Rod Abernethy is the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of American Songwriter's Bob Dylan Song Contest. His album "The Man I'm Supposed To Be" reached No. 9 in June 2018 on Folk Alliance International's Folk DJ Chart and he's performed as a featured artist at many Folk Alliance International conferences around the country. Rod is a unique blend of a authentic southern folk troubadour, master acoustic guitarist and award winning composer for film, TV and video games.
In early 2020, Rod returns to the studio with Grammy nominated producer Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Apace Relay, Glen Phillips, Ordinary Elephant) to record his new album "Normal Isn't Normal Anymore", due for release in spring 2020.
Rod's last album "The Man I'm Supposed To Be” includes both songs and instrumentals that revolve around family, friends and places across his home state of North Carolina. Rod’s guitar instrumentals evoke styles of his favorite guitar players like Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges and Tommy Emmanuel. Rod collaborated on “The Man I’m Supposed To Be” with legendary producer Don Dixon (REM, Marti Jones, The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw) recording the basic tracks at Buddha View Studios in Charlotte, NC. All tracks were mixed by Rod at 1101 Studios in Raleigh, NC and produced by Rod, Dixon and Kari Estrin. Star performances include John Teer of Chatham County Line on mandolin, Joe Newberry on banjo, Caitlin Cary and Susan Cattaneo providing background vocals, and Pattie Kinlaw Hopkins of Hank, Pattie and The Current on filddle.
Rod has been a major force in the North Carolina music scene for decades, having played in North Carolina 80’s bands Arrogance and Glass Moon and recorded albums for major labels Warner Bros, MCA and Elektra Records. As a composer, he has scored and produced music for over 80 video games including the Electronic Art's blockbuster hit "Dead Space" which won a BAFTA Award in 2009 for Best Original Score and Tolkien's "The Hobbit" for Vivendi Universal and won Video Game Soundtrack Of The Year in 2003. Rod is also an adjunct professor of music composition at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem, NC.
Quotes & Press
"Rod Abernethy’s blistering version of “Oxford Town” has been chosen as the winner of our Bob Dylan Song Contest. Abernethy turned the relatively obscure early Dylan song about racial injustice into a tour-de-force, complete with a focused vocal delivery, tight and percussive rhythm, fiery guitar licks and solid harmonica playing." American Songwriter Magazine, November 2019
"There were moments within the two-hour window of Abernethy’s performance that I found myself utterly transfixed by his guitar-playing abilities; being able to watch a skilled musician up-close felt exhilarating and magical, like observing a rare spectacle that only a few lucky individuals get to witness. The heartfelt nature of his lyrics, combined with Abernethy’s soulful voice and clever storytelling style, made for a truly authentic and captivating show. Audience members were quick to cheer him on for one last song after the second set concluded, which speaks to the level of interest that had taken hold in the room." Allison Hastings - The North Reading Transcript - August 3, 2019
The Winston Salem Journal feature- "Rod Abernethy's winding musical career leads back to folk music and an acoustic guitar" by Lisa O'Donnell
"Even with a decades-long career behind him as a skilled guitarist, composer, film-scorer, and general mainstay on the North Carolina folk music scene, Rod Abernethy's 2018 double-album The Man I'm Supposed To Be was a bit of a shock. The 19-song collection was a tour through dazzling acoustic playing, singer/songwriter intimacy, and passionate vocals, a sort of how-to for anyone looking to excel at being a folk musician. But Abernethy also stepped outside of the straight-ahead folk tradition into vintage pop (a gorgeous instrumental version of the 1960s nugget "Walk Away Renee"), Leo Kottke-style, string-bending ("Trick Or Treat"), and more. Perhaps it's an exaggeration to call The Man I'm Supposed To Be the summary of a life spent making music, or maybe it's a mistake to think of it as autobiography through song. But it sure as hell feels like a major statement, delivered through sparkling acoustic arrangements and rugged vocals." Vincent Harris- The Charleston City Paper - April 3, 2019
"Rod Abernethy's album The Man I'm Supposed To Be is a tour de force for this mulit-talented singer/artist." MAVERICK - The Leading Independent Country Music Magazine - July/August 2018
"We're somewhat of a new live music series in Wake Forest and we're slowly building awareness and getting some good crowds for "marque artists". We were overwhelmed with the turnout for Rod's show. Complete sell out, which is very rare for such a young series. The crowd was enthralled from the beginning to the end, soaking up every word of Rod's stories and songs. They got every penny out of what they paid." Mike Allen - The Wake Forest Listening Room, Wake Forest, NC
"If you are a house concert host wondering about who should be next on your wish list, it's Rod Abernethy. Rod delivers a show that is pure listening joy. Master guitar playing chops coupled with warm, gravelly vocals and gritty storytelling made for an experience our audience is still thanking us for. Don't miss an opportunity to have him for one of your shows." Joanne Martin - Camelback Concerts, Rochester, MN
"Of course, it helps that Rod Abernethy is so darned good, a true troubadour who lays his life out in pure songwriting and some of the best acoustic guitar I have heard." Derek Maul - Light, Grace, Invitation and Promise
"A compelling songwriter, storyteller and guitarist, Rod Abernethy is a welcome addition to any acoustic music series. Commanding a relaxed and confident stage manner, he mixes his well-crafted original songs with those by Dylan, Tom Waits, Loudon Wainwright and others. He’s a strong six- & twelve-string guitar player and a pleasure to work with." Geoff Bartley - The Cantab Lounge, Cambridge MA
"Rod performed at my venue in Richmond, VA. He put on a great show. We had a lot of people in the audience that took a chance on the evening and they were so glad they made the decision to come and hear Rod. He put on a great show for my audience. He was great to work with, a true professional." Lisa Harrison, owner/booking agent - The Tin Pan, Richmond VA
"Imagine what would happen if you musically crossed the iconic guitar chops of Leo Kottke and John Fahey with the prophetic and immensely appealing songs of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Rod fits that bill. While consistently putting his very unique artistry out there, one can hear distinct echoes of these truly significant artistic forces. To my ears, Rod joins that group in very rare air, all of whom have kept meaning in melodies and a kind of prescient skill in lyrics. If you have a chance to see and hear Rod Abernethy live, don't miss it." Bob Hinkle, owner/manager - The White Horse, Black Mountain NC
"Rod Abernethy, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, was a guest on my radio show on WOMR in Provincetown this summer, and was truly amazing! Rod went back to his acoustic roots which were a perfect fit for the show, "Roots n' Offshoots." His guitar playing on both 6 and 12 String had such a rich quality, and his vocals demonstrated his inner strength an passion." Carol Courneen, WOMR Provincetown MA
"Rod Abernethy is just an extraordinarily gifted musician. His dextrous and emotional 12-string guitar work has been a balm and an inspiration to me over the years. It's been great to finally share a stage with him at a couple shows!" Peter Holsapple - Songwriter, performer and all around amazing human being.
"Rod is a true student of music, gracefully performing songs with a sincere humbleness that one can't help but relate to. His mastery of the 6 and 12 string guitars was a real treat to watch, and we look forward to his next performance in the hall!" Bill Heath, owner/operator - Muddy Creek Music Hall,
Winston Salem, NC
"Rod Abernethy has truly mastered the art of storytelling. At first he charms you with sentimental stories and clever lyrics that tug at your heart then he mesmerizes you with his spellbinding guitar playing. It’s always a thrill to see Rod perform." Gigi Thigpen - Jazz Entertainment Agency, Raleigh, NC
"Rod put on an awesome set for us. He’s a true artist on stage and a great guy to work with. Several patrons came up to me at the break to tell me how much they enjoyed his performance. He’s the real deal." David E. Sardinha - Six String Presents - The Cary Theater, Cary, NC
"There are many excellent acoustic guitar players, and for anyone who loves acoustic guitar, it is one of life’s joys to hear them play. You would not, however, mention them in the same paragraph as Leo Kottke, or Norman Blake, or John Fahey. You would mention Rod though. Rod’s playing is transcendent, beyond technique, utterly superb. It is an extraordinary thing to hear him play. His performances attact not only music lovers but other guitar players, and no one in the audience has a chance to hear anything like that anywhere else. We look at each other and shake our heads. You'll see." Michael Thompson, acclaimed speaker, author and workshop presenter, Durham, NC
"Rod Abernethy play a solo guitar set of music earlier this summer we were so impressed with his wide range of talents that we were inspired to have him play a concert at our gallery. His presentation and choice of material from Dylan to Loudon Wainwright to Tom Waits interspersed with his own compositions both instrumentals and songs provided one of the most satisfying, thoughtful and fully developed sets of music we have heard in a long time. If you have the opportunity to go see Rod play, go for the guitar playing, but be ready for the inspiration." Tom Odell - The Odell Art Studio & Gallery, Chatham, MA
"Rod's acoustic performances at the 'Time Out Of Mind' Dylan tribute sounded like Pete Townsend playing Dylan.... Superb. This was a glorious, successful event on all fronts, so a huge salute to mastermind Rod Abernethy for pulling off a plan with a billion details." John Custer, Grammy-Nominated Producer, Songwriter, Performer