Amanda Ann Platt grew up outside New York City listening to the country and folk albums favored by her parents, along with garage music played by her brothers.
But it wasn’t until Platt got to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that she began to delve deeply into music herself to find her own path.
“I switched from playing guitar to banjo, which really clicked with me,” said Platt, who also started to write songs.
She had always loved to write, keeping journals and penning short stories, but it wasn’t until she began putting words to music that things really started falling into place.
“It felt so good just to sing it, to put a melody to it,” she said. “It was a whole new form of expression.”
Platt and her band the Honeycutters will visit Frederick on Thursday, Feb. 7, for a performance at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.
Playing with her will be Peter James on guitar and vocals, Tal Taylor on mandolin, Rick Cooper on bass and Thomas McNeeley on drums.
“We’re excited to be in Frederick for the first time,” she said. “We love to be on the road and play for people.”
Based in Asheville, N.C., Platt describes the music of the Honeycutters as “Appalachian honky-tonk.”
“It’s kind of all over the map,” she said. “Some (songs) are stories. Some are autobiographical. Some are more upbeat, while some are a bit lower and sadder.”
Platt said the band will perform songs from its two CDs, “Irene” released in 2009, and “When Bitter Met Sweet” released in June 2012. They will also perform some covers and new music in the works for their third album, she said.
One of the songs from “When Bitter Met Sweet,” called “90 Miles (The Tennessee Song),” is about coming back from Memphis in a car with friends after going to a gathering of singers, songwriters and booking agents.
“It was very overwhelming. It was all about self-promotion, which is my greatest fear,” she said about her early days as a singer/songwriter.
“I felt like hiding in my hotel room ... and I’m now going to die on the highway!” she said with a laugh, remembering a scary drive back in the pouring rain.
The trip was ultimately worth it.
“We caught the ears of an agent in Nashville who wanted to work with us,” said Platt, 27, who has been working as a full-time musician and song writer for about four years.
“When Bitter Met Sweet,” includes 11 tracks “that touch upon childhood and loss of innocence, finding a sense of belonging and one’s voice, truth, love and patience, traveling and embarking on new life-journeys (and the fears that go along with these), and the understanding that comes about when life’s circumstances come full circle,” according to the Honeycutters’ website.
The title track, “When Bitter Met Sweet” is a song about the end of love looking back at the beginning, and “All I Got” is a love song Platt said she wrote before actually falling in love.
Reading a biography of Billie Holiday inspired the writing of “For Eleanora,” and “Fancy Car” includes Platt’s father playing the harmonica.
Platt’s father is also featured in “Not Over Yet,” in which she imagines a child leaving home for the first time, “wanting freedom but scared of what it might cost.”
Platt still remembers the first time she sang before an audience at a local café where Bob Dylan once played during her college years.
“I was so nervous, I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I couldn’t get the chords, and I couldn’t remember the words.”
But she persevered, performing at open mics with college friends in Saratoga Springs. Knowing she wanted to pursue a music career, she moved to Asheville after hearing guitar maker Brad Nickerson was taking on students.
Platt said she has always appreciated the electrified country music of the 1960s and 1970s and artists such as Conway Twitty, George Jones and Ray Price.
“I think country music has the most, honesty. It’s all laid out there,” she said.