Local singer-songwriter to open for Rising Appalachia at Belly Up Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Local singer-songwriter to open for Rising Appalachia at Belly Up Aspen

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Carbondale-based singer-songwriter Shea Freedom will open for Rising Appalachia at Belly Up on Wednesday.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Rising Appalachia, with Shea Freedom

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 9 p.m.

How much: $25 (plus a $5 surcharge for those under 21)

Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com

Carbondale-based singer-songwriter Shea Freedom will make her Belly Up Aspen debut tonight, opening up for the eclectic New Orleans-based band Rising Appalachia.

Freedom, 24, turned heads at last year’s Carbondale Mountain Fair, performing the mix of rapid rhymes and acoustic instrumentation that she’s dubbed “folk-hop” with a group of local musicians. A California native, Freedom grew up in the state’s foster care system and spent time living on the streets before settling in Carbondale after the late town councilman Brad Hendricks took her under his wing.

In recent years, along with making music, Freedom has become an advocate for homeless youth and foster care reform. She connected with Rising Appalachia in the spring, through her advocacy work, on Facebook. In April she hitched a $10 Craigslist ride, she said, from Southern California to a Rising Appalachia show in Arizona to meet with the band about joining the cause.

Freedom ended up opening for the band, which is led by sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, on its four-show run through Arizona and this summer in California, after they met in Flagstaff.

“Chloe came into the green room after the show and I was on my guitar and she said, ‘Why didn’t you ask to open for us?’” Freedom recalled. “I said, ‘It’s not about that. I’m here for the kids.’ She said, ‘Would you like to open for us?’ and I said ‘Yeah!’ … So it was really incredible.”

When the band booked a show at Belly Up, they reached out to Freedom again to kick the night off.

Freedom has been mostly on the road since her performance at Carbondale Mountain Fair last summer, gathering stories and experiences for her songs, while releasing her music via SoundCloud and YouTube. Her adventures have included delivering a yacht from Kentucky to Florida via the Intracoastal Waterway and working on a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico (Freedom is a licensed merchant mariner).

“I have to go out there and get those stories,” she said. “One of these days I’ll write a song about that shrimp boat, because it was insane … And I’m just literally doing whatever it takes to raise the funds to record and make music.”

Her guitar went with her across the country, sometimes bearing fruit. In October after the yacht delivery, she happened upon the Bell Tower Shops & South Fort Myers Battle of the Bands in Florida and – surprisingly – won first place in a field of 19 with a combination of folk-hop and beat-boxing.

She returned to Carbondale in late June, and expects to stick around the valley through the winter, hoping to get more traction for her career as a musician.

This summer, the Teen Project of Venice released a video for Freedom’s song “Emancipation Day,” a passionate and personal call to support homeless youth and provide a safety net for foster kids who end up on the streets.

“It was my way of saying something has to give, something has to change,” she said. “I’m not good at politics. I hate paperwork. So this is the only way I know how to do it, with my truth and little filter.”