joe_kendrick_wncw_2015Joe Kendrick tells stories.

As the director of programming and operations at WNCW, the Spindale-based public radio station beloved for its eclectic programming spotlighting mountain music, Kendrick tells stories through the tunes he plays and the bands he interviews. Lately though, Kendrick has been using a new medium to spin the tale of local working musicians – video.

Southern Songs and Stories is an ambitious video project that Kendrick launched last year. He and his project partner, Tony Preston of Moonlight Mile Productions in Asheville, combine a mix of footage from shows, as well as one-on-one interviews and behind-the-scenes peeks to create their documentaries.

“It’s easy to take the fact that we have such an awesome music scene for granted, but we shouldn’t,” Kendrick says, “and these stories need to be told.”

Kendrick digs deep, sifting stories of individual bands, and individual band members. He sets that against the backdrop of the communities they live and work in, as well as the broader South.

“Everybody has their own circles, their own connections, their own degree of separation,” Kendrick says. With The Honeycutters, for example, Kendrick says he discovered lead singer Amanda Platt’s background of growing up outside New York City. The goal of the documentary series is to delve into those details and discover how someone growing up in a big city discovers a love of honky tonk, he says.

“It’s always a process of discovery. We focus on the people and once their stories come out, you get an idea of the larger context,” Kendrick adds.

Kendrick and Preston have produced three episodes since their launch last summer. The first featured established Saluda-based singer-songwriter Aaron Burdett. The second profiled The Honeycutters, the up-and-coming Americana band from Asheville. And the third spotlights Tellico, another Asheville band that’s on the move. (Tellico, comprised of several former members of the now disbanded Dehlia Low, includes the distinctive voice of Anya Hinkle.) The Tellico episode just wrapped. A special screening and live performance is set for Sunday at Moonlight Mile. (Tickets for the performance.)

Kendrick and Preston have taken the entire project on themselves. Kendrick handles the interviewing, while Preston takes on the daunting task of editing down hours upon hours of video. The two have a crowd-funding campaign, but they’ve largely been funding the effort on their own.

Kendrick says the project is a way for him to explore the medium of video while “using all of my available skills and experience. I’ve interviewed artists and played music on the radio now for 25 years and have all of these connections,” he says.” This is sort of the logical next step.”

Kendrick and Preston plan to produce a total of six episodes, then create a package they can shop around.

 

“The goal is for the series to find a home, get it on a network, website or on television so that it can have an audience,” Kendrick says. “We’re trying to make it stick.”

“It’s the most intense project to try and pull off,” Kendrick says, “but it’s incredibly satisfying.”

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