, he found ways to include him in his album.

“My father’s voice is on the song ‘Nothing Else Hurts So Bad,’” he said. “In the interlude, ‘Up-side Down,’ you’ll hear a voice laughing. That’s my dad.”

From there, into the mind he travels.

“I wanted to capture what it’s like to have a nervous breakdown,” Scotchie said. “We wanted to illustrate what it’s like when you’re on the bottom, upside down, losing control and falling.”

An outlet, a plug that’s pulled, a valve released — Scotchie’s music on record as on stage exhibits catharsis. It’s in him and has to come out.

So sometimes he’s Tarzan without a vine, swinging off the stage and into the crowd. Other times, he’s King Kong scaling the heights of a balcony — as at the Barter. Entertaining? Fully. Medicinal? Prescription, please.

“Music gives me purpose,” Scotchie said. “Playing music, the physical and spiritual aspects, reminds me of why I’m here. It’s where I belong.”

Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at

If You Go

Who: Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats

When: Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m.

Where: Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room, 216 E. Main St., Johnson City

Admission: $10

Info: 423-631-0600

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