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Patience, persistence and power chords

Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats (left) and Colby Deitz (right). Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats (left) and Colby Deitz (right).

The core of any sincere and determined musical circle is a simple formula: camaraderie + compassion = musicianship. 

Anyone who tries to find footing at all in this haphazard organized chaos of creating and recording music, of booking and promoting shows, can can surely attest to the madness felt — onstage and off. You’re chasing a dream that can seem further and farther away each day you get up and try again, a recognition and stability you fight for with a reckless abandon.

And within these circles of musicians and bands, you find common ground with others on a similar path in your own backyard. You attend and support each other’s gigs, maybe even do a co-bill. There’s an unspoken partnership to make sure everybody is doing OK. And, if the chemistry sparks something, you might even find yourself in bountiful musical collaborations, the notion of “two heads are better than one” swirling throughout a jam session. 

Andrew Scotchie and Colby Deitz are a pair of those talented musicians, part of a tightly-knit circle of bands and solo acts roaming the high peaks and low valleys of Western North Carolina. 

Though on paper the members of Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats (blues/rock) and The Colby Deitz Band (Americana/rock) are young in their pursuits, the groups are old road dogs ‘round these parts, hitting the pavement in Southern Appalachia and beyond each and every weekend for the better part of the last decade. Work the day job part of the week, jump into the band van whenever and wherever an open stage and an opportunity appear — what it takes to reach your rock-n-roll fantasy.

Smoky Mountain News: What is it about music — either recorded or performed live — that pulls you in to the extent that you’ve made this not only your career, but your life and existence?

Andrew Scotchie: Music and songwriting is the best translator for raw emotion and energy. Music can heal and connect people no matter your background, political status, age or income. Spending almost every moment in the world of music has built a family around me and taught me so much about myself — it has given me a voice. Music keeps me grounded and always learning like nothing else in this world. 

Colby Deitz: The thing about music for me is — it’s a medium. It’s a way for me to genuinely communicate with the world around me and the people in it. Music has been the only real constant in my life. More than relationships, most of my family, and friends throughout the years, music has always been there. I struggle with conversation sometimes, and I’m a little bit off an oddball. I find myself usually being more off-putting to people than not, but when I’m writing, recording, or performing, people seem to understand and accept me. Music is literally who I am. So, I feel like there really was no other choice. There’s not a rush on the planet like it — not a single one. 

SMN: What has this journey as a musician taught you — or perhaps surprised you — the most thus far?    

AS: So much of this journey has taught me the importance of patience and balance. It’s important to treat your work with tenacity, but it’s also equally important to be able to appreciate where you are and the goals you have accomplished so far. Oddly enough, now I’ve learned to appreciate the lows of this career just as much as the highs. Because even at the lowest point, I know I’m learning something and becoming stronger. Over time, you learn which problems to allocate time and energy to — finding that balance. It’s all about taking in as much as you possible can to create a healthy world and work flow around you. 

CD: My musical journey has taught me love. Traveling all over the country playing shows, I’ve been able to meet people of all walks of life. People the same as me and people the exact opposite of me. We’re all just trying to live life on this space-rock we were born on. We’re all trying to find our way, and it’s important to show everyone love and kindness. Music is love. So, that makes me one of the lucky ones. I’m very fortunate. The only thing that matters in this world is what you do with what you have to say. 


Want to go?

There will be a New Year’s Eve celebration with Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats and The Colby Deitz Band at 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at Mad Batter Food & Film in downtown Sylva.

Admission is $10 per person. To learn more, visit or

The Colby Deitz Band will also be performing at 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, at Boojum Brewing in Waynesville, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin.

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